At the closing of Season 3 now, Burn Notice operates at its best when is shows all of its cards. When it brings back old enemies in creative and fun ways as seen in last weeks "Enemies Closer." At heart though, Burn Notice is meant to be a baby-steps serial "procedural." It's a Robin-Hood show, and sometimes that means that we run in the problem of of not necessarily caring about the people that Michael (Jeffrey Donovan), Fi (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Bruce Campbell) are trying to help. The risk gets even greater whenever we're presented with a life or death arc-story that makes all the "helping the little" guy stuff seem inconsequential. These are the moments when Burn stalls and you can see the evidence in "Partners in Crime."
Much like "Noble Causes" from a couple weeks back, "Partners" is nothing we haven't seen before. The "cush" job that turns deadly. The client who needs to be calmed down, babysat and who then ultimately winds up ruining the entire plan that Michael creates due to their panic and ineptitude. And the re-occurring plan where Michael plays to criminals off each other, making them paranoid about the other guy's intentions. It's all breezy fun, sure. But we've seen this series provide some serious fun without so much breeze. Case of the week shows often feel stale after a while because they have to continue to top their previous best efforts - which can be particularly tricky to do given the format. Without more of an investment in serialization, you're going to run into repetition. With locations. With villains. With clients. And with cons. Of course, I think we can all agree that Sam's little comical turn as a David Caruso-type, "punny" catchphrase slinging CSI Forensics expert (complete with shades) was the highlight here. And since it was really the only scene that USA used to promote this episode you kind of get the feeling that many others felt the same way.
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