BURN NOTICE finales are always heavy on game-changing plot developments (consider last summer’s capper), and this one was no different – which was good and bad. Good because it was exciting and fast-paced, with a number of great character bits; but bad because once again the goal posts were moved, making a lot of what Michael accomplished this season moot.
Picking up from last week, Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) arranged to get ostensible big bad John Barrett (Robert Patrick) to Miami, but before he could confront the villain with Simon’s book-code bible, Jesse (Coby Bell) discovered that Michael was responsible for burning him in the season premiere. Michael wanted to continue to pursue Barrett, reasoning that taking out the man behind all the strife in the world might get Jesse back in the good graces of his bosses. Not to mention getting Michael back in the game (officially).
Michael reached out by employing the American Indian technique of “counting coup” – approaching an enemy and touching him without killing, just to demonstrate that you could if you wanted to. Michael invaded Barrett’s estate, captured a guard, and called Barrett. He promised to deliver the bible to Barrett. In exchange, “I was thinking you might want to hire me on.” Evil POS that he is, Barrett pointed out there will be plenty of work for mercenaries after he gets his hands on the bible. All Michael has to do is stay out of Jesse’s way and stay alive long enough to make the exchange.
But wait! We interrupt this thrilling intrigue to bring you… a case of the week! Wha-huh? Yes, folks, Michael decided to work a case rather than hunt down Jesse or work out a trap for Barrett. To be honest, creator Matt Nix (who wrote the script) stacked the deck by involving a kidnapped little girl. Michael could hardly turn his back on child, right? The kid was the daughter of criminal attorney Adam Scott (Danny Pino). And by criminal attorney I mean a lawyer for bad guys. “I’m not a saint Mr. Westen. Neither are you,” Scott sneered. Tough guy Michael Rooker played Dale the kidnapper, and the best part of the case was that when it was all over, Michael claimed a small submersible as payment. Yes, Michael Westen now owns a submarine!
More interesting than the case was the opportunity it presented for Michael, Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Bruce Campbell) to talk. Most important, Fiona confessed to kissing Jesse “for the job.” She explained the circumstances, and apologized, and Michael took it in stride as part of the job. But then Fi mentioned how it can sometimes be easy to get “confused” about co-workers in the heat of life-or-death situations. “Are you confused?” he pointedly asked her. “I care about him,” she admitted. That was evident in the way she noted that while Jesse was furious at Michael for burning him and lying about it, Jesse seemed genuinely hurt that Fiona was part of the cover-up. Michael seemed concerned by this reveal. As well he should have been. Jesse’s presence has certainly shaken up the working dynamic for the trio: Fiona and Sam seemed to be bickering even worse than the old days. They stumbled upon Jesse watching them, but he disappeared. Later, Fi arranged to meet him with Maddie (Sharon Gless) in tow. Maddie put an instant end to Jesse’s tough-guy revenge posturing by scolding him into submission. She made him listen as Fiona explained that getting him burned was a mistake. But once that happened, she and the others had to lie to him to protect him. Then she confessed that she met Michael when he was working undercover, and fell in love with him without even knowing his real name. (That reveal shocked Maddie!) She told Jesse that Sam used to inform on Michael to the FBI, but Michael forgave him. Finally, Maddie confronted Jesse, telling him that killing Michael as revenge “is beneath you.” But if he has to shoot her son, he should wait a few days, because Michael was trying to save a little girl’s life.
Jesse agreed to meet Michael at a diner. He told Michael he was late because spent 10 minutes in the parking lot with Michael’s head in his crosshairs, “wondering if I should shoot the man who ruined my life.” Michael told him he’s still going after Barrett, and he needs Jesse back on the team to finish the job. Jesse declined. “As far as me and you go, I make no promises,” Jesse growled.
Michael decided to forge ahead and meet Barrett, with just Fi and Sam as backup. He handed over the bible, which Barrett had verified. What, exactly, does it decode? A list of names. Specifically, the names of the people who burned Michael and many others. Barrett said those people are “hidden” in all walks of life, and the coded list reveals who they are, and where they are. Barrett said Simon compiled the list as insurance when he decided to go rogue, and he needed someone powerful enough to play that card: Barrett. But before things could go much further, Vaughn (Robert Wisdom) showed up with a tactical team, guns blazing. Amid the subsequent firefight, Michael was captured. Then, out of nowhere, Jesse appeared and shot Michael’s captor – by shooting through Michael’s shoulder! Barrett gathered up the bleeding Michael and the briefcase containing the bible and fled. Close to bleeding out, Michael grabbed the wheel and crashed the SUV, killing Barrett. So much for him being the actual Big Bad. (Seriously, another red herring power player? Who can the real puppeteer be?) Michael dragged himself out of the wreckage just in time to see a mystery man in black pick up the briefcase. Then Michael passed out.
So, who picked up the briefcase? To me, there’s only one possibility: Simon! I would imagine that between mucking up this op and burning Michael, Vaughn will have a big target painted on his bald head when the show returns with new episodes in November…