After seven dynamic seasons, Burn Notice has finally come to an end with the series finale, “Reckoning.” Although the episode had some far too convenient turn of events, the end product reflected both the good and the bad of Burn Notice, sending the series out with dignity.
The difficulty to ending such a show is that despite the unbelievable content, you want to be able to send the characters out in an authentic way. How did the writers do this? By revisiting the past. Whether if it was how Michael came to be burned, the way in which the core cast each met, or even how Michael came to be the man he was, the past played a heavy role in the entire series. This episode was no exception, tying off the theme in a suitable fashion. Each character received an individual homage to the past, including a fun nod to their lines from the opening title sequence.
Michael and Fiona got the life they wanted, with the symbolic restoration of the snow globe at the end, and taking care of Charlie. While this comes with far too much convenience for my tastes, the sentiment felt genuine, and it provided a satisfying conclusion for these characters (not to mention bringing the entire series full-circle with the revelation that the it was all Michael retelling the story to Charlie).
Meanwhile, Jesse and Sam were left to seemingly pick up the pieces after the events of the episode. Given the fact that Michael had a tendency to attract espionage, it was a saddening, but logical decision to split up “the family.” Doing so allows for a more complete end, as Fiona and Michael are now out of the spy life and no longer participating in shady (but noble) side jobs. That said, it is heavily implied that Sam and Jesse are more than willing to pick up the Miami vigilante slack.
Jesse in particular had some interesting developments, providing critical insight into the character that captured the series as a whole. When Maddie reasonably asks why he stuck around for so many years, despite all of the trouble brought to him, and all that Michael did to him, Jesse provides a revealing answer. In short, he explains that he stays because after his mother died, he was alone and without family. The group, while fractured and remarkably flawed, is his family. Likewise, all of the other characters have dysfunctional or undisclosed family lives, but like Jesse, treat the group like family. Despite Michael’s questionable exploits this season, they never lost faith in him, supporting him like family. Put simply, it was a clever way to present this concept, using a comparatively undeveloped character.
Most significantly, we had the major events of a character dying. The entire episode had a distinct theme of sacrifice weaved throughout it. As such, it was only prudent that Maddie sacrifice herself. The concept of parents sacrificing themselves to relieve the sins of their children is not a remotely new concept. However, in this case, it was presented well, allowing the character of Michael to start over with a somewhat clean slate. More importantly, her leaving Charlie in Michael’s care gave him something to live for again, pulling the character out of the guilt-ridden funk he had recently fallen into. Furthermore, having allowed her sons to be physically abused as children, this served as a wonderful demonstration to show how much the character has changed throughout the series. As she so lovingly put it, “Grandma would do anything in the world to protect you,” serving as an unquestionable redemption.
Finally, I need to give the writers some credit where credit is due for the utilization of the Michael/Fiona dynamic. Having split the characters up at the beginning of the season and placing Fiona with a new man (Michael 2.0, a.k.a Carlos), it was clear that something big had to happen between the two. In the last episode, “Sea Change,” it was taunted that Michael may let Fiona die. Although this would have been a viable conclusion to the relationship, it is unlikely they could have done something worthwhile with Michael after that. Instead, it was clear that Fiona was planned as a definitive tool to pull Michael out of the muck. Just like the beginning of the series, Fiona saved Michael from his own demons, showing him the error of his ways one last time.
Naturally, the finale brought with it a number of weak points. In particular, as mentioned, there were far too many conveniences to go by unnoticed. For example, there was the character of Charlie. After all was said and done, Michael, Fiona, and Maddie were all considered deceased (the former two having faked their deaths). But what about Charlie? Is the audience to believe that no one wondered where the poor kid disappeared to? Presumably, the CIA was told that Charlie perished in the explosion with Maddie, but this remains unclear.
Also, Burn Notice, while unbelievable, has always managed to somewhat avoid the farfetched situations of action films. The finale seemed to be filthy with these moments though. To name a few, we have Michael jumping on a car to plant an explosive and jumping off unscathed, Sam running through more bullets than the character has seen in the entire series, and most notably, Michael and Fiona somehow outrunning a series of explosions that demolished a whole building, only to jump out a large window at the end of a hallway into some conveniently placed water below. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the preposterous situations of Die Hard 4, but I wasn’t expecting them from a series that while unlikely, has always remained within the boundaries of logic.
Overall, the episode sent the characters out in a suitable fashion. No ending can be perfect, and Burn Notice is certainly no exception to this. However, with heartfelt moments, entertaining dialogue, and a recall to the past seven seasons, Burn Notice, “Reckoning” reminds us why we began watching the show in the first place.
Overall Score: 9/10
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