Burn Notice Season 7 Review “Sea Change”

Michael Weston - Burn Notice

I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s been pretty difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that Burn Notice is ending. Although I’ve known since before this season aired that it was the last one, it hadn’t really sunk in until tonight’s part one of the two part series finale. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I have so many conflicting emotions about this episode, that I don’t know where to begin or how to even really make sense of what I just saw. One thing I can say is that this episode kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire hour.

Michael is tired. He’s tired of running. He’s tired of fighting. He’s tired of the enormous weight on his shoulders. He’s just tired. When you think about it, for the past 7 years Michael has been under more stress than any human being should have to bear and it’s a miracle that he hasn’t completely cracked. The one thing that has bolstered him up throughout all of this is the love of his family. They have been there for him through thick and thin. They have sacrificed everything for him. They have turned their lives inside out, all for Michael. I think Michael understands that intellectually, but I don’t think he truly grasps just how profound an effect his choices have had on them. I don’t think he truly realizes that they have been suffering just as much as he has these last 7 years. Probably more. There are few things more difficult in this life than watching someone you love go through something that hurts them. You do the best you can to help them, but in the end, the only thing you can really do is watch their back and be there to catch them when they fall. That’s what Fiona, Sam, Jesse, and Maddie have done. That’s why it was so heartbreaking to watch Michael and Sam fight. Sam has always had Michael’s back. When Michael couldn’t count on anyone else, he could count on Sam. So for Michael to basically cast that aside was painful and it broke Sam’s heart in ways that he probably doesn’t even know how to verbalize. But that doesn’t mean that Michael is beyond saving.

The problem is that Michael couldn’t recognize that he needed to be saved. Listening to Michael talk about the plans he has for himself and the Organization was just heartbreaking. That Michael Westen is not the man that we have come to know over the past 7 years. In that moment on the bridge, Michael sounded just like Anson Fullerton and Tom Card. They were just a couple of guys who wanted to get things done. They believed they were doing the right thing too. I’m sure at some point those of us who have worked with or for the government have wanted to remove all the red tape and just get the job done. But that red tape is there for a reason. Those rules are there for a reason. They protect not only the general public, they protect the people in charge from their own power. Sam was absolutely right about James and his lack of oversight. With no checks and balances, that Organization becomes exactly the thing that destroyed Michael’s life in the first place. Michael can’t see it because he doesn’t want to. Michael can’t see that he’s turned into the very monsters that he swore to destroy. Michael has good intentions, but as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. If Michael doesn’t let Fiona, Sam, Jesse and Maddie help him, he is going to be the next Anson. That’s a disheartening thought.

Even more than being tired though, Michael needs to believe. He’s always needed to believe. That’s why he put so much faith in the CIA. He believed that he was fighting for something larger than himself. He believed that the sacrifices he made and the nightmares he suffered were worth it because what he was doing mattered. When he found out that the CIA wasn’t quite the shining white knight he believed them to be, the foundation of who he is was shaken. He needed something, anything, to grab on to. James provided him with that something. As part of the Organization, Michael can believe that he’s doing something good. That what he does, and by extension he, matters. Michael is looking for his world to make sense again. He needs his world to make sense again.

Michael has always felt that he was made to be a spy. He’s repeatedly said that he doesn’t know how to do or be anything else, yet over the last 7 years he’s learned that there are more layers to him. He’s learned things about himself that he never would’ve learned if he hadn’t been burned. And he’s been able to build a family in a way he never would have if he hadn’t been burned. He’s lost a lot, but he’s also saved lives and helped people. Despite all of that, Michael has still constantly been trying to get back in. He’s constantly been trying to have his cake and eat it too. Even at the end, when the choice was staring Michael right in the face he was still trying to figure out how to have it both ways. Michael needs to let go, but it’s not Fiona he needs to let go of. Michael needs to let go of the idea that the only way he saves people is by being a part of something as large as the CIA or the Organization. He needs to let go of the past. He needs to realize that the life and family he’s built in Miami is enough.

At the end of this episode, Michael was presented with a choice: job or family. Michael has been given this choice before, and he’s chosen the job every time. This time, though, it was different. The stakes are much higher than they’ve been in the past, and that is saying something when you consider the past. If Michael chooses Sonya, and thus the job, then he gives up all hope of happiness. He also gives up all hope of finding himself again. If Michael chooses Fiona, and thus his family, then he can start the long road back to redemption and the possibility of happiness. If Michael doesn’t have Fiona, then there is no hope for him to be happy. He loves her and despite how complicated their relationship is, they share the kind of true love that we all hope for in this life. Fiona also keeps Michael human. She tells him what he needs to hear and she’s not above knocking some sense into him when she must. The only way for Michael to find his way back is to choose Fiona. I think he knows that which is why he chose to alienate himself from her and the rest of the team at this critical juncture.

Burn Notice concludes next week, and I for one, am monumentally bummed about that. This season has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride, but we peeled back a whole lot of layers of Michael Westen and I’ve loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to see how the story ends. Let me just go on record as saying, if Fiona dies, Matt Nix and USA Network can expect a very strongly worded letter from me. So what did y’all think of this week’s Burn Notice?

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