Burn Notice Review: "Better Halves"

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After last week’s boring, cookie-cutter offering, "Better Halves" turned things around completely, reminding us why we love Burn Notice.

One thing we learned from the extraction mission is that Michael is either an idiot or isn't ready to settle down.

I'm going with the latter, based on his behavior. Consider when he slapped the ring into Fiona’s hand and when she invited him to the tub after snuggling on the couch... and he turned her down. Then, finally when he took the ring back and kept it "for another mission."

Couple Undercover

All of these moment made it pretty clear Michael's not stupid, he’s just not ready to settle down. Yet, one hopes.

Of course, the entire mission was made more fun with the addition of Charisma Carpenter as Nicki. I forgot how well she does on this type of show, where she gets a mix of action and humor. Someone really needs to give her another series.

A little too late for viewers, we also got a good amount of Tavian Korzha as he took Sam hostage and demanded a meeting with Michael. Sadly, outsmarting Jesse/Sam and killing Stigler didn’t do much to make him scary or threatening. We just haven’t been exposed to him as much as we had with other scary characters such as Simon.

His “I have the answers to questions he doesn’t know to ask yet” was supposed to be suspenseful and dramatic. But it came across as lame because we have no frame of reference for what he knows or what he is capable of. I really hope they wrap up this particular bad guy fairly quickly and give us a bad guy to be afraid of.  

The Rule of Cool: It doesn't matter if something could really be done in real life, it's permitted in a movie or TV show if the resulting action is cool to watch. Makes sense, right? Matt Nix and his team took full advantage of this during the firefight Michael and Fiona got into with Karina, cranking the cool meter to a kick ass 13.

Here it is by the numbers:

• Michael showing up just in time to whack Karina on the head = 9 (fun) 
• Fiona noticing bad guys behind Michael, him noticing bad guys behind her = 10 (cool)
• Fiona pulling weapon and them firing past each other while pressed together = 11 (way cool)
• The two of them turning at the same time to continue shooting = 12 (awesome)
• Michael and Fiona pinning Nicki in between them while they moved and shot = 13 (kick ass!)

This scene summed up everything I watch Burn Notice for; a little romance, a little humor and a lot of action. It was made even more perfect when Fiona told Michael thank you for the quality time after they got out of the mess.  

And let's not forget the big twist: Pearce figured out Michael was involved with Max's death when she found footage from a law firm camera 30 stories up that got an image of Michael’s car driving past the building.

First, I called it! I have said previously that Michael needed to bring Pearce into the inner circle before she found something on her own. I knew she would not react well if this happened. Let this be a lesson to you, Michael, don’t wait so long to bring in your legit support next time.

Second, this is another scene that follows The Rule of Cool. There isn't a commercial camera (hi-def or otherwise) that could be setup with a wide angle lens for security that could have gotten enough date in a digital image 30 stories below for anyone (NSA, FBI, Lucas Arts) to get a usable image out of it. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the episode. We are going into next week’s summer finale with a lot going on. Will it change any games, such as last season's concluding installment? Come back here in seven days to find out and discuss.


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Hi Maka, I did go back and rewatch the scene... I stand corrected, she did say "on third at the entrance" it was the skyline shot that she was showing at the time that led to me mishearing her. thanks! Jim


@Maka, I will rewatch that scene to see if I mis-heard her... thanks for the heads up.


The camera was street level, I think. Pearce says "Third street has a law office with security cameras at the entrance", not "Thirtieth". Hollywood camera magic at it's finest still though.


One of the season's best eps. Early in the ep. I thought Michael was acting like a bit of a jerk. He refused to even acknowledge Fiona's suggestive hints. I can't blame Fiona for taking their CIA "spending money" and using it to buy a new dress and footware. I liked Michael's improvisational skills with the rocks in the sauna. I was also grateful Burn Notice is not an HBO series. I had visions of the sauna fight scene in the movie, Eastern Promises running through my head. I too got the impression Pearce was hurt after finding out Michael's been lying to her. She obviously respected him and trusted him enough to talk candidly with him about parts of her past.


Rule of Cool gets 5 stars! Did you coin that phrase, Jim? It'd be great if the phrase catches on. Let's say I'm watching an action movie with some friends and the hero fires off an entire magazine of an AK-47 one handed and the muzzle does not climb more than an inch toward the sky. And lets say one of my friends, who sounds an awful lot like Comic-Book-Guy from The Simpsons, points out how impossible that would be. All I'd have to do is say, "rule of cool" and the argument would end right there. Brilliant!!!


James Bond levels of ridiculousness but Rule of Cool trumps it. Excellent episode. The back to back and with Nicki between. It was great to see Mike and Fi doing couple spy stuff again. I hope the writers don't kill off/otherwise get rid of Pearce (that's been the pattern of Mike's handlers getting killed/arrested).


FionaGlenanne - I think Raines is key to what has happened to Michael. I think Max was helping Michael and too much would have been revealed. He had to be eliminated. Framing Michael would have killed 2 birds with one stone. (However, I have been wrong before because what makes sense isn't always what the writers go with! They like to twist things just a bit.) And welcome! I love seeing that a teenager loves this show as much as this mother of a 28 year old sailor!! Also, Maka - yes, I think Pearce did seem hurt. She trusted Michael and believed that he was a good guy. (Shades of Jesse, who will no doubt appreciate what she is going through. Perhaps he will be the voice of reason here eventually.) A whole gamut of emotions is running her show right now, the least of which is not pride. She will deliver someone for this murder if just to save her own reputation. It will take some tap-dancing to convince her that Michael isn't the one. I really loved this episode because I love fun, breezy, well-executed action, love scenes that leave you wanting more and charming, keep-you-guessing characters. And this show does that best!!


Was it just me, or did Pearce actually sound kind of hurt? I guess she was really pushing for Mike being one of the good guys. Granted, he still is, but she doesn't know that. Regardless, I really hope she survives the next episode, because it looks like something big is going to be exploding.


I loved the balcony scene where Mike and Fiona silently argued over ripping her dress to escape. It was hilarious. I thought the sauna fight scene was way cooler than the let's be an easy target in a firefight scene (but of course not get shot). Finally did you guys catch it in the scenes from next week? DEAD LARRY is back!! I'm not sure how he got away from the cops after being found with Brennan's body, but I guess we are going to find out!!


I don't care how lame it seems certain episodes are ... it's still waaaay cooler than anything out there in a long time (except for almost ALL the other USA shows)! Michael Westin is my favorite character EVER ... but Sam is a close second!

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Burn Notice Season 5 Episode 11 Quotes

So Michael and Fi get to sit back and drink Mojitos and we get to set a trap for an international killer. Sweet!


Sam: Hey, want a beer?
Jesse: Neah, I prefer to be sober when risking my life.