Welcome to the final season premiere of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, titled “Triage.” Prime Video surprised us all with an unexpectedly short wait between seasons, which suggests they were already producing Season 4 at the same time as Season 3. So I’m not sure that we’ll see much in the way of big changes in the writing character-wise, but I guess we’ll see. So let’s get to it, shall we?
We begin in the country of Myanmar (formerly Burma), where guys in black drag a man with a hood over his head into a dungeon. The guys in black suspend him crucifixion-like and pull off the hood — it’s Jack (John Krasinski)! He looks like he’s already been beaten up, but then the guys in black pull out a car battery and jab him with the jumper cables, electrocuting him. Yikes. Now there’s a way to start.
So how did we get to that? Well, we start three weeks earlier in Lagos, Nigeria. A special ops-looking team scours the wall of the Presidential Palace while another man (Game of Thrones’ Michael McElhatton) in some undisclosed location watches them from a small tech suite. The team takes out the guards and enters the building while the tech guy directs them to a bedroom. The team shoots the President in bed and takes a photo of him.
As they’re taking a blood sample, the alarms go off. The team attempts to escape but gets surrounded. A firefight ensues and they call out to the tech guy for help. But he just shuts everything down on his end and leaves the suite, in an office labeled “Biz Hub.” A receptionist calls him Mr. Walters on his way out the door. Once in the elevator, Mr. Walters makes a call saying simply, “DNA pending, target eliminated.”
At a casino back in Myanmar, the man on the receiving end of the call, named Chao Fah (Louis Ozawa), then makes a call saying simply, “The Lagos shipping lanes are cleared.”
Back in D.C., Jack and Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel), who’s now Acting Director of the CIA, take a meeting with President Bachler (David Badella) regarding the incident in Lagos. Jack and Wright tell the Prez there’s not much to go on as far as who’s responsible for the assassination. One of the team was captured though, and his equipment was all American. Uh-oh. Wright tells the Prez a rival warlord is the most likely culprit, but given Lagos’ valuable natural resources, it could be anyone.
The Prez warns Wright and Jack about how they’re now responsible for any actions taken by the former CIA Director, Miller (John Schwab). We all remember that schmuck, right? Anyway, confirmation hearings to approve Wright as the new CIA director are about to begin. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants a briefing on Lagos ASAP, which falls on Jack. The Prez makes a witty remark about Jack being ready for politics, to which he replies, “God forbid.”
Meanwhile, in a church somewhere in the Yucatan in Mexico, a man stands over an ornately decorated box. Any Tom Clancy aficionados and anyone who saw the trailer for this season will recognize him as fan favorite Domingo “Ding” Chavez (Michael Peña). He takes the box to the home base of the Perez Cartel, where a party’s going on and follows the cartel’s head to his bedroom. And before the drug lord can get busy with a couple of barely-clothed models, Ding walks in with the box and just says, “Hola.”
Back on Capitol Hill, Jack sits before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Senator in charge, Henshaw (Derek Cecil), asks Jack if the CIA was involved in Lagos’ President’s assassination. Jack says he has no reason to believe the CIA was involved, but at the moment he has no concrete answers. Sen. Henshaw asks if that concerns Jack, and he replies, “No … it terrifies me.”
Jack elaborates, saying that the CIA is in very real danger of becoming more easily controlled by interests both foreign and domestic – interests that would use the agency for their own gains. But President Bachler has chosen him and Wright to stop this from happening. And that he and Wright believe that the CIA cannot and should not exist unless its only interest is that of the American people. Which is a very Jack Ryan kinda thing to say.
Then another senator, Jennings (Nancy Lenehan), starts grilling Jack about his actions in Russia (see season 3). Jack just replies that he doesn’t report to them and doesn’t see the point in bringing it up. Sen. Jennings says his actions indicate that he may very well be part of the problem and not the solution. She asks Jack that if going rogue is his way of handling things, why should they expect anything to change? And Jack replies they shouldn’t. Not yet.
Meanwhile, back in Mexico at the base of the Marquez cartel, Ding meets up with his cousin, Rodrigo Marin (Rodrigo Carrico), who also works for the cartel. He takes the box to Marquez, and we finally get to see what’s in the box — Perez’s severed hands, including his ring, which Marquez takes a photo of.
Ding and Marin do a walk-and-talk and Ding asks why they took the photo. Marin says Perez’s hands are the keys to Southeast Asia – to the Silver Lotus Triad, which they will now control. Marin says he’s been invited to something called “The Marketplace” to meet their contractors. With Perez dead, the Marquez cartel is the last one standing, and the Triad’s way into the United States.
Back in Myanmar, Chao Fah oversees the production of what looks like computer equipment. An older colleague, named Tin Tun (Jim Lau) walks in and asks Chao Fah about the timeline. Chao Fah tells Tin he’s missing the point. They’re creating an invisible network, something new and unique that will open the floodgates of America and the rest of the world. Tin says yeah, whatever, as long as they’re making money. Chao Fah tells Tin he has no vision, and Tin says he’s survived the game a lot longer than him.
Back in D.C., Jack arrives home, and who should open the door to his place but Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish). Yep, Cathy’s back, and from the look of things, she and Jack have been together for a while. Over wine and takeout, Cathy says she’s going to be taking over as a keynote speaker at some World Health Organization (WHO) conference and there’s some big foundation interested in a partnership. Info dump complete; remember that for later. Cathy says Wright’s lucky to have Jack, but given how the hearing went, Jack’s not so sure.
Then Greer (Wendell Pierce) shows up, and he’s just as surprised as we are to see Cathy back. She takes her leave, and the guys sit down to scotch and shop talk. Jack jokes that when he gets fired, he and Greer should open their own PI agency. Greer talks about former director Miller, and how he scrambled his files with some weird code that only he and his staff knew. But fortunately, Greer knows how to figure it out.
Back in Myanmar, Chao Fah and his brother-in-law/assistant Soe Wai (Robert Ristic) go to his office. Chao puts a media card into his phone and sees the photo of Perez’s severed hands. Chao leaves telling Soe they’re going to Mexico.
Back in Mexico, Ding arrives at a divey beach cantina and talks to a police lieutenant, Morales (Joao Didelet). Morales warns Ding that his superiors want him to seize the Marquez operation’s lab. Morales then demands double his usual payment to stay away. Ding agrees, but also warns Morales that when he gets too greedy, he’ll “chop your head off in front of your f***ing family.” Yow.
In Myanmar, Chao Fah arrives home and does an info dump with his brother-in-law about how they’re going to Mexico to inspect the lab and see how a shipment goes through. Chao tells Soe that they have to be careful with everything changing and that the only thing that matters is family. But Chao needs to see Marquez in person, to look him in the eyes, to know if he’ll be strong enough to handle the new partnership.
Once inside the house, Chao’s wife, Kyi Fah (Jacelyn Parry), comes out and just says, “Now?” and Chao just replies, “Now.” Okay.
Back at CIA, Jack and Greer muddle through Miller’s files, but Greer says there’s an extra layer of coding going on that he can’t translate. Jack says there are nine operations that they know about, but no evidence of their existence. Jack says the only common denominator is a company called Mainland Renewables. Suddenly realizing he’s late, Greer excuses himself to go to his ex-wife Jasmine’s (Wendy Davis) house for dinner.
At the awkward dinner table with Jasmine and his two grownup kids, Ashley (Shanay Neusum-James) and James Jr. (Anthony J. Abraham), Greer tries to get the small talk going about school, but Junior isn’t having any of it and leaves. With dinner officially over, Greer thanks Jasmine for trying and both agree it was good to see each other.
Jack calls Wright late that night and tells her how they can’t figure out which one was involved in the Lagos President’s death. Jack says the only way to find out is by cutting off the money to all of them. Wright gives her approval.
Back in Mexico, Ding says a few prayers and then meets with the rest of his team. He shows them where the meeting with Chao Fah is happening and where they’ll all be. Their mission is to grab somebody and get the hell out quickly.
Ding then gets in a car with Marin, who tells him he should’ve told him he was changing the plan. Ding tells him the Triad can’t be underestimated, how their pirate way of doing things has made them one of the most powerful forces in the world. Meanwhile, Lt. Morales logs into his bank account expecting to see the payment from Ding but instead finds the account shut down.
On their way to the meet, Chao Fah sends a text to his wife asking if she’s there yet and she says almost. Chao and Soe arrive at the port and meet the cartel guy who takes them through the lab and explains how they’re using an organics company to hide their dealings. He also says how glad they are to have the Triad’s high-quality product. Chao Fah doesn’t seem all that impressed.
Ding and Marin arrive at the dock and introduce themselves to Chao Fah. As Ding’s team moves into position, Marin tells Chao that Marquez will meet with him alone at his hacienda. But just then, Morales and his guys arrive in a couple of police boats and start a shootout with the cartel guys. Chaos ensues, and everybody scatters. Ding and Chao Fah get separated, and we realize it’s Chao Fah who Ding and his team were there to rescue.
Ding’s guys tell them they have to abort, and after one of their guys gets hit, Ding reluctantly agrees. He runs off one way with the team and Chao Fah and Soe go the other, jumping into one of the other vehicles and speeding off. Chao texts his wife as they escape, just as she and their daughter are about to board a plane. He tells them the plan’s changed and to stay put.
The next morning, Jack’s out rowing the Potomac. When he brings his boat back in, Wright shows up and tells him about the port shootout in Mexico. That night, Wright, Jack and Cathy go to a gala fundraiser for the Nigeria Foundation.
Wright finds her way into an ongoing conversation between Zeyara Lemos (Lost’s Zuleikha Robinson) of the Lemos Foundation and a suave lobbyist named Ade Osoji (Okieriete Onaodowan). They politely argue about the status of Lagos and how the assassination of the President has emboldened another local warlord. Wright challenges Osoji about what the right thing is to do, and he only says “to not look away” before excusing himself. Lemos tells Wright Osoji is one of her advisors.
Meanwhile, Sen. Henshaw meets Jack at the bar and hints around about the shootout in Mexico, saying he hopes Jack and Wright are really the “change” that the agency needs. Wright meets up with Jack and Cathy and introduces them to Lemos, who briefly rubs shoulders with Cathy, saying how great the WHO’s support is and that she’ll be at the relief conference where Cathy will be speaking.
Then Jack and Cathy go back to his place, where Ding appears and points a gun to the back of Jack’s head. He warns him that he has 24 hours to turn Operation Pluto back on.
Well, they aren’t wasting any time diving into the action. Looks like this season will be just as plot-heavy as the last one, and it’s already a bit of a struggle keeping track of all the new characters. Hopefully, though, as with last season, it will get easier to follow as we go.
As for Cathy’s return, while I’m glad about it, I’m also disappointed by the way they’re handling it. All of a sudden, boom, she’s just back and the relationship is already well-established. We don’t get to see how she and Jack found their way back to each other, which would do wonders for the characters’ development. Especially for Jack, who for my taste still has too much swagger. I desperately miss my dorky analyst, but at this point, I guess this is what I’m stuck with.
Betty Gabriel though, as always, is a solid star. Wright’s going through some interesting changes as she navigates the ocean of big politics. And Gabriel shows some real depth as we see how unsure Wright is, and how difficult it is for her to balance what’s right versus what’s good for her career.
But of course, the big standout is Michael Peña. The role of Ding Chavez is a definite switch for him, as we’re used to seeing him doing much lighter stuff like Ant-Man. But he’s handling the more serious role well, keeping some humor while also convincing us he’s all business. It’s a good intro for a beloved character, that will hopefully keep progressing.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is currently streaming on Prime Video.