Can you believe we’re already at the halfway point? Well, we have a ton to get through so let’s get to it!
At the embassy in Caracas, while Jack’s (John Krasinski) putting together an impressive conspiracy wall in the conference room, COS Mike November (Michael Kelly) gets a call from someone in DC asking what the hell they’re doing harassing Pres. Reyes (Jordi Molla) – who’s pissed and threatening to cut diplomatic ties. November plays dumb but the dude on the other end says he must at least know about the messy op in the jungle. November acknowledges that, saying he’s read the after-action report and he’s dealing with it.
November and Greer (Wendell Pierce) then go to the conference room and marvel at Jack’s work. Jack tells them about the drilling rig, which sells for at least $3 million. November says it’s not illegal to mine in your own country. Jack concedes that, but asks what a bunch of arms traffickers are doing guarding it? Good question. So he had Langley run DNA on Jost Van Der Byl’s (Arnold Vosloo) finger that Greer was nice enough to slice off for them, and now they have all his info. Van Der Byl’s apparently wanted by Interpol and is on a State Dept. watch list of arms dealers.
Jack then points to a corporate logo they saw in the militia camp – the company name is Eprius, a private military company based in London. They’re the ones providing security at the camp. November asks what any of it has to do with the hit on Sen. Moreno (Benito Martinez). Jack tells them about the ammonium nitrate fuel oil he found in the other container and says that according to the report on the IED used in the ambush, it’s the same fuel oil. Now all they need to do is connect Pres. Reyes to Eprius, Jack says – so he needs to get to London.
November kicks Greer out of the room and starts wailing on Jack about his actions during the op. Jack says that because he followed his gut and opened up that other container, they now have the proof they need. November says they also have a man missing. Jack says one has nothing to do with the other – but November’s done discussing it. He hands Jack a ticket, saying he’s sending him back to DC. Jack of course protests, saying he’s close – and November says that’s exactly the problem. Jack’s too close to all of it. November says Jack’s done good work, but he needs to let them handle it. And on the way out, November warns Jack that if he keeps going at it alone, then that’s how he’ll end up – alone.
Meanwhile, Matice aka Not-John-Clark (John Hoogenakker), Disco (Victor Rasuk) and Coyote (Allan Hawco) are back in the jungle, tying up the boat and hiding it while Matice uses their tablet to pinpoint Marcus’ (Jovan Adepo) infrared beacon. He’s about 13 kilometers away – Matice says if they double-time it, they should find him by sundown.
Having fallen asleep, Marcus wakes up to find a kid soldier pointing a rifle at him. Marcus stands up slowly, trying to talk the kid into putting it down – but the kid just takes a potshot at him and then runs off. Marcus chases after him, but the kid makes a quick getaway by sliding down some vines into the ravine below.
Back in the city, Gen. Ubarri’s wife, Cassandra (Marcela Vanegas) is having lunch with Pres. Reyes’ wife, Claudia (Coraima Torres). Cassandra tells her about their house being bugged by the Americans and asks if she knew anything about it. Claudia says Reyes never mentioned it – but that it might just be his “pitbull,” Mateo Bastos (Eduar Salas), being paranoid. And besides, Claudia says, it’s not like they would hear anything bad anyway, right? Cassandra just agrees and shrugs it off by saying all anyone would hear is their daughter’s awful reggaeton music and telenovelas – but her face shows how worried she really is.
Jack packs up his stuff at the hotel – then he gets an idea. He calls Senator Chapin (Michael O’Neill), who had told him to call if he needed anything. Jack tells him about November wanting to send him back home, but that there’s a lead he needs to check out in London. Jack asks Chapin if he’ll approve his travel there through SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), and Chapin says he’ll get his office on it right away.
At the embassy, Greer does some internet searching on mining in Venezuela and learns that the Minister of the Interior is the one in charge of handling it. Turns out the last Minister of the Interior was none other than Sergio Bonalde (Gonzalo Vivanco). Greer asks November about him and he tells Greer about his disappearance – Bonalde wasn’t a fan of Pres. Reyes. Big surprise.
November says Greer should talk to Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umana), his wife. Then November goes to the kitchen to raid the fridge, only to find that Jack left Van Der Byl’s severed finger in there in a plastic bag. Gross. Suddenly, November’s not so hungry anymore and we’re all a little concerned about Jack’s mental state.
While Gloria Bonalde’s tucking her daughter, Ily (Sarah Raspilla), in for the night, she hears cars driving up to the house. She looks out the window and sees a line of government SUV’s and the Venezuelan Police pulling in. Her security guys try to stop the police from entering, but then Gloria comes out and says it’s okay to let them in. The police storm in and start searching all around – one tries to head upstairs, but Gloria stops him, saying her kids are asleep.
A moment later, Pres. Reyes walks in along with Gen. Ubarri (Francisco Denis). Reyes acts all friendly-like, complementing the house and saying what a nice tribute it is to Sergio that Gloria’s running under his name – and what a shame it is, what happened to him. Gloria doesn’t give him the satisfaction of an acknowledgement, and instead politely asks what he wants. Turns out Reyes has an offer for her – since the next term will be his last (assuming he wins), he wants to offer Gloria the same position Sergio had – Minister of the Interior. She’ll have his full support, and he’ll groom her to be his successor.
Gloria’s understandably surprised – and wisely cautious. She thanks Reyes for the offer, but says she needs to think it over. Reyes goes cold then, telling her not to take too long – that she might be overestimating her popularity. Gloria comes right back at him, saying his being there suggests otherwise – and they stare each other down, neither one blinking.
So now it’s off to London we go. Jack’s just arrived at Heathrow – and guess who else has just landed? None other than Faceless, One-Eyed Max Schenkel (Tom Wlaschiha) – who goes through Customs dressed in drag, under the name “Lucy Stebbins.” Then he goes to his flat, takes off all the girl-gear, and carefully peels off the bandage to reveal his wounded eye. Ick.
Jack gets a room at the St. Pancras Hotel by the train station – only to find Harriet Baumann (Noomi Rapace) waiting there, pointing a gun at him. She tells him he has to leave. Max is there. Jack asks why he should believe anything she says. She says she’s going to save his life – and then tosses the gun down on the bed and walks out. Okay, sorry, but – what? This scene made no sense to me.
Anyway, so they go for a stroll by the Thames River where they’re constantly looking over their shoulders, and Harriet asks Jack why he’s there. I thought we already established that, but whatever. Jack says he’s just following the money – trying to find the link between Pres. Reyes and Max. He asks her if she’s ever heard of Eprius, and she says no. Jack tells her they’re the ones guarding the mining site in the jungle and that they’re using the same explosives that were used in the hit on Sen. Moreno. Harriet asks what the CIA has to say about it, and Jack says he doesn’t know – he hasn’t asked. Harriet guesses he’s not “officially” there, and Jack’s like, nope – “I’m on vacation.”
Harriet suggests they try hooking up with MI-5 (UK’s domestic security and intelligence service) and they meet a friend of hers, Jeremy Bright (Neil Stuke), at a pub. Bright calls Harriet “Harry” and asks Jack what his interest is in Eprius, and Jack says he believes they were involved in Sen. Moreno’s assassination. Turns out Bright’s heard about it, and he says MI-5 has an open dossier on the company – they’re into arms smuggling, illegal training of militias and a ton of other stuff.
Jack says he needs to get to their CEO – can they help? Bright says it depends – and he slides a coaster over to Harry with the name of a German citizen they need info on. She says it’s illegal to give the info without an official inter-agency request. Bright says so is freezing the bank accounts of a private company without a court order – and Harry’s like, oh, well, okay then.
Back in Caracas, Gloria Bonalde talks to her assistant, Valentina (Paula Castano) about relocating to her apartment. They’re all concerned about security after Reyes’ surprise visit. Valentina says she would love to have them at her place anyway. Gloria promises not to overstay her welcome as they walk outside to meet Greer – who introduces himself as being from the US State Dept. Gloria asks why he wants to meet her, and Greer says he thinks they can help each other. Gloria replies that the US has a history of “helping” in elections in Latin America – but Greer says he’s not there about the election. He has questions about Sergio.
Gloria asks why he’s asking now, as Sergio’s been missing for over a year. Greer says Sergio wasn’t a fan of Reyes and Gloria just says Sergio was “a man of great honesty.” Greer says that’s a dangerous thing for a politician, and Gloria says he wasn’t a politician – he was a public servant. Greer then asks her if he ever mentioned anything about mining operations in the jungle. Gloria’s hesitant to answer – and Greer says he understands why, but that he thinks they have common interests.
Gloria admits that Sergio did travel out to the jungle, but that he also went to a lot of other places, so why would that be important? Greer says he believes that Sergio’s disappearance and Sen. Moreno’s assassination are connected – and that Pres. Reyes is responsible for both. Gloria asks what the connection is – and Greer says that’s what he’s there to find out, and that he has all the resources of the US government to help them figure it out.
Gloria takes Greer inside to Sergio’s office – which she says she hasn’t touched since he disappeared. She says she’s afraid to clean it out, because then he might never come back. Then she goes to the safe and opens it up, pulling out a piece of rock. She hands it over to Greer and says it’s what Sergio was working on when he went missing. Greer asks what it is and she says if he can find out, then maybe they’ll finally know what happened to Sergio.
Back in London at the Eprius building, Jack, Harry and Bright meet the CEO, Rupert Thorne (Anthony Head – yes! Buffy fans rejoice!). Not surprisingly, he’s a total d*ck, and he’s furious about the company accounts being frozen. He tells them their barristers will sue their collective butts off. Harry and Bright start messing with him, talking about how it’s probably not even possible to sue for this kind of thing, and how it’ll take the lawyers years to sort it out – during which time their clients will be totally understanding, of course.
Properly cornered, Thorne agrees to answer their questions as long as they unfreeze the accounts and “F**k off.” Jack asks if Pres. Reyes hired Eprius to guard the mining operation, and Thorne says, “Do we look like Guerilla Wars-R-Us?” So that’s a no. They only deal with “money people.” Turns out the company that hired Eprius is Vogler Industries – based in Stockholm, they have mining operations in Malaysia, Africa and now Venezuela.
Thorne thinks that’s all they want and is ready to kick them out when Jack slaps the police sketch of Faceless, One-Eyed Max down in front of him. Jack asks if he knows him and he it’s obvious by Thorne’s expression that he does. He says they’ve worked with him before, but not by that name.
Jack asks him to clarify “worked with,” and Thorne says they just make introductions – in this case, they put Max together with Cinco Palmas. Jack says it’s just a shell company, and Thorne’s like, well, duh. Creating distance is the whole idea. Harry asks when the last time was that they saw Max, and Thorne says they did everything via e-mail. He was just “the middleman.”
Meanwhile, Faceless, One-Eyed Max is chillax-ing at his flat. He gets a text from Thorne asking to meet up at a restaurant regarding new business. Max texts back for him to send the details to his secured e-mail account. Then for some unknown reason, Max starts looking through a dating app, swiping his way through bios until he comes across a guy named Paul, whose info tells him that he lives with his sister. Why that’s relevant, we have no idea, but Max grins as he sends him a message.
Back in Caracas, Gloria and her assistant, Valentina, are going over their outreach strategy when Ily comes in, crying and scared. She hands Gloria a bullet – and says a man on the stairs told her to give it to her. Gloria goes running out to the stairwell, yelling for whoever it is to show themselves – but they’re already gone.
Meanwhile, we see Max clubbing it up with his online date, Paul (Sam Marks). They go back to Paul’s flat and start getting busy but are interrupted by his sister, Paris (Sasha Clarke), who politely asks if they can keep the noise down. Max apologizes and kisses her hand in a charming introduction that we know can’t possibly mean anything good.
Greer arrives at Valentina’s apartment early in the morning to meet Gloria, who looks terrified. She tells Greer about Reyes’ visit and his offer – Greer guesses it’s contingent on her dropping out of the race. Gloria says, “He is not a patient man,” and shows Greer the bullet, saying that someone on her security team must have told Reyes’ people where to find her. Greer asks her to clarify what it is she wants from him, and she says she needs protection for her family.
At Miraflores, a melancholy Pres. Reyes sits in his office drinking and staring at a photo of a little boy. Bastos comes in and Reyes tells him about his late son, Edgar, who would’ve been 18 that day. Then he tells Bastos he has an important assignment for him, and one of Reyes’ other guys brings in a laptop in a hard case. He opens it up and it displays topographical maps – apparently, the laptop is connected to that satellite. And it’s running a program that allows them to see through the jungle canopy. Reyes tells Bastos there are American troops in the jungle – he wants Bastos to find them. Bastos asks what Reyes wants done with them when they’re found, and Reyes says, “Bury them in the jungle.”
While searching for Marcus, Not-John-Clark and his crew close in on the infrared beacon – but it only leads to the kid soldier, who’s stolen it and Marcus’ dog tags. They ask the kid where Marcus is, but he swears he doesn’t know. So now what do they do? Matice looks like he’s out of ideas.
Back in London, MI-5 and the local police have the restaurant staked out where Thorne asked Max to meet. While they wait, Jack does some investigating and calls Greer. Jack tells him about a new surveying technology called Flash LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), telling him how it uses laser pulses to create detailed, 3-D surface maps. That’s where Vogler Industries comes in – they’re apparently sinking tons of money into research and patents.
Greer realizes that’s what the satellite launch was all about. Jack agrees, saying the mining operation must be using it to see where to dig. Then he asks Greer to find Monica Hererra, the attorney in Caracas – she’s the connection (She’s the one who Max visited in the first ep, if you remember.) Greer agrees and asks if Jack’s at the embassy. Jack says nope, he’s in London and hangs up on Greer before he can yell at him.
Police spotters have Max in their sights, watching as he approaches the restaurant – or at least, they think it’s Max. It looks like him, but with the baseball cap and shades it’s hard to be sure. As soon as he walks into the restaurant, the cops tackle him and pin him down. But once they rip off the shades and the cap, they see it’s not Max – it’s Paul, who pleads with them, saying Max threatened to kill his sister.
Seconds later, Thorne gets struck by two rifle shots and goes down. Looking for Max, Jack spots movement in the building across the street and takes off. He spots Max taking off down the block and chases after him. Max runs up a fire escape and Jack ends up chasing him across the rooftops – which gets hairier and hairier until they end up having to jump between buildings à la Mission: Impossible – Fallout. I’m assuming nobody broke their ankles shooting this one, though.
Max and Jack literally crash a rooftop party to continue the chase – and just as Jack gets close enough to fire a shot, Max jumps off the roof à la Bourne Ultimatum and drops into the Thames. As Harry and Bright catch up, Jack watches the water, but there’s no sign of Max anywhere.
Later that evening, a soggy Max is back at his flat drying off his gear, including a camera. He takes out the flash drive and plugs it into his laptop, swiping his way through the photos. Max stops on one of Jack coming out of the restaurant – and when he zooms in on it, he recognizes Harry in the background.
Whew. Did you get all that? Yep, we are thoroughly in the middle of the story, where it’s all plot and info-dumping and it gets a little convoluted. This is definitely not a show for those with short attention spans. You really do have to be listening and paying attention to everything.
I don’t envy those tasked with adapting Tom Clancy’s work. I’m reading Without Remorse right now so that I can better compare book-to-screen when the John Clark-origin series comes out – and man, I gotta say it’s kind of a slog because there is just so much plot. It’s hard to remember who’s who and who’s doing what where and why. So in the series’ writing, it’s a difficult balance to maintain, keeping some mystery as to how things will end – but at the same time, making things clear enough to the audience so they’re not lost. All in all, I’d say they’re doing a pretty good job.
This episode’s MVP award definitely goes to Cristina Umana. She ran the gamut of emotions and played them all beautifully – especially in the scene where she goes toe-to-toe with Reyes. It’s absolutely essential to see Gloria as a worthy adversary in that scene, and she succeeds. And then in the next scene, she’s back to being a terrified mother who’s in way over her head – and you can feel that in her performance.
My only real problems with this episode were the two big stunts. Not that they weren’t done well, they looked awesome. My problem is that both stunts were – I’m sorry, but I’m saying rip-offs instead of homages because that’s what it felt like – direct rip-offs of stunts done in other movies.
There’s a definitely a standing issue with this series’ version of Jack Ryan – that he’s not the ordinary-guy-under-extraordinary-circumstances so much as he is just a thinly veiled super-spy. And I’m sorry, but that whole rooftop chase and Max’s plunge into the river – while excellent stunts – do nothing to change that view.
While I get that action is a huge part of this series – and it should be – I think the creatives here would do much better differentiating Jack Ryan from Jason Bourne/James Bond/Ethan Hunt by doing action pieces that are uniquely theirs instead of just aping what’s already been done by movies with bigger budgets.