Burn Notice: “Devil You Know”

Over the last three years, Michael Westen has faced his demons, ghosts from his past, and – in Victor – a cautionary tale of his own future. In tonight’s season finale he meets something far worse: himself.

The monster whose crimes fill Michael’s burn notice has been locked in a dark hole, stripped of his freedom and the credit for his evil acts while Michael has roamed Miami. Simon’s life’s work is Michael’s burden. And Simon wants it all back. To that end he spent millions, double-crossed Gilroy, and broke into the bright light of South Florida to force Michael’s hand.

Guest star Garret Dillahunt brings his usual creepiness to Simon, and by moving with dancer’s grace and standing straight as a statue of Lenin, he imbues Simon with a definite Michael Westen-ness. This monster, more than Victor or Dead Larry or Brennan, is what much of the world sees when it sees Michael.

Of course not everyone is fooled by the burn notice. Maddie knows her son. Sam and Fi know Michael. And for the most part, Michael still knows himself. There are a few moments, brief instants, in tonight’s episode where Jeffrey Donovan’s face contorts and his eyes glint and we can see bits of himself leaking away. Michael’s salvation has always been his makeshift family which is why they fight so hard to keep him from going off alone. This season ((All seasons, in fact. The central theme of Burn Notice is that Michael’s ties to his friends and family are the only thing keeping him human. His desire to escape into his job is tempered by his attachment to those he cares about who care about him. A nice allegory for many of us, I’d say.)) has seen him forced to push his friends away to work with (and against) Gilroy but their bonds have been strong enough to hold. Any hope Michael has of avoiding the fate of becoming what the pages of his burn notice say he is rests with Maddie and Nate and Sam and Fi.

But are they enough?

Earlier in the season, it seemed Michael was beginning to accept his new life. When Gilroy came to town, he wasn’t fighting to work with him to clear his name but because Gilroy was a bad chappie. With his makeshift family keeping him attached to the world and his drive to be freed from under his burn notice diminishing, it seemed Michael might find some peace. Simon’s entrance on the scene, and his burning desire to get his life back, complicates that. Simon needs intervention from Management to get back his life. At what cost to Michael?

Watch tonight’s very explosive ((They love to bring out the pyrotechnics in the season finales. I for one love them more for that.)) season finale at 10/9C on USA.