Hey can I level with you all? I’m gonna do that: I like Burn Notice despite how ultimately predictable it is. PLEASE PUT DOWN YOUR MOB TORCHES AND HEAR ME OUT. Like, we all know at the end of the day Michael Westen’s going to be just fine. Right? I mean, yes, his friends MIGHT face temporary peril (from which they’ll likely emerge unscathed), various organizations MIGHT slow him down (until he outsmarts them), and any given situation MIGHT force the whole gang to be at odds with one another (before Westen brings them all back together). There’s no real enduring tension going on here (PLEASE DON’T PUT MY HEAD ON A PIKE). We watch for the very reason that there can only be limited dramatic suspense: to see a super-spy kick ass and quip wise with his exceptionally capable teammates. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend time with friends! Especially ones as funny, tough, and sexy as this bunch. It’s like repeatedly drinking Shasta strawberry-flavored soda: not for the surprise in taste, not for the unique sensation of poppy tongue bubbles, but for the satisfaction of dependable familiarity. Thankfully, "Down Range" doubled-down on both the old and the novel by mixing earlier story threads with new threats, resulting in a satisfying episode that hinted at a possible conclusion to the whole series.
So Michael ended his brief Miami getaway to return to the "D.R." in his deal with the CIA as orchestrated by the casually intense Andrew "Failed Marriage" Strong. Meanwhile, Buff dude Randall Burke continued his dastardly plan to hijack and sell replacement satellite technology to his fellow international terrorist "Serrano." Also, his plan to wear extraneous leather bracelets and dress like Nate Drake from the Uncharted trilogy went off without a hitch. After the unfortunate murder of a greedy sleazebag inside a Dominican Republic Marie Callender's restaurant, Burke was out a team and needed some guys to storm the warehouse holding his sweet, sweet techno-cheese. Ever the opportunist, Michael got the okay from both his criminal boss and the CIA for Sam and Jesse to fly down and lend a hand. Things were cool until Sam ended up murdering a mercenary (is the D.R. populated mostly with dead people?), and freaked out accordingly. Honestly, this was one of the truer emotional moments of the episode—even though Axe is no stranger to the bullet, it can’t feel right ending a stranger’s life.
Burke showed his true hand: The pricey spy gear was just bait used to capture the ridiculous Serrano for some shadow-superiors. It was hard to believe this guy was such a big wheel in the world of terrorism, what with looking like the spawn of Luis Guzman and Kenny Powers, but sometimes you just got to say "sure thing, Life, let’s hold hands and jump into the swimming hole TOGETHER." Then when you emerge from the shimmering pool, you realize it was YOU jumping by yourself all along. Similarly, Michael had no choice but to soar off with Randeezy, who launched into one of his trademark emo bouts via a heartfelt apology to Michael, all like, "I knew you were true-blue, buddy, put her there." Michael pretended to be angry, demanding to know about his bosses to no avail, and the helicopter pilot rolled his eyes at the bro-off while the trio whirled away into the sunset.
Back in the city of neon lights and asses-so-tight (just made that up/regret it), Maddie dealt with a scumbag of her own: Nate’s shiftless bookie, aiming to collect on an $80,000 gambling debt. To show that he meant business, the money-man had his hired goon/Bachelorette contestant shove a bullet into the hands of three-year-old Charlie Westen (#classy). This guy was as oily as they come, the type of crook who I bet gets pedicures at gunpoint while cleaning his teeth with a filthy pocketknife toothpick. "Yeah sweetheart, perfume my tootsies or Su Tran over here gets it!" Enlisting Fiona to help protect her little darling sugarplum, the two womenfolk tracked down the bookie’s honey pot in Fi’s bitchin’ Hyundai while Carlos stayed home and cleaned the kitchen linoleum with old socks.
Maddie had a bit of an emotional breakdown herself, recounting the hateful, hurtful things she'd spoken of the deceased Nate Westen (Rest in Pompadour), that he was a loser, and a drunk, and had rooster hair that just would not quit. Luckily, it was all in service of nicking the bookie’s client list, which she then used to sweat him into clearing the debt. CASE CLOSED! Personally, I was very relieved to witness the outcome because I did not want to see the young Charlie Westen wind up in a Chinese "button factory." Shame on you, those who did want to see this storyline play out, a la Fiona’s time in lady jail. SHAME I SAY!
So things are gearing up for the final showdown between Westen and whoever this ultimate, behind-the-scenes threat is (God Himself?). Considering each episode is a step toward the END-end, Burn Notice is doing a fine job of integrating conclusive elements while maintaining the evergreen parts of this adventurous world we all now and love.
– Who does Burke work for?
– How will Sam's unease over murdering that soldier play into the finale?
– How can Andrew Strong spend eight years tracking down Burke and STILL be surprised that he is working for someone?
– Were YOU surprised to find out that the CIA can send everyone right back to The Clink if Michael doesn't deliver?
– How will Charlie further be used as a pawn in this, the closing season?
– Is Burke just Michael Westen’s father, post-cosmetic surgery?
– Did you miss Carlos?
– Have you tried USA Network's new Burn Notice Meme Generator? Here's one I made:
What'd you think of "Down Range"?