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USA (ended 2013)

Burn Notice S07E12: "Sea Change"

Toward the end of "Sea Change," Miami’s seven-year king of subterfuge Michael Westen told an ugly truth to a dear friend: Above all else—including loved ones and personal safety—he ultimately craves power. It was a clarifying moment for the penultimate episode of Burn Notice, which up to this point had laid the groundwork for a possible double-cross on Westen’s part. Closer than he’s ever been to both the inner-workings of the CIA and James’ mysterious operation, the possibility was there for Michael to reveal some brilliant scheme to play the two factions off one another in the name of saving the day. The fun had run out on trying to guess his point of view, and seeing exactly where his head was at strengthened the rest of the episode. In presenting an overwhelmed hero who had betrayed his friends for a more difficult path, this meaty, emotional hour benefitted by examining the dark side of what it means to be such a regularly solitary force.       

Granted, Westen wasn’t really in his right mind while declaring his intentions to Sam, but he wasn’t necessarily out of his mind, either. As far as offers go, James presented a real doozie to his protege: The folksy-warrior would take a fake fall, thus saving Fi, Sam, Jesse, and Maddie, and making Michael a hero capable of protecting James and Sonya's operation from the inside. Michael would lead alongside Sonya and carry out global justice his own way. While ideally this sort of arrangement might be good for the world, to continue fighting and lying would be terrible for Westen as a person. In a season largely dedicated to our hero's search for inner-peace, Burn Notice has done a commendable job delving into Michael Westen’s character and illustrating how his unique traits are just as much a burden as a blessing. Someone so used to self-sacrifice would of course have as hard a time as Westen’s having letting someone else do the rescuing.      

THEN SAM AND MIKE FOUGHT (which basically went something like this):

Tough love, baby! What’s to say? This was pretty cool, seeing the two buddies duke it out, but let’s face it—Westen's in way better shape so ultimately the win was going to go to him. For that reason, Sam taking the battle into the ocean, where presumably he’d excel as a Navy SEAL, was a nice touch, but Westen’s narration about playing possum quickly did away with the chance for a surprise victory. Still though, Sam's brute force came in handy. Good effort! A few more body slams and this would’ve been yours, dude!

The downside to this whole intervention structure is that the gang has spent a good part of this final season separate from Westen. Ostensibly the super friends want to get things back to the way they were and be there for their buddy, but with Westen on his own journey, it's up to the viewers to remember these happier team times, then reference those memories as a reminder of what’s at stake. So much time has passed since they've all been cool with each other that it's easy to forget how much fun their group dynamic can be. Kind of a Catch-22 situation, though, because it probably wouldn't mean that much if Westen rescued himself without any help from the people who care about him. Just saying. 

Fi taking matters into her own hands seemed to genuinely jog Westen’s heart and mind, like a robot malfunctioning after trying to compute the emotion known as "love." If there’s any person who can summon Michael back from the edge it’s her, and I don’t see Maddie or Jesse making a huge impression on the set-in-his-ways spy (maybe Charlie, if he says "uncle" in a super cute way). It’s no small feat to take a superhuman like Michael Westen and reveal his vulnerable core while staying true to the action-packed world of Burn Notice. It’ll be sad to see it all end next week, but it looks like it’s going to be something every warrior hopes for: a good death.   


– How does Fi survive that gunshot?

– How will this all resolve?

– Will James and Sonya turn on Westen?

– Will Maddie die and force Westen to leave this world for good?

– How will Westen make good with the CIA?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/12/2013

Season 7 : Episode 13