Does the Burn Notice premise make any sense?

In the intro to Burn Notice, Michael narrates that he was a spy that got a burn notice. Apparently, this means he has been compromised somehow and he is now untrustworthy. At the end of the intro, he says something to the effect of “Until you find out who burned you, you’re not going anywhere.”

So somehow, Michael has to find out who burned him while being stuck in Miami. Why can’t he go anywhere?

Probably on all sorts of “No Fly” lists, for one. They also probably pulled his passport.

There is also the whole no money, no job thing. He could travel some but there is no legitimate way. Also originally when he was burned he was being followed by the FBI so he ability to move freely would have been even lover then normal.

And with all of his subterfuge skills and connections he can’t find or forge himself a new passport? The premise of the show makes about as much sense as Gilligan’s Island. The Prisoner it is not.


Writer’s and/or producer’s prerogative.

The premise of last night’s season finale made even less sense.

Only now, after 2-3 years of shenanigans of various sorts, all committed in one locale, do the law enforcement agencies finally decide to seek out Michael (after someone frames him, natch). You’d think Miami-Dade would have a nice thick dossier on him at this point, but there’s never been a local cop character in this show, of the type who is always sneaking around the edges of his life, trying to find some little scrap to hang on Mike, or perhaps someone who is actually sympathetic and helpful. But nope, zillions of explosions and gunplay galore don’t even show up on the cop’s radar, but crimes committed in another country do (why would the FBI be involved then?). And then a gang of agents somehow manage to take him right out of jail, right under the FBI’s nose, and now he’s been transported into someone’s living room. I get a definite feeling that I the viewer am about to be Chris Cartered on this.

The premise that confuses me is why his mouth is always open showing off his big front teeth. I hope that’s not his version of looking cool under pressure…

Your using The Prisoner as an example of a premise that makes sense?

What didn’t make sense for me was when Simon (the Garret Dillahunt character) was able to so easily foil the plan set up by Management (John Mahoney) and capture him. Also, was Simon the prisoner being transported to Poland? I thought he was, but the Wikipedia plot description confused me on that.

No, I’m saying if the show had some kind of metaphorical premise (i.e the inability of man to live in the modern world without being categorized, restricted, and classified, et cetra), then his inability to leave Miami would be consistent. Instead, Burn Notice is a straightforward spy thriller in which the central character is clever enough to survive but not bright enough to extricate himself from Dade County, kind of a one-man version of The A-Team.


No, the premise doesn’t make sense – that is, I can’t believe that the real-life CIA (or whatever agency Westen worked for) does anything like that when it fires an agent. Nor that real-life spies have anything like Westen’s skill set (a question I raised in this GQ thread). But it’s good television; and in the kind of spy-thriller fictive universe in which the show is set, the “Burn Notice” thing does make a certain kind of sense.

Bear in mind that he has never expressed any desire to go anywhere else in particular. What he desires is to get his old job back. In the meantime, he is “not going anywhere” in career terms, not in geographical terms. If he moved to New York or LA, no agency would stop him; but he would still be stuck having to earn his living with an ex-spy’s skill-set and no legitimate resume – he couldn’t even get job with a legitimate private detective agency or security firm, those all require background checks, for fear of lawsuits, and detectives require state licensing in most states – so he’d still be working as freelance muscle-and-brain, helping people out of their troubles with criminals, etc.

I’m not sure that that’s right. I thought I remembered an episode where he needed to go to Fort Lauderdale or somewhere else nearby but he couldn’t risk it because he’d been burned.

He couldn’t go anywhere because the various powers that be were fine with leaving him alone so long as he stayed put.

It’s not like anybody from any agency has had any difficulty finding him when they want to.

So it was more “stay where we put you and we’ll leave you mostly alone, try to resume your globehopping ways and we’ll take you out.” Since he primarily wants to clear his name and get back in the good graces of his agency he did not seek to further piss them off.

Spoilers, I guess.

Okay, in season one, Sam (I think) mentions to Michael that there will be nationwide manhunts if he leaves Miami, according to the FBI. The people who burned him, John Mahoney and Tricial Helfer, did so in order to isolate him and make him agree to join Helfer’s (Carla) black ops group. They gave him the file of a rogue spy who killed innocents, so everything would look okay when he was burned and confined to a single city. When Michael discovers this, he has Carla killed and told the black ops people to stay out of his life. At the season finale of four, the spy whose file he had appended on to his own returns and wants to kill John Mahoney. The black ops and regular agencies don’t make contact too often, but the former can influence the latter with made up evidence or pulling rank, if necessary.

The biggest problem is that the intro itself is outdated.

There was a woman cop in season 2 or 3 that started poking around because “management” wasn’t protecting him anymore. He got her off his back by proving to her he was really a good guy and also by delivering her up a nice big fish to fry instead of having her try to make her career off of him

Mmm, Moon Bloodgood trying not to look drop-dead sexy and failing. Was hoping she would be a regular.

They’ve been trying to play up his unwillingness to leave his mother and friends behind as a means of keeping him shackled. But realistically, though, someone with his skills and resources could have a new identity and ghost it to western europe without a problem. I think the countermotivation is that doing so would raise the ire of the shadowy government types and give them a reason to track him down, whereas if he stays put he’s generally left alone.

To truly disappear without a government being able to track you down would require completely severing ties with all of your current connections and maintaining a ridiculously strict protocol of security and prevention. Staying hidden would be a full time job. I wouldn’t be up for that.

We always say the reason the Miami police never notice Michael, is that they are obviously incompetant as per Dexter and too focused on finding the Ice Truck Killer et al. to worry about the multiple incidents of mayhem Michael causes.

I bet Michael could find and explode Trinity no problem. Crossover event!!!

SNL seems to have similar questions about the show: What is Burn Notice?