Burn Notice – “Breach of Faith”

“Breach of Faith”

June 25th, 2010

This review doesn’t really exist to talk that much about the Burn Notice-y “Breach of Faith” (for a review of the episode, check out Alan or Todd) so much as it exists to talk about the season as a whole. I realized after watching this episode that I haven’t actually written about the show yet this season, an oversight which I shall now rectify.

…I like it, I guess?

What, that isn’t enough for you? Okay fine: some more detailed thoughts on the season’s arc after the jump.

“Breach of Faith” is the sort of episode that Burn Notice has done quite often, wherein a contained standalone story is bookended by an prologue and epilogue which continue the serialized arc of the season. It’s episodes like this one that are the ultimate test: if those bookends feel as if they are either pointless or entirely unconnected to the rest of the material, then the show seems to be marking time more than making advancements. It feels as if the story is being contained to that opening and conclusion rather than that the story is sort of moving at its own pace.

What this episode did particularly well, and what’s been done pretty well all season, is position the standalone storyline as a hindrance to the ongoing investigation. The story starts, notice, with Sam getting Michael to do the job because he’s in a holding pattern in regards to the arms dealer anyways, which reminds us that there’s another avenue being followed. Then, the prologue continues into the early parts of the episode, with Fiona and Jesse following up on their leads and eventually ending up at the arms dealer’s apartment. They’re in the middle of an altercation with the assassin squatting next door when Michael calls from the hostage situation, allowing the story to shift from two parallel stories to a single story in a more or less seamless fashion. That switch is key to the episode’s success, as it shows how that story would have kept going were it not for the ways in which the hostage situation escalated out of control.

I’m a fan of adding Jesse to the cast not because I’m particularly attached to the character but rather because a fourth is a very good thing for the practicality of the show. Not only does it allow our protagonists to pair off into teams of two in order to better handle balances such as this one, but it also makes things feel fresh even when they’re not. The character is pretty thinly drawn, a guilt-magnet for Michael first and foremost, but I like that he’s cocky in a way the group isn’t used to, which is fun in some instances (like parceling out information to Michael in the opening of this week’s episode but ending up two steps behind him at its conclusion) and meaningful in others (like using Sam’s war stories during last week’s “Made Man”). Plus, it’s a good way to make it seem less like Michael as one man standing against the world, giving him someone else looking for the same information and interested in the same sorts of avenues.

The show is in good shape so long as it doesn’t push Jesse’s characterization too far, and if it keeps the serialized storyline moving. This is the strongest position the show has been in since the start of Season Two, when there was some nice push and pull in early episodes with Carla that put the serialized arc and the procedural storylines in competition with one another. However, Carla fizzled out over time for a number of reasons, and I’m hopeful that Jesse’s presence will keep this storyline from meeting the same fate.

Cultural Observations

  • Some good stuff with Sharon Gless last week, as Madeline is wise to Michael’s real intentions and isn’t that pleased with the ramifications. The show can’t play that card too often with Michael (since Fiona and Sam aren’t the characters to do it), but it’s a good use of Madeline.
  • Navi Rawat will forever be Theresa to me, based on The O.C.’s prominence when I started watching television in earnest and really recognizing actors from other roles; however, she was apparently in 99 episodes of Numbers, so chances are more USA Network viewers saw her there.
  • I’m with Alan that I think Michael weaseled his way out of the hostage situation way too easily, but I’m guessing that the “Tough SOB” chryon really was supposed to say “Tough SOB with a heart of gold who wanted to put a guilty man behind bars for more than just fraud.”
  • Neat little connection in this one as Fiona and Jesse use the clerks pictures to discover her weakness, while Michael uses the same trick (without voiceover) to figure out that Rawat’s nosy neighbour was, in fact, an assassin.

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