On-screen, he's one of the men that burned Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) from the CIA years ago and the man now blackmailing Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) for blowing up the consulate and killing two men. Yes, Burn Notice's big bad Anson (Jere Burns) has made many enemies. Off-screen, it's a different story. "I love this character of Anson so much," Anwar tells TVGuide.com. "Just how clever and how manipulative and how intelligent he is in the way that he can control the mechanisms of these characters. ... We're being devoured, essentially, so it's been a very pleasurable season to work on."
Following the shocking reveal in the midseason finale that Anson was part of the organization that burned Michael, Anson will be the one pulling the strings (for now) when the spy drama returns Thursday at 10/9c on USA. But what is he blackmailing Michael and Fiona for? How long will he try to control them? And can they find a way to break free? Anwar talked to TVGuide.com about those questions and more of what's coming up.
Why do you think this was the right time in the series for Michael to meet the man that burned him?
Gabrielle Anwar: Anson, who is such a despicable character and brilliantly played by Jere Burns, has been waiting for Michael and Fiona to reach a point in their relationship where Michael cannot live without her. It's the one weak point that Michael has, and up until this point, I don't think it's been weak enough.
How did you find out who Anson really was? Did you receive any advance warning?
Anwar: I was as surprised as some of the audience members. I actually don't really know what's going to happen in advance, which makes my life much more exciting as I read the scripts. It's a great impetus to keep going through the season as it gets more and more tiring with the more stunts and the more hours. It was a surprise to me, and I think it's fantastic. It's a wonderful twist to add at this late time in the game.
How will Anson's presence and the threat he holds over Fiona affect the dynamic of the show?
Anwar: Both Michael and Fiona are at the mercy of Anson now. ... and there's not very much they can do about it except to endure this emotional and professional blackmail. It gets really, really intense at certain points in the next couple of episodes.
When the show returns, what kind of emotions is Fiona feeling now that she realizes what exactly what Anson has over her?
Anwar: She has such a diverse response to being controlled by anybody. It is the most troubling emotion for her to experience — for her to be controlled by anything or anybody. She is very reluctant for Michael to participate in any of Anson's exploits and I think that she's very willing to surrender from the get-go rather than let this sick character get his way with her.
What keeps Fiona from surrendering and what keeps Michael from letting her do that?
Anwar: Michael is as repulsed by the idea as she is, and I think that he is under the impression that there has to be something that he can do to rectify the situation. Michael feels as equally as powerless as Fiona. It's the first time they've ever let themselves become so vulnerable — not only with each other, but in a professional environment. The two of them are both clinging to some glimmer of hope that they will be able to get the upper hand over Anson, which is what propels the next few episodes until the season finale.
Will the threat of Anson bring Michael and Fiona closer together or put some new cracks in their relationship?
Anwar: Michael and Fiona have an incredibly cracked relationship even on a good day. I think there are definitely some fractures that happen under pressure in any relationship, but particularly under this kind of intensity. But having said that, the immense amount of respect and affection that they have for each other can only be a good thing.
Their relationship may be cracked, but Michael and Fiona have still come a long way since the beginning of the series. What has been the biggest surprise for you about their evolution as a couple?
Anwar: The biggest surprise is that they're still going. When I read the episode where Fiona actually moves into Michael's loft, I was really surprised. I wasn't expecting any domestic bliss anytime soon. So that kind of really threw me. But I've loved the last season and sharing that space with him. It's been very amusing for me to be moving in my linens and my fruit platters and filling the refrigerator with something other than yogurt — it's been very exciting. I have experienced immense domestic bliss in this last season. It was incredibly surprising to me that the writers were willing to let Fiona live with Michael. It was very daring.
Will this respect and love that they have for one another, do you think they'll ultimately be able to survive this difficult period?
Anwar: God, I hope so. I'm going to have to have a little faith that if anyone is going to make it through, it's going to be Michael and Fi. I'll be very depressed if they break up.
Without spoiling anything, do you think Anson will return to the show again next season?
Anwar: I hope so. I have my fingers and toes crossed.