Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan pulls off a neat trick in its sixth episode. The conclusion of the show presents a four sided Mexican standoff with more guns and more seriousness than a Tarantino movie. It also resolves a hell of a lot more satisfyingly than a Tarantino movie, which isn’t that high a bar to be honest.
Forget the plot. The most important part of this episode is that we finally see Jack Ryan come into his own as a hero. Where everyone else sighs and does the expedient thing, Jack seethes and chafes and lashes out at the situation. He says the exact words that we want to hear a protagonist say when faced with the choice between the lesser of two evils. “There has to be another way.”
For that line alone, I forgive most of the sins of this show. For all the usual Hollywood “no right side” silliness we’ve seen up to this point, watching Jack Ryan punch a rapist because he just can’t stomach working with him – even if it means failing to stop the next big terror plot – feels damn good. And the villain’s protest, that he would make different choices with his life if only he were born in the luxury of Cincinnati ring hollow given that the words, “Geography is destiny,” are uttered by a reprehensible man. Set against the sterling example of Jack Ryan, the rapist doth protest too much. We are products of our actions, and being born in a palace or a gutter does not absolve us of our sins.
Screw the writers. Perhaps they mean to make us think about our privilege and consider that “there but for the grace of God go I,” but I no longer care what viewpoint they are trying to sell. The world is a hard place, and it is a hard place because of the decisions of men like Rapey McTrafficker, not the decisions of men like Jack Ryan. Birthplace be damned, this episode could have come from the fevered mind of an alt-right writer without a single change.
Except for the lust interest.
Hoo boy, talk about a turd in the punchbowl. The Future Mrs. Jack Ryan was clearly written to appeal to just one specific sort of viewer. Okay, two. You’d have to be a dried up old bitterbitch with a houseful of cats or the larval form of that particular species to find The Future Mrs. Jack Ryan appealing. She’s a man, baby! A hard swearing, hard working, cock carousel riding, relationship driving aggressive personality who lives life on her own terms and who don’t need no man. Making her such a complete cartoonishly two-dimensional stock go-grrl really sucks the suspense out of the romance plot. Jack Ryan is a wealthy, good looking, badass who beats terrorists to death. We’re supposed to care if he can win the heart of this useless bint? The Future Dr. Jack Ryan scenes have sunk to the level of ‘fast-forward to get to the good stuff’ scenes.
That’s particularly true given the writer’s decision to ratchet the Fail Dial up to eleven by showing this highly education and driven PhD with a brilliant mind…takes a really long time, in the wake of terrorists going full Aum Shinrikyo on a French Church no less, to imagine a scenario wherein two Arabic men would have any interest in an Ebola ridden corpse. I mean, what use could middle-eastern men who steal corpses possibly have for a source of Ebola?
She does the right thing after a montage of frowny faced thought that would make Doctor House proud, but still. Come on.
The inevitable, “Wait, you mean they don’t haul logistics techs out of lavish parties on Coast Guard helicopters and you’re really a highly competent CIA agent,” scene is barreling down on us like a freight train. I can’t look. Not after that aspect of the Jack Ryan character was handled so adeptly in the film Jack Ryan starring Captain NuKirk. The best part of that movie was, “I’m a spy, honey. And so are you. We’re going to meet the Russian president in two minutes. Don’t make us look bad or we’ll be gulaged. kthx.”
That’s a hard act to follow, and I just don’t think Amazon’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has done enough legwork to get us to care what happens to Jack’s bang buddy the way that film made us care about that Jack Ryan’s young and attractive wife.