For my money, the fifth season of "Burn Notice" has featured one of the show's most satisfying adversaries for Michael Westen.
Jere Burns, who plays Anson, the spy psychologist who has gotten inside Michael's head, has a cool but charismatic presence and can more than hold his own with Jeffrey Donovan's driven character, a spy who was exiled from the intelligence community. Anson's ability to anticipate Michael's moves and stymie Michael's attempts to break free of his control have made for one of the show's more interesting chess matches. I've enjoyed how Burns has underplayed the role yet made Anson's coolness into the character's most chilling trait.
The question before Michael in Thursday's season finale, "Fail Safe," is simple: Can he break free of the iron grip that Anson has on the burned spy's personal life? Anson has evidence linking Fiona to a fatal bomb blast; she was framed to look like a murderer and Anson will use that evidence to get Fi locked up unless Michael helps the shrink with his nefarious plans.
In Thursday's episode, the pressure hits Michael from two directions. The CIA is finally starting to trust him again, and he's tasked with leading a team that is set to intercept a shady mogul played by Eric Roberts. (Of course Roberts plays the shady mogul -- what else did you expect?) But Anson also has a job for Michael, and in both situations, things don't go quite as planned.
Guest stars Kristanna Loken and Dean Cain play members of Michael's CIA team in the episode, which was directed by "Die Hard 2" veteran Renny Harlin.
"Things get very tense in the second half of the season and our villain is very formidable and good at seeing around corners, so there's a lot of scale in the finale -- there's a big cast," creator Matt Nix said in a recent phone interview. "It's shot really well, the stakes are incredibly high and the characters pay very, very big prices."
For more from Nix on where "Burn Notice" has been and where it's heading next, check out my recent interview with the show's executive producer. In both that interview and in one that took place earlier in the season, Nix talked about Michael's re-entry into the official spy world and other ways in which the long-running USA show has evolved over the years.
Not to give anything away about Thursday's finale, but I think it sets up an interesting dynamic for the next season of the show. Come back here Friday after the finale to offer your opinions about what went down, or feel free to let me know what you thought on Twitter.