“Last Stand” obviously picks up where ‘Out of the Fire’ left off. Our heroes are preparing to meet again with a bunch of people they’d rather put behind them. It’s not long before a very cranky Vaughn (Robert Wisdom) calls and threatens Michael and everyone else. He’d threaten Michael’s dog if he had one.
Having discovered Vaughn has someone at the FBI on his team, Sam recruits Madeline to pay another visit to the Senator she previously helped him intimidate, in order to discover who Vaughn has on the inside. Although Maddie isn’t fond of the idea, she agrees to help anyway. Everyone else is busy trying to hide the spy list. Fiona wants to know what’s supposed to happen when everything ends, and Michael tells her that she doesn’t necessarily have to follow the same path that he does. Jesse interrupts their moment by telling them that Vaughn’s men have found them, and a car chase slash shootout ensues. Michael decides the only option he has is to jump into Fiona’s Genesis and blow up the Charger as a road block. Let’s have a moment of silence for a truly awesome car.
Even that doesn’t completely stop the pursuit, and poor Jesse gets a piece of rebar in the thigh in the subsequent crash, breaking his leg. After holing up in a half-completed hotel, Fiona and Michael do the best they can to help him, but they know that Vaughn and his people will wait all day to flush them out if they have to. Vaughn calls up and threatens everyone all over again; Michael tells him to come and get the list (“he was coming in anyway”), advising Fiona and Jesse to hold off Vaughn’s minions while he gets to the emergency broadcast equipment on the roof. This also gives Fiona someone to confide in about her worries over what Michael might do when the dust settles; Jesse points out to her that she didn’t get involved with Michael hoping that he would settle down. The two of them set up a surprise for Vaughn’s minions: a very nice fireball.
Madeline gets a hold of Bill Cowley at another fundraiser, who is not happy to see her, but nonetheless is convinced to meet Sam. He’s skeptical of the existence of Vaughn and his network, until Sam brings up the specifics of what went down with John Barrett in “Guilty As Charged.” After that, he realizes Sam may actually have a point.
On the roof of the hotel, Michael does a petty good job of mangling one of Vaughn’s henchmen before he comes under fire from another one – a sniper on the opposite roof. Armed with the henchman’s bulletproof vest, he uses the guy as a counterweight as he jumps off the hotel roof, getting just far enough down to slip onto a balcony farther down. He informs Fiona and Jesse that he was able to use the emergency system to send a distress signal and alert…well, just about everyone. Unfortunately, Vaughn’s people have enough authority that they’re able to divert the entire calvalry under the auspice of a Homeland Security training exercise. Plan B? Bring the bad guys in, blow them up, and make a run for it.
However, they have to hope that Sam can get Cowley to help him expose Vaughn’s people. Sam thinks he’s got the guy convinced, until he finds out that Cowley called the FBI to check him out, and now the FBI wants Cowley to go into protective custody. The two argue, but he eventually gets Cowley to leave with him, and not the cops that are now swarming the area.
As they prepare to set up one huge bomb and one crafty elevator shaft escape, Fiona manages to semi-sweet talk Vaughn into coming into the hotel with his team, or so she thinks. Vaughn sends a few minions, but tells her that he has insurance – in the form of Madeline. Obviously, they’re not going to blow up Maddie, so it’s on to Plan C. The ever-fiesty Maddie tells her son to run for it, but Michael decides that he’d rather draw the fire of the bad guys and send Fiona and Jesse out with the list. Jesse would rather sacrifice himself, but Michael points out that Vaughn would rather kill him, and adds an apology for burning Jesse, who reiterates that it doesn’t bother him anymore. Michael leaves, but not before telling a tearful Fiona that maybe it’s time to go her own way.
He makes a run out of the hotel while everyone shoots at everyone in what might be one of the show’s most impressive action sequences just because of the sheer size for it. Fiona realizes at that moment that she belongs with Michael, even if it means dying, and changes her mind, leaving Jesse to escape by himself. Needless to say, Michael is really not happy to see her. The look on Jeffrey Donovan’s face is epic. “I’m tired of you making all the decisions in this relationship,” she says by way of explanation as Michael runs out of bullets. The two share an emotional moment, thinking they’re about to die (and choking me up while they’re at it), but then Sam and the Army (literally, the Army) turn up to save the day and arrest Vaughn.
Michael is reunited with his loved ones, as Sam tells them how he convinced Cowley to lend him reinforcements. As is usual for Burn Notice, though, a random guy turns up and tells Michael to come with him. Not unlike the end of last season, Michael has no idea who he’s talking to or where he’s going. He’s surprised when the car they’re in comes to a stop and he’s let out. There’s a familiar face there to meet him: his old boss (Dylan Baker). That’s right, Michael’s in Washington, D.C. “Welcome back,” his boss says, and there we leave it. Michael’s gotten what he wants – but will this be a case of being careful what you wish for?
While the whole “Michael gets dragged off and ends up somewhere totally different” thing is a bit tired, one can’t argue with where Burn Notice‘s fourth season ends up. I had long surmised that if Michael was able to get his old job back, it would be a decision that he’d face at the end of the series, as would the show really be daring enough to give him the one thing he’s been driving at from the beginning of the show? Yes, they are, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It goes without saying that Michael isn’t going to become a CIA desk jockey, and now that he’s aware of at least some of the people who burned him (remember, Jesse still has the list in his possession), he’s not going to look at his old job the same way. Yet at least temporarily, he’s in the belly of the beast. And should he choose to confront them, or leave, they certainly won’t take that kindly. Not to mention they probably have a lot of questions about what he’s been up to since his burning.
Where does this leave everyone else? Jesse might have his own job to go back to, but like Michael, I sense he’s going to realize what he wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Fiona certainly isn’t going to leave Michael, and it’s been established that she’s quite infamous in her own right, so I see her having to sort out quite a few things in her own right. Sam can pretty much do whatever he wants now. Madeline will always have to keep them all in line, but all the major characters have some soul-searching to do. They’ve created a team for themselves, but at least temporarily, they’re without the man who made them a team. They’re going to have to come back together eventually, but I imagine – at least I hope – that they’ll all discover some things about themselves in the meanwhile. That’ll only provide even more great material for whatever comes next. While I wonder how many layers the ongoing conspiracy can have, I say without reservation that it’s been a wonderful season four, and that I can’t wait for season five.