Jeffrey Donovan

Sorry, Burn Notice fans. Fiona will not be getting out of prison anytime soon. Series creator and executive producer Matt Nix is just having too much fun.

"We don't get her out in the first episode. We don't get her out in the second episode and we don't get her out in the third episode," Nix tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. (It is too late for a spoiler alert?) "It's fun just to see Fiona in prison. Obviously, she's not an average prisoner, and prison is not a safe place to be. She's got her own set of challenges and her own set of characters."

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Yes, it's goodbye designer duds and hello orange jumpsuit when the new season of Burn Notice premieres on Thursday at 9/8c on USA. Season 6 picks up right after Fi (Gabrielle Anwar) turned herself into the authorities for bombing the British Consulate to stop Anson (Jere Burns) from blackmailing Michael (Jeffrey Donovan). "It's not like anything we've done before to have an entire story line that takes place separately from the main story line," Nix says. "Obviously, there are still some interactions and everybody's concerned with her being in prison and trying to deal with that situation."

This includes Michael, who obviously won't take Fiona's decision lightly, as seen in this exclusive sneak peek:

"It also gives us an interesting place to start the season, because Michael very nearly compromised himself completely for the sake of getting Fiona out of prison," Nix says. "Going into this season, he really wants to get her back, but that is not an easy thing."

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Michael's season-long quest to break his jailbird love free means less time for clients of the week and a larger step away from procedural, stand-alone episodes for the action drama. "This year is going to be a lot more serialized, a lot bigger because everything is impacting the main characters directly," Nix says. "I think everybody was feeling the same thing, between us and the network. For better or for worse, it's a whole new ball game this year."

Nix says the move has been a goal of his, and with the series about to hit 99 episodes at the end of Season 6, the timing finally felt right.  "At a certain point you realize, 'We've now done all the possible variations on this kind of story. What can I do now that's exciting and interesting and feels fresh?'" he says. "The answer, for me, is that it has to do more with the main characters, the specifics of their situation and their emotional lives. Those things can be fresh and different in all sorts of ways because it's not all driven by the client."

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It's also more rewarding for the show's many longtime devoted fans. "For years, we've heard people say that they like those episodes that really focus on the main characters and on those ongoing stories," Nix says. "So we've really been listening and running directly at that."

Burn Notice's more serialized narrative means fans can expect more recurring characters than ever before, "and not by a little — by a lot," Nix teases. This includes new additions like Michael's old CIA training officer Tom Card (Scrubs' John C. McGinley) and Nicole (Sons of Anarchy's Taryn Manning), a fellow inmate at Fiona's prison. This also includes familiar faces such as the return of Michael's brother, Nate (Seth Peterson), and last season's major antagonist, Anson. "You do various things for story reasons and then you wake up one day and realize, these big bads keep disappearing at the end of the season," Nix says. "It was a very conscious decision to say at the end of this season, 'The big bad is not ultimately defeated; we're carrying this over.'"

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Will Michael be able to take down Anson once and for all? Will he able to get Fiona out of prison? The new season of Burn Notice premieres Thursday at 9/8c on USA.