Saturday, December 22, 2012

Burn Notice season 6 finale review/spoilers.

Well, it appears that the season six finale of Burn Notice requires a serious review. A very serious review. If you want to avoid spoilers, now’s the time to run, run away!
If you’ve seen it already, you know as much as I do. Intense stuff there.
I probably didn’t cover everything that needed covered here. Unfortunately, I was interrupted many times while writing this.

(Insert gratuitous picture of Bruce Campbell here to keep the spoilers out of site.)
Okay, there we go! And on the review.
The season six finale of Burn Notice had me worried from the outset. The previews had me worried. The teasers from the network had me worried. Were they really going to kill off Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell)? Someone important always seems to die in both the mid-season finale, as well as the season finale. Coupled with the fact that USA Network was conspicuously late in announcing Burn Notice’s renewal for season seven, it was more worrisome. Was there a contract dispute kept quiet in order to keep the fans on their toes?
So Mike, Sam and Jesse go to set up their ship transport and things go sideways. (I’m going to try to resist the temptation to rehash the whole episode, but we’ll see if I succeed). Jesse is captured, Sam is shot. Upon the first viewing, my reaction was something along the lines of “Why the hell is he reaching for a gun?”
Okay, so Sam reaches up towards the dashboard of the car and is shot. Upon the second viewing, I saw what I missed the first time. He was trying to shift the car into gear and make a run for it.
We all knew from the previews and teasers that Sam was going to be in a pretty serious condition. But here’s what I don’t understand. This is the man that, two episodes ago, was rethinking the idea of running because he didn’t want to leave his lady. Now he’s going to get himself shot and potentially never see her again?
Either way, a good portion of this episode had me curled up on the couch, in the fetal position, holding a stuffed doggie (another story) and barely so much as breathing.
Now Sam’s made up his mind that he’s going to play tough and die for Michael and friends, rather than save himself now that it seems he’s got the most to live for since Burn Notice began. And his friends are concerned with saving Jesse from CIA custody? When one of your most loyal friends is bleeding out on the couch?
The intensity of this episode in amazing, but I’m finding holes in the credibility of the storyline. Of course, who knows how anyone would really react. I would have personally expected a different reaction from the show’s “moral compass.”
At what point did we forget that Michael got them into all this by shooting his former mentor in cold blood. How hard would it have been to tamper with the evidence at said murder scene in order to convince the authorities that Michael shot Card in self-defense? Now the friend who was most angry with Michael for going against his morals is going to stand by his friend and die in the fallout? The friend who was already taken into custody once over this? When was someone, anyone, going to put their foot down and tell Michael that things have gone far enough?
That’s right, nobody. Michael had a way out and was tempted to take it and the friends who should have been there to support him in his decision weren’t willing to hear him out and consider that taking Bly’s offer may have been the best thing for everyone.
Ah, Jason Bly, another familiar face I hadn’t expected to see. You can see the grudging respect Bly has for Michael, especially since Michael saved his life in that bank robbery. It’s a very grudging respect though, Bly wants to climb the ranks just like any other operative and Michael is dangerous on so many levels.
The twists and turns in this episode are exactly what you’d expect from a Burn Notice finale. Every time you think the pressure’s off for a while, something new pops up.
Back to Sam and his dire situation. You know Michael and Fi are going to find a way to get Jesse out. When Michael first showed back up at the safe house with Sam, the decision was made that Fi’s old flame, Campbell, was the best chance at medical care Sam had. But once they had Jesse back, now Fi knows a doctor? Either these plot holes were unavoidable due to needing to keep the intensity up or they figured they could get away with a few weak spots in the plot because it was so intense. If I were the one bleeding to death, I think I’d feel a little bit different about my friends if one of them conveniently remembered hours later that she knows a doctor. Hours of suffering later.
Maybe I’m just not as honorable or noble as a career Navy Seal.
Lucky for everyone, there’s a happy ending here. After scene after scene of intensity and anguish and panic… and CPR.
Looking at this first part of the finale, I have to commend each and every actor for their portrayals. The intensity of emotion required was delivered and then some. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bruce Campbell play a dying man before and I was riveted to the screen, as I said before, most of my first viewing of this episode was spent in the fetal position. Michael’s near-panic scenes were masterful as well, kudos to Jeffrey Donovan. When Fi confronted their prisoner, I actually thought that she was just going to shoot him and be done with it. Coby Bell was amazing as he was presented with the one thing he needed most to know in life, and turned it down for his “family.” I easily believed when he discovered he was almost tricked that he would have killed Agent Riley over the deception, had he not been suffering from the narcotics Michael and Fi used to subdue everyone in the building with.
The next plot twist brings an angry drug cartel after the team. Now they have no choice but to move injured Sam again. So the strategy is to take him to the hospital to flush out Agent Riley and try to trap her in her dealings with the cartel. Why not take Riley when they had her drugged? They didn’t know what else was coming at that point. But they knew that she was pissed and coming hard.
Michael’s escapade through the hospital was impressive. I’m not sure if I would have felt that way if I had been a patient or employee of said hospital, however. Objective met and that’s what matters.
Bruce Campbell delivers again in the scene where Riley replaces his painkillers with uppers. Brutal.
In the end, typical Burn Notice. You think the resolution is in sight and then it’s yanked right out from under you. The death of Bly was almost unremarkable after all the tension building earlier in the episode. And in that, I feel a little bit cheated. When Carla died, I felt something. When Gilroy died, I felt something. When Larry died, I felt something.
I can’t end these ramblings without addressing the ending. What? So everyone’s locked up and being debriefed, including Sam, who almost died and should have still been under a doctor’s care. After all, he had a bullet up against his spleen and likely a nasty infection from the wound being open as long as it had been. So in about three weeks’ time, he’s being trotted out of a holding cell to watch as Michael tells Fi that he had cut a deal for their freedom, to say goodbye. That’s some impressive healing. Maybe he is a superhero after all.
So in the end, Michael gives himself up for his friends? If so, then he could have saved a lot of pain for his friends by taking the deal Bly offered in the beginning. Or is this just another foray into the dark? Did Michael sell his soul to the CIA or some other organization that doesn’t have a name? Obviously Michael was treated a lot better during debriefing than everyone else was. He certainly didn’t have that designer suit when he was taken into custody.
Now we wait. Season 7 ends it for good, so hoping all the answers we are expecting will come.
I know I’ve made some criticisms here and asked some questions of why the plot went this way or that when it made more sense for them to take a different road.  Obviously the writers know more than I do in regards to where the story goes from here.
The episode was riveting, interesting and well-acted. The plot twists were, for the most part, unexpected. In fact, friends online posted messages on Twitter, reminding the viewers of the West Coast airing to remember to breathe. Intense.

It seems that the main message behind Burn Notice is that when you’re up against a wall and it seems the only way out is to go down in flames, there’s another way out. You just need to be creative. And have duct tape. (Why did we see no duct tape in this episode?)


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