Michael finds himself battling the influences of a powerful psychotropic drug after Sonya kidnaps him and brings him at long last to the head of the terrorist network she works for. But a he slips deeper and deeper into his hallucinations of the past, is it too late to save his future?
“Psychological Warfare” is the heaviest Burn Notice episode ever, and relies quite deeply upon the audience’s established knowledge of Michael’s past and relationships to gain maximum emotional impact. The episode tries – with a decent amount of success – to replicate Michael’s torture within the psyche of its audience – its use of a sudden fog horn is quite effective. But its hallucinatory effects can only last so long, and its hypnotic pull is broken by interludes with Sam, Fiona, Jesse and Madeline, who try to outrun the clock and save Michael from himself. These interludes feel very Burn Notice, while all of the Michael portions feel quite different in their hallucinatory uniqueness.
It’s quite an experience, to see Michael entirely broken down and sobbing like a child. This ratchets up the audience’s sympathy for him but is perhaps too nakedly obvious an Emmy ploy on the show’s part: watch Michael cry, suffer, be noble, be vulnerable, be witty, be funny! That’s not to say it’s a bad performance – it’s an excellent one. But the script just a nakedly obvious grab at glory. Also particularly good is guest star John Pyper Ferguson, who appears for the first time as James Kendrick, Michael’s quarry for the season.
It’s hard to judge “Psychological Warfare” on the scale set by previous Burn Notice episodes. It’s something entirely new, entirely fresh, and gives one food for thought even though its spell has its limi
- Charlie and Madeline are seen playing with dinosaur figures; Charlie’s interest in dinosaurs was mentioned briefly in 07.05
- Sam has often complained of Fiona’s tendency to drive like a maniac; her speedy ways have become something of a running joke.
- We see how Michael received the scars he bears on his cheek; while covering for Nate with his father after Nate broke his model copy of the Charger.
- Michael says that he and Sam met in Bolivia during a hostage rescue mission.
- In Michael’s hallucination, Fiona wears the red dress she sported in “Better Halves.”
- Michael reveals that his middle name is Allen
- He was recruited by the CIA due to his uniform excellence during a deployment in Panama with his unit of rangers.
- His test scores from his time at the Farm were judged good; but his fieldwork was above average.
- Tim Mattheson appears in flashbacks as his recurring character “Dead Larry” (he died for real back in season five), the man who made Michael who he was and the devil he fears he’ll turn into
- John Pyper Ferguson, who plays James Kendrick, played Pete Hutter on Bruce Campbell’s cult favorite “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”
- When Michael saw Fiona for the first time after being rescued from his ordeal, Jesse says he “started crying, couldn’t stop.
- In next week’s episode, Sam goes undercover to help Michael bring down a drug smuggler and Jesse and Fiona try to get closer to James Kendrick in “Nature of the Beast.”