Of all the ways I had thought that Simon might return, his arrival in "Tipping Point" as the leader of the extraction team working for Strong never crossed my mind.
In my version of events, James was working for Simon and that would be the big reveal at the end of the episode: Simon living a life of luxury in Latin America and James bringing Michael to meet him. I've never been so happy to be wrong about a story plot in my whole life.
Actually, there were a lot of surprises that made me really satisfied. As wrong as it sounds, the top of that list was Michael winning the fight against Simon and assuring that Simon wouldn't hurt anyone again.
The scariest part of that fight was that something inside of me cheered when Michael slowly sank the knife into his chest. After all the pain and misery that Simon caused Michael, he really needed to die slowly - oh wait, he did.
Strong has said all season that he will use whatever assets are at hand to get the job done. So it’s no real surprise that he has been using Simon to do his dirty work (off the books). Is every CIA person Michael going meets breaking the rules? Just last year we had Agent Riley and Tom Card... and now Strong this year.
Earlier, I had predicted that it would be Fiona that would be the deciding factor in Michael joining James or not. I forgot to consider the idea that Strong might be another "whatever it takes to complete the mission" handler and that it would be his attitude of not caring about honesty, truth or justice that finally opened Michael’s eyes to the fantasy the CIA has been selling.
Maybe it was being able to see the CIA in the same light as the "bad guy" James, who has been upholding the very values Michael treasures most, that finally opened his eyes.
So... what happens when you realize that what you've believed in for so long is a lie?
The rest of us usually go curl up in the fetal position and cry. Okay, maybe that's just me. Not Michael. He did what he always does: the right thing. He saved someone's life. He came clean and saved Sonya. But he didn't just do it to save her, he did it to release himself. He knew that James would kill him for betraying him and he was ready to die.
I recognized the point of surrender, the point where you’re tired of getting back up after being knocked down so many times, where you just want it all to stop. I think we've all been there at least once in our lives.
Jeffrey Donovan's performance tonight was simply amazing. I had tears in my eyes as I watched Michael finally lift the burden from his shoulders and tell James everything. You could see the sense of relief he had as he stopped fighting and gave in; for better or worse, all the cards were on the table.
Of course, James was as smart as I've come to expect him to be and he recognized the change in Michael and put it together that Michael had truly switched sides by preventing them from walking into an ambush.
In the end, while Michael’s beliefs were damaged, James has been offering him something to believe in. This leads me to suspect it’s going to be James who helps give Michael the strength that he is going to need to deal with Strong. If only Fiona was on board, there would be no doubts.
I honestly have no idea how this season and this series is going to end. At this point all I can do is hope that James is the exception to the rule and doesn't turn out to be a heartless bastard in the season finale (I’m looking at you, True Blood).
In conclusion, I’m giving this episode 5 tears of joy and sadness for Michael. Win or lose, his eyes have finally been opened and that’s going to change the game for the final two episodes. See you in two weeks!
Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.