Burn Notice, “Guilty as Charged”

It’s kind of funny that I wrote this piece of the endless pointlessness of USA series’ “mythology” just a few days before Burn Notice more or less confirmed everything I said with its worst mid-season finale yet.

There are so many things wrong with “Guilty as Charged.” First of all, more than half the episode is spent on a totally random (albeit solidly executed) case! I know that previous mid-season finales weren’t all arc, all the time, but if we think back to season two, at least the case involved someone close to Fiona. Here, Michael is randomly absconded into the case in one of the most ridiculous of ways (some henchman throws money on his table while he’s having a drink) and never does the case submarine (pun intended) into the stuff with Jesse or Barrett.

This approach is especially frustrating considering the results of last week’s episode, which had Barrett ready for action and Jesse threatening to raise some hell. But “Guilty as Charged” totally wastes that urgency established at the end of “Blind Spot.” Jesse mopes around for most of the episode and the Barrett confrontation predictably happens at the very end of the episode.

And then, even after all the deflecting and meandering with the case, the final discussion between Jesse and Michael and the meet up with Barrett is actually well-executed and intense. Robert Patrick is a perfect Burn Notice villain and Jeffrey Donovan always handles the macho stand-offs very well. But of course, it all falls apart in the last five minutes of the episode. Barrett rambles on about the Bible’s use (it contains contact information for some of the people who burned Michael! OMG!), but then Vaughn brings a crew and screws it all up. Jesse shoots Michael (but to save him!), Barrett kidnaps him, Michael causes the vehicle to wreck, kills Barrett and then watches as an unknown person steals the Bible!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

If you’re keeping track at home, that means that the big bad, the “Dealer of Death” is now dead with little or no fanfare, Michael is “in peril” and someone else now has the Bible. If that’s not the creation of more false stakes and a ridiculous extension of a plot that was never really going anywhere in the first place. The Bible was never more than a MacGuffin in the first place, and usually the series is satisfied with using that approach and quickly moving on to another. That’s bad enough, but continuing to include this dumb Bible in the story is more frustrating than just about anything the series has done before. Michael will be fine, some suspicious character will come forward with the Bible and Michael will get it back. Yay. I’m glad the Burn Notice is going away for a while, because it just makes me too angry right now.

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