Michael Looks In A Mirror He Can't Ignore

In this episode of Burn Notice, called "Tipping Point," Michael nears the end of his mission but the appearance of one person may prove to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

Burn Notice - Tipping Point

I'm not really much of a drinker (just ask my friends, I'm a major lightweight), but I think after this episode, I might need to pour myself a stiff drink.

The episode started out somewhat innocently enough. Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) and Sonya (Alona Tal) prepared for yet another mission and as soon as there was a hint of where they were going, Strong (Jack Coleman) decided to send in a team to capture James (John Pyper-Ferguson). Knowing that there are still two episodes to go, I really didn't think it would happen that easily and I was right. The extraction process was a complete snafu and soon Michael was split up from Sonya and James. Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse (Coby Bell) were on Strong's main team, but as soon as they had more than one group to follow, Strong put his second team on Michael's car — not knowing which vehicle had James in it.

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Meanwhile, Fi (Gabrielle Anwar) was guarding Maddie (Sharon Gless) and Charlie because Michael begged her to keep them safe. He knew full well that no matter how good Strong said his men were, there was still a chance that James would get wind that Michael had betrayed him and would go after his family. So while the tension played out in Mexico with Sam and Jesse trailing Michael's every move, Fi had tension of her own trying to figure out what James' men were going to do every second.

Strong's second team caught up with Michael and that was when it was revealed just who was leading it — Simon (Garret Dillahunt). The same Simon who was a maniac and that Michael put away a couple of years ago. It turned out that the CIA pretty much plucked him out of prison as soon as Michael put him in and he's been off doing their dirty business for years. Their confrontation was the first scene that nearly had me hyperventilating. By watching Simon go about his crazy act and hurting anyone who got in his way without a second thought, Michael was finally pushed over the edge and decided he couldn't take it anymore.

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In an act that I am still trying to really wrap my head around, Michael killed Simon and then got James and Sonya away before they could be captured. When he killed Simon, it almost felt like Michael was actually attacking that part of himself that had done all those bad things to get this far into the mission. Michael saw what he'd been willing to do and he didn't like it. It was as if by looking at Simon, Michael was actually looking in a mirror at a distorted version of himself. Michael also didn't like the people who had forced him to go that far.

But Michael had done his job almost too well and it was Sonya who nearly paid for that when James concluded that it must have been her who leaked their mission. In a twist I didn't see coming at all, Michael admitted that it was him and also admitted that he may not have believed in everything that James did, but he admired the fact that the man believed in something.

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James decided not to kill Michael and in the end, I was left reeling by the implications of both of their acts. In my review of last week's episode, I wondered if we would ever get Michael back from his dark path. It is hard to believe, but Michael has gone even farther down that path now and there's no telling if he actually will come back or what shape he will be in when he does.

My favorite bits:

Michael turning his interrogation of Sonya into innocent questions and managing to get one piece of information from her.

Michael sleeping with Sonya to copy the data on her phone.

Michael rolling his eyes when Strong called him a lady killer.

"Your bill has come due. You want your old life back, you're gonna have to trust me."

Sam reassuring Michael that he and Jesse would be there to watch his back.

Michael basically begging Fi to protect his mother and nephew. Wow.

Sam ordering Fi not to shoot James' men.

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Gasping out loud, literally out loud, when Simon appeared.

"You were waiting for Alpha team. I'm Alpha team."

"Guys like us, we're useful. As long as we're useful, someone's going to want to take us out to play."

Simon asking Strong for one second for Michael to decide if he was going to shoot him or not.

Burn Notice - Tipping Point

"Stay strong? Did you get that off a bumper sticker?"

Michael ordering Simon not to touch the man on the ground again.

Knowing it was wrong, but still laughing when Simon couldn't remember the name of one of his men.

Sam looking ready to take Strong down for comparing Michael to Simon.

Gasping out loud again when Michael went after Simon's eyes.

Michael stabbing Simon. I don't even... I can't... There are no words.

Maddie doing a great job at pulling off her nervousness as nicotine withdrawal.

Michael betraying Strong. WHOA.

Jesse calling Fi just in time. Whew!

James turning on Sonya. Uh oh.

Michael finally admitting who he was.

"I wasted my life. For a lie."

Michael tipping his head back and waiting for Sonya to kill him.

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What did you think when Michael killed Simon and told everything to James?

Images courtesy of USA

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Comments on "Burn Notice recap: Pushed to the breaking point and beyond"

Morris August 24, 2013 | 6:28 PM

Like those above.I do not think James is the "terrorist-monster".The CIA led Micheal to believe at first.James was a"decorated Delta Force Captain".Whose sense of duty also clashed with his moral code.When given orders to kill women and children in Mogabishu.Under misguided intel that these were rebel dissidents.Armed and dangerous.He tried taking his men out of it acoording to his former Delta Force comrade.After the squad would not abort their planned attack.James took matters into his own hands to prevent even greater tragedy.I`am not saying "cutting the throats of 15 comrades"was right.But,James`moral judgement decided this was the lesser of the 2 evilspared with massacre of a village of ladies and kids.Which would have made James and his Delta Squad.Liable to War Criminal prosecution afterwards.The War Criminals of World War 2 claimed innocence because they were"following orders of their superiors"too.But,these were still guilty because they did not"use their head and commonsense.Ladies and kids are "not soldiers and combatants"like fellow troops. Micheal learned that James is similar to himself in this regard.Morality guides him as much as his duty to his country and the orders given. I hope Micheal and James Network.Can free Micheal and his family and friends.From being used unfairly by the CIA.But,I think James will be killed by his former Delta Force comrade.Who was in the mental hospital for 15 years.Sonya will ultimately help Micheal and Fiona.Possibly being the main survivor of James Network because of her assisting them to bring down the Network.Micheal will probably have to fake his death in this process.In order to truly be free to live his life outside of the CIA influence and manipulation.But,I will be sad to see James and his Network brought down.I like the writers showing the true "gray areas"of spy agencies and spies themselves.Rather than the "black and white","good guy-bad guy myths of TV.

Distant Voices August 24, 2013 | 7:48 AM

I thought it was a brilliant intense episode. One of the best. Season 7 has been fantastic so far. I too like James (who seemingly in the past felt let down by the CIA as well - hence the new bond with Michael at the end). It is a breath of fresh air to see a main character/hero revolt against a government institution and reveal a dark side in a US tv show. Interestingly this week the Piper Perabo heroine in Covert Affairs (which is also becoming darker and better)had the opportunity to join a rogue spy network against the CIA but turned it down and remained pure, loyal - ugh.

Randy August 24, 2013 | 4:51 AM

Michael had been betrayed by the CIA time and again with his most recent betrayal coming from his original handler. He hoped that Strong would represent a different sort of CIA, but with Simon's appearance, that illusion was shattered. I just hope Michael doesn't do something out of character with the final episodes. Since we don't know James's master plan, that is the revelation I'm waiting for.

Ryan August 23, 2013 | 8:13 PM

Honestly, and I may be in the minority, but I like James. James is intensely loyal to his people, and I have respect for that. I also respect that he is trying to rid the world of "bad guys" albeit in a very Machiavellian "ends justify the means" way. If I had a choice between "James" or "CIA", I'd pick James every time. The CIA has shown itself to be eating itself from within, corruption personified and enhanced with a sprinkle of ignorance. There is no question as to who would appreciate and value Michael more, that answer is clearly James. I'll be sad to see this "Terrorist" brought to "justice". I use scare quotes here because both of those words in this context are a lie.

Colleen August 23, 2013 | 4:37 AM

To answer the question posed: I believe that Michael would not align himself with Simon, no matter what. Simon on the loose, and what's more, in control, was far too dangerous so Michael made an executive decision. He then sold the belief that he had lost faith in the CIA because he figured he was done. But James sees something in Michael that he admires and he believes that he can create another disciple. He spared him and then Michael realized that if he could play this out, he could end James' plans - whatever they are because we don't know James' end game yet - on his own. Or at least with less bloodshed than before. (Hah! Famous last thoughts!) It surprised me that Michael saved Sonya but like he said in the beginning, one's cover does not preclude one's not developing feelings for the target. I don't think she is a rival for Fiona but I think that she has been physical comforting contact that he has not had in a long time. He is only human. At any rate, it is clear that Sonya is a much harder operative than he as she was prepared to end him on James' say-so. Let's hope Michael hardens up in the next 2 weeks! The episode bothered me at first but when I stepped back and took a look at things, a lot made sense. How the team itself will rally will be interesting. I know the term "Sea Change" means a transformation or a change mid-journey. How will that apply? Does that mean Michael is turning to the darker side? The previews would have you believe that but we all know how they take their sound bytes and spin their own riveting story in an attempt to keep viewers off-balance and crazy for the next episode. so we'll see. Two weeks off - hate when they do this. It's like sitting on death-row waiting for midnight....

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