TV Recap: Burn Notice Season 7 - Episode 1 - ‘New Deal’

BURN NOTICE--Episode 702--Pictured:--(Photo by Glenn Watson/USA Network

Nine months after Michael Westen struck a shadowy bargain with the CIA to release his friends from captivity, he’s working a deep cover ID in the Dominican Republic.  Playing a bare-knuckles boxer with a drinking habit, Michael finds his real identity intermeshing with his cover, especially when he manages to win the trust of his target.   A terrorist who wants to steal sensitive equipment from a locked down faculty, Michael finds himself relating to the man, committing both to his cover and to the agency who’s planted him deep under cover.

Meanwhile, his friends have scattered in separate directions; Sam is the most unchanged of the group, still living with Elsa in luxury.  When a shadowy stranger holds him at knifepoint while asking suspicious question about Michael, he digs up the rest of the gang; Jesse, who’s gone back to his nine-to-five security job, Fiona, who’s settled into life as a bounty hunter, and Maddie, who has the most surprising arc of all and has quit smoking (?!) to gain custody of her grandson Charlie after his mother fell off the wagon.  Loosely connected through social matter, the four of them race to figure out who’s trying to get information on Michael, while miles away Michael tries to enmesh himself with his targets.

Burn Notice began life as an action-comedy-drama.  I thought that was worth mentioning, for the humor is, shall we say, sparring in the opening segment – unless you count the unintentionally hilarious opening sequence, in which the ultra-controlled Westen has been reduced to rinsing his split knuckles with filthy water while slugging down rotgut.  It’s painfully clichéd, the sort of scene thrown into every action movie entering its final downbeat to illustrate, paraphrasing Walk Hard: the Dewy Cox Story, a really dark period.


“New Deal” falters on several other counts; the first is what appears to be the season’s central conceit.  I can imagine Michael refusing to contact Fiona, yes, in spite of the rain of destiny anvils we’ve been had for them over the past few seasons.  She’s mad at him, and when Fi is mad at Michael she’s typically completely willing to cut off contact with him.  But the idea that Michael would cut Sam and his mother out of his life, especially in light of last season’s finale and the passing of Nate, is utterly faulty.  Michael transfused his blood into Sam’s body and gave him mouth-to-mouth; he threw himself into danger to make Nate’s death right for Madeline; I don’t buy he’d cut them out of his life, even under the threat of deep cover, and especially after we’ve seen Michael create I know they’re searching for dramatic tension, but it might make more sense for his repeated overtures to be rejected by his livid family.

Another problem is that not only is the entire gang doing fine without him, they’re downright thriving.  Why should we be rooting for them all to get together again?  Just so Michael’s angst over being forced to abandon them can be assuaged?

“New Deal” is a decent episode; it has those typical Burn Notice moments of suspense and a couple of big booms, along with some snarky voiceovers.   The amount of premise, backstory, and side-story we must wade through refuses to allow the episode to fly freely, yet the time passes by quite quickly.  Perhaps its old charm, however depleted, isn’t entirely gone yet.

  • * We meet a slightly aged Charlie, the son of Michael’s late brother Nate.  His incipient birth was announced in season 3, and we saw him as an infant during season four.
  • * Madeline quits smoking this episode; her nicotine addiction has been a series-long running gag.
  • * Michael manages some Spanish this episode;  it’s been a series-long gag that he can’t speak it, but has mastered more difficult languages like Russian and Farsi.
  • * Sam mentions Elsa, his long-term girlfriend, whom he hooked up with in season five and declared his love four in season six.
  • * It’s worth noting that Michael’s father was also an alcoholic.
  • * In next week’s episode, Burn Notice’s hundredth, Michael returns to Miami but is forbidden to make contact with his extended family – but they’re definitely not willing to let him continue hiding in “Forget Me Not”.

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Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.