Burn Notice Creator: 'Very Different' Season 6 Will Make Things 'Vastly Worse' for Michael & Co.

USA Network’s Burn Notice left viewers with the ultimate humdinger at the close of last season, when Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar) – in order to wrest away the leverage that big bad Anson Fullerton had against Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) – turned herself into the feds for the bombing of the consulate. How that selfless act plays out will fuel a “very different” kind of Season 6 (premiering Thursday at 9/8c), series creator Matt Nix shares in this TVLine Q&A.

TVLINE | Coming out of the Season 5 finale, it would seem that with Fi having surrendered herself, Anson Fullerton (played by Jere Burns) has no cards left to play. Am I right?
He has whatever resources he has left over, but she has taken away the leverage that he had over Michael, so yeah, he’s pretty much out of options. Rebecca – Kristanna Loken’s character — is still around, and there’s whatever money he had. But in terms of Michael as the focus of his efforts to rebuild his organization, Anson now is basically fighting for his life.

PHOTO | First Look Poster: Burn Notice Season 6 Means Trouble!

TVLINE | Since Fiona only planted one of the explosions in the consulate, is it now a matter of proving she had no role in the larger tragedy? That Anson was behind it?
Ultimately, it isn’t about Fiona going to trial and people “proving” this or that. Fact is, Anson is a very embarrassing figure for the intelligence community, so to some extent it’s about them waking up to the fact that he is not who they thought he was. And yet they also need someone to go down for the bombing of that consulate. If Michael can get Anson, that’s a big step toward getting Fiona out of jail. It’s not the only step, but it’s a major one.

TVLINE | Oh, so it could be some time before Fi rejoins the team?
Oh yes. For a lot of reasons, many of them having to do with how the show works on the network — and I’m not blaming anyone for this — our season premieres often have to hit the reset button fairly quickly. But this year, between people sort of relaxing about serialization and the fact that we’re in our sixth year, the reset button really doesn’t get hit. So Fiona’s in jail for a while. And even when she gets out, other things are permanently changed. I mean, it’s still Burn Notice, but it’s a very different season. A very different season.

TVLINE | But since the Michael/Fiona dynamic is a reason why many folks tune in, how will you keep that alive?
Fiona’s time in jail isn’t about splitting them up; it’s about focusing on their struggle to be together. The question becomes how far Michael is willing to go for the woman he loves. They still have contact while she’s in prison, it’s just focused on the quest to get her out. The irony is that these episodes feature some of the most romantic, intense screen time they have had together. And that’s not a coincidence — their relationship thrives on conflict and danger.

TVLINE | How does prison go for Fiona? Is she prepared for it?
She’s Fiona. She can hold her own, but she’s also a very special prisoner with an enemy who is not sitting still. So, she has enemies in prison, enemies outside of prison…. Just keeping her alive is a task, much less getting her out.

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TVLINE | Seeing as this is your sixth season, is part of the struggle for you each year finding new ways to keep the larger mythology alive? When you launched the show, did you possibly have it mapped out this far?
In a general sort of way. It’s interesting, because the early marketing for this show, for totally legitimate reasons, was very focused on: “What is the name of the person who burned Michael Westen?” — but that had never really been my particular interest. It was a larger thing for me. But Anson really is the last guy. I wouldn’t rule out some of the characters who were involved in the burn notice coming back at some point, but there’s not going to be “a man behind the man” here.

TVLINE | But once Anson is taken down, is there still a “burn notice” in Burn Notice?
Yes. Yes, but for other reasons. And this season really shakes up Michael’s position vis-a-vis the intelligence community in general. Certain things get resolved, but ultimately Michael and everybody find themselves in a vastly worse position than they were in before. This year we really confront, “What has this quest cost Michael? And how much more is it going to cost?” And the answer is: A whole lot.

TVLINE | Aw, now you’ve got me worried about Ma.
[Laughs] The question becomes, How much can Michael ask of his friends? How much of their lives are they supposed to devote to his quest? As we’re resolving a lot of the questions associated with Michael’s burn notice, his situation actually becomes far more intense and far more dire. It’s been exciting working on this season because the episodes are just very different. They are largely focused on very high-stakes, very personal situations for Michael and the other main characters. Those episodes tend to be fast and intense, with immediate, life-or-death stakes, the kind that have always tended to be our favorites to make, and often turn out to be fan favorites as well. It’s all very focused on the team this year, which is very exciting.

Burn Notice fans, are you excited for what Season 6 has in store?