Welcome to the second episode of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan! There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get started:

We start again back in 1969, in Matoska, Russia, where young Luka’s (Roman Evdokinov) waiting for all the unpleasantness to be over with before he goes back inside. The soldiers leave except for one, who says he doesn’t understand. Sokol was their chance to be great, he says. Luka responds that the scientists were traitors and that he will forget. The guy says no, but Luka says yes, you will forget. Message received, the soldier leaves and Luka collects personal items from each of the dead – watches, glasses, photos, etc.

Cut to present day Rome, where Greer (Wendell Pierce) goes to a coffee shop. The owner recognizes him and offers him fresh pastries, but he says no, thanks. She gives him some anyway as he slides an envelope of money to her. She asks where it’s going, and he says he has a friend “who’s fallen on hard times in Athens.”  After Greer leaves, he reluctantly throws the pastries away, nobly sticking to that icky diet.

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Greer drives to an airfield where Wright (Betty Gabriel) is waiting. She’s on the phone with CIA Director Miller (John Schwab), who’s chewing her out about the operation going bad. She says she’s on her way to bring Jack in, and Miller warns her that all their butts are on the line.

Wright chides Greer for being late, saying by the time they get there it’ll be 12 hours since Jack went off the grid. Greer says she pushed him off. Wright says she invited him along as a courtesy but if they’re not on the same page she needs to know. Greer comes back at her saying he doesn’t work for her, and that someone needs to bring Jack in before he does something stupid or worse – and that someone won’t be her.

Wright says they don’t have to like each other but they should at least be civil. Turns out they have history, though. She wanted him burned after an op. Wright says it wasn’t her call and that he was a hero to her – but he screwed up. Greer says that’s easy to say when you spend all your time behind a desk. Now that they’re in some real sh*t, they’ll see what kind of choices she makes. Oooh, burn.

In Athens, Jack (John Krasinski) watches that blonde cop (Anton Pampushnyy) from a café and then follows him, taking pictures of him. Blonde guy sees him and starts following him. Jack winds his way through the crowded street markets and into a fish market, where the blonde guy starts taking shots at him. Jack runs out and hides behind a corner, texting someone – saying, “The scientist is dead. You lied to me,” before he takes off.

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In Moscow, President Surikov (Mikhail Safronov) meets with Alexei (Alexej Manvelov), asking what evidence they have that America was responsible for Minister Popov’s (Mikhail Gorevoy) assassination. Turns out money was deposited into the Czech assassin’s account, but they don’t have a source yet. Surikov says it’s not enough to warrant action. Alexei says it’s all part of a coordinated effort to undermine Russia, along with NATO expansion, oil price wars and embargos.

Alexei says Popov’s assassination happened at the same time US intelligence extracted Yuri Baskin (Michael Epp), the Russian nuke scientist – but luckily the operation backfired, and they got to Yuri before he could be turned. Alexei says they’re under attack, and then Luka (James Cosmo) pipes up and echoes the same, that they’re always under attack but that they’re too busy hiding to do anything about it.

After the meeting, Alexei thanks Luka for his “unexpected” support – but Luka says he misunderstood. He doesn’t take sides. Alexei says, “There are no sides – only Russia and what’s best for her.” Alexei asks what Luka thinks should be done, and Luka says if Alexei wants to keep the job he’s about to be given, he shouldn’t use arguments based on bad intel. He says the Czech assassin’s money trail was manufactured. “A plot indeed – but it wasn’t the Americans.” Alexei asks what he thinks it all means, and Luka just says, “someone’s playing a dangerous game,” – and both know who he’s talking about.

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Wright and Greer meet up with the Chief of Athens police (Ieronymos Kaletsanos). Wright thanks him for his assistance, but he says that wasn’t his choice and that they’re only getting in his way. Then the blonde guy comes out and Greer recognizes him. Greer asks what Russian intelligence is doing there, and the blonde guy, whose name is Konstantin Vyatkin, says he’s from Russian embassy. Yeah, sure.

Vyatkin’s issued a “red notice” on Jack for Yuri’s murder. Greer says Yuri was seeking asylum, but Vyatkin says he was on holiday. Greer’s like, “in the cargo hold of a ship?” and asks if Vyatkin was the one who killed him. Wright jumps in before they come to blows and tells the Athens cop that she doesn’t expect their support, but that they’d better stay out of her way. They leave and Greer says Vyatkin’s being there changes everything. They had some run-ins while he was working in Russia, and he’s brutal.

Meanwhile, Jack finds a place he’s mapped on his phone, a clothing store. Jack tells the owner that he should have something for him from a broker in Rome. The owner goes in the back and brings out – a tie. But underneath the tie is a bunch of money and a note with an address. Jack uses the guy’s computer to surf out to some muscle cars website and send a message to someone.

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Wright and Greer go to the embassy and go through a list of the agency’s local contacts. One of them is Tony (Numan Acar), a pimp/smuggler who Jack and Greer dealt with in season one. Greer says Tony wouldn’t be too eager to help Jack, but Wright wants to go see him anyway. After Greer leaves, Wright asks the tech if Greer’s made or gotten any phone calls and needs to know if anyone contacts him. Meanwhile, Jack goes to the address on the note only to find out that Tony’s his contact. He’s shocked and not at all thrilled.

In Prague, President Kovac’s (Nina Hoss) security guy Radek (Adam Vacula) says he’s putting her on lockdown until they’re certain she wasn’t/isn’t a target. Then CIA’s Chief in Prague, Marie Cahill (Lucy Newman-Williams) comes in and asserts that the US wasn’t involved in the assassination. She asks if CIA can have access to the security footage from the stadium and Kovac agrees.

In Moscow, President Surikov and Luka look on as Alexei’s sworn in as the new Defense Minister. Luka looks at his watch – and they cut to 1969, where after the Sokol murders, Luka went to each of the scientist’s families to give them their husband’s items and tell them there was an “accident.”

Back in Athens, Greer and Wright show up at Tony’s – and Tony’s like hey, my bud from Cincinnati! Did you lose weight? Greer’s like, it’s easy to find you, just follow the grift across the Aegean. As Greer asks Tony what he knows, we see Vyatkin watching from a distance. Tony says only what he saw on the news – Jack killed a cop. Greer says Jack was set up. Wright says if he knows anything he needs to tell them or the “entire US intelligence community is on your ass until the end of time.”

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After they leave, Tony shows Jack the red notice. Jack shows Tony the pic of Vyatkin, but Tony says he doesn’t mess with the Russians. “They only pay in pain,” he says. He asks what Tony knows about him, and Tony says that Vyatkin gives the orders – not just to his people but also the Athens cops. Jack posits that whoever had Yuri killed must be either military – or a minister himself. Tony’s like, I don’t wanna know. Jack actually thanks him, then uses his computer to access the muscle car site, where he’s gotten a response.

Pres. Kovac calls Alexei to offer condolences, then she asks if he knew what they were discussing before he died. Alexei says that their countries’ relationship must be reevaluated given the situation. Whatever deal she made with Popov will not be honored. She’s like, yeah, I got that. She talked to the Ukrainian president, and he says you’re moving more troops in. Alexei’s like, nope, just military exercises. She’s like, how long until these exercises extend to her country? Alexei says it depends on her. If she gets into bed with the Americans, it will be seen as a hostile act.

Pres. Kovac’s dad, Petr (Peter Guinness) tells her she needs to be careful. Alena says she thinks they killed Popov themselves. Petr says it doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger, as long as they can use it to serve their own purposes. Alena says she didn’t want to sign with NATO but that Russia’s not giving her a choice. Petr says she must do what’s best for the Czech people.

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Back in Athens, Wright and Greer stake out Tony’s place. She asks Greer if he’s asleep or meditating. He says he was trying to, and she should just say whatever she has to say. Wright says he and Jack are close, so she’s concerned. Greer’s like, just give Jack a break. Wright says Jack needs to know he can’t go off half-cocked every time he gets an idea in his head. Clearly, she doesn’t know him very well.

Just then the Athens police show up and surround the place. Vyatkin goes in and confronts Tony, demanding to know where Jack is. Tony plays it cool – and dumb – as they search the place but find nothing. Everybody leaves, including Greer and Wright – then Tony raises one of the lifts and Jack crawls out from the tiny hole underneath. Tony’s like, you’re a popular guy.

In Moscow, Luka gets called to Alexei’s office. Alexei says he wants them to come to their “own understanding.” Since Luka’s the one who’s really respected there, Alexei wants his respect. Luka says Popov was a piece of sh*t, but he doesn’t agree with how he was handled. Alexei says that was his call. Luka says Alexei expects loyalty to be given blindly and that he thinks he’s some kind of patriot. Alexei says he has a purpose – how long has it been since Luka had one? Then he asks Luka to help him get rid of Jack, an “American intelligence officer proving to be more relentless than expected.”

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Back in Prague, Pres. Kovac has dinner at Radek’s house with his wife, Jana (Tereza Srbova) and their kid. Radek says he’s pretty sure Alena isn’t a target so she doesn’t have to be on lockdown anymore. We get a good look at Jana – turns out she’s the random blonde from the random bar, who got the bartender killed.

In Sounion, Greece, Jack arrives at an airfield and watches a plane fly over. When it lands, who should open up the door – but Mike November (Michael Kelly), who was on the other end of the muscle car messages. Jack jumps in and they take off.

Back in Athens, as Wright and Greer pack up, Wright comes up to him with a bag of pastries. She knows he sent Jack money. He’s like you had me followed? She says he “actively undermined the mission,” and asks if Tony was his idea too. He says he was throwing Jack a lifeline.

Wright says they have nothing. Greer says well, neither do the Russians. Wright’s like, I know what people think of me. Ambitious, abrasive, coldhearted. But what she isn’t is the “the one you lie to.” Greer says they both know that Jack is onto something big. He needs to play it out and they need to let him.

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Wright says she talked to Dir. Miller and they’re sending Greer to Prague to make sure Pres. Kovac stays in line with American and NATO interests. Wright didn’t tell Miller about Greer sending the money to Jack – saying that just because she can’t trust Greer doesn’t mean she can’t use him. She says it was his one “get out of jail free card” and leaves him on the curb.

Back in Moscow, Luka gets a text – from Jack – but Jack still doesn’t know who he’s talking to. His message just says, “No more games, who are you?”

As they knock back a few beers, Mike says Jack needs the agency’s help – but Jack says if he turns himself in, the trail goes cold. Mike’s like, oh, okay, fine, so what now? Jack says he needs to follow the intel back to the source. Mike’s like, what if they’re a ghost? Jack says whoever it is, he’s dragging them out into the cold with him.

***

Best parts of this episode? The return of the awesome Mike November of course, and the unexpected return of Tony the smuggler. It was a stroke of genius to bring him back, and Numan Acar was absolutely brilliant, bringing humor, a bit of smarminess and a lot of humanity to his performance. He really earns that “thank you” from Jack at the end.

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Greer and Wright had a terrific dynamic going on as well. Their banter was so sharp and acidic, and neither character backed down from the verbal battle. Hope to see more of that.

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