The first half of tonight’s two-hour season finale was yet another episode of “Why Aren’t Michael And Company Getting Out Of Town This Week?” Matt Nix and the rest of the creative team have been playing this game ever since the show returned from hiatus, so why should we expect any different at this point? I’m pretty sure the plot of season six, part two was scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin.
Anyway, now that our heroes have their passports and false identities, all they need is a ride out of Miami. That’s arranged with an envelope full of cash pressed into the hands of the local Frank Sobotka, but of course, it can’t be that easy. Riley and her troops swarm out of a shipping container, and before you can say Horseface, Jesse is in cuffs and Sam has been shot in the gut. Michael manages to get Sam back to the safehouse, but Jesse ends up in custody, getting whacked with the yellow pages and threatened with being tossed into a dark hole and forgotten.
Finale time is usually when Burn Notice digs deep into the roster of recurring characters for some pinch-hitters, and “You Can Run” is no exception. EMT and Fiona’s ex-boyfriend Campbell is called on to dress Sam’s wounds, and perhaps more importantly, CSS Agent Bly turns up to propose an unpalatable deal: Michael turns himself in and becomes an official witness on the Card case, and his friends get off a little (but presumably not much) easier.
Unless you believe Sam is in danger of dying (which of course you don’t), this first hour isn’t much different from the last couple of episodes, except that Patton Oswalt is no longer around to make fun of Bruce Campbell’s chin. The rhyming interrogation scenes—Riley and Jesse, Michael and his CIA-goon hostage—could have made for a resonant contrast of styles, but instead, they’re just another demonstration of how much smarter Michael is, and how much more loyalty he accrues, than anyone else. (And while Jesse’s loyalty is admirable, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer if he didn’t guess, as you and I did, that Riley’s folder o’ secrets was actually filled with blank paper.)
After Jesse is rescued with the help of some handy knockout gas, and Sam is rushed to “cokehead plastic surgeon” Dr. Jed for lifesaving treatment, we’re on to “Game Change” (which could be the name of pretty much any Burn Notice season finale, although the concept has definitely been diluted by this point). It turns out that Riley, who got off to a promising start but never developed into one of Michael’s more formidable nemeses, has cut a deal with a drug cartel to take down our heroes. Making Riley dirty at this point strikes me as an awfully convenient way of giving Michael the high ground, particularly after Bly is killed by the cartel while gathering intel on this unholy alliance. It’s as if the show is saying, “Sure, Michael plays outside the rules, but at least he’s not this bad!”
The big action climax involving the cartel’s yacht and a couple of heavily-armed Coast Guard ships is impressively expensive-looking for this show (give or take the shaky green-screen in the scenes with Michael and Riley in the cabin), but the “game change” at episode’s end left me scratching my head. After everyone spends several weeks in lockup for debriefing, they are released, only to find that the new man in charge appears to be... Michael. This is quite a turn of events, and we’re not really given a clue as to how or why this has happened, aside from the fact that Michael has “made a deal.” Then again, so many CIA operatives have been killed or (presumably) imprisoned in recent weeks, maybe they had no choice but to bring him back. (Between this show and Homeland, the CIA has really taken a beating lately.) Anyway, Fi isn’t happy about it, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled either. It feels like we’ve been here before, at least one time too many.
- When you’re a spy hiding out from the CIA, driving your gut-shot friend at 120 mph to see a cokehead plastic surgeon is a good way to maintain a low profile.
- Also not suspicious at all: A surreptitious meeting with drug dealers at the marina, right next to their yacht the size of a football field.
- I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a motorcycle chase through a hospital before, so I’ll give the show credit for that.
- This season finale also marks the end of regular Burn Notice coverage here at the A.V. Club. The truth is, this show hasn’t really warranted episode-by-episode scrutiny for a while now, and that’s become particularly apparent with this most recent batch. The dwindling readership of these reviews and sporadic participation in the comments have certainly reflected this decline. We’ll probably drop in for premieres and finales, particularly if next season turns out to be the last, but for now, this is goodbye. Thanks for hanging in there.