Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Blue Gold”)

Season 2, Episode 5
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

The ending of this episode might be proof that the writers did not really know what to do with the original premise of a Venezuelan presidential election going awry with an evil president and a candidate who may be in danger, all while the Venezuelan and American governments are embroiled in a conspiracy of sorts. After five episodes, the show is somewhere completely different: It closes in on BLACK PANTHER Vibranium ideas while turning Jack Ryan into a potential killer, about to be the target in a worldwide manhunt after Harriet probably decides not to tell anyone that her lover died with a perfectly placed bullet from her weapon. While I kind of like the idea of a manhunt for Jack Ryan (it would push the story towards him again, after he was only part of one part of the season’s greater story arc), I do not like how much the season’s premise has changed and how it stopped being about the Venezuelan election. That one has instead turned into a conversation piece between Gloria and Jim Greer, proving that two people from different worlds could be allowed to fall in love with each other, now that they have talked about their previous partners and children. And all this happens while a team of American soldiers is looking for one of their own in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle, talking about shooting Marcus in the hand for being such a crappy and useless team member. By the way, that is what happens when you decide not to hire someone who is still active in the business and instead decide to go for a guy who has already retired and may live with post traumatic stress after what he may or may not have done during behind-the-scenes conflicts.

In-between assassinations, there is time to care for family.

With the exception of the ending, which I found to be partial crap, the episode was mostly okay to solid. Finally the writers established an on-screen relationship between Harriet and Max (by the way, it is so nice of her to have a real name for a change), putting an unspoken back story into the narrative that could fill one or two more episodes. In the meantime, Jack gets a closer look into the conspiracy and is about to sniff out the guilty parties behind the murder of Senator Moreno, which apparently is not at all a plot the writers cared about after the second episode of the season. The murder is still mentioned, and Jack is still looking for the people involved in the assassination, but considering this is the murder of a freaking United States Senator, and Jack Ryan works for the State Department, I was hoping this would have a bit more of a bigger and maybe more emotional aftermath. Yet the show has forsaken American characters with the exception of Jack, Greer and Mike (the soldiers currently in the jungle probably do not even care about what happens with people working in Congress) and therefore decided to drop all focus on stories involving said American characters. This might look good for a television show focusing on international affairs, and it is definitely refreshing to watch a show that does not focus on American affairs already having been chewed up on other TV dramas, but with each episode of this season of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN, Moreno’s murder becomes more and more a plot device to kick off the actual narrative, turning less and less into an emotional event in return. Let’s not forget that the writers did not even get into why Moreno was targeted and what it has to do with whatever the villains are doing this season.

Is this the beginning of an international love story?

Harriet continued to be a confusing character and with it she became more annoying. She lied about working with Jack for the past three years, yet she immediately called him when threatened by Max. She decides to go after Max’s daughter for leverage, yet she also ditches Jack in the train for reasons unknown, when it would have been logical for her to just remain in the train. Max was too far away to suddenly hop into the train which was already closing its doors, but why Harriet made the decision to jump out, run away and then get shot by Max is beyond me. Is this just convenient storytelling to have her almost bleeding to death (with more added convenience of Max not killing her right there after finding out she sent Jack to his daughter) or was there an actual reason for the characters to make these moves? What I liked about the whole story is Annabelle’s gift and how she came to use it almost immediately. It reminded me of FACE/OFF and how John Travolta’s daughter stabbed the man with her father’s face and voice in the leg after she learned how to do that. Of course, with Max gone into the afterlife now, chances are Annabelle will be retired as a character as well.

And I wished the same could be said about whatever is happening in the jungle. It’s the C plot now, the one part of the show that adds minutes to the episode’s running time growing shorter, and now Matice and his guys are bitching about how they are still in this jungle and how this is the fault of the only black man of their team. At least Victor’s story from the previous season still had emotional value. Maybe I am waiting for the inevitable fight between the Americans and the Venezuelans, but maybe I just want this whole thing to end and for this season to focus on what it set out to do, because I am getting the feeling that focus is lost.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Dressed to Kill”)

Season 2, Episode 4
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

It took almost half the season for the writers to get to where they wanted to be with the premise. They explained what the satellite is and what it’s being used for, they sent Jack Ryan to London to follow a lead that had him chase an assassin through the roofs of the city like he is Tom Cruise doing another installment of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and they finally connected one of the central characters with the Venezuelan election that is about to turn into a murderous conspiracy, as Gloria is almost officially asking the US State Department for help to keep her alive during the campaign and the election. It could be the story that turns Reyes into the ultimate villain of the story, in which he starts doing mistakes, and the CIA is growing closer to him and his illegal and deadly actions.This could be the episode that finally focuses on what made the writers think this season is worth eight episodes of television. This could also be the episode that repeats the mistakes of the previous season, as Matice and his team search for Marcus in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle, turning yet another season of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN into a sideshow. It is now though that I start to remember that these B plots may have been part of the novels, too, but since I haven’t read them, I can’t compare them.

Being undercover in Europe takes some dedication.

This episode was solid enough. Jack’s trip to London was more interesting than all the things going on in Venezuela, even though Reyes sending Mateo Bastos into the jungle to kill the American troops who may or may not be close to the mines of secrets was the start of a hopefully tense story that could bring some thrill and action into the jungle. Writing towards a shootout between Bastos, and whichever men he is bringing along to finish the mission the Venezuelan president has put on him, and Matice’s team is pretty easy to do and you would definitely entertain the action audience with a violent and bombastic conflict between trees and rivers, but it’s not like I’m hugely interested in seeing it play out over the course of the next few episodes, especially when this story continues to be separated from everything else that is happening in the narrative and this is essentially just the setup of the big action set piece of the season.

But Jack’s trip to London propelled the story forward, and now that one-eyed Max knows about Lee’s presence, things could get personal for him as well. TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN was always about personal stakes in the conflicts of the characters and it continues to be this way, even if I don’t even know why exactly Max and Lee have issues with each other and whether there is still a story to be told behind that premise, considering Lee has been lying to Jack and the audience and pretty much nothing she says can be considered true (MI5 agent Jeremy, whom Lee and Jack met at the bar, called her “Harry,” which makes things even more confusing for me). Besides that, I love it when television shows focus on giving the villain screentime and some character depth, even if everything Max has done in this episode was to get closer to his target — still, seeing his modus operandi was a tad bit exciting and sometimes I wonder if there is an idea behind a television show that centers on a villain like Max, and the idea lies in depicting how an assassination or terrorist mission is being executed. Of course you can always bring it in as a B plot in your serialized action thrillers in the vein of 24, but why do villains always have to be the bad guys when they can also be real characters?

Kids can never stay down.

Meanwhile back in Venezuela, Gloria is feeling the heat of being the presidential candidate in an oppressed country with a corrupt government leader. That by itself is worth a season or two in a THE WEST WING-kinda television show or maybe even the Mexican thriller drama INGOBERNABLE, of which I should maybe watch the second season at some point, and it’s a story worth to bring Greer in deadly danger. If Reyes learns that the US State Department is behind Gloria’s protection, he could not only use it to cry foul and corruption during his campaign messaging, but he could also eye Greer a little closer and send an assassin after him as well. And as we all know, Greer is particularly in danger of getting killed off, thanks to his weak heart.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Orinoco”)

Season 2, Episode 3
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

This season of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN is getting a little more streamlined, now that it’s only dealing with two different story arcs waiting to be reunited, while all the exposition stuff involving Senator Moreno has been pretty much dropped, and the danger in the Venezuelan jungle is now the main mystery of the CIA officers on site. The only problem I have at the moment is that one of the stories, the Venezuelan government conspiracy, is separated into three different arcs which could not be any less interesting for me. There is Reyes who asks about Gloria Bonalde’s chances in the election, teasing a potential violent action against her that is essentially just a cliched story about a government leader killing his opposition just to stay in power (hey, don’t we know that from a real-life government leader currently sitting in the higher echelons of the Kremlin?), and there is Miguel who may or may not be thinking about to switch sides already, which has to be a plot point rather sooner than later because the whole thing about Miguel knowing his house is tapped by Americans most likely is to turn him against Reyes and have him be an informant for the CIA. The writers can’t just wait until the season finale to unpack that story, or otherwise this whole back story could turn out to be a waste of time, simply because Jack and Greer would have found another ay to win the day before Miguel even has the chance to rat out his president. And then there is Gloria herself, introduced as yet another new character in this fold, including a flashback scene I could consider a waste of time as well, but hey, when she was talking about her missing husband, all I could think of was “show, don’t tell.” And voila, there was the extensive flashback scene. But was it really necessary to go this deep into Gloria’s back story? The fact that she mentioned missing people at all makes me think there is more to the picture than meets the eye. Great, now this season has to work with additional material that could fill up the show and let the narrative overflow.

Take the plunge into a politically and economically troubled nation.

But this episode was entertaining in its second half. Marcus and Matice were quickly united with the story of Jack and Greer hunting down the containers and potential weapons, and the breach into the Venezuelan jungle had a good amount of suspense to keep me asking what is about to happen and whether I should fear for some of the characters. Granted, when Marcus hopped off the boat to potentially engage with the hostiles, it was to be expected that he is being left behind, but at least the writers created a story that could continue to make things personal for the characters, to stay away from overly complex government conspiracies. For Jack it’s still personal because of Senator Moreno’s death (even though he doesn’t show it), and for Greer it could become personal because it’s about to look like this is going to be his final field operation before he is forced to step back or down due to his health condition. For Matice it could become personal when Marcus turns out to be a hostage of the Venezuelan army, and for Marcus it will definitely turn personal because he has been left behind and he is in danger now. For someone who has been out of the force for a while, it might be difficult to get back in (hence his mistake to get far away from the boat and not return on time). I’m not expecting THE LONE SURVIVOR-kinda action and I would wish for this to not enrich the show (it would just be too many premises at the same time), but with Marcus’ addition into the greater story arc, the writers at least created a plot I cared about.

A presidential candidate and her excited audience.

Which is what I can’t say about the stories involving all the Venezuelan characters. Reyes is either corrupted or a super evil future dictator, and he is either involved in Moreno’s death and whatever is going on in the jungle or not. He is scared of his opposition, but the writers simply did not state fully and clearly and obviously if he is the villain of the story or not. We kind of assume he had Moreno killed, and we will assume that he is about to order a hit on Gloria, but the scene with him and Miguel talking about Gloria and her polling alone annoyed me: He asked if she is a threat to him, but Miguel didn’t answer, simply because the writers wanted to keep that plot a secret for now, for the audience to find out in the next episode. Gloria herself hasn’t been much of an interesting character, since the only two things that elevated her into the narrative were her status as an opposition candidate and her story of her missing husband and how it may connect to the larger story arc. Miguel’s story could just be a little more interesting if he weren’t so boring as a character. He is Reyes’ right-hand man, but in silence and in secret he might already be conspiring against his president. It’s the same thing the writers are currently doing with Reyes: They don’t want to make it super obvious and clear where he and his loyalty are standing.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Tertia Optio”)

Season 2, Episode 2
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

This television season was made for the bingewatch culture, which is the worst thing you could do with any television show you’re a writer on. This episode and the previous one were definitely connected, they had the same premise, they went with the same theme, and there is no element that would separate both episodes from each other and declare one or the other a true episode of television according to the definition of these words. You should not be creating television that forces you to watch the entire season in one sitting — for those who watch television in one sitting it’s a great gift, but for all the other 85 percent of people who are watching more than one television show a day, it’s a burden to keep up with the narrative that involves about a dozen characters separated into half a dozen stories, all of them seemingly not fitting together as of yet. With Disney+ releasing their new episodes on a weekly basis and even Hulu still continuing to do the weekly releases (or not, I’m confused about this one because it seems to change with each show), here is to hoping that Netflix and Amazon Prime can be convinced to also start dumping the all-at-once release methods. It was intriguing and fun at first, but it’s starting to become a nuisance and turn into a disadvantage for all the other television shows out there.

Hello there, new friend who wants to take us to a dangerous mission…

The problem I’ve had with this episode is that it heavily relied on information you got from the previous episode, but for me it was 24 hours ago when I saw the episode and I barely remembered half of the Venezuelan characters, who come into the narrative with an underdeveloped back story and their names only mentioned once (if ever), accompanied by characters who may not even be involved in the story at all. Take Miguel for example. In the previous episode he was established as the opposite character to Reyes, one who might be the adversary to the Venezuelan president and in fact turn into an ally for the CIA, but he was also introduced with his children and his wife and now I can’t even see how Miguel’s family is of importance for his character, which means about a minute of the previous episode was wasted. Same goes with Mike November. He may have had a wonderful scene of friendship with Greer and Jack in the car, talking about getting married to the same woman twice, but it’s back story that seems unnecessary for the story at hand, in which Mike is supposed to be part of the bigger picture, yet the writers haven’t established how important Mike will be. Yes, he is the COS in Caracas, but after this episode that doesn’t mean he is a great ally to Jack and Greer. In fact, what has he really done to deserve being distinguished from the supporting and random character pool?

All this didn’t make it easy for me to follow what was happening during this episode, especially since it looked like it was still in the phase of exposition. Lina is expectedly not Lina at all, and thanks to the fact that she had to change her story twice to tell the viewers and Jack who she really is, she is an unreliable partner in all of this. That may make things a bit more thrilling in Jack’s life, but for the audience (me! I am the audience!) it is close to annoying. When I can’t even read whether or not Lee Klein (is that really her real name?) is a villain or an ally with her own agenda, then why should I be interested in her character arc, let alone her “relationship” with Jack? Realistically speaking, Jack should stay away from this woman after this episode, but since this is still a television show and Jack apparently needs a woman as his side piece while hunting down terrorists who want to end an entire nation, Noomi Rapace will continue to be a major player in this show and her character will continue to be untrustworthy and confusing. Even more so after it was revealed that “Max,” a person she definitely does not want to see dead (which means Max is her lover or at least a person who could be seen as her one and only remaining family), is an assassin.

Having a heart attack in Venezuela might not be such a good thing for an American.

This episode wasn’t an utter failure though, as it nicely strung forward with the main narrative of whatever is happening in Venezuela. For one, I don’t think that the whole thing is just going to be about the murder of the Senator, although it is a nice crime-like story to fill the first half of the narrative before moving over to election time, during which Reyes will try to screw up his country even further. Still, for Jack it is all about finding out who killed Senator Moreno and he did move forward quite a few steps during his own little investigation. He essentially knows who has ordered the hit, he sort of knows who pulled the trigger (I have no idea how he figured that the assassin was Lee’s missing businessman though — I must have missed something during the episode), and from here on things can only get personal for Jack. It became personal quickly for Suleiman during the previous season, bringing down the conflict between the titular hero and his arch nemesis of the season, which is why I hope that the same thing happens here and Jack and Reyes will be eye-to-eye already. I can only assume this is already the case, since the hit on Jack was most likely ordered by Reyes, after that little “I know you killed him” stunt.

Meanwhile, Marcus becomes the Victor of this season, as a supporting character of the first season, who does not seem to be connected to this season’s big story arc yet, goes to Miami to hire a dude for a mission. What this episode did not manage to do is establishing a quick connection between Marcus and the events in Venezuela though — in the previous season, Victor at least saved Hanin’s life, but in this episode, Marcus needed to be convinced by the man of many names to get on a mission and the episode ended with the audience not knowing whether or not Marcus went on that mission. It’s another time-wasting tactic, similar to the game of football which was only here to introduce us to Mr. Bastos and Jack’s long con of convincing Miguel to turn against Reyes. The season has been so complex so far, it’s a miracle it hasn’t lost the thread yet.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Cargo”)

Season 2, Episode 1
Date of release: October 31, 2019 (Amazon Prime)

One of the most exciting novel series I have never read is the story of a CIA analyst who turns into the president of the United States after a bunch of novels. It was partially made into a series of films, of which I have watched only three, and after the latest film reboot failed with Chris Pine in the lead role, Amazon Prime snatched up the characters and the story and made a television series out of it. But not even here it’s guaranteed that the titular character will go from a CIA analyst to being the keyholder of the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., because it would take too many seasons to get to that point and I’m almost sure that a streaming television show will never get past seven seasons. HOUSE OF CARDS could have done that, but Kevin Spacey needed to be a pervert. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK could have done that, but after five or six seasons, no one was really talking about the show any longer, hence its ending after year seven. CHELSEA could have done that, but a) streaming services aren’t interested (as of yet) in long-lasting late night television, and b) Chelsea Handler was the wrong host to lead such a show. But we can still hope that TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN will live to see a long life and that John Krasinski’s performance will lead him straight into the White House. The writers could jump over a few years and make him a CIA boss in the already ordered third season, and from here on it’s a short way to become Secretary of Homeland Security and therefore have a place in a president’s administration. Especially now that Jack Ryan will have to deal with the president of another county. It’s the first step towards becoming the Secretary of State, after having traveled to many countries to fight the war on terrorism and deal with shady people from all over the globe.

Before the action, Jack was an attractive college professor.

This is what TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN has become for me with the second season premiere: The hero is jetting from country to country, dealing with one international crisis after another, saving his country from a disaster in the process, and getting the knowledge of how to deal with all of this, so he can use said knowledge to run the apparently greatest country in the world. Wanting this to be the show about, it’s harder for a new season to come to an agreement with my expectations. The first season started off great, because my expectations were quickly extinguished by putting a version of Jack Ryan in front of me who doesn’t know a lot yet, who still has to prove himself before a station chief who has no interest in being a station chief. My expectations were put to rest, because the series premiere was also dealing with Mousa bin Suleiman and his story, and how he turned from a terrorist character in the shadow to a person with a face and a life and a grudge. Yes, it was easy for the first season to take me away from Jack Ryan the future president of the United States and have me entertained by turning the character into a Jack Bauer sorta deal.

This episode did the opposite. As in, it did not manage to extinguish my initial expectations of the show, and it seemed to not have succeeded in telling a story that may show me how Jack Ryan is dealing with the events as a CIA officer who still has to learn stuff and who still has to deal with characters who do not give a damn about a random white American who happens to have stopped a terrorist from executing his mission years ago. The series premiere of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN managed to be focused on its two major storylines and the characters involved. This season premiere did not manage to do that, as I am now seeing multiple stories and characters that fill up the 56 minutes of the episode without giving me a clear picture of what the season is actually about. The first season managed to tell me it’s all going to be about stopping a terrorist attack. But this season premiere offered multiple story threads and threats for the characters: There is an election in Venezuela which is in the spotlight of the world; there is an illegal satellite in operation that isn’t Russia’s (and they would love to know whose satellite it is); there is the threat of Russia dealing weapons to Venezuela to potentially further the crisis the country is already in; there is the assassination of an American Senator on international soil; there is the one night stand Jack returned to the bar for and may have to pay with being spied on by whoever Noomi Rapace’s character is working for (I’m sure her name isn’t Lina); there is the fact that Jack, the supposed professional CIA officer, is leaving all his work out in the open with a stranger he just met and allowing a snoopy person to go through it and find out what the CIA is currently working on. There is also Jim Greer’s medical problem which only got enough attention to promise the audience that it’s going to be an ongoing problem for the character, and knowing TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN as a television show, this probably won’t even be it.

Deal-making in Moscow between intelligence officials is a hard business.

Suddenly I can appreciate Victor’s character being written into the previous season three episodes in, as his introduction would have most likely made a mess out of the first two episodes. Because it’s exactly what happened here: An assassin character got introduced and made a mess out of the story involving Senator Moreno. A flirty woman whom Jack made naughty acquaintances with got introduced and made a mess out of his profession as a CIA officer and liaison to Capitol Hill. And then Russia got introduced in a plot involving the Venezuelan presidential election, making a mess out of me not being able to differentiate the events from a fictional television show with the events of real-life, although maybe I’m just a little glad (I should be sad about it) that Venezuela isn’t that much in the news, thanks to the impeachment inquiry and the coverage of the articles of impeachment.

The question is now, how long will it take the writers to make sense out of everything that happened in this episode, and how big the level of involvement is for each of the story threads? Will the pretty assassin be an important character or does he fall victim to loose ends being cut off? Will Russia be the main player behind the actions in Venezuela or does Putin only have a hand in it because real life forces writers of television and film to focus a little more on Russia as the adversary again, after we got sort of used to seeing them as our friend during the early-to-mid parts of the 1990s? And will Jack Ryan talk about his novel wife Cathy throughout the season, or has she been written out of the show for reasons yet to be explained? I don’t mind at all if this show goes a different route from where the novels have gone (which means this Jack Ryan will never be president), but if it does so, I’m not sure if it deserves to still have Tom Clancy’s name in the title.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“Inshallah”)

Season 1, Episode 8
Date of release: August 31, 2018 (Amazon Prime)

Maybe this finale was a little bit too short for me. It’s great when you only have to deal with one thing and that thing is preventing a terrorist attack without much fanfare, but I would have hoped for a little more pep, and not just in the story, but also in the characters’ story arcs. Victor wasn’t even in this, making his entire story useless and a filler, despite the awesomeness that was saving Hanin from rape and death in the third episode. It’s like the writers broke the story, realized they only had enough for six of eight ordered episodes, and needed to develop something in the speed of light to fill airtime with, because production was about to start. Also, a happy scene between Jack and Cathy wasn’t in this episode either, and I really hoped they would run into each other’s arms at the end of a horrendous night in the country’s capital, or at least prove that they are actually living together right now, in a proper relationship that isn’t casual, as it seemed to have been the intended image when Jack told Cathy about the helicopter crash. I can understand that the writers may have decided to have the happy hug out of the episode for the sake of removing one instance of corny crap, but the last thing Cathy went through in this season was a terrorist standing beside her getting shot to death by a CIA officer. Her final moment was taking Greer’s hand. While I kinda like that the episode did not force itself to find a construed way of keeping Cathy in the thrill of the story when it should have been realistically over for her after that elevator moment, I was still missing that one final sorta-happy Jack/Cathy moment. At least Jack got a promotion, which means his rise within the agency is just beginning. Guy gotta has to be president in a few seasons, so things have to move quickly with him.

Elevator action.

I was a bit surprised to see that, in a visual sense the episode barely resembled the rest of the season. We went to Yemen, Syria, Turkey, France, and yes, Morocco, even if just for one scene. Bringing the terror home to the capital kind of erases all the international elements and layers the show had up to the previous episode (or basically just the refuge beach in Turkey), making things a little less exciting, but I guess that might have been intended, to showcase that TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN isn’t an action show, it’s still a spy drama sometimes turning into a thriller. Also, with the events located to Washington, D.C., the producers might have kept the budget down, even if the stadium in the background and the train in the tube looked super cheap and obviously CGI’d. At least the producers knew how to save some of the money from the budget to put into scenes that look more suspenseful and meaningful when made more attractive — like the refuge beach scene in Turkey, which in hindsight may have been my favorite scene of the season when we’re talking about the powerful visuals of the show.

Anyway, Suleiman planned his attack, and he almost succeeded, if it wouldn’t have been for the speed and agility of the analyst, as well as the blocking of phone signals. The plan itself seemed a bit too complex for my taste though, because I was getting confused about one thing: Turning the hostages into biological weapons was just layer A of the attack, with the bombing at the pizzeria layer B, and the gassing in the hospital the final attack? That would mean going through the whole thing of infecting hostages, just so the hostages can infect the president, must have been a murderous plan to go through, when it was only the first small step, not even guaranteed to really work, because if you put the plan into a realistic environment, the president would have never had contact with one of the abducted doctors (yes, I’m still mad the military didn’t medically check up on the hostages before sending them home). Just to get into the game, Suleiman spent a whole lot of money and time, and when it came to the real action, he failed because he didn’t get any bars on his phone — kind of hilarious. But also kind of peaceful to know that terrorist attacks like this can fail, simply because the phone towers have been turned off and terrorists can’t blow a bomb without their phone.

The son’s life is either over now or it begins here.

I did find the final confrontation between Suleiman and Jack sort of satisfying. It was a modest chase on foot, people didn’t go crazy being pushed by Middle Eastern looking man or a pretty white guy with a gun in his hands — nothing too crazy. Hell, Jack even managed to immediately cross off Suleiman, without words being shared (except for the ones from Jack to get Suleiman’s head popping out), without a fistfight, without Suleiman mentioning how important this is for him, without Jack mentioning that no, today you don’t get to kill Americans. Sometimes finals don’t need to be this extravagant or heavy on protagonist/antagonist dialogue, and yes, I know I contradict myself hugely, but really, all I was missing was a final Jack/Cathy scene, and maybe something more international here, to show that TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN doesn’t lose of the scope of the world, even if the terror has come home to roost some nerve gas. At least there wasn’t another plot kickstarted with the death of Suleiman, like pretty much every season of 24. No, Suleiman wasn’t just another middle man, and there was not another man above him, directing his every move. Then again, that might still be the case. After all, you could follow the money to more than just one person at the beginning of the story.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (“The Boy”)

Season 1, Episode 7
Date of release: August 31, 2018 (Amazon Prime)

This episode had the perfect little cliffhanger to get to the season finale. Saying that the hostages were the biological weapon to get to the president of the United States was also a nice move to fictionalize terrorism a little more for this show, make it more fantastic and ridiculous and get as far away from realism as possible. The nerve gas attack in Paris was already a little bit out of normalcy of terrorism you usually get to witness the reporting of on television, but going so far as to infecting living hostages with a virus is telling that you were planning to start off the show with realism in the field of terrorism, but end it in pure fiction, just so the viewers won’t be scared too much and scarred too heavily, is a nice way of holding the viewers’ hands and not depress them by the end of the season. Also, TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN goes for the jugular by making the president the target — a twist often used in shows like these; a specific target, instead of random people in a crowd, tourists on a sightseeing trip, or a plane on a trip to a metropolitan city. Suleiman made this personal. It’s what the whole show was always about.

The episode was solid. It got quiet again after the previous two episodes, and Jack was in his passive mode again, after returning home from a difficult mission. It’s interesting how there are two versions of Jack Ryan in this show — the homebound one, who is only the analyst and who has to sit on the sidelines, while the actual superiors side-eye him when he has something to say; and the international version of his character, the action hero who draws his gun and tries to figure out how to get to Suleiman to prevent another terrorist attack from happening and to save the world. It also tends to show how different working for the CIA is, when you’re a field agent or an office analyst: As a field agent, you’re constantly on the move, having to make decisions on the fly, which sometimes end up deadly (rest in peace, Sandrine). As an office analyst, all you can do is take the intel you gathered and move it up the chain of command, and if you’re lucky you can convince the president to also have the ground team look for the boy and consider him the thirteenth hostage to be saved.

After they started dating, they finally met each other at work for the first time.

The military wasn’t the smartest of the bunch though. Realizing that the compound is completely empty and Suleiman and his friends have all left, but leaving the hostages behind… Someone might have wondered what the hell is up with that, especially when Greer and Jack have already been smelling foul smells over the course of the season and know when something was not right, but here are 12 hostages who have just been freed, hugging each other left and right, and no one asks why they are still alive, or why they haven’t been checked medically before returning state-side after being held captive for months. I mean, really, isn’t containment the first thing on the to-do list, just in case? Not because you would expect the hostages to be living biological weapons, but to simply check out if they are healthy, if bones are broken or not, if their blood work checks out, and the likes. They were in Syria for months, they were kept in cages, treated unwell — of course you would pick up a knock here and there and maybe even a little virus you probably have forgotten existed. Wouldn’t the military want to know that before letting the hostages on American soil, hugging the president? Is that me nitpicking and bitching about the show, finally, after seven episodes? Plot conveniences, yo!

But whatever, the plot has moved forward, and now that the president is in danger, things can get interesting. Suleiman is still out there, and so is Samir, so Jack might feel the urge to get after them, just for the sake of saving Samir and holding one piece of promise he made to Hanin, least alone killing Suleiman for what he was about to accomplish. And considering the nature of the show’s source material, chances are the president will succumb, and off we go into a whole new DESIGNATED SURVIVOR-ish premise. And yes, I know that the premise for DESIGNATED SURVIVOR was already part of a Jack Ryan novel. Maybe I should start reading them after all, because I’m starting to have fun with the character in general. On the other side of the medallion though, current fictional presidents are never killed off by anything resembling a terrorist, except when it’s necessary for the premise of the story (like DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, which needed the guest-starring president dead for the central character to take over). Chances are the president here will live to see anther day of his administration right after Suleiman has been beaten in this game of chess.

Life of a hostage in the Middle East.

Jack and Cathy’s relationship developed nicely as well. Their confrontation during the briefing was pretty cool, and it seems like a great way to have Cathy learn about Jack’s real life as a CIA agen–, I mean, CIA officer (by the way, thank you, TV show, for clarifying that. I will remember and mention it in the future). The fact that she handled it quite well shows that the two are destined for each other, ready to move on to engagement phase. Although it was somewhat ridiculous that the two were ready to get deeper into this relationship during their lunch scene at the end of the episode. Maybe I was hoping for a little conflict here, but didn’t get any, because the source material has Jack and Cathy married?

Meanwhile, the ground assault on the compound in Syria was obviously a jab at ZERO DARK THIRTY, or simply just its real-life component, the raid on Bin Laden’s compound. That scene could have gone on for another five minutes or so, but it’s understandable it was cut short, since the Marines didn’t kill anyone (with the exception of the former random ISIS leader, who doesn’t even get a mention over the assault team’s radio). Once more, TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN is taking cues from real-life, making the show more realistic, before it goes straight to fiction and staying there for the remainder of the season.