We’re already in the mid-season padding doldrums of Jack Ryan. Appropriate given that this is the fourth of eight episodes. It’s pretty clear that John Krasinski is an expensive headliner too busy to carry the heavy lifting in this ensemble cast show. Given the vagaries of Hollywood scheduling, that would be fine if the rest of the ensemble could carry the weight for him. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it would be fine if the writers could give the rest of thee cast material to work with capable of carrying the weight. Because the supporting cast does a great job elevating bog standard material.
Wendell Pierce is an under-rated actor whose Greer has been saddled with a safe Muslim convert role that undercuts his authority position on a regular basis. Not quite Muslim, not quite American, he doesn’t even have the benefit of facing any sort of quandary over which master he truly serves. He just ambles along as a strange neither fish nor fowl with the real meat of his character – what happened in Karachi – wasted as background filler so we can focus on valuable lessons that fit on Coexist bumper stickers.
Ali Suliman brings a subdued menace to Suleiman, and once established as the villain he wears a mask of constraint barely held in check. When that mask slips, we see the savage viciousness and callous disregard for his fellow man – Muslim and infidel – that lies at the heart of this snake. It’s a shame the script wants us to think that the true blame for his actions falls squarely on the shoulders of Ronald Reagan. The death of Suleiman’s brother rests on his shoulders and his alone – it was his plot that cost his brother his life, and no amount of backstory can fix the blame anywhere else. Suleiman should have taken his brother to see the van Gogh’s instead of taking him on a one-way trip to Terror Town.
Marie Jozee-Croze does an admirable job as the tough as nails French lady cop Sandrine, despite the schizophrenic need to be hard bitten cop one minute, and sympathetic sacrificial character the next. The writers utterly failed to make her likable until the need to have her death meaningful, at which point they invested a full two minutes in softening her up a bit as the four-time-divorcee who dispenses the wise and valuable relationship advice that Jack Ryan needs – wait, what? What’s this unlikable woman doing serving as Jack’s relationship coach? They have a broke guy standing by to give him valuable financial advice too?
And then there was Abbie Corish’s (miraculously un-race swapped) version of Cathey Mueller. You know what makes a woman really sexy to an athletic man with an Ivy League degree, and a lot of money? An Ivy League degree, big brains, and a lot of money. Also, given that the guy is looking for a long term relationship, make sure to demonstrate that she is an easy lay, and that she likes hard driving aggressive men, so that when she becomes hard driving and sexually aggressive it’s clear that she is attracted to his passivity. Lol wut? Nothing about this relationship makes a lick of sense.
To take one specific moment of cringe and really dissect it. Jack Ryan enters her fabulous Georgetown stand alone three bedroom home and is dutifully impressed at her wealth. Lol wut? He retired from Wall Street and has a brownstone of his own. He ain’t there for the décor. He knows her Daddy is worth upwards of nine figures and hints that the house is all her doing. Yeah, nice play there, Jack. Then he basically stands around like a doofus letting her pull all the strings.
Because that’s what heroes do these days.
At least we finally see Suleiman’s terror attack take place. It’s not clear where Sulieman’s brother was headed or how following him might have stopped the French 9/11, but whatever. It’s time to get Jack involved with his future missus so that in the next episode he can struggle with juggling his dual-life in the face of her brains and take-no-prisoners attitude.
I haven’t watched Episode 5 yet, but given the ham fisted way French Lady Cop was ‘redeemed’ so that we could have the sads when she got capped by a random gas station attendant, it’s hard not to see where this is going.
Still and all, the decision to end Episode 4 with a major attack was a great mid-point twist. Jack failed, and now the focus shifts to bringing Suleiman to justice rather than stopping his mad bomber plan. We’ve established that Suleiman is brutal and ruthless. Why, he even kidnaps the front-facing version of Doctors Without Borders as part of his dastardly plan instead of simply buying slaves from a more true to life version of Doctors Without Borders.
This week’s highlights included Suleiman taking control of a rival warlord’s men and materials, a tense gunfight and chase scene in the dark, and a French cop willing to speak plainly and not apologize for his political views. The writer’s tone deaf handling of that situation made me laugh, as the death of French male cop would have had a lot more impact emotionally, but the writers are so blinded by their bubbles they can’t help but present sympathetic characters accidentally. I mean, come on, you’re showing us the end results of Diversity on Paris, and we’re supposed to think this guy is a jerk for opposing the systems that make Greer’s efforts necessary?
Lot wut, indeed.