Burn Notice Boss Matt Nix on Major Death: "Michael’s Dancing Really Close to the Edge"
[Spoiler Alert! The following story reveals major intel from Thursday's episode of Burn Notice. Read at your own risk.]
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times on Thursday's episode of Burn Notice. Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) finally caught the man who burned him, Anson (Jere Burns), with the help of his brother, Nate (Seth Peterson) only to see Nate shot and killed in front of him by a mystery shooter. As he lay bleeding out in the street, all Michael could do was repeatedly tell him it was going to be alright, before Nate died in his arms. "It's easier for Michael to risk his life for you then it is to say he loves you. So when his brother is dying, what is his instinct? To somehow make it OK, and that's a big part of the second half of the season," creator and showrunner Matt Nix told TVGuide.com. "He's trying to redeem something that's unredeemable. He's trying to make his brother's death OK, but no amount of hunting and avenging makes it OK. None of that brings Nate back."
So how exactly will Michael try to avenge his brother's death? Will Fi and the rest of his crew be on board? And, most importantly, will his relationship mom Madeline ever recover? Read on:
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Why the decision to kill Nate?
Matt Nix: A big emphasis this year is on the idea that Michael's quest to deal with all of it — whether it's being burned or going after Anson, that all of these things come with a cost. The cost at the beginning of the season was with Fiona going to prison, and he nearly had to sacrifice his principles for it. Ultimately, he lost Fi. Then, he's going after Anson in order to get Fi, that costs him his brother. Part of it was just that idea — that he's this driven guy and that's cool and great — but there's a real cost to that. Also, as this season goes on, this stuff deeply affects Michael and drives him to do a lot of things. If you thought he was driven before, man is he driven now. And there's a cost to that as well. A big part of it is just that now that Anson has been wrapped up, the people that burned him are done, but that is not the end of his problems. There are still mysteries to be unraveled, and they are very personal mysteries. Who shot his brother? That's a big question for the remainder of the season.
The person who shot Nate also shot Anson, so what can you say about this person and what his or her motives are?
Nix: In shooting Anson and his brother, the thing Michael wanted most in the world and the thing Michael wanted least in the world happened in the same moment and it makes for an interesting search. Whoever was behind this obviously had complex motives.
Is this person the next big bad — someone to pick up where Anson left off?
Nix: Yes and no. I can say that it's not that there was someone behind Anson. The people that burned Michael — they're done. For anyone who is wondering: Are all mysteries in Michael's life over? The answer is no. For anyone who is wondering: Is the mystery of who burned Michael and what are they doing and is he going to be able to stop them? Yes. .. As the season goes on, his relationship with the CIA becomes much more complicated.
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Not only did Michael help the CIA get Anson, but Fiona is also now an asset to the CIA, so how will his relationship with the agency become more complicated?
Nix: It's a complicated thing because one of the themes we've been exploring is when Michael is helping people in Miami, he is living by his own moral compass. He's not taking orders from anybody and doing what he thinks is right, which is very much what Fiona wants for him, and in a way, what Sam wants for him, and kind of deeply what he wants for himself. At the same time, there's this pull of the agency and this desire to work for his country and do what he was trained to do but you can't have both of those things at the same time.
How will being in prison affect Fiona going forward?
Nix: Part of what's difficult for her in getting out of prison is that what both of them imagined as a joyous reunion and a new, less-complicated era in their relationship — all of their hopes are instantly dashed. He gets Fiona out of prison and there's no honeymoon period there; he has to be more or less off and running the next morning. She has seen up close and personal how much working with him can cost the people that he loves and how far he's willing to go. On the one hand, Nate was sort of her family too, so she's really dedicated to helping Michael, but she's also very wary of just how far this can go and what this can mean and how are they going to be dodge these kind of bullets for the rest of their lives?
Is that feeling shared by the rest of the team?
Nix: Yes. They all feel somewhat responsible and, they're all on this quest with Michael. At the same time, Michael's dancing really close to the edge. .. The fallout from Nate's death, over time, is it immediately and deeply impacts his relationship with his mother and she doesn't get over it. It ends up very much impacting his relationship with everybody.
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How bad is the strain between Michael and his mother?
Nix: It's really, really bad. We ended up cuing off of the emotion that Sharon [Gless] brought to it. We had a lot of conversations with Sharon about how this would impact her character. She blames Michael, no question. To some extent, she blames herself and to some extent, she blames everybody. She's put in this terrible position of Michael is the only family that she has left and she's deeply, deeply angry with him, and feels this loss acutely. It's not that they're not on speaking terms for the rest of the season, but they're not on speaking terms for a while.
That was one heck of a slap.
Nix: That was all Sharon.
Will we still see her on the show?
Nix: There's a funeral to do. I should say that Michael has to speak to her for various reasons, but that doesn't mean that she's enthusiastic about it.
Will Michael ever be able to forgive himself even if he catches who shot his brother?
Nix: On some level, no. One of the things about Michael Westin is he's not going to indulge his own regret or self-pity to the detriment of others. ... In Michael, regret is expressed through action. Over the rest of the season, you see him constantly going to the absolute brink, testing his own principles, doing things that he, his team, everybody is really not sure he should do. Why is that? Because on some level, he doesn't forgive himself for his brother's death and going that far, he imagines somehow maybe redeems it, but of course it can't.
Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 9/8c on USA. Were you surprised about Nate's death? Who do you think shot him? Sound off with your thoughts and theories in the comments below!