Michael Westen is a fictional character portrayed by Jeffrey Donovan in the television series Burn Notice. Michael Westen is an international spy who suddenly finds himself blacklisted. Dumped in his hometown of Miami, Florida with an FBI surveillance team assigned to him, Michael struggles to put his life back together and find out why he's been cut off. In the meantime, Michael uses his unique skills and training as a freelance spy, usually helping downtrodden people with unique problems. LA Weekly described him as "Jim Rockford and MacGyver filtered through Carl Hiaasen."
Michael Westen was born and raised in Miami, Florida, the first of two sons to Frank and Madeline Westen. His father was a violent man, who would physically and emotionally abuse his two sons as an obedience measure, and his mother did little to prevent it. His father would also take advantage of him, for example, he forced Michael to fake a seizure inside a Mr. Goodwrench store in order so his father could steal sparkplugs. The last words his father said to him were "I'll see you in Hell, boy." Eight years prior to the beginning of the series, his father died. After persistent persuasion by his mother, Michael finally visited the gravesite of his father. Michael's younger brother, Nate, is a compulsive gambler who has a history of stealing from Michael to fund his addiction. However, after helping Michael and almost dying, he has turned his life around, which Michael seems to have difficulty believing. After a brief quarrel with his brother, Michael rightfully receives his father's black 1973 Dodge Charger.
Michael enlisted in the United States Army when he was 17 years old, and his mother forged his father's signature in order so he could enlist. He went on to join the U.S Army Special Forces. He served for 15 years, working in Europe and the OPEC nations as a covert operative who did freelance work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While on a mission in Nigeria, he received a burn notice from CIA superiors. After managing to embark on an airplane in Nigeria, Michael is deserted in Miami, with Fiona Glenanne, his ex-girlfriend.
Per the conditions of Michael's burn notice, his assets are frozen, his line of credit is destroyed, and he has no career history with which to seek employment. He is free to travel within Miami, but any attempts to relocate outside of the city will result in immediate arrest. Michael now has to find work that suits his unusual skillset and knowledge. He counts on longtime friends like Sam Axe, who informed on him to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) until midway through the first season, and Fiona to perform such tasks, while fighting with his mother Madeline Westen and trying to find out who burned him and why.
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