Wow, can you believe we’re at the end of the season? I have to say, even though I think that this season’s pacing was okay overall, I do find myself wishing that there had been a few more episodes. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when a TV “season” meant 22 episodes. But even for stories that are meant to be shorter, a mere 8 episodes just seems a bit too short – especially for stories that are as complex as JACK RYAN tends to be, and definitely considering how massive Tom Clancy’s novels are. So that’s one wish I have for the show going forward – but right now, we got what we got, right? So let’s dive in.

Cristina Umana in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

It’s the morning of the election in Venezuela, and while the polling places are setting up, Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umana) prays the rosary at her church, under the watchful eye of the Army guys assigned to “protect” her. And at Miraflores, preparations are under way for Pres. Reyes’ (Jordi Molla) assumed victory party. Oh, and just in case you were wondering – this episode’s title, Strongman, in the political arena, refers to leaders like Reyes who rule by force and the threat of violence.

Meanwhile, at their home, Cassandra Ubarri (Marcela Vanegas) calls her husband (Francisco Denis), who obviously hasn’t come home since his best buddy Reyes decided to slit his throat. (I’m still mad about that, by the way.) When she doesn’t get an answer, she texts him saying that she’s worried, and we see the sad sight of a clean suit hanging over a chair, waiting for someone who’s never going to wear it.

At the prison camp, as Disco (Victor Rasuk) and Coyote (Allan Hawco) hand out much-needed water to the prisoners, Jack (John Krasinski) takes out his phone and starts recording video, making sure to get all of the prisoners documented. And just outside the camp, Marcus (Jovan Adepo) tends to Matice’s (John Hoogenakker) body. Marcus checks his pockets and finds a photo of Matice with his wife and kids. And while Jack comes out and takes video of the mass grave, a tearful Marcus and Coyote gently tuck Matice into a body bag.

John Hoogenakker, Jovan Adepo in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

At her house, Gloria, her kids (Esteban Diaz, Sara Lasprilla) and Valentina (Paula Castano) watch a press conference with the election committee, listening as they talk about high voter turnout – all in support of Reyes, of course. When a reporter asks them to comment on claims of Reyes using intimidation tactics, they dismiss it and just keep going on about Reyes’ projected landslide win. Gloria’s son Carlos asks how they can possibly know that so early on. Gloria says it’s just another tactic to convince people that their vote won’t matter. So she gets up and says she’s heading out to do the only thing she can – vote. Carlos asks to come along.

Back at the camp, Jack goes to a tent set up with office gear, sits down at a laptop and uploads the video he shot. Then he e-mails it to several news outlets. Ooh, nice move. Then he heads back out and meets up with friendly neighborhood mercenary Jost Van Der Byl (Arnold Vosloo), who says that he and his guys have done what was asked of them. They helped liberate the camp, and now they’re done. Jack offers them more money to stick around and help him rescue Greer (Wendell Pierce). But Van Der Byl says they’ve got plenty of money – money that’s no good to them if they’re dead. He wishes Jack good luck and walks off into the jungle just as three Black Hawk helicopters arrive, courtesy of potty-mouthed miracle worker Ambassador Calabrese (Susan Misner). Her ex, super-cool Mike November (Michael Kelly) jumps out of one of the helos and runs up to Jack with a file. They head into the office tent and Mike shows Jack the paperwork he dug up. It seems that Vogler Industries (the mining company, remember?) was owned by two companies – Cinco Palmas and another company called North Lake Allied. Reyes’ attorney Monica Hererra (Lidia Porto) filed for Cinco Palmas’ LLC license and Reyes himself was the signatory.

John Krasinski in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Jack asks about North Lake Allied, and November says some law firm in Philadelphia filed the paperwork on them (hey, now, I’m from Philly – what’re y’all trying to say? Hmm?) Jack suddenly remembers seeing a phone number in the late Rupert Thorne’s (Anthony Head) phone records. They’d called him a bunch of times in the days before Senator Moreno (Benito Martinez) was killed. Jack says that the late, Faceless, One-Eyed Max Schenkel (Tom Wlaschiha) had told him there was someone else involved. But November’s like, so what? They’ve got Reyes dead to rights, that’s all that matters. He says it’s time to pack it up and get the hell out. Jack asks about Greer, and November just says that Calabrese will have to pull another miracle out of her butt and negotiate his release once they’re out of the country. Jack, of course, says no way is he leaving without Greer – but November’s not even hearing that. He says it’s State Department’s purview now and they’re leaving in 10 minutes.

Eduar Salas, Jordi Molla in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Back at Miraflores, Pres. Reyes, Mateo Bastos (Eduar Salas) and a guard descend into the dungeons where Greer’s languishing. When Reyes sees how beaten up Greer is, he scolds Bastos for treating such a “valuable” guest so badly. He orders Bastos to get him some food and a doctor to treat his wounds. He also orders Greer’s cuffs removed – but he doesn’t go so far as to release him from the cage. Greer asks Reyes why they brought him there, and Reyes replies that Greer’s a spy and will be “very helpful” to them. Bastos then shows up with a tray of food and makes sure to dump it on the floor before they leave.

Meanwhile, Jack makes a call to Harry (Noomi Rapace), who’s apparently sitting in a bathroom somewhere in the world doing who-knows-what. Jack asks for a favor – can she get a hold of Rupert Thorne’s cell phone? She laughs, saying that MI-5 has it. Jack just asks how long it’ll take her and she says to give her 2 days. Then they say friendly goodbyes. This was really a weird scene – I mean, what the hell was she doing? But I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Harry – Noomi Rapace is far too cool to be just a one-off.

Then as Jack heads out to the waiting Black Hawks, November hands him a cell phone with a picture of Miraflores’ floor plan and says Greer’s probably on the bottom level. You think? November says his career’s already ruined so what the f**k, he might as well help rescue Greer. Once they’re airborne, November tells the pilots to radio out to the USS Peralta off the coast and let them know that they’re taking a detour – to Miraflores. Then November tells Marcus, Disco and Coyote to gear up.

Jovan Adepo, John Krasinski, Michael Kelly, Victor Rasuk in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Meanwhile, Gloria and her entourage pull up to the polling place, where they’re pleasantly surprised to see a line stretching around the block of people waiting to vote. And at Miraflores, one of Reyes’ guys tells him he needs to see something and takes him into the Presidential office – where several news channels are playing simultaneously on the monitor, all of them showing Jack’s video of the prison camp. Reyes tries switching channels but no matter what he lands on, he sees the same thing. Panicking, he orders the polls to be shut down.

And what seems like instantly, Venezuelan Army guys storm the polling place where Gloria is and start pushing everybody around. One of the soldiers shouts that early votes have already been tabulated and Reyes is the clear winner, so no more voting is necessary. Valentina gets on her phone, pulls up the news feed with the prison camp video and shows it to Gloria – but all they can do is flee as the crowd starts rioting. And while the Reyes supporters at Miraflores enjoy their champagne and the chocolate fountain, Reyes is in his office, staring out the window at the growing number of angry protestors, watching as the palace guards fire tear gas into the crowd. Then the Black Hawk with Jack and the crew fly in over the scene – and November says they need to be out of there before the crowd breaches the gates.

Down in the dungeon, a guard shows up to check on Greer and sees him lying on the floor, passed out – or so he (rather stupidly) thinks. As soon as the dude opens up the cage and gets close enough, Greer stabs him in the neck with the fork from his meal. Yeah! And while they tussle, Jack and the crew land on the roof, opening fire on anybody who gets in their way. When another guard arrives at the cells with Bastos, Greer comes up behind them and disarms them both. He’s about to push them into the cages when Bastos makes a move. Greer manages to shoot Bastos in the gut and toss the guard in the cage – but as he makes his way upstairs, it’s clear that Greer’s ticker is acting up again.

Wendell Pierce in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

As Jack and the crew make their way down from the roof, November warns Jack that they can’t kill Reyes, no matter how much they want to. They don’t have the authority. Jack doesn’t seem like he’s hearing that, but they keep going, finally getting to the party. They crash it big time and as the shooting starts and people are running all over the place, Disco takes a hit. November tells Coyote to get him back up to the roof while the rest of them keep going.

As he comes around a corner, Jack and Greer finally meet, their guns aimed on each other. Propped up against a pillar, an exhausted Greer immediately yells at Jack, telling him he’s f**ked in the head for coming back there to get him. Aww. It’s a tender moment until a wounded Bastos suddenly shows up out of nowhere – but before he can shoot, he takes two shots courtesy of Marcus. Bastos is a defiant little b*stard ‘til the end – but it’s Marcus who gets the last word as he executes him, saying “That’s for Matice.” Damned straight!

Wendell Pierce, John Krasinski in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Then as the gang’s all heading back up to the roof, Jack suddenly diverts. It takes the other guys a couple of floors to realize he’s not with them anymore – but it only takes a second for November and Greer to figure out where he’s gone. November tells Marcus to get Greer to the helo, and then he goes after Jack.

Jack approaches Reyes’ office and opens fire on the guards even though he’s down to his last bit of rifle ammo. Not exactly thinking ahead. All he has left is a pistol and one grenade – so he rolls the grenade toward the office and it blows, taking out the doors and dispatching the guards. Jack then rushes in and grabs a stunned Reyes up off the floor and slams him up against the wall, saying he’s finished. To which Reyes replies with a very mature “go f**k yourself.” Jack then throws him down onto the desk, and pushes the gun against his head. Reyes dares him to shoot, knowing there’s no way Jack will get away with assassinating him.  

John Krasinski, Jordi Molla in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

November shows up just then and repeats what he said before – they don’t have the authority to kill him. But Jack’s overcome with rage and the need to avenge Moreno’s death, saying there’s no way they’re letting him go. So if they can’t kill Reyes, they’ll take him with them so he can stand trial. November agrees that Reyes will be tried – just not by the US. Not down with that at all, Jack shouts that Reyes has to pay for what he’s done. But November just keeps gently insisting that Jack let him go, and of course, Jack eventually does as he’s told. Reyes then mouths off that at least Jack has “one smart friend” – and just as Jack whirls back around to shoot, November punches Reyes in the face. Then they leave. So why does November get to punch Reyes but Jack doesn’t?

Anyway, the crew all jumps on board the waiting helo as the huge crowd out front finally manages to force the gates down. They literally storm the castle and start vandalizing the place, including starting a huge fire in the courtyard using all the furniture as kindling. And ol’ ex-President Reyes sits alone in his wrecked office, undoubtedly weighing the few options he has left.

That night at the Bonalde’s place, Valentina runs up to Gloria and her kids after having just gotten off the phone with the electoral committee. She says that the results were fixed in Reyes’ favor – but in actuality, Gloria had gotten 70% of the vote. Gloria asks what that means – will they hold another election? Valentina says nope – you’ve won. Her excited kids drag their shocked mother outside to greet the huge crowd of supporters, and Gloria is stunned to see the Army guys saluting her as President. It takes her a moment to process, but then she’s all smiles and reveling in the victory for the people.

Sara Lasprilla, Cristina Umana, Esteban Diaz in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

In the morning on board the USS Peralta, Jack grabs some breakfast and sits down with Greer, who’s not eating. He says he’s had enough Navy chow to last a lifetime and a snarky Jack says he actually kinda misses it. Then he asks Greer what he’s gonna do now – and Greer just says he’s going to shower and sleep. Of course, he knows that’s not what Jack meant, and he then admits that he just can’t be in the field anymore. Jack says he could return to the field after having heart surgery, but Greer’s already made up his mind. He brings up the Moscow post again, which still bugs Jack. Greer says only the best could’ve handled it and Jack would’ve fit right in – and that he was surprised that Jack turned it down for “a job that any other person could do…has done.” But then he adds that now he understands why Jack did it – because in an office job, you don’t have to watch your friends get captured or killed. But whether it’s in the field or in an office, it’s the work that matters, the real work that still has to get done – and Greer says that if he can’t do it anymore, then someone else has to.

Cristina Umana, Gonzalo Vivanco in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Then November pops in and nods at Greer, who gets up and asks Sergio (Gonzalo Vivanco) to come with him. They bring him up on deck just as a Black Hawk arrives carrying Gloria and the kids. Jack, Greer and November watch from above as the Bonaldes finally reunite. And November jokes about how much trouble he’s in, saying he’ll probably get shipped off to some sh**ty post in Africa – but at least he won’t have to deal with “you two a**holes anymore.” November and Jack walk off but Greer stays long enough for Gloria to see him and she smiles up at him. Aww. I still ship it.

And finally we’re back in DC, where Jack waits at the Capitol for Senator Chapin (Michael O’Neill). They do a walk-and-talk and Chapin asks if Jack’s okay and says that he thought they might lose him. Jack says they “took some big swings,” and Chapin replies that they “hit some big targets.” Chapin then shifts into typical-politician mode and asks if Jack might introduce him to Gloria – and when Jack acts rather cool about it, Chapin asks him what’s really on his mind. Jack brings up Cinco Palmas and Vogler Industries again and says that there’s a problem – Reyes only owned half of Cinco Palmas. The other half was owned by some other shell company out of Philadelphia called North Lake Allied. Jack says that North Lake Allied must’ve had better lawyers because he wasn’t able to dig up anything on them – except for a Philadelphia number on Rupert Thorne’s cell phone, which of course, Jack just happens to have courtesy of Harry. Jack dials the number and what a shocker, Chapin’s cell starts singing an annoying little stock ringtone.

Michael O’Neill, John Krasinski in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

A busted Chapin then goes into his Scooby-Doo like, I-woulda-gotten-away-with-it-too-if-it-weren’t-for-you-meddling-kids explanation, saying that the Venezuelan tantalum deposit is incredibly important in keeping China from having the monopoly. He says he did what was right for the country, and Jack asks if that’s how he justifies murder. Chapin replies that he didn’t kill anyone, but Jack says Chapin paid for the hit and arranged it – so he might as well have. Chapin gets all righteous about how Moreno was his friend too, and then starts pouring honey in Jack’s ear, saying that Jack has the ability and the relationships in place to move things forward in Venezuela. If Jack wants to run for office, he could make it happen. And for about a half-second, it looks like Jack might actually be considering what he’s offering.

But then Jack stands up – and when Chapin asks what he’s doing, Jack says, as we all know he will, “Respectfully declining.” And right on cue, the government vehicles roll up and a bunch of FBI Agents jump out. Jack ignores Chapin’s calls as the Agents tell Chapin they have a warrant and are taking him in for questioning. And our hero walks off into the DC crowd, having saved the world once again. Or at least Venezuela.

***

I did enjoy this season overall – hell, I love any JACK RYAN story, so the show would really have to completely screw it up for me to hate it. But that said, there were some major problems as well – the biggest, I think, being the short season. They introduced so many terrific new characters this season – and while I’ll miss Francisco Denis’ Ubarri and Cristina Umana’s Gloria Bonalde, they’re location-specific (and in Ubarri’s case, dead – I’ll say it one more time, I’m still mad about that). But other awesome new additions like Michael Kelly’s Mike November, Noomi Rapace’s Harry Baumann and Jovan Adepo’s Marcus Bishop, all deserved more time and development. But aside from November, whose presence was much more pronounced, Harry and Tom Wlaschiha’s Max Schenkel were pretty much dumped in the last half of the season – and in Max’s case, done away with entirely – which I think was a huge mistake. Why not have him live to fight another day? I mean, the good guys do, so why not the baddies too? Especially when they already know the show’s secure for another season, it’s not like they had to tie everything off completely.

John Krasinski in TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Same thing goes for Senator Chapin. Honestly, I thought that whole last scene with him was pretty goofy. It really came off like an okay-we-just-have-to-wrap-this-up move and unmask the mystery baddie – which wasn’t much of a mystery anyhow. It was pretty obvious from the jump that Chapin was gonna be the big-bad. Which wouldn’t have been so weak if he’d been allowed to remain the big-bad and have it become part of a longer arc for Jack to uncover more of the internal corruption and take Chapin down.

I know that this entire season’s story was their updated take on Clear and Present Danger – and I think that was the other major problem. It would’ve served them better to use a different Clancy story or come up with an original one. Because even as dated as it might seem now, Clear and Present Danger is still a far superior tale whose film adaptation is still better than what’s been done in this series.

But I do give the show props for what they did with Matice that was a truly unexpected and dramatic move that had deep reverberations throughout the last half of the season. And I think Jovan Adepo’s Marcus will make a much more satisfying fill-in for John Clark or at least enough that I won’t feel the need to call him Not-John-Clark, anyway.

Now comes the long wait for the next season. I hope you’ve enjoyed the recaps as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

 

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Lorinda Donovan
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