'Burn Notice' Creator on 100th Episode: 'We Wanted to Break Your Heart'
The countdown has begun on the seventh, and final, season of USA Network's "Burn Notice," and as fans will see in this week's episode — the series' 100th — things are going to get a lot worse for spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan, who also directed the installment) before they get better.
Series creator Matt Nix talked to Yahoo! TV about the 100th episode, the road to the finale, the future of Miami now that his show and "Dexter" are ending, and which two characters might make a fine "Burn Notice" spinoff.
The 100th episode, with the flashbacks to when Michael and Fiona met … we don't think we've ever been so heartbroken at the end of a "Burn Notice" episode.
Good. Good. (Laughs) We wanted to break your heart.
But please tell us it gets a little better for Michael.
Well … uh, yes, it does. It gets better and worse, kind of at the same time.
When we first met Michael, he didn't want to be in Miami. He was a loner, very much by choice, didn't want any permanent connections with his family, with his friends. Now, he's isolated from them, and he realizes how much he wants to be with them. Is that ultimately the story of "Burn Notice," this transformation of Michael?
I think that this season, and the 100th episode specifically, really crystallizes this. Jeffrey did an amazing job of directing it and acting in it and bringing this theme to the fore. Basically, one of the questions we were asking ourselves going into this episode was, "What has Michael been doing for the last six years, and what does that mean for who he was before?" What he's been doing for the last six years is forging bonds with people. He's been helping real people in real situations. He's made a family for himself. He has all of these relationships. And so, with the [season premiere], the idea was, now he's going back to try to be who he was [when the series began]. Can he be who he was? What does that mean? When he comes back [to Miami], he sees his friends moving on, he sees Fiona moving on … I think the 100th episode is really about Michael realizing how much he's changed, and how much it hurts to have gained a family and lost it. We talked about the story of "Burn Notice" sort of being the story of Michael learning to be a human being. That's like the "Afterschool Special" version of it. (Laughs) But he's a guy who came into the show very isolated and very much about doing a certain kind of job. And then establishing the human connections, he forges these bonds. He's always explored the way that those human connections are in conflict with his life as a spy.
Watch the Season 7 premiere episode:
In this season, that conflict is coming to a head. That's what this season is about. I think it really starts with this 100th episode, where those two sides of Michael clash like they've never clashed before. You see just what a toll that takes on the character.
You're a little more than halfway through production on the final 13 episodes … what's the feeling on set, with the cast and the writers and the crew, with the end so near?
It's a little odd in the sense that you're running right through to the end, and indeed, like the end of every season, it's always a mad scramble. I'd also say, this year, one of the things that we've been conscious of, extra conscious of, [is] that we're coming to the point where writers who are writing episodes, who have been on the show since the first year, are writing their last episode of the series. So we're taking a little bit more time with stuff. There's really big stuff happening in every episode.