Burn Notice Season 7 Review “Nature of the Beast”

Burn Notice Season 7 Episode 8 Nature of the Beast (7)

This week’s episode of Burn Notice was much less intense than last week, but that doesn’t mean it lacked in action or drama. There was plenty of both. There were even a couple of twists thrown in for good measure.

Michael received his first assignment from James and it was no small order. Apparently MI6 made a bargain with some big muckety muck Dominican Republic drug dealer. In exchange for his information on his drug network, MI6 agreed to provide him with a nice retirement package which included sanctuary in London. Well, James believed this was too good for him, so he sent Michael to intercept the drug dealer and bring him back to him. James said that this was the job Burke was working on in the Dominican Republic when he found Michael. I’m not entirely sure whether that was true or whether James just said that to provide Michael with the proper motivation. But either way, Michael accepted the mission. Although they ran into a few hiccups, Michael and Sam were able to kidnap the drug dealer and deliver him to James. James is still playing things pretty close to the vest, but it seems he’s beginning to trust Michael.

While Michael and Sam were working in the Dominican Republic, Jesse, Fiona and Strong flew down to Mississippi to interrogate a mental patient. Apparently, James has been paying the patient’s medical bills for the last 15 years, so Strong decided that they could use him to get information on James. The guy had been moved around to a lot of different mental wards and each time he had a new name, so for our purposes he was simply John Doe. John got loose from his handcuffs and ended up taking Jesse hostage. As Jesse was doing what he does best (talking his way out of a dicey situation) John revealed James’s last name is “Kendrick.” As it turns out, John, who we found out later is actually Peter Mallard, was a member of James’ old Delta Force unit. Peter witnessed James slaughter their whole unit and then somehow James had Peter locked away in the looney bin. I’m not entirely sure I buy Peter’s story. It was too easy for Strong and the CIA to track down Peter. It was too easy for them to get to him. We’ve seen how careful James is. I mean, he destroyed a mansion just to cover his tracks. No way he leaves a paper trail for the CIA to find. I think James knows Michael is working for the CIA and just like they sent Michael to infiltrate James’s organization, James sent Peter to find out what the CIA knows. I could be totally off base with that, but it just seems like something James would do.

Michael and Sam’s friendship should go down in the annuls of epic bromances. Their relationship has always been one of my favorite aspects of Burn Notice because they are so very different yet so much alike. Where Michael generally tends to be more stoic and reserved, Sam tends to be more jovial and gregarious. But at the same time, they’re both expertly trained and really good at what they do. They also know each other so well that they can communicate without saying a word. Most importantly though, they love each other. Over and over again Michael has shown just how far he’s willing to go when Sam needs him. Likewise, Sam has repeatedly put himself on the line for Michael. Michael is very much aware that he’s starting to lose himself in this mission. The line between who he is and who he needs to be is becoming increasingly blurred, and he knows that he needs someone there to tether him to reality. He needs someone there to remind him who he is. That’s why Michael asked Sam to help him on this job. The conversation that Michael and Sam had in the car says a lot about not just who Sam is, but who he is to Michael. Michael asked Sam to help him because he knows that Sam will tell him what he needs to hear, not just what he wants to hear. Michael asked Sam to help him because Sam is his brother. Sam completely understands and recognizes the gravity of Michael’s current predicament, but Sam is not willing to sacrifice his friend, his brother, to the CIA or anyone else.

After the intense emotional beating Michael endured in last week’s episode, I was deeply concerned about him. I was concerned about the repercussions of his “therapy” sessions. I was concerned about whether he was going to be able to remember that James and Sonya are the enemy. Basically, I was concerned that James’s inquisition would change Michael. I mean, how could it not? Michael has, for the most part, been a closed book to those around him. He opens himself up in fits and spurts, but for the most part he shuts everyone else out and suffers in silence. All of that went out the window during his confrontation with James though. Michael admitted more to James than he’s ever admitted to anyone else before. Including himself. In and of itself, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What IS bad is the person to whom Michael opened himself up. James isn’t a good guy. His plan has always been to figure out what makes Michael tick so he can figure out how to control him. That’s what those “therapy” sessions were all about. James believes he now has another disciple willing to die and/or kill for the cause. But I don’t think he should be so confident about that just yet.

The more we learn about James, the more intrigued I become. Apparently, James Kendrick was a Delta Forces operative who was given orders to wipe out a town consisting primarily of women and children in Mogadishu. He didn’t want to kill all those innocent people, so he tried to talk his unit into disobeying the order. They refused, so he slit the throat of every member of his unit while they slept. How does a man go from not wanting to kill innocent people, to slitting the throats of the men who are supposedly his brothers? Now I see why a man like Burke went to work for a man like James. They were both cold, calculating and brutal. It also makes sense why James recruits people like Michael and Sonya. He recruited Sonya because she was so young and he could basically mold her into what he needed her to be. He went after Michael because it’s pretty obvious that Michael still has a soul and doesn’t want to hurt innocent people. That’s why it was so important for James to get inside Michael’s head. Something else we learned about James is that he believes himself to be a sort of savior ridding the world of monsters. I have no love for drug dealers or their ilk, but I just have to wonder who gets to decide who’s a monster. James? What are the requirements for being a monster in his book? James is dangerous and I don’t care what he says about monsters, James is no savior.

The only aspect of this episode that bothered me was how big of an arrogant idiot Strong is. He’s all swagger and no substance. First of all, he talks to Jesse and Fiona like they’re non-people. He’s rude and extremely dismissive toward them. Second, he’s a pretty lousy strategist. He makes poor decisions and then has no real idea of how to contain the situation once it all inevitably blows up. Jesse came up with the plan to lock the hospital down after Peter escaped. Fiona came up with the idea that Peter was possibly hiding in the elevator shaft. While they’re coming up with a plan, Strong is standing there wringing his hands. He’s a terrible CIA agent and an even worse leader. I don’t like Strong and I’m really hoping that Michael will have the opportunity to take him down a peg or two.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. We’re still getting to peel away layers of Michael Westen and I’m loving it. Next week looks like it’ll be another nail-biter and I can’t wait to see what happens next. So what did y’all think of this week’s Burn Notice?

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