The series finale of the ever-popular USA Network spy show Burn Notice aired last Thursday. What began as a fun A-Team meets Miami Vice spy show, took a decidedly dark turn during its final couple of seasons as Michael Weston's final missions nearly swallowed him whole. For all the action, slick production and general good guys versus bad guys formula, BN had a few surprisingly complex characters and became much more than spy TV by the end. The producers managed to take some significant risks that mirrored the real-world struggles of Michael's conflicted hero spy persona.
Now, that enough time has gone by for BN fans to digest what happened, I felt like it was appropriate to pay tribute to the legend who was lost during that last episode. If you haven't watched the series finale, you might want to stop reading this like immediately as it will be filled with spoilers from the series ender.
Just to make sure we are clear...SPOILER ALERT...
Rest In Peace, Madeline Weston
One of the more interesting plot points throughout the series was the emphasis on the burden everyone had to carry. Michael was the obvious focus because not only was he the central character, but it was his original point of entry into the series that cast the entire show and gave it its title. But, his friends and family carried a weight as well, perhaps none more than Maddie Weston.
Sharon Gless brought to bear on Maddie's character both the light heartedness of an older mom and the terrible resentment and guilt of an abused wife. When she finally agreed to burn down the quaint Miami bungalow she had lived in for 45 years -- the same home where she endured the torture of an abusive husband, the fear of losing one son and the pain of actually losing another -- it was cathartic. This was, after all, a literal burn notice, as she torched the demons that house kept within its walls.
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But, when Michael, so wracked with guilt over what he had put his friends through, made up his mind to sacrifice his life to save everyone else, it was Maddie who turned the tables and came to his rescue one final time. In the most heart-wrenching scene in series history, Maddie told Michael she was proud of him offering him a final bit of motherly tenderness before saying goodbye. Minutes later, cigarette in hand, she made the ultimate sacrifice with the words, "This is for my boys."
What made Maddie such a compelling character is that even in the most incredible moments of tension, she seemed to find some inner resolve without losing sight of the significance of the moment. When Michael had to pretend to be a crime boss and slap her in front of a criminal for emphasis, she swallowed her shock and comforted her son, helping him to understand he had not become his father, the thing he most feared.
Ultimately, Maddie was a good mother despite her guilt to the contrary. She was a caring grandmother. She was a comforting friend. But she was also a cigarette-smoking badass. And just when Michael thought he was truly becoming his father, Maddie once again let him off the hook and helped him find his humanity. In reality, Michael was more like his mom than his dad. Both had to sacrifice for the people they loved. Both had to do what they believed was right against the greatest odds and in the face of overwhelming pressure. Maddie may have been the one who ultimately gave her life, but not before leaving Michael with a shot at a real life with a wife, son of his own and a chance to make whole the Weston family name.
In the end, Maddie saved the day for her boys, just like she had been doing their entire lives. Rest in peace, Maddie. If anyone deserves the rest, it's you.