|Season 7, Episode 7|
|Air date||July 25, 2013|
|Written by||Matt Nix, Ryan Johnson, Peter Lalayanis|
|Directed by||Larry Teng|
All or Nothing
Nature of the Beast
Psychological Warfare is the seventh episode of the seventh season and the one hundred and fifth episode of Burn Notice.
Michael is drugged by the leader of the organization he is trying to stop, putting him at risk of revealing dangerous secrets. In order to protect his future, he will have to face his past.
In a long-term undercover job, the most difficult challenges aren't professional. They're personal. You have to try to remember where the line is, between who you need to be, and who you really are. Because when that line starts to blur, it affects everyone around you.
For a spy, preparing a job history is a lot more complicated than updating a resume. Because official files are classified, you have to write a detailed account of your entire career. An account that will be checked and re-checked for even the slightest deception. If you can keep your facts straight, you'll be fine. If you can't, you might not live through the process.
In any infiltration, becoming comfortable with your target is a crucial part of getting information. You want them feeling secure so that your eventual betrayal will come as a total surprise. Of course, that assumes they don't surprise you first.
An interrogation is all about rhythm and repetition. Experienced interrogators will establish the pace of questioning to establish control. Once they have control, they can probe for more detailed information: exactly where you've been, and what you've done. Techniques such as sleep deprivation, noise irritation, and sensory overload are used to disorient you, to make it harder to resist questioning. The Geneva Convention doesn't consider these methods to be torture, but when you're experiencing them, it sure feels like it. The idea is that the more worn out you become, the more likely you are to make a mistake your interrogator can pounce on. But at a certain point, keeping your story straight is next to impossible when you're also struggling to maintain your sanity.
If you're given psychoactive drugs during an interrogation, it doesn't automatically make you spill every secret you've ever had. Drugs are used less to make you tell the truth, than to make it hard to lie. Without a clear head, it's difficult to make up a story and stick to it.
A spy is trained to deal with a wide range of external threats: combat, pursuit, capture, interrogation, even torture. Training is designed to expose you to as many situations as possible. So that when you encounter them in the real world, you're ready. There are situations, though, you simply can't prepare for. No amount of experience or training can help you when the threat comes from inside your own mind.
Michael is worried he's blurring the line between who he needs to be and who he is. Fi finds him and he tries to reveal what he's done. Finally, he starts to tell her that he and Sonya hooked up. Fi tells him he's sleeping with "the enemy." She warns him that he's "playing with fire" and leaves.
Michael creates a job history for the leaders of Sonya's network -- which is far more complicated than simply updating a resume. Sonya shows up and he asks if he should mention their previous night together. She says everything must be in there. Sonya remains secretive about where she's taking him, then surprises him with a stun gun to his side.
Michael is brought, blindfolded, into a meeting with Sonya's boss (John Pyper-Ferguson), who isn't facing him at first. He turns and calls himself "The man you've been waiting to meet." He says he might eventually tell Michael his name, but he wants to go through Michael's backstory first. He says they have all the time in the world. He wants to know if Michael is who he claims to be. For hours, the man goes over various questions, some repeatedly, before Michael is put through sleep deprivation and sensory overload to wear him down and disorient him.
Maddy and Charlie are playing around when Jesse comes over to check on whether she knows where Michael is. Maddy wasn't worried before, but now she is worried. Jesse tells her Michael's been missing for a few days and he "just dropped off the grid." Maddy wants to know what to do but Jesse assures her they'll find Michael.
Sam and Fi are looking, as well, but seeing no sign of Michael they see Sonya and some men carrying stuff out of Michael's loft. Sam wants to look for answers but Fi says they are supposed to "lay low." Sam worries Michael won't "be in one piece" when they find him.
Michael is going through more torture and "the man" says the first part of the process is over. He then opens a box of syringes to "loosen" Michael up. Michael doesn't want to take the shot but eventually gives in. The man gives Michael a shot and says they'll reconvene in a few hours. After more sleep deprivation, Michael sees a vision of Fi and tells her he can't do this any more. She leans in and tells him that if he tells them everything "we all die." In an instant, she's gone.
Michael isn't doing well. His ears are shot, he's exhausted, tears are coming from his eyes, and he's having trouble keeping his story together. "The man" wants to know how Michael became the man he is today. He wants to know how Michael became a "living legend" in eastern Europe. Michael insists his training simply kicked in. Michael starts to see a fire in from of him and "the man" notices that Michael is seeing something. Michael also sees snowflakes falling from the sky.
In a vision, Michael sees the late Larry Sizemore (Tim Matheson), who is telling Michael that he discovered everything in Michael and told him how to use it. Michael tells Larry he's not real and that he should leave. Larry yells at Michael again, saying, "you are who I made you!"
Michael shouts, "You're wrong!"
"The man" asks Michael who he's talking to, but Michael refuses. Back in the vision, Sizemore is yelling at Michael to say his name.
"Larry!" Michael shouts.
"The man" finds this interesting, saying that Larry Sizemore is listed as a simple field officer in Michael's background. Michael says Larry was "dangerous" and that he was afraid he was becoming like him, then was afraid he was starting to like it.
Sam and Fi are still following Sonya and another man. They're taking Michael's things to an incinerator. Fi goes to Sonya's car and puts an infrared strobe in the taillight of Sonya's car. Sonya and her accomplice come out and Fi hides as they drive away.
"The man" wants to understand who Larry was to Michael. Michael says he was needed in the Middle East, so he went there. Michael claims he "made a tactical mistake" on a recon mission, and that was why he and Larry didn't work together again.
In a vision, Michael replays an interrogation of some militants with Larry. Michael blew up a building and says he didn't know people were in it. But he then shouts that he didn't care if people were in it. Michael is now tearfully telling "the man" that he was angry and let his feelings blind him. "The man" realizes this is why Michael "always gets the job done without collateral damage."
"The man" tells Michael that this whole exercise has been valuable because he can't protect Michael unless he knows what's driving him. He tells Michael to get some rest because there are "more demons" inside of him and he's going to do everything he can to get them out.
Michael is sitting alone now, running through moments in his life -- all the way back to when he tried to protect Nate when they were children.
Fi and Sam are still chasing Sonya around town, using the infrared strobe to find her car. They follow it to a gated entrance to a private island. Sam suggests getting a speedboat that Elsa owns on the other side of the bay. He's going to call Jesse to set it up.
"The man" tells Michael that he's there because of his extreme loyalty, which he says is good but also bad because "old loyalties die hard." Michael says his old ties are all gone. "The man" tells Michael that because he doesn't know his group's cause he can't possibly be ready to give it his loyalty. Suddenly, Michael hears his father's shouts for him as a child. His father is shouting at him to tell "the man" what means the most to him -- the agency. Michael hallucinates a whole sequence in which he's physically fighting with his father.
Michael wakes up in his solitary room and Sonya runs in asking him what he told "the man," because whatever it is was bad. She says, "He knows you've betrayed us. He's going to kill you." She takes Michael's arm and helps him run out of the room.
Sonya tells Michael she's risking her life for him because he risked his to get her out of that prison in Cuba. She starts walking Michael out through some woods while Sam, Jesse and Fi are watching from a boat in the water. They see six armed guards chasing Michael and Sonya.
Meanwhile falls and hits his head on a tree. He's quickly back to the argument with his father. An adult Michael sees himself as a child and asks his child self, "What did you tell him?"
"I didn't tell him anything," the boy says. "I never tell him anything."
Michael then tells Sonya he's turning back and surrenders himself to "the man's" men. He's brought back in to see "the man."
"The man" points a gun at Michael, saying he's betrayed him. But Michael tells him he knows he won't pull the trigger because he came back. He says he knows who he is and has nothing to hide. Sonya tells "the man," "I told you, this one's a keeper."
"The man" extends his hand and says, "Michael, I'm James."
Jesse, Sam and Fi worry about what Michael has gotten himself into by running back into the place. Michael has one last dream, where he sees himself sleeping at his mom's house and she's asking him what the men did to him. He tells her that they tried to get in his head, but he held out. He says he was given drugs and saw things, "remembered moments, people." He says, "I saw dad." He says seeing him wasn't the hard part.
"It was realizing he was the only reason I survived," Michael says.
- Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen
- Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne
- Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe
- Coby Bell as Jesse Porter
- Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen
- Tim Matheson as Larry Sizemore