We've arrived at the Burn Notice summer finale, which usually means bigger explosions and some form of a cliffhanger to be resolved when the show returns in November. "Desperate Times" ticks off every box that fans of the show are used to, which is both a good thing in that it gives the audience what it expects, and a bad one in that there's not much to it beyond that.
The episode opens with Fiona upset at Michael for involving the CIA in their hunt for Tyler Gray, the man who killed Anson and Nate. "Every time we involve them, everything gets more complicated," she tells him angrily, which she would know. He retorts that Card (John C. McGinley) just called him and they're meeting in an hour. Cut to said meeting, where Card explains some "low-level gremlins" caught Gray (former Saving Grace star Kenny Johnson) on tape in Panama. Card then tells Michael that the only people he can actually send to Panama are Michael, Jesse, Fiona, Sam and one other random guy, Brady Pressman (Chad Coleman).
Michael visits Maddie to inform her about the latest development in the situation. She's still somewhat cold-shouldering him, and admits that she blames not just him, but "everyone" for the death of his younger brother. "Every mistake Nate ever made was because he wanted to be like you," she snaps at Michael, before going into a rant about how she "was his mother; my job was to protect him from you." Clearly, this relationship is going to stay broken for awhile.
The team arrives in San Miguelito, Panama, where they meet Brady and go immediately to a condemned building to set up their operation. Brady briefs them on Gray's last known location, the equipment they have available and the plan he's put together to extract Gray. They're set to swing into action the following day. However, that morning Michael's suspicions are aroused by an electrical truck that shouldn't be outside. It happens to be full of bad guys, forcing our heroes to make a very quick escape via the roof to the next building over.
Brady wants to abandon the mission, but Sam and Fiona convince him they can still make things work with what little they salvaged in their escape. While preparing, Michael promises Fiona that once Gray is captured, he'll leave the CIA...and so, there's a cut to the CIA office, where Maddie is impatiently waiting for Card. She's not leaving until he tells her everything about the mission that got Nate killed, blackmailing him with the information Michael gave her earlier. Card leaves her alone with a classified file, the contents of which are not immediately revealed to the audience.