By Ken Tucker
Updated July 31, 2009 at 11:22 AM EDT

Well, Burn Notice has certainly cranked up the quality as its season draws to a close, hasn’t it? After those early tedious weeks Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael spent trading insults with Moon Bloodgood’s Det. Paxson, it’s been a relief to see a far more intriguing character, Ben Shenkman’s Strickler, come to the forefront.

As the only man Michael thinks might be able to clear his name, Strickler, “agent to the spies,” is an amusing hustler who gets results. More importantly, Burn Notice has been on a hot streak of fast, funny, exciting episodes. A few weeks ago, the episode entitled “The Hunter” featured a lot of Michael’s trademark weapons improvisations and fight scenes set in the Everglades. Last week’s “Shot in the Dark” boasted a fine guest-star turn by Better Off Ted‘s Jay Harrington and a classic Burn plot: Michael taking a 13 year-old boy as a client to fend off his abusive stepdad (Harrington).

And last night, Rescue Me‘s Callie Thorne showed up as a devious villain who put Fiona through an emotional wringer. She, in turn, did the same to Michael. The season is building to the climax of two storylines: Michael getting closer than he ever has to having his burn notice lifted, and, perhaps, losing Fiona’s affections in the process.

Next week,Tyne Daly will show up in some stunt-casting that’ll pair her with Sharon Gless — Cagney and Lacey reunited. I hope that sweet idea doesn’t get in the way of some serious resolution to a solid season.

Did you watch Burn Notice last night? What did you think?