Burn Notice Review: "Guilty as Charged"

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This episode of Burn Notice was exactly what we have come to expect in a summer finale from Michael Westen and his gang.

In "Guilty as Charged," the much anticipated showdown of Barrett and Michael was surprisingly brief, confusing, and disappointing. The entire confrontation was not of the quality that we would expect from Matt Nix. I felt like they wanted to have Michael hurt and dying and attempted to write a scene that could end where they pictured it, regardless of the holes in the plot.

Summer Finale Scene

Here are a few of the things I noticed and questioned as the showdown happened:

  • Where was Michael planning on taking Barrett? Sam said the plan was for Michael to take Barrett after over powering the two guards; but where?? I was assuming the minisub, but then it appeared that Fiona and Sam were in that. Besides, was it big enough to have more than one person in it? 
  • Why didn’t Michael attempt to disarm the guy who was choking him? Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Michael actually monologue about disarming an armed foe in a recent episode? Why would he just let the guy start choking him out without a struggle, gun or no gun?
  • What happen to cutting off access to the bridge? Sam and Fiona were supposed to close off access to the bridge with explosives, yet Barrett drove through a gun fight with barely a ding on the car.
  • Who caught the speeding car and took the case? I know having someone take the case is the cliff-hanger of the summer finale, but given the holes in the overall showdown, I can’t think of anyone that could have caught a speeding car to be “right there” to get the case. I would have believed it a bit more if the feet had been running up, not strolling. 

I realize Nix and his team love doing cliffhanger endings. Last time was Michael in prison; one time he jumped out of a helicopter, etc. But I am worried that he and his team are letting the gimmick drive the writing.  I am sure some of these questions will be answered in the first few minutes of the next episode when the show returns (in November).

On the flipside of the holes in the Barrett plot, we had Michael helping a scumbag defense attorney named Adam Scott get back his five-year old daughter. I think both plans they tried were simple, elegant, and screamed of Michael’s style. Did anyone else catch that the last conversation between Michael and Scott seemed to be setting in a hook for Nix and his team to revisit the situation? I am not sure if Scott will turn up dead, or will need to hire Michael. But I do expect we have not seen the last of Adam Scott.

Major Pain

You have to admire Jesse’s commitment to keeping a promise. He had promised to put a bullet in the man that burned him and he did exactly that. While I had been hoping all season that Jesse would not shoot Michael, at least in doing so he was also saving Michael’s life. So promise made and kept. Good job, Jesse!

In conclusion, I must say that I really hate cliffhanger finales. I think the entire idea is one whose time has passed back when we only had three channels. If I wasn’t going to watch the show anymore, this would not have made me come back. Conversely, as a huge fan, all you have done is frustrate me over the break with questions. I have been watching the show all season, you don’t need to trick me into coming back to watch the show. 

What did you think of the finale? Am I being too hard on Nix? Does anyone else hate unnecessary cliffhangers? Check out a few Burn Notice quotes from the episode as you sound off:

Jesse: Sorry I'm late, I was sitting in the car for the last ten minutes with your head in the cross-hairs of a rifle, wondering if I should shoot the man who ruined my life.
Michael: And?
Jesse: Still thinking. | permalink
Madeline: If you're going to shoot my son, can you wait a few days. He is trying to save a little girl. | permalink
Sam: See Michael, if we had Jesse we would not be working with a guy with a tattoo on his neck. | permalink
Barrett: Our future together?
Michael: Yeah, I was thinking you could hire me on, you could reaaaally use some new staff. | permalink


Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (17 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Burn Notice is good but it's not Third Watch or Miami Vice. It's just a show with some Macgyver and someone watching that have time to loose.


Trying to answer some stuff for the reviewer... 1. Michael was planning on taking Barret to the CIA or to the FBI to get his job back somehow. He said it in the episode. Watch it again. He was planning on getting out of there in the submarine (with Barret). There is room for two people. After all he got it to save the little girl, I know she is smaller but... Don't forget part of the submarine is underwater. They wouldn't use this plan if the submarine wasn't big enough. Fiona and Sam were next to the submarine. That doesn't mean they were going to leave in it. 2. Maybe he didn't want to fight because he wanted to show Barret that he was not involved with Vaughn and he wanted to show that he could be trusted. One thing I didn't understand, maybe I have to watch again, is why didn't Sam shoot the guy that was holding Michael... 3. OK I really have to watch again... 4. Yup, who did it? That's what upset me about this. I got no answers. What a great motivation to watch a show that puts me trough pain. And by the way, Nix said Barret is dead. In the episode it's not clear. But Matt Nix thinks that just because you see somebody's head like that the person is automatically dead.


My problem with the episode is that it fell a little flat because we don't really know enough about Barrett or what he was doing to care about what was happening. It seems like this season has jumped around all over the place without really bothering to develop the storyline very well; I really don't remember how everything ties in, and what's worse, I don't care. I like the introduction of Jesse because, if nothing else, it gave us a storyline we actually got to see develop from week to week, other than the case-of-the-week, that got more than a few minutes devoted to it.


This finale was weak in my opinion. Too much with Jesse, I was hoping they would have gotten rid of him by now. And it's no cliffhanger because there's no way Michael will die.


You have your mid-season finales and season ending "cliffhanger endings" mixed up. "Guilty as Charged" was mid-season finale (with remainder of fourth season beginning much sooner than usual). This was a mid-season finale, much like previous seasons (Season 1: not sure; season 2: Michael's door blew up/he jumped from fire escape; season 3: Fiona took by O'Neill/Michael killed Strickler). There were about the same number of "plot holes" as can be found in any BN episode, but never so many as to make the episode totally implausible. It's always a fun ride, suspension of reality. It's a dramadie. It did seem Robert Patrick was underused - if he is dead, We'll find out.

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Burn Notice Season 4 Episode 12 Quotes

Just hear her out Jesse, I have been baking in the sun for an hour, I'm tired, I am out of cigarettes and I am not going to be hauling my ass all over Miami to look for you anymore.


Barrett: Our future together?
Michael: Yeah, I was thinking you could hire me on, you could reaaaally use some new staff.