Burn Notice's Season 6 Finale: Stalling for Action

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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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