SPOILER ALERT: This recap for the series finale episode of "Burn Notice" contains story line and character spoilers.
What more could you ask of a series finale than to have it tie back to its beginnings and offer a satisfying journey for its lead character, even if the end of that journey is tinged with tragedy?
In the case of "Burn Notice's" seventh, and final, season ender, lone-wolf spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) finally got out of the spy business and happily reunited with his soulmate, Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), but there was a huge price to pay for his many years of tangling with the world's bad guys.
And his mom, Maddie (Sharon Gless), paid it. With Michael's foe James Kendrick (John Pyper-Ferguson) threatening to kill Michael, Maddie, and Michael's nephew Charlie, Maddie detonated a block of C-4, blowing up Kendrick's minions — and herself in the process.
"This one's for my boys," Maddie said as she sat calmly in a chair, smoking a cigarette, and set off the explosion.
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The sad death of the beloved matriarch — "Cagney & Lacey" Emmy winner Gless is the only "Burn Notice" cast member to receive an Emmy nomination for the USA drama — brought the series full circle, "Burn Notice" creator Matt Nix said, as "one of the central ideas and conflicts in the series has always been between Michael's work and Michael's family."
Added Nix in a recent conference call, "He started the series as a very isolated guy. Over the years, he has acquired this family and these friends and these relationships that he didn't have at the beginning. But we've always talked about the idea that there's a reason that a spy who's putting himself in these kinds of situations so consistently doesn't have a bunch of close relationships. I think that it was important to me to say, why have the last seven years mattered? Are those themes that we've addressed over the years, are they real? I think the answer to that has to be yes.
"Michael's always had to balance the two sides of his life, and the final two episodes are really about choices and sacrifices. It's not just about being sad or killing off your character. It's also about taking seriously the things that we've talked about and the issues that we've addressed over the last seven years," Nix said.
Maddie had always felt guilty about the fact that her sons, Michael and his younger brother, Nate, were abused by their father. As Michael visited her for what turned out to be the final time, he warned her sacrifices might have to be made in order to stop Kendrick. Later, in what turned out to be her final phone call with Michael, she explained her C-4 plan, apologized for not protecting him when he was a child, and reminded him that sacrifices had to be made. She also told her teary son she was proud of the man he is.
Meanwhile, Maddie's sacrifice allowed Jesse (Coby Bell) to carry her grandson Charlie to safety, as Michael and Fiona killed Kendrick and his men. But Kendrick detonated a bomb. The building they were in exploded, and while Michael's best friend, Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), made it out in the nick of time, Michael and Fiona appeared to die in the blast.
Sam and Jesse were briefly jailed and then set free by CIA honcho Andrew Strong (Jack Coleman). They met up at a funeral for Michael and Fiona and revealed plans to work together again. They also revealed that they knew Michael and Fiona were still alive — somewhere.
Next scene: Michael and Fiona — in the Irish countryside? — snuggled up in front of a fire, with Charlie asleep in Michael's lap, and Michael and Fiona kissing after she confirms he's no longer in the spy game.
Donovan echoed Nix's explanation of the series' bittersweet conclusion.
"One of the interesting journeys that 'Burn Notice' has been on, is it created a family for audiences to watch," Donovan said. "Though we've been humorous throughout the years, there's been an underbelly of seriousness and tragedy. I don't think that we could probably end the series with a bow tie and smile on everyone's faces. I think that the audience knows that there has to be some sort of tragedy to show how important their journey was over the years."
With Michael and Fiona presumed dead — at least by most of the world — Sam and Jesse made plans to continue teaming up to use their former spy guy skills. The characters have shared lots of screen time throughout the final season as Michael was off on his solo missions, and fans have enjoyed Campbell and Bell's bromance so much that spinoff chatter has popped up on Twitter and other social media. But is it just wishful Twitter thinking?
"It's something that we have kicked around, and it's an idea that we've liked," Nix told Yahoo TV during the conference call. "There's nothing specifically in the works, other than that we all think it would be fun to do if the opportunity ever arose."
Added Campbell, "It would be something that I know I would enjoy. I enjoy working with Coby, because it would just be a whole different kind of dynamic. ... But this is all baloney. You know what I mean? There's really nothing to talk about right now, other than the fact that it'd be fun. You really do have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a show on the air, so right now, it's really just a bunch of random Twitter talk."
"Burn Notice" Finale Trivia
Donovan, Campbell, and Nix shared which mementos from the show they kept after production ended.
Donovan said he possesses the original Oliver Peoples sunglasses Michael wore in the pilot. Even Nix was surprised to learn that the glasses were actually Donovan's personal pair. He had rejected all the ones offered to him by wardrobe, and he asked if he could wear his own on-air instead. The cool shades became a trademark of the character.
Campbell also kept some of his character's wardrobe, namely Sam's colorful Tommy Bahama shirts and his man jewelry. "I found out was the most expensive part," he said. "They actually ended up making (the jewelry) gold after about the third or fourth season. I was like, 'Wow, those are expensive.' They were like, 'Yeah, we finally went gold,' instead of the cheesy plating."
And then there's Nix, who really scored. Toward the end of production, he found out he and Donovan wear the same size suit and shoes, so he ended up with several chic tan suits. "You've got your Michael suits," Donovan said with a laugh.
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