Burn Notice's Season 6 Finale: Stalling for Action

By Ryan Sandoval

Dec 21, 2012

Burn Notice S06E17/18: "You Can Run" and "Game Change"

Dirt bikes! Cartel hits! Coast Guards! Michael and Fi kept a wounded Sam alive, rescued Jesse from the evil, temporary clutches of the CIA, and the whole crew (minus Sam/Maddie) worked together to take down a frustrated Riley. "You Can Run" and "Game Change" satisfied in terms of providing answers, but overall functioned as one episode's worth of action stretched into two. They worked together as an enjoyable Burn Notice outing, but with the former being pure set-up and the latter its pay-off, the result was frustratingly uneven pacing. However, this is Westen we’re talking about, so whatever story-lemons were present got turned into a full-fledged lemonade empire via some strong emotional excursions and a few instances of inspired action.

For example, one thing I did not mind was Jesse getting a chance to emotionally shine, both in his devotion to Westen and his apparent woundedness concerning the death of his mother at the age of nine. Porter’s unwillingness to give up Michael, even with the temptation of solving his mother’s murder and the threat of assault, showed just how close-knit this team is, and resulted in some fun comebacks (like "Pontoons up" and "Seriously dude, who uses the phonebook these days? What, you guys don’t have internet?"). Testing those bonds was primarily this first part’s mission statement, and the bloody Sam Axe showed everyone up in his stubborn, yet heroic choice to not make a big deal about being on death’s doorstep for the sake of the mission. Now that’s a true friend, brother.

That said, I was genuinely touched when Michael had his panic attack with Sam in the backseat. Every once in awhile this season (though more so recently with Calvin Schmidt), the dynamic of Fi, Michael, Jesse, and Sam was called into question, suggesting that Michael, in his single-mindedness, had become more maverick than mate. In a late-night mom-and-son chat, we learned a little more about Michael’s similarities to his bastard father, who increasingly functions as a warning for what Westen might become if he doesn’t depend on others. Such is the risk with a hero as routinely capable as Michael Westen: He’s a cut above the rest, so much so that sometimes it seems as though he has no weaknesses, and then other times, that he is TOO prone to weakness for his friends and family. It's a real back-and-forth situation. He’s making choices on his own, like diving into the water after Riley, then catching flak from his loved ones for making dangerous solo calls. Heavy is the head that wears the crown (and then swiftly repurposes it as a murder weapon). Anyhow, this is a completely valid problem for a hero as able as Michael to struggle with, and I suspect that once he learns to operate with more balance, the show will be over.

Oh wait a sec, some cool product placement:

Then we unfortunately said goodbye to our favorite CSS agent...

R.I.P. Bly. Anyway, my main complaint with how things wrapped up was the involvement of the cartel (from the second episode this season, "Mixed Messages"). Feasibly, it makes sense that Riley could access the criminals involved with Michael’s early favor to the CIA, but the cartel had been out of sight and mind for months. Bringing it back was better than a completely random threat, but it still felt a little out of left field. A few gassed buildings and U.S. Coast Guard cameos later, and all of sudden we're at the end of another season. Looking back, a lot did happen, but this finale felt like going right back to square one. Whereas last year ended with Fiona giving herself up for the sake of Michael’s freedom, things have flip-flopped, though overall we’re still in familiar territory. There have been situations wherein Michael needed rescuing from his friends—who have by now proven how devoted they are to their favorite Westen, but has he put them in a position where they can't rescue him? Only time, and bullets, will tell.


– Was this a satisfying season finale?

– Is Michael going to jail for good?

– How will he be treated as a witness to all this?

– Is Season 7 just going to be straight-up litigiousness?

– Did Michael act selfishly?

– Did Michael and Fi get on top of Riley’s roof a little too easily?

– Did Riley suffer a fitting defeat?

Until next time, here is a ship video of Michael and Fiona in love over the years:

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  • DayeongSeong Feb 26, 2013

    I was wondering if Michael is going to jail or be a spy again. And I get all answers here! Thank you people!

  • Peter_24601 Jan 02, 2013

    At the end of the episode, did no one notice that everyone around them was taking orders from Michael? He's not just a spy anymore... I think he took over Carter's job. He's now one of the directors. He re-upped with the CIA to get his friends out of jail. But Fi is upset because she thinks deep down Michael also wanted back in with the CIA. That's where her heartbreak comes from. Michael is now the man in the CIA, so I think that's the direction season 7 will take... following Michael in the agency.

  • Akyriel Dec 29, 2012

    I had the same questions as those posted below - What happened to the agent played by Patrick Kilpatrick, what happened to Jesse's cut lip and bruises after he was rescued, why didn't Michael think to throw the grenade (he seems like one who would think of it), etc.

    This finale seemed to rushed. I think the character of Riley was ruined because of it. This may have developed into a decent cat and mouse game where Riley's character eventually discovers Michael is not as bad as he may seem and that his actions against card were justified. Couldn't the previous agent Micheal worked with have vouched fro him? She was reassigned, but still... They may have spent too much time with Patton Oswalts' stupid crap and then they realized they needed to wrap it up, but too late to develop it more. I guess Bly also had enough on card to clear Michael to some degree? It would have been good to see something of that so his death would have more meaning.

    I think I am done with this show. It's the same every week now. Find the badder guy behind the bad guy; help someone along the way; blow up half of Miami or surrounding area while doing so, but no one ever really notices, particularly LOCAL law enforcement; rinse, wash, repeat. It's a good show in general, but has become tiresome. Even Sharon Gless looks like she wants to rest. I'll watch the next season's premiere to see what happened, so maybe it will intrigue me enough to continue. If it is the last season, I may watch just to complete it.

    In the end, I would really like to see some acknowledgement that someone knows most of, if not all, the people Micheal and team have done in, other than the CIA's bad apples.

  • JaniceHarrold Dec 28, 2012

    I missed the finale, due to power outage. When will it air again?

  • Akyriel Dec 29, 2012

    If you have cable, try On Demand or whatever similar your service provides. That's how I just watched it. USA or Hulu's websites should have it free in about thirty days, or got to TV Guide's website and set up your own channel listings, including USA network, and check them often.

  • rashr77 Dec 28, 2012

    Jeffrey Donovan is good actor ,Bruce Campbell,and others they make good team,I watched all season,and episode.keep-up with season & episode.I will come to florida one day and buy you all MoJito.If it dosnot cost $18 a Drink?Deal? From Ron Rash.

  • Braddtastic Dec 27, 2012

    That was a particularly nice suit he was wearing, so Prison???
    No way...I think Michael is the new "Control."

  • angeloparedes Dec 26, 2012

    Westen is in the CIA now. there's no way he's going to jail. but i still don't know why Fi got so upset. I know he promised her they'd leave the CIA after is was all over. but since there's a season 7, Fi should know it's not over yet.

    i dont think season 7 will be all litigation. i have a feeling it'll be similar to season 5 where he'll be doing agent pierce style work. but i want to make a guess that he'll be using his team to carry these CIA operations in his fashion. (no one dies, the bad guy is arrested, victim is vindicated or saved, and Westen gets to charm his way through CIA hassles)

    Westen and Fi got on the roof easily because they've done it a million times these past 6 years. there's no need to explain his way of passing by a camera blind spot or judo chopping some scout's shoulder. bigger questions need to be addressed, like how did Westen swim that far in loafers?

    A lot of people complained about Riley's character. her character is fine. they introduced her as a know-all master agent. that sort of confidence and arrogance was her demise. she did well in the beginning, but i think she went in too strong and showed westen her muscles too soon. when her plan A B C D E etc all fail, of course an evil character's decision making gets compromised. she was practically a sinister laugh away from being any evil genius out there. although her smug grin was close enough...... her defeat was good enough. i think the game of chicken westen played with her made her defeat feel fitting.

    one last thing..... Michael Westen is not going to fake his death! Dr. House already did that. i just really hope this show doesnt suffer a sopranos style series finale :(

  • MichelleARive Dec 24, 2012

    I'm very confused, is he going to jail or is he getting back with the CIA? If the latter, I understand why Fi was upset but it appeared she went overboard since it is a win-win for everyone. When she said "you said in Panama we were done with all this" it makes it seem as if they are talking about him getting out of a dangerous job. Why would he be in a suit, riding in helicopters and ordering CIA people around if he was a prisoner?

  • AndyDwyer Dec 25, 2012

    Most of the scene suggested to me that he gave himself up entirely to protect his friends. 'I needed to protect all of us' 'Michael what have you done?' 'I couldn't leave you in there forever, they weren't just going to forget everything that happened and release you... so I made a deal'. I initially assumed the deal was Michael giving himself up because I don't see how the CIA can just forget everything Michael has done too! If he was completely cooperating then there is no reason why, at Michael's request, they couldn't have allowed him to say good bye to his friends on his own terms (ie suit etc).
    Really it could be either - I think Fi's reaction is consistent with both since Michael will be 'alone' either way. Based on the fact that the series is continuing I definitely agree it is more likely that the CIA were satisfied with the info Michael told them about Riley and Tom Card but needed something extra to work the release of the gang - the extra being Michael coming back under their control.

  • jojodice Dec 24, 2012

    Michelle, I totally agree with you, every word. When I read Ryan's recap I was all, "Jail? What the?"

  • smorbie Dec 24, 2012

    I'm kind of thinking Ryan's the only one who thinks he's going to jail.

  • bkto Dec 24, 2012

    he's not going to jail, he's going to spy!

  • bkyle2429 Dec 24, 2012

    great two hour finale, only one problem when Michael and Fiona gassed the building Riley would have been the first one down!!! if the agent that was beating Jesse was down in 2 seconds!! Riley would have been down in less!!! going to get Jesse, shooting rounds and making a phone well would not happen!!!

  • MichelleARive Dec 24, 2012

    I caught that too. She's so tiny and that bruiser was so big, she definitely would have gotten overcome first.

  • joshgroff1 Dec 26, 2012

    He, unlike Riley was standing right next to a vent, where the gas was coming from. Just figured that should be pointed out.

  • bkyle2429 Dec 26, 2012

    she also noticed the gas first I do believe I think!!! so Riley being tiny would have been affected more quickly!!

  • RebeccaDemers Jan 02, 2013

    I noticed that she was holding her breath after she saw the gas. If you watch again you'll notice that she talks to Jesse in very short phrases.

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