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Burn Notice: “Acceptable Loss”

Illustration for article titled Burn Notice: “Acceptable Loss”
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After the big reveal at the end of last week’s episode, I fully expected Burn Notice to back off the Anson arc this week and serve up a lighthearted one-off case as filler before the big season finale. And that’s sort of what happened, except for the lighthearted part. I have to admit, “Acceptable Loss” went somewhere I wasn’t expecting it to go in its last 15 minutes, and I’m not so sure it should have gone there. But we’ll get to that.

The fallout from Anson’s confession to killing Michael’s father is limited to a brief visit to Frank Westen’s grave by Michael and Maddie at the beginning of the episode. Michael is naturally skeptical of anything Anson says, but Maddie doesn’t seem to have any trouble believing it. Either way, this is something that will have to wait for the finale to play out, because Michael has another old friend to visit this week. After checking into Anson’s finances, he and Fi discover a connection to last season’s Big Bad, Vaughn (Robert Wisdom), now serving a life sentence at Guantanamo Bay. Michael arranges with Pearce to have Vaughn temporarily transferred to a Tampa prison in hopes of getting some information about Anson’s plans out of him.

This is the first of this week’s developments that had my personal plausibility-o-meter pushing into the red. It’s not that I ever expect realism from Burn Notice, but I would at least hope for a little internal consistency. I couldn’t quite buy that Pearce would come around so quickly to doing this huge favor for Michael without even asking for much of an explanation in return. I mean, I have to imagine that getting prisoners transferred out of Gitmo isn’t just a matter of a little red tape, and Pearce has had so much reason to distrust Michael so far, I had a hard time buying her expedience in this matter. But letting that slide for now, it’s always good to see Bunny Colvin… er…Vaughn again, even though that orange jumpsuit isn’t doing him any favors. (They feed ‘em well down in Gitmo, I guess.)

The client for the main case this week is Ian, an old colleague of Jesse’s from the State Department, now assigned to Yash, a diplomat with the Indian consulate. Yash has been smuggling blood diamonds in his diplomatic pouch in full view of Ian, who can no longer live with the massacre of innocents on his conscience. With Jesse posing as a diamond buyer, Ian sets up a meet with Yash in hopes of taking him and his operation down. (This leads into this week’s “Where are they getting all this money?” conundrum, when Sam and Fi are forced to bribe a jewelry store owner $20,000 in order to prove to Yash that Jesse has a means of cutting and selling the diamonds.)

When their initial attempt at nailing Yash fails, Burn Notice treads into dicey moral territory. It seems Ian is suffering from pancreatic cancer and has been told he has six months to live. He’d rather go out in a hail of bullets at the hands of Yash, whose diplomatic immunity would not extend to murder. As hard as it was to believe Pearce would go along with Michael’s plan, it was even tougher to swallow that Michael and Jesse would be up for having any part of this. Sure, you can justify it by saying Ian is going to die anyway, and his sacrifice might save lives in the diamond mines (but probably not, since as long as there’s a demand for the diamonds, someone else will be willing to fill it). But it still seemed out of character to me; with as many crazy schemes as Michael and the gang have come up with over the years, surely they could have thought of a better plan than this.

Nevertheless, they go through with it, leaving only the matter of Vaughn teeing us up for the season finale by revealing Anson’s master plan. It seems he’s putting his organization back together again, and it may already be too late for Michael to stop him. But, since next week is the season finale, probably not. I kind of feel like we’re owed a decent payoff to this storyline, don’t you?


Stray observations:

  • I wish we’d gotten a few more glimpses of Fiona in her hot lawyer disguise. That was a good look for her.
  • However, Jesse should probably avoid the shiny shirt and double-earring look in the future.
  • Any season finale predictions? Is Michael’s father still alive? Is Pearce working for Anson? Will Sam ever have another mojito?