In season two of Burn Notice, Michael Westen [Jeffrey Donovan] found himself between a rock and a hard place when Carla [Trisha Helfer] began to squeeze him into taking assignments for her – forcing him to track her down and get her out of the picture so that he could return to the task of getting his burn notice pulled.
Without sacrificing any of the series’ fun stuff – the MacGyver-like spycraft; the breezy narration and the camaraderie between Westen, Fiona [Gabrielle Anwar] and Sam Axe [Bruce Campbell]; the love-hate relationship between Westen and his mother, Madeline [Sharon Gless], and Michael’s Simon Templar-like helping people with their problems – creator Matt Nix and his writing team added a further layer in Michael’s efforts to get Carla off his metaphorical back. The edge that had been mostly an undercurrent on the show became much keener and came into sharper focus.
While Westen has always had his friends to help him out, Carla enlisted a seemingly sociopathic aide in Victor [Michael Shanks] – a spy who was, for the most part, as smart as Westen, and just as likely to match him move for move. Also, he was just as tough – and they had some interesting combative moments.
My favorite eps of the season were definitely the Victor eps: Bad Blood [in which Westen comes to the aid of an old friend suspected of embezzling from a hip hop mogul, even as Victor enlists Westen to help pull of a heist], and the season finale, Lesser Evil [in which Westen finally learns Victor’s connection to Carla and, eventually, meets Management]. Other highlights include: Breaking and entering [in which Carla’s demands of Westen coincide with his non-spy activities as she charges him with helping a computer whiz whose wife and child were kidnapped], Double Booked [in which Westen is asked by a former associate to assassinate Jeannie, a woman who is about to become a rich widow], and Do No Harm [in which Westen saves a man from committing suicide and tries to help him regain the cash he lost in a scam as he tried to find a miracle drug to save his son’s life].
While Michael Shanks was a standout as Victor, Stacey Haiduk was terrific as the medical scammer in Do No Harm, playing a character who could go toe to toe with Fiona in a fight. Tim Matheson did quality work both in front of and behind the camera in Double Booked – besides playing Westen’s former associate, Larry, he also directed the ep.
Features include: Three Audio Commentaries [Bronwen Hughes, Ben Watkins, Rashad Raisani, Matt Nix, Rob Benedict and Method Man on Bad Blood; Tim Matheson, Jason Tracey, Craig O’Neill and Matt Nix on Double Booked; Matt Nix, Bruce Campbell and Michael Shanks on Lesser Evil]; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel, and Nixin’ It Up on Burn Notice [featurette on Nix’s first effort at directing an ep – Do No Harm].
Grade: Burn Notice: Season Two – B+
Grade: Features – A
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