Monday, September 9, 2013

A possible clue to the Burn Notice ending: Who the hell has Michael Westen been lecturing to all this time?

When last we left Michael Westen in the Burn Notice penultimate episode "Sea Change," he had "chosen" his new cult family---Daddy James & creepy Sonya---over his own life with the friends we love.

The big question of course is, how does this all end?

I think that a huge clue lies in the idea of the voice-over narration. Who has Michael been talking to all this time, who has he been sharing his tips on spy craft with? [Note: prepositions will be dangling in this post, because the grammatically correct constructions sound terrible.] 

As a friend pointed out, Magnum P.I. had narration by Thomas in almost every episode, and there was never any explanation. It was just a part of the storytelling.

But those were the days long before the documentary conceits of The Office and Modern Family, and the whole premise of How I Met Your Mother.  So I think there will be an explanation for us, a pulling back from the canvass to show us the framing device. And the fact that Zack Arnold, the film editor for Burn Notice who tweets, gave me a big NO COMMENT when I raised the question of the narration reveal makes me think I'm looking in the right direction.

And so, I offer some scenarios that could be part of the the vision for the ending, pulling from other stories of all kinds. Some are in the realm of possibility, others just playful.

Michael meets HIMYM
He has been talking to his grandkids all this time, imparting to them the spy craft knowledge that is their birth rite.  It's his grandkids, because only a grandfather would go on and on for this long about spy details, kind of a "what I did in the war" thing. I'm assuming Fi is the grand mom.


Michael meets Touched by an Angel/Magnum P.I. "Limbo"

Michael dies in the last episode, and heads to heaven. He meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, and starts explaining why he did what he did, in great detail. St. Peter is generous and allows him as much time as he needs to build his case. The last shot is of the great Pearly Gates opening.


Michael meets "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
In the pilot, Michael is in mortal danger in a hotel room in Nigeria.  The moment his burn notice went into effect and the money he promised the drug lords didn't materialize, they shoot to kill. His thoughts flash back to Fiona, and that sets in motion seven seasons of story in his mind. 

In the Ambrose Bierce short story, when that character is hanged, the rope breaks. I don't want to completely spoil the twist in the classic short story any more than I have. You can read about it here.

Michael meets  Blue Jasmine

 The strain of the deep cover was too much and Michael's mind completely snaps. He ends up sitting on a Miami park bench, sharing his spy craft tips with the squirrels.

Michael meets Covert Affairs 
Michael gets out of the grips of Daddy James, and teaches a class to CIA recruits at Langley. He recognizes talent in a young recruit named Annie Walker, and he pulls some strings behind the scene to fast track her career.

Michael meets the 2013 Lone Ranger film
The year is 2063. Certain things have cycled back into fashion, including traveling tent shows with dioramas. Michael is nearly 100 years old, world weary of everything and broke, and so he has joined this exhibit. A six year boy is fascinated by Michael's James-Bond like tableau, and Westen starts to give the kid tips.    


Lynn Messina said...

I love the image of Michael Westen on a park bench in his dark sunglasses giving spy tips to squirrels. I will now be heartbroken if that's not the case. Also: I haven't read Owl Creek so I can't say for sure but it sort of sounds like it uses the same narrative technique as Pincher Martin. That, too, would be an excellent ending.

Ellen O'Neill said...

In a similar vein to Pincher Martin, but the twist is very specific and spectacular. Worth reading.

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