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USA (ended 2013)

Burn Notice S07E09: "Bitter Pill"


James is one charming son-of-a-gun. His syrupy drawl, his kind eyes, and his dedication to family values make for the kind of cool dude who takes a good time and makes it a great one. James is the river-rafting tour guide who learns everyone’s name right away, he is the picnic guest who mans the grill and gives you the ice cold beer he just opened for himself; he is the boss who invites employees to his nice cabin and wants to know about your life outside of work. But as previously hinted at, and as confirmed tonight in "Bitter Pill," there’s a dark side to this mythic chillness. Or as James would say, "Every yin has its yang, brotherman." This was a serviceable episode, one that did the bare minimum in advancing this final season toward its end. For every standout moment of interesting character development or thematic exploration, there were three scenes full of interchangeable Burn Notice action. The result was something that approached importance, but took the normal route getting there.   


So Michael and the gang found themselves rounded up by James for another mission involving the whole crew. I feel like I’m missing something in this mastermind’s inability to sniff out what Jesse, Fi, and Sam know about Michael’s real reasons for being involved with him, but whatever. He trusts Michael, and by extension the crew. Anyway, the task this time around: Protect Dr. Omar Hamed (Christopher Maher), a pro-democracy, peace-seeking reformist in the Middle East and the target of an assassination plot. Joining the gang was Ben Snyder (David Meunier, Justified’s Johnny Crowder), a man in James’ employ with a real attitude problem. Right? This guy was getting snappy with the gang right away for no good reason. Maybe it's that thing where, when you’re around a super chill dude, and you yourself happen to be a little tightly wound, the comparison exaggerates the differences. 


Security detail went off without a hitch, except for the part where Hamed grubbed down a poisoned crab cake courtesy of a helpless waiter (R.I.P.) and some hater-ass Libyans. What’s so bad about peace, hater-ass Libyans? (PSA: Hot all Libyans are haters, just hater-ass ones like in this episode and Back to the Future). The gang needed to find an antidote to the poison (classic poison), while Hamed was on death's doorstep in the same tent that was used in E.T. Luckily, that poor waiter’s payLo Virgin mobile phone had received a call from this guy named Khalid Mazik, a guy who makes synthetic drugs and does business at a waterfront strip club. Wasn’t there a scene last season where Jesse was in a strip club? Must be a Burn Notice tradition to sit Porter down in the middle of some purple curves. 


To get close to Mazik, Jesse and Fi (who had yet to be spotted by the Libyans) made the druggist an offer no apothecary could refuse: $100,000 cash and a chance to look at a bunch of ecstasy in a bag. Unfortunately, Fi broke out her piece, Mazik lost his cool, and next thing you know they were jumping into that dirty strip club water. Oh, the body-glitter pollution! Mazik was like, "Shoot me and you'll never know where the antidote is." Then Ben Snyder kicked his bad attitude up a notch and injected Mazik with the very poison circulating through Hamed, who at that point was practically being fitted for angel wings. Now this chemical bro had no choice but to take them to the antidote. Which he did and then everyone hugged and jumped up and high-fived and then checked their cell phones for messages.


ACTUALLY Snyder shot Mazik in cold blood, barrels of Aqua-Net hairspray exploded the whole warehouse into a towering inferno, and Snyder ditched Fi to save himself. Ultimate bad-attitude move. In retrospect, he was doing Michael a favor, presenting him with the chance to rescue Fi and show her how he really, truly cared. The two shared a beautiful moment, and came THIS close to an Irish flashback. But James was livid about Snyder's piss-poor attitude and punished via a fatal gunshot, confirming that the leader was in fact a bit of a nut-job.


Maddie barely had a story this week, just basically being freaked out by James’ dudes and then sharing a tense gunpoint sitdown with the guy before he crushed her cigarettes. It was the kind of speech where there's a threatening subtext, like if I were to pick up a cotton ball and be all, "The funny thing about cotton balls is they ALWAYS SQUISH." My question is, what was James doing before confronting Maddie? Thumbing through her Better Homes & Garden mags? Enjoying a catnap? Using the bathroom? In any case, this was a pretty standard episode that missed the chance to use this show’s imminent ending to go above and beyond the regular procedural aspect. Oh well!   


BURNING QUESTIONS:

– Are you bothered that these final episodes are just basically regular Burn Notice episodes?

– By rescuing Fi, did Michael win his way back into her heart?

– What will the confrontation between Michael and James look like?

– What happened to Sonya?

– How does James rank among all the many big bads of Burn Notice?

– What did you think of "Bitter Pill"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/12/2013

Season 7 : Episode 13

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