‘Burn Notice’ Creator on Michael’s Fate: ‘I Really Wanted to Do Something New’

With just two episodes to go, Matt Nix explains his approach to ending the USA series

Glenn Watson/USA Network

With just two episodes left of USA’s “Burn Notice,” it has become very tough to predict what Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) will do next. And, it’s not as simple as labeling the bad guy and having Michael take him down.

“I feel like we’ve sort of been-there-done-that, and I felt that trotting out another bad guy who was simply clever and murderous and Michael defeats through some kind of wit and tactical brilliance, you know, we’ve sort of done that,” show creator Matt Nix told TheWrap.

“This season I really wanted to do something new, and what it basically boiled down to was that this season was really about Michael learning about himself,” he continued. “This is really him dealing with his own demons, and what he is ultimately overcoming; James has something to do with it, but it’s really his own temptation.”

See video: ‘Graceland’s’ Aaron Tveit on Season 2: ‘I Hope It Works Out’

On the penultimate episode airing on Thursday, Michael’s beliefs are challenged and he may turn his back on his family and friends while he makes sense of the new thoughts he’s having.

TheWrap: What were your intentions for the final two episodes?
Matt Nix: The penultimate episode is really about one side of Michael really coming out, one side of him really in conflict with another side of him. The final episode is about the consequences of that struggle. That’s really what it’s about for me. In the final episode, Michael is sort of functionally the bad guy, which is something that we’ve never done before, and that was really important to me–something that really carried through.

What did it feel like to build up the family over seven seasons to break them down over the course of the last few episodes?
Well, I think that over the years these relationships have been tested in a lot of different ways, and it’s not as if at any point in the series that Michael and Fiona were just settled and everything was fine, for even as much as a few episodes — there was always this conflict at the core of the series between how far does Michael get to go? What does it mean to have this family? He says over and over in the course of the series that he acknowledges the danger of being close to people, because they can be used against him.

Also read: ‘White Collar,’ ‘Covert Affairs’ and (Yes!) ‘Psych: The Musical’ Get Premiere Dates

Why was now the right time to end the series?
I think that there was a feeling between the network and the studio and the actors. I think everybody felt that it was important to end the show on our own terms, and while it still had a lot of creative juice, and while we could bring it to a satisfying close and not feel like we were making episodes for the sake of making episodes. I will say that certainly there are episodes in my mind that I mourn never being able to do, you know? And there would have been a certain satisfaction in going longer. I’m glad that we get the opportunity to end the series rather than just get cancelled.

At a certain point shows get very expensive and if you’re a basic cable show that’s getting super expensive at a certain point your ability to do the show the way you want to do the show can also be compromised. You hear of shows where by the ninth or tenth season they don’t have any money to make the show because everything is crazily expensive, everybody’s being paid so much, that you can’t do the stuff that you want to do. Nobody wants to see ‘Burn Notice’ when we can’t pay for explosions.

“Burn Notice” airs Thursdays at 9/8c on USA.