Burn Notice's Season 6 Finale: Stalling for Action

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.


BURNING QUESTIONS:

– 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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I was wondering if Michael is going to jail or be a spy again. And I get all answers here! Thank you people!
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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.
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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.
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I missed the finale, due to power outage. When will it air again?
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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.
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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.
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That was a particularly nice suit he was wearing, so Prison???
No way...I think Michael is the new "Control."
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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 :(
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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?
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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.
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Michelle, I totally agree with you, every word. When I read Ryan's recap I was all, "Jail? What the?"
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I'm kind of thinking Ryan's the only one who thinks he's going to jail.
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he's not going to jail, he's going to spy!
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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!!!
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I caught that too. She's so tiny and that bruiser was so big, she definitely would have gotten overcome first.
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He, unlike Riley was standing right next to a vent, where the gas was coming from. Just figured that should be pointed out.
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she also noticed the gas first I do believe I think!!! so Riley being tiny would have been affected more quickly!!
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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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I see it differently, to me these 2 episodes felt like 3 episodes'-worth of action and plot compressed down. There was a lack of spectacle to the way the action was presented because of that compression, stuff like the motorbike chase felt rote in order to make room for plot and drama. I personally don't mind action taking a back seat to drama and story, but when it's artificially compressed because those stories didn't get told earlier in a soft season, it does get under my skin a little.

The characterizations all held up here for our main characters, but Jesse and Maddie and even Sam really didn't get enough meat, which led to an uneven feeling. Riley though, that character was so far off the rails I almost wept with disappointment - she's known for being a pitbull and can't handle THIS for a few weeks without going to the dark side?!? I'd have rather watched her play it straight instead and forced Michael to go to Bly than the ridiculousness that was the second episode here.

That said, I was glad to see this season's mediocre plotline get wrapped up in a tight bow, I'm much more interested to see how Westen and friends will come to grips with his new deal of being a CIA bigwig (probably replacing Tom Card).

Michael going to jail? Where did you get that? Westen giving orders, Fi talking about getting out of the life only to see this, Michael Westen signed a deal with the devil to join the CIA, that's what I thought was happening and why Fi slapped his hand away.

It wasn't remotely selfish of him, it was selfish of him to shoot Tom Card, this was the right move.

You better believe it they got on that roof too damned easily, Michael's voiceover says armored vehicles and heightened security... so where was that security, inside only? That's ridiculous.

Riley evaporated, her ending was a total deus ex machina and had nothing to do with anything. Since she was a horribly-conceived and -written character to begin with, I'm not really going to get frustrated over it but that's how I saw it, a lame out-of-left-field ending to a goofy, one-note character.
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OMG I freaking loved this double episode. Lots of action, lots of drama, and no, it wasn't uneven anywhere. Every minute of this season finale was needed to see what was going on and it was handled very well. My heart definitely went out to Fiona, cause it looked like Michael made a deal to get back into the CIA. However, I think it was to coordinate efforts to clean up Tom Card's other messes with other fellow agents around the country, maybe even the world. Let's face it: Michael wasn't the first, and he most certainly wasn't the last agent, operative, etc. to be screwed by Card. I think Michael was hired back to help those others that Card has put in major danger.

This was a very satisfying finale in terms of things to think about next summer. I'm very glad this wasn't a series finale, cause I want Fi and Michael to be happy together.

Riley go taken down like the double-crossing bitch she is, and it was great to see it happen. There was nothing wrong with the roof-top thing. Everybody was inside, never aware of Michael and Fiona's presence. Besides a bunch of patrolling Feds would be quite the giveaway, wouldn't it?

I don't think Michael acted selfishly. He acted in everyone else's best interest. From the outside looking in, it looks that way, but that is not the case to me.

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Like usual my take is in line with yours JJ9. Well said. I want more Jesse, he's a great character and always entertains.
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What happened to DEAN- the CIA agent that Michael and his team had taken prisoner?!
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I know right.
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I assumed once our heroes were done with the house they just left him there to be released whenever someone found him. He's resourceful, he'd free himself again left alone long enough.
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Michel didn't go to jail, he ended up back with the agency. That's why Fiona was so upset; he promised he would quit.
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– Was this a satisfying season finale?
pretty good finale although the ending was quite a shock seeing michael end up back with the CIA, even after everything they have done to him over the years, it would have been a better twist of stories if he didnt turn on his family and friends who just proved their complete loyalty towards him
– Is Michael going to jail for good?
doubt it.
– How will he be treated as a witness to all this?
pretty damn good seeing as how he's back as part of the CIA and already giving commands so it doesn't seem as if any harsh punishment is coming his way
– Is Season 7 just going to be straight-up litigiousness?
no idea what that means too lazy to look it up :D
– Did Michael act selfishly?
very.
– Did Michael and Fi get on top of Riley's roof a little too easily?
not really, riley was more concerned with fortifying the inside than the out no one can be perfect and have all grounds covered
– Did Riley suffer a fitting defeat
she had her ass handed too her which she deserves for being so cocky and trying to turn everyone against michael. The best moment of the finale would have to be the moment she caved to michael and confessed everything to the coastguard proving who is the smarter agent once and for all.
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I thought this finale was great; Riley got psyched into confessing, which was actually better than having her die or get caught by Bly. Michael out-smarted her; he proved he was the better agent. And I think that's a more crushing defeat for her, since she has to live with that.

I think Michael's got a LOT to do, to win back his family. All of them have suffered for him, he said he was done with the CIA, and then went right back in. I don't expect any of them to understand. But I think Michael probably wasn't left with a choice. He was right, the CIA wasn't just going to let the others walk away from everything they've done. I think the only way he could save/protect the others, was to go back to the CIA. And I think he's stuck with it for life now; I think the only way his friends get to keep their lives is if Michael continues with being the CIA's bitch. If he wants to get out he may have to fake his own death. Which could be an interesting series finale!

It's not in my nature to judge too quickly or too harshly. So, I'll wait until season 7 premieres and see if Michael gets the chance to explain his actions.
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Questions.
1. No it wasn't. It didn't wrap anything up. It waved a magic CIA wand and things just magically got better. It might as well have been SOA last season. Except that SOA last season was decent up until the finale. This season has been one big huge disappointment.
2.&3 It seems that Michael is magically in charge. He is back in the employ if the CIA. Which means somehow he was able to prove Card was dirty. But we didn't get that, because we were in a room for half of the episode watching Sam bleed out.
4. I am hoping he does a majority of the season as the supposed bad ass CIA agent that he was before the pilot. I would really like to see that. And now that Fiona and her eyebrows are pissed at him. He can do it unencumbered.
5. No, I think he really thinks what he did was for them. And for the most part he is right. Had he not they would still be locked up. However, if he is as talented as an agent they purport him to be. And essential to the Agency, then they are kind of selfish.
6. Yes. Though no more than us having to believe that Michael wouldn't have seen the severity of Sam's wound and drive him to the hospital no matter what. I mean really, that was ridiculous even for Burn Notice.
7. Kind of. She wasn't really all bad until the end. She was doing what she thought was right based on the evidence at hand. Going to the Cartel on the other hand was a bad move. But she is likely going to lose her job over it.


And what was the reason to bring back Bly, who always kind of lacked as a character, just to blow him up.

Just an odd finale to an off season.
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2. Bly had enough evidence to show that Card was dirty, that was gathered independently from Michael.

7. I like to think that she was so gung ho about getting Westin for a second reason- She was corrupt from the beginning, but didn't play that card until the end. Of course, the writers could have done something throughout to indicate that, as subtly as they could.
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I think they made Riley bad just as of this episode to help Michael get off the hook. It didn't make sense.
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Actually does make sense. Michael has been avoiding and outsmarting Riley for the last 5 episodes, practically destroying her entire record as being the best. She's pissed off and wants them dead so she doesn't have to deal with them.
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I agree.
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I think they gave Westen Carrs old job, since at the end those guys with the guns where doing as he told them to.
On the product placement: every show I watch, and I watch a lot of them, that somehow uses tablets, is showing windows8 screens. Microsoft is really on the offense with this campain.

Can't wait until it's summer (and not just because of this show :-) )
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Best use of a tablet product placement was Psych last season. Shawn was hospitalized and Gus took his tablet with Shawn on a webcam with him doing the investigation. It was hilarious.
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I'm not sure where Michael and Fiona go from here. Obviously, I want them to be together, but I'm with her on this one: she's heard "I did what I had to do" too many damn times. The tone of the last scene was also one of betrayal. All she's ever fought for is for Michael to be free of the CIA so they can be together, no strings.

I do find it hard to believe, though, that Michael's "punishment" it to be reinstated into the CIA - that's what he's wanted for the majority of the series! There has to be some sort of twist to what he's doing for them. Otherwise, his sacrifice does not seem even remotely on par with what Fiona, Sam, and Jesse have gone through for Michael.
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Kudos to Burn Notice for actually making the Coast Guard seem badass, something usually only reserved for Tom Clancy novels.
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I don't think Michael's going to jail - I think he's going back to the CIA. He was too shiny and polished, plus he and his team got rid of 3 rotten apples in one year: Psychiatrist that was also on Justified (at the same time no less!), his family-friend/mentor, Dr Scrubs, and finally Riley. So I don't think Michael's going to jail at all.

I wonder if Riley was rotten already, or if she just lost herself going after Michael. Whatever, because she turned rotten if she wasn't already.
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Umm, my understanding was that Michael was NOT going back to jail. That his "deal" involved working for the CIA again. Hence why Fiona was so hurt... she saw it as Michael choosing the spy life over her... which stunk since he'd recently told her he wanted out of that life to spend time with her.

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Yeah, totally didn't get that as he was going to jail. It looks like he's full-time CIA again. And it looks to Fiona like he chose that over her. As for how it ended, meh. I think the show's circling the drain now.
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I agree, although I'm suspecting something more sinister is afoot. I mean, that last scene looked to me like some huge OMFG, Michel has sold his soul! kinda moment...
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Good Heavens! Look at your user name, anon. How did you ever come up with that and how on earth do you remember it?
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kinda fell flat at the end, micheal leaves his team to 'rot' safely in some facility while he's clean, pampered and looking almost like tom card did...so for me the deal is he works for the cia to clear out all the bad apples or he has to find some 'most wanted dude/duddette' that no one else can find or get...

so with out his normal friends is the show just going to be mike ?

seems lame...
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I definitely agree that this has injected a HUGE, much-needed shot of adrenaline into this series. I felt that it was getting so... samey... There was just one too many unfortunate turns of events. It was Murphy's Law on steroids! Escape the clutches of one super villian, get thrust into those of a corrupt CIA officer, and then do it over and over again. I was starting to lose my love for the show.

Thankfully, this episode has put the show back on familiar ground. It may be a 180 from our protagonists' original dilemma in that he is now stuck on the inside rather than the outside of the CIA, but now Mike and the gang can get back to helping normal people with their abnormal problems. In their down time, they can worry about getting Mike out of his deal and share some sentimental moments.

I thought the episodes were very well done, but the last scene was absolutely perfect. It had great music, a true "Burn Notice" feel, and left me with questions that I actually care to have answered because they are important to Michael's fate, rather than just plot holes.

I'm very excited for the next season, but saddened that it will likely be the show's last. I believe Donovan and Nix will do a bang up job on the upcoming season, though, and will give BN fans a smashing ending and great closure for a show that has kept us glued to the screen for years.
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I thought the same about the grenade and less that they need to kill Bly (though that goes to a later thought of mine) than destroy the smoking gun evidence so there had to be the confrontation between Michael and Olivia.

My thought in regards to Bly...like always, always, always, Michael wears light colored suits. Even when he returned to the CIA in the cold at the end of season 1, he was still dressed like that, so, basically, like a white knight hero. Here he is in a black suit that is so totally not Miami appropriate. My immediate thought was that he didn't return to the CIA, but that he basically is going to take over a kind of version of Bly's job, basically, as I understood it, the CSS is to the CIA the way Internal Affairs is to the police force.

While I get that Fiona is upset...he did break a promise to her, I wonder if there is something more, like something she hasn't told him yet...if you get my drift...

Randomly, did anyone else notice that Jesse didn't exactly look like he had taken a beating just like a few hours before?
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Didn't notice that. But I did notice that Sam, who was passed out in the car, walked on his own, just supported by Mike, in the doctor's house. Then they acted as if he had never come to.
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Jesse didn't take a beating just a few hours before. They were contained by the CIA for 3 weeks from what I remembered. 3 weeks is a long time to heal from those wounds brought on by Olivia.
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I meant when they walked into the doctor's house just at the beginning of the second hour.
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I was thinking the same thing about why they didn't just toss the grenade back out the window but.. I guess they had to kill off Bly's character.
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Michael is not going to jail at all, his fate is either better or worse depending on your point of view. Didn't you see him in the final scene, the way he was dressed, the way he was waiving off the CIA operatives. Michael is not going to Jail, he is back in.

Michael, while violating about a million federal laws, has exposed multiple shadow organizations and dirty agents within the CIA. Sure that makes him a hero, but it also makes him, and his friends and mother, liabilities to the agency because of what they know.

I am guessing that the CIA was going to lock up everyone but Michael made a deal, come back into the fold and do as you are told, and everyone else is free to leave. As I said, this could be both good and bad depending on your perspective. Michael has wanted this from the beginning and finally has it, but he also had plans to leave it behind to be with Fiona. Michaels sacrifice is that he is now under the thumb of the agency likely cut off from his team.
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Am I the only one asking why Bly or Michael didn't just simply toss the grenade right back out the window??
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Bly could not get his seat belt off in time, there was a shot that lasted about 2 seconds showing him fumbling with the giant red button that almost every driver on Earth can find blindfolded.
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I thought it was awesome. As a fan that has had some problems with Burn Notice as of late (even though I still loved it) this double-episode shot it right back up to my favorite shows currently on air. I haven't been so excited about Burn Notice since Season 4.
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