Vladimir tells Michael that his henchmen have identified the traitor in their team, and he's come around to the idea of leaving the prison with Sonya. "As long as she's safe," he says, "you will be well rewarded." Yet just as they're about to leave, Vladimir changes his mind again, saying he's just gotten a great phone call from Moscow: there's a Russian submarine diverting their way. This means Michael is trapped in a room with an unconscious, locked-up Sonya, while Burke, Sam and Jesse are armed, waiting and confused outside.
A twitchy Burke decides to employ two pounds of high explosives, while posing as Michael's CIA contact. "I've never left anyone behind," he insists. "The people who fight alongside me, that's my family. I'm not going to leave Michael behind, or Sonya." Yes, Virginia, the mercenary has a heart. Burke walks right through the front door of the secret prison, plays his bit with Vladimir, and gets taken to see Michael. He tells Michael to believe in Sonya and the two share a handshake. Then Burke sacrifices himself to save them.
With a still-unconscious Sonya in tow, Team Westen speeds away from the remains of the secret prison. One thinks that Strong is not going to be happy when he hears about this.
And as for Fiona, she liberates her kidnap victim, and hands him some fake ID's and some brochures for nursing schools. His girlfriend is in the nearby bus station waiting for him. "Let's just say we like the idea of a spy getting a chance to start over," Maddie half-explains while sad piano music plays.
But there's a 'but' coming. Jesse gets knocked unconscious by Sonya, who makes a quick escape, setting up a manhunt (or is that womanhunt?) in two weeks.
"Brothers In Arms" is a major step up from "Down Range," because most of this episode makes logical sense (aside from Madeline being left alone on prisoner watch). It also injects some seriousness back into the Burn Notice formula. The show has always mixed comedy and drama, but hasn't really had a truly gripping episode this season until now. Michael watching Serrano's daughter sleep while he can hear her father committing suicide via earpiece? That's some heavy stuff for a show that airs on a network with a "blue sky" philosophy. And it works - because Burn Notice is still a spy show and in reality, spycraft gets messy.
Of course, there are a few things here that are tired; pretty much everything about the Russians is a cliche, and then there's how Fiona's kidnapping vehicle of choice happens to be a black van. It's really obvious that the 'B' story with Fiona and Jesse's contact is supposed to make her think about her relationship (or lack thereof) with Michael. And one has to question giving Alona Tal top guest-star billing when she doesn't even have a line of dialogue.
But the good vastly outweighs the iffy, particularly in the case of Adrian Pasdar, who finally gets to start doing more with the Burke character than just bluster. In this episode, we can finally start to buy Burke as the capable soldier he was presented to us as, and see that there's more to him than your usual double agent. Unfortunately, it's the same episode in which he dies. (Making this the second USA Network show Pasdar has been killed off of, after Political Animals last summer.) At least Pasdar left the show doing his best work. The question is who's going to fill the void he just left - and how the show is going to build on his memorable exit.
Burn Notice is off next week for the Fourth of July, but returns in two weeks.