More pieces of the puzzle fall into place in the subplot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, as the action in the main plot thread heats up with Mad Bomber’s Wife taking action to escape the clutches of her terrorist keeper.
We also get introduced to a guardian angel in the form of a military man wracked with guilt over his job of killing people. In warzones. Based on nothing more than orders from above. Hey, drone pilot or ground pounder, the soldier’s lament of duty to superiors or duty to one’s fellow man is a lament as old as war itself. What initially comes off as the usual sort of Hollywood preachiness about the vidya-game-ification of war packs a lot more punch when you step back and consider the man’s position without the benefit of watching things from Mad Bomber’s Wife in parallel. He finally has a chance to commit an act of unmitigated good, to take the shot that for once he knows will save lives, and a shot that will prevent him from ever facing that choice again. That’s some powerful motivation, and it makes for some good TV.
It’s a shame the director and producers don’t trust the audience enough to commit to the neutrality that aspire to with all of their head nods and waggled eyes at the good Muslims* caught up in all of this destruction. The heavy handed aftermath of Drone Pilot’s decision makes it crystal clear whether or not they think he made the right choice.
If they could tell the story of Jack Ryan with as much deftness as they told Mad Bomber’s Wife and the Sad Faced Drone Pilot, this might make a heck of a Jack Ryan story. Word on the street is that the Jack Ryan in this tale isn’t all that much like the literary version of the character, a complaint that’s as understandable as it is dismissible for those of us without the copious free time in which to read the extra 300 pages lathered into Tom Clancy’s 300 page stories.
At this point Jack Ryan is a brand name. He’s an analyst with a bad back and a hot doctor wife who pretends to be a State Department flack while leading a double life until that double life blows up in his face and he has drama with the doctor gf/wife. And he has a grumpy black boss. That’s fertile ground in which drama-farmers can raise a multitude of crops, and this latest crop works well enough to keep me tuning in.
Even if Jack Ryan turns out to be just one player in a sprawling ensemble cast.
*Someday Hollywood will show devout Christians practicing their faith with the same reverence they do Muslims in this show, and it’s going to blow people’s minds. But don’t hold your breath for that day. The Simpsons is about as close as we’re going to get for a while.