Choices, Death & Sacrifice: Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan, Bruce Campbell & Matt Nix Dish on Series Finale
With just two episodes remaining, USA Network’s Burn Notice is headed for an explosive finale on September 12th. The tension hasn’t been lessened for fans who recently learned the finale will feature the death of a core character.
We spoke to Burn Notice stars Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell yesterday, in addition to series creator Matt Nix. Under discussion – those death rumors, Michael’s final journey and how the series will play out on the 12th.
“Don’t eat Chinese food before the episode!” Donovan joked when prompted to advise fans how to prepare for the series’ end. Campbell however was at hand to offer a more serious take on proceedings. “My answer would be – there’s nothing that can prepare them,” he said ominously.
“One of the interesting journeys that Burn Notice has been on is that it created a family for audiences to watch,” offered Donovan after a moment’s consideration. “And though we’ve been humorous throughout the years, there has always been an underbelly of seriousness and tragedy. I don’t think we’re going to end the series with a bow-tie and smiles on everyone’s faces. I think the audience knows there has to be some sort of tragedy to show how important their journey was over the years.”
“And I believe it’s called collateral damage,” put in Campbell. “When you have a group of people who put their lives on the line every single episode it becomes hard to maintain that. I think the specifics might be better handled by Mr. Matt Nix.”
“One of the central ideas and conflicts in the series over the years has always been between Michael’s work and Michael’s family,” said Nix, picking up on Campbell’s prompt. “He started the series as a very isolated guy, and over the years he has acquired a family and friends and relationships that he didn’t have at the beginning. But we’ve always talked about the idea that there’s a reason that he’s putting himself in these kinds of situations. It was important for me to ask why do the last seven years matter? Are those themes we’ve addressed over the last seven years real? I think the answer to that question has to be yes. Michael’s always had to balance the two sides of his life. The final two episodes are about choices and sacrifices. It’s not just about being sad or killing off the character. It’s also about taking seriously the things we’ve talked about and the issues that we’ve addressed over the last seven years.”
Donovan agreed. Talking about ‘the core’ of his character, he said “You can take Michael out of Miami and out of the CIA, but, as corny as this sounds, I don’t think you can ever take the hero out of Michael. He always going to want to try to help people. One of the things Matt and I always talked about was when you peel away these onion layers what’s at the core of Michael? That journey took place in the seventh season. What we find is – and I’m not trying to be funny – but it’s a frightened little boy. I’m not sure I knew that when I started the pilot. This seven year marriage with Matt and the writers was a world of discovery. It was an incredible joy to pursue – and a lot harder to pull it off in the end. It certainly tested my abilities. When you push yourself to create something you’ve never done before, if you do it right, you can pull something off that’s really magical. I feel like we pulled something magical for our final season.”
Does this mean Michael is headed for a sad end next Thursday? Donovan wouldn’t say, but he did tease that Michael was not the sort of character to walk away from a situation – however much he might want to walk away from his job.
Speaking of the show’s demise, and the reasons behind it, Nix explained “A lot of it was just creative. There were a lot of factors that went into it. When you’re making a series you have a choice. You can either do it on your own terms in which case you will be ending it a little early, or you can end it when you get yanked off the air, in which case you’ll invariably be ending it a little bit late. Between the two of those there are obviously positives and negatives. We were all very happy this season to know we were ending. Once we had a sense that this was the last season we were able to do a new kind of storytelling, and one that I’m really proud of.”
Catch Burn Notice’s series finale Thursday September 12 at 9 p.m./8c on USA Network.
You might be interested to know that USA is also airing a Burn Notice marathon kicking off starting at 6 a.m. PT on September 12, comprising the three episodes from season 6 and every episode from season 7 to date. The marathon will conclude with the series finale “Reckoning” at at 9 p.m.