I apologize again or my absence the past couple of episodes. But this was a pretty good one to come back to.
Michael’s existence has changed a lot over the past two and a half years. From a closed-off and guarded loner, he’s learned to trust and care about other people in ways that had long been submerged. He’s still broken. But who isn’t? His sexy flirtation with Fiona in the pilot wasn’t about compassion or concern: it was about the raw physical passion between these two lovers. His early interactions with Sam were awkward, even after Sam’s deal with the Feds was in the open. And let’s not forget his idiot brother and insane mother, right?
Except that’s not who those people are. Madeline loves her son, Sam is a loyal friend, Nate really does try, and Fi…well Fi wants Michael’s heart and soul. Have they all changed or is it that as Michael has changed, his perceptions of those around him – and the reflected perceptions we see – have changed? I’d argue for the latter.
I’m not implying this is the authorial intent. These relationships really have matured over time, as a function of the writing and the performances. But try looking at the show as if it is truly and completely Michael’s journey and we are merely passengers seeing the world unfold before his eyes. In that case, we should expect the world he sees/we see to change in ways both small and large. Miami might appear larger and less restrictive. Madeline more nuanced and human. Sam more loyal.
In The Last Temptation of Christ, when Lucifer shows Jesus the world he could have if he faltered – a long, happy life in a verdant world – he tells Jesus that Israel has always been a garden and he had failed to see it as such. On one hand, this is Lucifer’s attempt to tempt Christ, so we know he’s pumping up the saturation of the colors a bit. On the other, we know that Israel is a land of desert and of forest and of gardens and of beaches. Throughout the rest of the film, Scorsese shows us only the desert aspect. Even at the final Seder, in the GARDEN of Gethsemane, the land is dusty and sere. Our perception of the world is intentionally Jesus’ perception.
I suggest looking at Burn Notice in the same vein. See Miami as though we see it through Michael’s eyes. See his friends and family the same way. He is changing.
Which makes his deal with Strickler that much worse.
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