Well it happened. Burn Notice delivered on its promise to kill off a major character. The death, in the form of Michael’s brother Nate, has left two of our favorite characters reeling. This week, Michael struggled to move on, while Maddy refused to talk to her living son. The rest of the gang — well, they avoided the topic, distracting themselves with a few near-death situations.

The Players:

  • Director: Craig Siebels
  • Writer: Rashad Raisani
  • Cast: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless, Coby Bell

Episode Title: “Reunion”

Michael begins “Reunion” with his usual voice over, giving helpful hints to would-be spies everywhere. This week’s tip: Sometimes you just have to take a moment for grief or you’ll compromise the mission. Of course, Michael then proceeds to ignore his own advice, jumping headfirst into the mission to find Nate’s killer and pushing his feelings to the peripheral. Michael and Fi take on the task of tracking down Rebecca, who isn’t answering her Never Don’t Answer This phone Sam gave her. She was conveniently laying low in the building Sam’s rich girlfriend owns, making it easy to barge into her apartment and pull her phone records. Meanwhile, Sam gets wrapped up in an issue involving said girlfriend’s son, who has (surprise, surprise) gotten mixed up with the wrong people.

The Good:

  • Sam’s Girlfriend: The fact that Sam likes to have a sugar mama is one of the quirky details that makes Burn Notice and its USA-worthy characters so interesting. Since we’ve really only seen Michael’s personal life this season, it was refreshing to see what Sam goes home to after the smoke clears and the mojitos run dry.
  • Michael and Fi Hit the Street: Burn Notice has become very CIA this season as Michael works more and more closely with the agency on his quest to get back inside. That’s great for Michael, but not always for the show. In their attempts to track down Rebecca before she flees town for good (she’s the prime suspect in Anson/Nate’s murders), Michael and Fi commandeer the printer where she’s scheduled to pick up her documents. The guy is way below their league. Part of the fun is watching them tower over him with enough time to be snarky without worrying that he might see an opening and take them down. Earlier seasons of Burn Notice had a lot of these moments and it was fun seeing a really organic throwback to those days.
  • Maddy Doesn’t Pick Up: The emotion thread of the episode is that Michael is desperately trying to get in contact with his mother, Maddy but she’s not taking his calls. Her mother’s love will no doubt overcome this, but for the moment, she’s embracing her mourning and allowing herself to be a little mad at Michael. She might be a boozy, chain-smoking old lady, but emotionally speaking, Maddy proves time and again that she is the healthiest person on the show.

The So-So:

  • The Kid Mixed-Up with the Wrong Crowd: Maybe after six years you run out of ideas for how a spy and his equally equipped buddies could help Average Joes in Miami, but this premise felt stale. The kid in question steals a diamond bracelet worth 10 grand from his mother and she wants to know why, sending Sam to “talk to him.” During the little chat, Sam gets more than he bargained for when the thugs the kid’s mixed up arrive. They demand to see the team he’s put together to pull off their illegal venture (stealing a truck). Suddenly, Sam and Jesse become that team. They play it well and it’s fun enough to watch, but it doesn’t feel fresh, which is vital after six seasons.

The Bad:

  • The Rebecca Vendetta: Fi is still sure she’s not to be trusted, but Michael has gone more soft. Unfortunately, she’s simply not a compelling enough character to sustain the suspense her moral ambiguity seems meant to create. Snooze.
  • Fi’s Eyebrows: Seriously, what happened to her in prison?

Overall:

“Reunion” was a rather disappointing follow-up to “Shock Wave.” Nate’s funeral is as glossed over as his death and we really don’t see anyone deal with the impact (Maddy’s grief happens entirely off screen). What felt like an emotional impetus last week has faded sadly into plot device territory. Hopefully, Burn Notice will take some post-funeral time to let the characters be shaken by the big change it threw at them.

Rating: 6/10

Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on USA.

What did you think of this week’s episode?