Burn Notice Season 7 Review “Tipping Point”

Burn Notice Season 7 Episode 11 Tipping Point (8)

A tipping point is the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. Although I wouldn’t classify everything that Michael has gone through over the last 7 years as small, it was all a lead up to Michael’s tipping point. For the last 7 years, Michael has been chiseling away at the organization that burned him and trying to get his life back. He has been operating from the belief that all of the blood he’s got on his hands, all of the nightmares he suffers through, and all of the sacrifices he’s made have been for the greater good. And the CIA is the guardian of that good. Unfortunately for Michael, the CIA isn’t exactly the shining white knight he believed them to be.

Michael found out that the CIA has been using Simon to run ops for the last several years. Although Simon seemed a little less crazy than usual, that doesn’t mean he isn’t (or rather wasn’t) a raging sociopath. It also doesn’t mean that he wasn’t still dangerous. Michael was shaken to his core when he found out what the CIA did because he has built the majority of his life around the idea of the CIA being above it all. Above all the corruption. Above all of the lies. I suppose in Michael’s mind, finding out the CIA is using people like Simon to run ops is akin to finding out your mother isn’t really your mother. The CIA is just as bad as (if not worse) than The Organization burning spies and using them to run their black ops. In truth, what is the difference really? Michael only agreed to the deep cover job because Strong and the CIA had him over a barrel. He didn’t really have a choice. How is that any different than anything Carla, Brennan, Vaughn, or Anson did to force Michael to play their game? It’s really not. They had a mission they wanted Michael to accomplish and they blackmailed, strong armed, and threatened him into doing it. I must admit that it seems a bit odd to me that Michael couldn’t see the correlation. I guess it’s so much harder to see the truth about someone or something when you believe as completely as Michael has believed in the CIA.

This tipping point leaves Michael at a crossroads. He can either hope James will let him live and remain a part of the organization, or he can complete his mission and take them down. Michael has confessed to James and Sonya that he’s been working for the CIA all this time. He has now put his life (and the lives of his family) squarely in their hands. They can kill him and move on, but it seems that neither of them want to just yet. Even though maybe Michael was hoping they would. That way it would all be over. He would’ve died while trying to complete his mission and his family would’ve been safe. The weight that he’s been carrying around all this time would’ve been lifted. It would’ve just been easier for him if James had killed him. Especially since Michael can’t seem to stop unintentionally hurting people he cares about. Sonya is hurt because she was beginning to fall in love with Michael. Realizing that he used her just like any other asset broke her heart. But she’s not just any other asset. If she were, Michael would’ve let James kill her to protect himself and his cover. There was no tactical advantage to Michael’s choice to confess. He did it to save Sonya because he cares about her.

Michael now knows the truth about the CIA. He knows that they are willing to go to any lengths to accomplish their mission and justify it by saying they’re protecting American lives. That may or may not be true, but the fact remains that when you lie down with dogs you rise up with fleas. The CIA has a whole lot of fleas. Michael has already cleaned house for the CIA once before, and it doesn’t look like he’s willing to do it again. This latest revelation about the CIA is pushing Michael closer to James. Michael is losing more and more of himself. He’s once again becoming alienated from his family and he needs them now more than ever because he’s lost. The one thing he’s always had faith in has crumbled beneath him and he’s in freefall. He needs his family to anchor him. He needs them to help him find purpose and meaning again. One thing that has always been true about Michael is that he’s chosen the CIA over everything else. He’s dragged Sam, Fi, Jesse, and Maddie through hell because he believed so much in the righteousness of the CIA. He believed working for the CIA gave him purpose. Now that his eyes have been opened, maybe Michael’s family will finally become the most important thing in his life and he will finally choose them over the CIA.

Agent Strong is a dangerous man. He’s got blinders on when it comes to catching James and his tunnel vision puts everyone involved in this mission at risk. He’s so focused on James that he can’t see the big picture. Even worse than that, Strong doesn’t listen to anyone. He comes up with half-cocked plans that usually end in disaster. Oh, and he’s hiring crazy sociopaths to lead an extraction team! He knows that Simon is unstable but he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care whether Michael makes it out of the mission alive. He doesn’t care whether any other innocent people get caught in the crossfire. He just doesn’t care. All he wants is to take James down. But why? Why this obsession with taking James down? Why is he willing to sacrifice anyone and anything for this mission? Probably because he was like Michael once. I don’t know whether he was as dedicated a believer as Michael, but I think at one point he may have been. Maybe he let the job become who he is. Maybe he sold a piece of his soul off at the time and justified it by saying that the mission comes first. Maybe Strong is who Michael is slowly but surely turning into.

This was an intense and very well done episode. Michael has finally decided that it’s time to make a choice, and he’s chosen to try and walk back from the edge. He doesn’t want to become any more of a monster than he’s already had to be, and I think that’s a good thing. Although, I do think he has made some decisions from which there is no turning back. We’re down to the very last episodes of the series and I honestly cannot wait to find out how this story ends. I just completed a series rewatch in anticipation of the series finale, so expect a REALLY long series review in a few weeks after the final episode. So what did y’all think of this week’s Burn Notice?

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