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USA (ended 2013)

Burn Notice S07E13: "Reckoning"

There was very little chance the last Burn Notice episode ever could fail. All that needed to happen was some resolution to Michael’s CIA/James troubles, an emotional patching-up between he and Fiona, a return to friendship with Sam and Jesse, and Maddie making peace with her son. But Burn Notice has always been an exceptionally fan-friendly show, so more than plot points, "Reckoning" had to be a goodbye to viewers. It had to distill everything that stands for the world of Westen, from snow globes to fast cars, explosions, standoffs, beer love, voiceovers, big bads, acts of valor, impossible escapes, and Hawaiian shirts, as if to say, "We know you recognize this stuff, audience. Here's to you." Thankfully, the hour did just that, in a way that was fun, intense, and emotional all at once. Just like a good mission with the Burn crew should be.   

Well let's just get this out of the way: Maddie rules. Plain and simple. For all the nagging back-and-forth she shared with her only remaining son this season, her concern for Michael could be a little tiresome. Not that it was her fault as a caretaker. We wanted our awesome hero to go off and do the cool stuff, and here she was every once in a while, tugging at his sleeve saying "Be safe, be safe." So for Maddie to literally explode herself for the good of the team both redeemed her worrisome character and provided the gang with one last emotional reminder of the non-bodily risks of this lifestyle. Bullets hurt, but feelings cut deep. She had become a mother to the team, and a mother sacrifices. Maddie earned that last cigarette.

Michael set a wild tone early on with his Fi-rescuing murder of Sonya. As a spy who's been so many different people, fighting for so many different causes, shooting Sonya effectively declared an end to his role as a servant then and there. But the circumstances were super messed up (who’s cool with shooting someone they had sex with?). Yes, she left him no other choice in the moment, but the split-second decision was a clear reminder of why Westen needed to ditch this kind of lifestyle, stat. He had run out of next steps, and was operating on a rapidly deteriorating instinct.

Then the team came in and did what a team does for a weakened member: They shouldered some burden. I applaud Burn Notice for dovetailing the central theme of the whole series with what could have been a standalone episode conflict. In having Sam, Jesse, and Fi question whether Michael was performing necessary risks or indulging a death wish, "Reckoning" forced Westen to face his true motive for so much ruthless daring-do. It's a fair question to ask when you’re crashing cars into liquor stores and stuffing bombs into moving cars while bleeding out from a shotgun wound. Michael was both the most in-his-element he’d ever been, and the most out of it. It took the presence of his friends to see that, and to remind him of his boundaries.   

Know how this show likes its fans? Because every member of the team delivered an iteration of their line from the credits sequence. This wasn’t necessary! But still, what a warm little feeling it was to hear Sam say "bunch of bitchy little girls" or Fi’s "should we shoot them?" after hearing these phrases repeated Thursday after Thursday for years. Even more fulfilling was seeing Michael and Fi back in sync, saving each other’s butts for one last time, the only way they know how: with bullets. I'll forgive how slow these two reached for their guns and still managed to get the drop on James' already aiming men, because hey it's the last episode. 

One satisfying building shootout and explosion later (honestly, empty buildings with exposed wiring make for the best henchman deaths), James finally lay defeated, Sam had barely escaped, and it seemed as though the two central lovebirds had gone up in flames. On the one hand, I kind of thought Michael and Fiona really did die, because throughout the whole series the one thing that had always seemed doomed was their romance, and what better way to show that these two could never find normal peace than to have them perish together? I even teared up a little at their funeral. I should’ve known better.   

So, with Charlie nestled up in Uncle Michael’s lap, a snow globe of Miami, and what sounded like a pan flute playing the dulcet tones of wintery Ireland, Westen had finally entered a chapter where he had no idea what to do, and it was completely charming. Charlie’s got some badass parents, and it’s a fun explanation to have these seven-plus years of spy narration function as Michael explaining his violent past to his growing little nephew boy. Bravo!

And that's... the end. It doesn't feel like we'll get another show like Burn Notice, one that knew how to poke fun at itself, to double down on dumb action, to scratch that DIY contraption itch, to be emotional where it needed to be, and featured characters who were a blast to hang out with. Goodbye Michael, Fiona, Maddie, Sam, Jesse, and the rest of Miami. Thursdays just won't be the same without you.   


– Did you see the fake death thing coming?

– Did you catch Barry at Michael and Fiona's funeral?

– Do you think Sam and Jesse should get their own spin-off?

– Did you catch the Matt Nix cameo?  

– What show will you watch now to satisfy your Burn Notice fix?

– What did you think of "Reckoning"? Are you satisfied with the way the series ended?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/12/2013

Season 7 : Episode 13

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