Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (2018-2023)

Starring: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Michael Kelly, Betty Gabriel, and Michael Peña
Grade: A+

The Ryanverse has had its share of ups and downs in film. After watching and reviewing every adaptation of Tom Clancy’s beloved character and his globe-trotting expeditions to stop political turmoil and corrupt practices from those in power, I can say without question that the Amazon Prime Video exclusive is the best we’ve ever seen of Jack Ryan. This show is everything we have ever wanted (and more) out of the character and this franchise. Any previous missed opportunity or problem I had with the other movies in the series were fixed and built upon with this enthralling television show that exceeded any and all expectations or preconceived notions about what we thought this show was going to be. From the showrunners to the writing, to the supporting cast, this was a team effort if I’ve ever seen one in trying to make Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan an action television series that is actually worth getting Prime for.

Look, I’ll be the first one to admit skepticism walking into Jack Ryan. Based off of my experience watching the previous movies in the series, my expectations were weary at best. Though the Harrison Ford-led films were very good, it became clear that the franchise never had a movie that really “Wow’d” me on the level that some of its counterparts in the genre have managed to do on occasion. As a result, the biggest question going into Jack Ryan became how this show will respond with four seasons worth of material to try and succeed what has already been done with the character. Could this modern interpretation finally turn the character of Jack Ryan into someone we always wanted him to be as a man of action, while staying true to the character written? The closest we got to this was Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. In my review of the film, I noted how this was an obvious attempt to kick the Jack Ryan series into fourth gear and put it on par with Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible or even Jason Bourne in the Bourne franchise. The problem was that in each previous adventure involving the character, the core of who Jack Ryan is and the general formula for how they go about things in each story is well known by audiences. Yes, Jack was a Marine and has had combat experience, but he’s an analyst for the CIA. He’s not a super spy that is the first one on call to stop evildoers. He’s only hooked into a mission when he deems it absolutely necessary in the name of justice and because he knows he can help. This has always been a fundamental aspect of the character. In all of the previous films (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears), this is a key part to the character. Sure, it’s less exciting, and mainstream audiences would much rather prefer Jack Ryan to turn into an action hero from the get-go, but it’s just not the point of the character unless you take the series into a different direction entirely or gradually work towards it to bring the audience into the new world that is created with a new take on the franchise.

In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the idea was there for something new and exciting, but it was too much of a stark contrast to the others and was done way too quickly. The fans weren’t ready for it, and that’s why it didn’t have lasting power. New audiences didn’t respond to it as much as you’d expect either because it was looked at as a copy of other spy movies that did the action and energy better. However, to make Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan as good as it was, the underappreciated Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit had to be made first to show the potential of the character going into the 2010s because it’s basically the skeletal outline for this show. Essentially, Shadow Recruit walked, so Amazon’s Jack Ryan could run. Actually, this television adaptation of Tom Clancy’s hero SPRINTED and did extra laps for the fun of it.

Yes, it’s that good.

A major chunk of the credit goes to star John Krasinski. Truth be told, when it was first announced that Jim fucking Halpert was being cast as the all-American hero and former soldier-turned-CIA agent previously played by the iconic Harrison Ford, most of us balked at the mere thought of it. There’s no way the sitcom star could pull this off. Well, here’s something you don’t hear me say a lot: I was wrong. Yes, I WAS VERY WRONG. John Krasinski not only turns into a bona fide action hero, but he’s an absolute superstar. Honestly, he’s turned into one of my favorite actors to watch, with Jack Ryan being the tipping point that cemented his spot. Typecasting is a horrible thing, but we tend to do it all the time with actors and actresses. Sometimes, we can never truly get over one actor in a role that we liked or didn’t like. Even with all of the things I’ve watched over the years, the same rings true even for me. Even in this show, I still see Arnold Vosloo as the bad guy from The Mummy franchise trying to play a South African arms trafficker in Season Two, or the maniac from Swimming With Sharks in Frank Whaley playing Greer’s superior. In addition, I can’t help but see the similarities between Jordi Mollà’s portrayal of the overarching antagonist of the same season in Venezuela’s President Nicolás Reyes and his role as villain Johnny Tapia in Bad Boys II. At first, I was taken aback at the casting of Krasinski because I (like many) just couldn’t see myself getting over this mental hurdle of the funny salesman who was simping over the quiet receptionist. However, Jack Ryan is THAT engrossing and Krasinski is THAT fucking good, you want to slap yourself for not getting over this hurdle sooner.

Right from the “Pilot“, they hook us from every angle with engrossing suspense created by the unpredictability of Jack’s findings, the personal tension created between Jack and James Greer (Pierce) in the T-FAD (Terror Finance and Arms Division) department of the CIA after getting off on the wrong foot, the atmospheric tension by just being in Yemen and our hero’s lack of experience despite being roped into the situation because of his findings, and the action reaching an uncomfortable standstill while interviewing who could potentially be the world’s most dangerous upcoming terrorist. Krasinski’s ability to see pathos in anyone he comes across to give them a chance in the eyes of the audience is done incredibly well. Jack is well aware of what the world has become, but he tries his best in giving people a chance. He tries to see the good in any stranger he gets into contact with, though this element of his personality is tested a lot which only helps develop his ability to analyze situations and further his path into become one of the most intelligent fictional characters of all time. In the first episode, we see how the goodness in Jack costs him. Though he’s right about Mousa bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman) being a major problem, he’s wrong in figuring out who the real Suleiman is. Thinking he was talking to the bodyguard of the terrorist, he tried to take the “nice guy” approach in speaking to him to try and get answers. He had the villain in front of his face and didn’t even know it, and it digs at him with each passing episode in Season One. This slip in judgment accidentally leads to the real terrorist escaping in front of his very eyes in a gripping moment that defines the character, who he can be, who he will become to stop evil, and what this take on Jack Ryan will be. In the heat of an attack by Suleiman’s followers, Jack is forced to fight Suleiman’s covered-in-blood brother Ali (Haaz Sleiman) in the same cell as one of the most dangerous men in the world. Jack is by himself, and the tension reaches a boiling point as the handcuffed terrorist tries to inch towards the machine gun on the ground next to the American soldier Ali shot dead.

Suleiman is ready to be sprung free to wreak havoc, and Jack, an analyst who shouldn’t even be there, is fighting for his life in a career-defining moment from the character and actor’s perspective. At one point, Jack is fighting both of them, and it leads to a last-ditch effort where Jack holds a live grenade without the pin, as Ali points a gun at him. To show he will do what it takes, he shows both of them that he removed the pin and is willing to let go of this grenade if he is shot. In hindsight, we know he’s going to survive because it’s the first episode in the series, but it’s in this very moment we realize we tuned into the right show. It’s in this very moment, we see John Krasinski take the leap into action star with a believability not thought to be possible when this casting was first announced. It’s the perfect tone-setter for the rest of the series.

Because of John Krasinski’s performance as Jack Ryan and his turn as director and star of the A Quiet Place franchise, his career coming out of The Office is something none of us could have predicted. It’s very similar to many industry professionals’ thoughts of Chris Pratt coming out of Parks and Recreation. Both Pratt and Krasinski have shed the “TV star” label and have become bankable leading men and massive “A-Listers”. Also, for those who don’t think Krasinski can play Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards in a full-length MCU reboot of the Fantastic Four, PLEASE watch Jack Ryan. Yes, it’s true in my review for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that I criticized his performance a bit, but this was more because of the detrimental combination of lack of screentime to give a fully nuanced performance and the writing of the scenes the character was actually in. The sample size was way too small to say he couldn’t pull it off. To claim this otherwise is disrespectful to the star and his underrated talents as a multifaceted leading man. In Jack Ryan, John Krasinski proved all doubters wrong with his ability to carry himself equally as a believable action hero and one of the most intelligent fictional characters of all time. When you add in the fact that he actually looks like the Marvel superhero in question, he checks off every box in honoring the leader of the fearsome foursome at the highest level and could easily save the MCU in their most important phase yet. Look, I like Pedro Pascal as much as the next guy, and it’s no secret he’s red-hot right now, but he’s not Reed Richards. If you watch Jack Ryan (and I implore you to, especially for skeptical Marvel fans), you will see John Krasinski is actually the perfect man to cast in the lead role. He carries all the intangibles, the look, and has proven himself in a similar character before, as the skeleton of Jack Ryan is eerily similar to what makes Mr. Fantastic who he is.

Krasinski has the poise, an ability to showcase intelligent attributes while still looking like a badass as he does it, is a natural leader with serious presence onscreen, and is ridiculously underrated when it comes to showing emotion and the severity of a situation. This will bode well for everyone when he’s one of the main superheroes and leaders captaining the fight against all-time supervillains like Kang and Reed’s archnemesis Doctor Doom. Again, ANYONE who watches this show will see why he’s the man for the job without question. Guaranteed. I’m not saying his casting will be the life-changing decision Robert Downey Jr. was for Iron Man, but he will be the direction-saving decision of an MCU that is in much need of it with so many hits and misses since Avengers: Endgame.

Nevertheless, with each season in Jack Ryan, we see Jack progress in the exact way he needs to take this show and the character to level that Shadow Recruit was trying to do in under two hours. He starts out as the financial analyst working in T-FAD in Season One under newly appointed group chief Jim Greer. After his initial findings change the trajectory of his career while working alongside Greer and his subsequent success in stopping Suleiman by beating the Secret Service to the punch in “Inshallah“, he replaces Greer as the head of T-FAD by the end of the season while Greer is promoted to deputy station chief in Moscow. As he continues to improve in his job and lands further promotions, his role in the CIA becomes bigger, and the missions get bigger as a result. The development and time dedicated to showing how Jack improves and evolves with each season is something that none of the films succeed at because they are confined to their runtimes. However, Jack Ryan never takes this luxury for granted which is way it trumps every previous take on the character.

It’s true that a chunk of Jack Ryan lore is about his relationship with Cathy, as seen in all of the previous movie adaptations. However, in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the relationship is only a part of Season One and Season Four. In-between, there is no sign of Cathy nor a mention of their relationship. Are they on a break because of Jack getting deeper into his job? Are they still dating, or is everything casual? It’s never touched on or mentioned in Season Two or Season Three, which is pretty odd. Cathy just shows up again in Season Four, and we just roll with it. In a sitcom, this lack of continuity or explanation to a character’s disappearance and reappearance would bother me, but it strangely doesn’t here. Everything else in the show is so well-done, and you become so emotionally involved in Jack Ryan’s everyday dealings with his job that you don’t miss Cathy at all. Though it enhances the drama of the show when it is included, a consistent romantic element to the show isn’t missed. If we’re being honest, the Cathy character was never that important to begin with, so it’s not a huge loss. Additionally, Abbie Cornish is like the fourth-best person to portray the roll. It’s not a big deal. It’s a nice side story in Season One, especially because it gives us that hilarious moment when Jack is called in to question Cathy as a member of the CIA when she never knew he worked for the agency in “The Boy“. Also, she’s a welcomed insertion into the story in Season Four to add to the drama of the action, but her being gone for two whole seasons isn’t missed at all.

Then, there’s Jim Greer, played by the very underappreciated Wendell Pierce. Pierce has been in the acting game for quite some time but has never got a role quite as juicy as this one. You can see him revel in the dimensions of Greer throughout the series. At first, we’re not sure if we’re going to like him. Is he going to stand in the way of our hero? Is he going to be the authority figure who takes too long to come to his senses? More importantly, will he hold a candle to what James Earl Jones did in the role in the 90s? Without a doubt, Pierce does a masterful job and becomes one of your favorite characters in the show with each episode, though this is a much different take on the role of the mentor that we saw in the Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford-led action thrillers. Yes, Greer’s bond with Jack as colleagues and eventual friends is strong and undeterred by bad guys or politicians, with Jack leading the rescue mission for Greer in Season Two being one of my favorite sequences/moments of the show, but Greer isn’t the desk guy he was pigeonholed as in previous ventures. This is a much younger Greer, still capable and actually loving the field aspect of his job. He loves being in the heat of the action, despite increasing health problems noticed early in Season Two (Cargo, Orinoco). Even so, he never lets this deter him, as he adores his job and loves the action. Though his moral compass is similar to Jack’s, which is why they come to respect each other, his is more cynical and willing to do business. This is something he tries to explain to Jack time and time again. Sometimes, you have to make friends with people you may not want to associate with, to stop those who need to be stopped. This is especially evident with Jack’s interactions with Turkish sex trafficker Tony (Numan Acar) in “Sources and Methods“. Jack refuses to believe they can’t save Suleiman’s wife and daughters without him, showing the “boy scout” qualities that have defined the character for over twenty years.

Though you can tell he acknowledges Jack’s moxie and unbreakable moral compass, the experienced Greer stresses the timing of the situation, why someone like Tony can help, why they need to make a deal, and how it can lead to bigger and better things at a rapid pace (which is important when time is of the essence when trying to stop a terrorist). As a fan, you hate to disagree with anything Jack does, but this show works hard in opening the eyes for us older fans of Jack Ryan who want this pure form of political action entertainment to be true. We want Jack to still beat the hell out of Tony because his job choice is downright evil, but Pierce’s Greer maintains his stance in that they have to do business with him because the bigger picture is the goal. In a regular action or law enforcement film, this is a commonplace element added to the story, but it’s different with the Jack Ryan franchise because we know how Jack usually refuses these types of notions. This is why when this point is presented here, it takes on an entirely different meaning. He’s going to push against this thought as much as possible, but there are nuances to every person in life. It’s not the movies where someone is entirely good, and another is entirely bad. The biggest positive coming out of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is how well-written and pushed on these points are. Everyone has a story worth telling. Even with the overarching antagonists to each season, there is so much dedication to explaining who they are, why they become who they are, and why their mission of evil means so much to them. In Season One, terrorist Suleiman could’ve easily been a one-dimensional villain who wants to attack America. For fans of action movies, we’re almost expecting it. However, my eyes were opened to what Jack Ryan as a show could be in “End of Honor“.

Following a devasting attack on a church in Paris where around 300 are killed in “The Wolf“, we delve into his backstory when Suleiman was just a young man. He had a bright future and was educated in finance, looking for a job. However, it was clear from sitting outside of the office with his fellow applicants that he was the odd man out. Before he could really explain his pitch with the executives he meets and showcases his forward way of thinking regarding the market, they interrupt and refuse any new ideas, with an underlying tension towards his race being evident as well. Furthermore, what hurts him is that he’s supposed to be the guy who saves his family and brings them to the promised land. His loyal brother Ali (Haaz Sleiman) was fully banking on this, especially considering how carefree he lives his life. When the two are hanging out together in a park, with Ali smoking weed in the open and having a gun on him, two cops approach them. Knowing the two are going to get in trouble but wanting the best for his little brother, Suleiman causes a scuffle with the cops to allow for Ali to escape. Suleiman goes to prison and connects with religion on a level that startles Ali. Thus, the villain origin story is created, and it’s never boring for a second. With this loaded aside, we are given dimensions to who we thought was going to be a one-note terrorist who wants to bring death upon anyone who opposes him. These dedicated segues are done very carefully to bring interest to every important supporting character for each season like with Uber (Jovan Adepo) or Baron von Raschke lookalike Petr Kovac (Peter Guinness). When Uber is left behind, you’re actually worried about him, and you want to stand up and cheer when Matice comes back for him with his team. This is how well it’s done, as every storyline for the season works because of the number of moving parts that come together to complete the whole story. It’s effective every time in getting us to care about every aspect of the story, instead of only caring what just Jack Ryan does.

The only time that I felt it wasn’t entirely needed was with drone-flyer Victor (John Magaro). Though the mental anguish felt in his job was incredibly realistic, his exploits in Las Vegas didn’t seem necessary whatsoever in telling his story. The conclusion to his arc was pretty cool though.

With Suleiman, all of the scenes focused on his everyday happenings within his camp are just as intriguing as the sequences involving our heroes working every day to stop him. This includes him imprisoning an ISIS leader and taking the man’s soldiers for himself once he pays the rest of them the money they were owed by the guy. Yes, he’s a terrible person that we want to see Jack Ryan stop before things are too late, but the devoted character development and engrossing performance from Ali Suliman is so well done, you don’t need star power to sell this show. When the game of cat-and-mouse truly begins when they try to trick one another when talking through that messaging board on the video game (End of Honor) or when we finally get to see the two cross paths at the train station for the first time since the pilot (Inshallah), it becomes clear. The first season is electric, gone are the one-note villains of action movies or shows from the 1980s and 90s, and each season of this Amazon series is a movie in and of itself. There are parallels with the movies of old as well. Season Two and Season Four have a lot of similarities in story and action to Clear and Present Danger, and Season Three clears The Hunt for Red October comparatively by a mile. Honestly, the screenwriters did their homework in using previous movies to help develop certain areas in the show. There are numerous moments that could be considered callbacks, references, or homages to the other movies the character has appeared in, unconfirmed or not. When they realize Alexei Petrov (Alexej Manvelov) is a part of this new cabal operating independently from Russia and is trying to bait the country into war with the United States, with Jack and his team being the only people standing in the way, the idea is very similar to the main premise of The Sum of All Fears. When Jack ends up on the USS Roosevelt at the end of “Star on the Wall” and is trying to get the US commander to back down, it’s reminiscent of Alec Baldwin’s Jack trying to plead with Scott Glenn’s Mancuso in The Hunt for Red October, only the intensity of the situation is done much better here compared to the 1990 film, as is the issues in the Russian warship Fearless.

When they relieve Antonov of command and Jack talks with Luka through the radio asking, “Are we at war?”, which Luka follows with the commanding delivery of, “That is up to you”, forcing the US captain to back off, it felt like a way of giving back to President Nemerov when he was forced to back down at the end of The Sum of All Fears. The attack in “Cargo” from gay German hitman Max Schenkel (Tom Wlaschiha) in Venezuela that leads to Senator Moreno’s (Benito Martinez) death is reminiscent to the famous action sequence from Clear and Present Danger. Jack getting attacked in the bathroom by Max and almost being drowned was almost a complete reversal of Jack’s killing of Deng in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, albeit with a different result. Jack’s absolute takedown of Senator Henshaw (Dick Cecil) in the series finale and outing him for his ties to cartel leader Zeyara Lemos (Zuleikha Robinson) felt just as iconic as Harrison Ford telling the US President to his face that he’s a bullshitter in the legendary ending of Clear and Present Danger. The show honors the movies in every facet, and it’s because the people behind the scenes really seem to appreciate the adaptations that came before them and laid the groundwork for Jack Ryan to take over.

It has been said that John Krasinski’s interpretation of our titular hero was inspired by Harrison Ford’s performance in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger many years back. Considering those were the two best movies of the series, I take solace in knowing he did his homework. With this, I like to look at Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan as the precursor to the Ford movies. It may not be the definitive timeline officially, but as a fan, I really like to look at things with this point of view. For instance, in Clear and Present Danger, Ford’s “boy scout” Jack decides to make a deal with Escobedo to give up Cortez in exchange for John Clark’s team. It’s not like Jack is bending the rules because he’s still seen as this incorruptible figure by his peers, but he’s willing to deal a bit in exchange to save lives. The Jack Ryan played by Krasinski in Season One would balk at this because he would try to figure a way to nab everyone involved. With each passing season though, he starts to learn how to pick and choose his moments, and he starts to see the benefit in making these temporary alliances. Spiritually, it’s like we’re watching the young version of Jack Ryan, and he closes the gap going into the Harrison Ford movies, and that is who he becomes in his older age. Sure, it maybe me overanalyzing things because of super fandom, but the similarities are evident. Also, we need to commend John Krasinski for making the “boy scout” thing a badass thing just like how Harrison Ford did years ago, a tall task in a modern television world consisting of troubled “good” guys and dark antiheroes dabbling in vigilantism. There’s no way you aren’t on your feet cheering for Jack to kill President Reyes when he had a gun to his head in his office, but he relents because they are all aware of the repercussions if he goes through with it (Strongman). This is a badass, all-around good guy done correctly.

Even when Jack is considered to be going rogue, it’s never to the extent that these unruly senators seem to think it is. Jack Ryan has the American people’s best interests at heart, so when he takes the lead on a mission, prefers to be on foot and there in person to witness it all to make sure every detail is covered, his motivations should never be in question (Falcon). When he says it with such earnestness, we have no reason to not believe him. The honesty, authenticity, and heartfelt emotion in which Krasinski speaks when talking about putting an end to corruption and his willingness to do whatever it takes to stop it is inspiring (Triage). It only further intensifies his case for being the definitive take on the titular character.

It hits on every aspect. For fans of action cinema, it’s loaded with excitement, car chases, shootouts, and fighting that are just as intense and enthralling with each episode. It’s never meaningless. A lot of times, you’ll watch basic television or even lower-level action movies and there’s going to be a gratuitous amount of action just because that’s what they advertised, and they know fans want to see it whether it’s too much or takes away from the plot. With Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, every action sequence is perfectly placed within an episode at the exact moment it needs to be. Whether it’s to wake the audience up a little from some expository dialogue or plot developments, to inject some life at just the right moment to keep you on your toes, to show the viewer the seriousness of the situation, or to further the exploits of the villains to show why our heroes are always in a race against time. There’s not a single action sequence throughout these thirty episodes that felt unnecessary or too much.

The supporting cast varies throughout as the only consistencies through all four seasons are Jack and Greer. Even so, the ones who are focused on throughout each season and those who become recurring characters all become welcomed additions to the overall show. My favorite was Michael Kelly who did a wonderful job as Mike November. At first, he’s Jack’s superior and obstacle in the early stages of Season Two, but he becomes the most endearing supporting player on the show as time moves on, as he becomes Jack’s most trusted ally outside of Greer. When they go off the grid together after being declared persona non grata but have to save Greer, his role is solidified in the eyes of the fans. Matice (John Hoogenakker) was very funny, and his arc ending was easily one of the sadder moments on the show, despite going out in a blaze of glory. It hurts because this John Clark-like character would’ve been such a massive help in Season Three and Four. Hell, he would have been huge for Jack if he lasted until the season finale of Season Two. Elizabeth Wright takes the longest to win us over, especially because she tried to make Jack a fall guy for the incident in Greece and it led to him being accused of treason (Falcon). How many times she pisses us off or undermines Jack and Greer is infuriating, but CIA Director Miller (John Schwab) is so despicable that it helps us make the mental switch to give her a chance. It takes a while, but it works.

As I said before, each season feels like a movie in and of itself. This is how the structure of the show is, and it’s exhilarating, with each episode being crucial to appreciating every aspect of the entire story. Season One follows Jack Ryan as he starts out as an analyst who finds some bank transfers that add to his theory of a terrorist named Suleiman potentially being a new “bin Laden”, as Greer puts it. Suleiman and his brother Ali were in Lebanon when the place was bombed in 1983, so they have become accustomed to war at an early age. As adults, they became French citizens and are later tracked because of Jack’s work to Yemen, Syria, and other places as they grow their terrorist unit. As Suleiman’s terrorist exploits become intensified (they even have 12 physician hostages from Doctors Without Borders at one point), his wife Hanin (Dina Shihabi) sees the atrocities her husband is committing and intends on committing and takes their daughters and tries to escape to seek political asylum, though he sends his followers after her to retrieve her. In the meantime, Jack and Greer find evidence that the terrorists in question are trying weaponize a strain of Ebola and send it to the United States. In Season Two, my personal favorite season, Greer realizes he has a heart condition and is getting worse. Even so, he is shown evidence of a boat in Venezuela that a satellite was launched from, so he requests a transfer there. Meanwhile, Jack and Senator Moreno go to Venezuela, a country in the midst of a heated presidential race between despot Reyes and progressive candidate Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umaña). They go there to question Reyes to see if Russians are secretly selling weapons to their country, one with the largest oil deposits on the planet. It’s worrisome because this type of power could allow for the tyrannical Reyes to fight U.S. sanctions.

It goes deeper than that too, as contract killer and single father Max Schenkel is hired to kill Moreno and Jack but only succeeds with Moreno, motivating Jack to stay back in Venezuela to get to the bottom of this. Accompanied by the untrustworthy but helpful German BND agent Harry (Noomi Rapace) and CIA station chief Mike November (Kelly), he works diligently to find evidence of Reyes’s corruption and ties to Russia. However, each step he takes to try and combat things discreetly may lead to more deaths and potential news coverage that could cost him and the United States everything. In Season Three, we are taken back to 1969 to when the Soviet Union were planning to build Sokol, a nuclear weapon that could be invisible to infrared. However, the scientists building it still don’t have anything, so Luka Gocharov orders them to be killed. In the present day, the fear is that Sokol is back based on intel Jack and Greer have, and they tell station chief Elizabeth Wright (Gabriel). Jack leads a black ops team to infiltrate the boat that it may be on, and they find a scientist named Yuri who confirms the 3-megaton bomb. After a shootout, Yuri is dead and Jack is on the run after being accused of entering Greece illegally to kill a Russian national, forcing him to go on the run from his own government and seek help from Mike November, who’s working his own private agency firm. Back in America, Greer does everything he can to help Jack by fighting the politics side of things. Meanwhile, Czech President Alena Kovac (Nina Hoss) meets with Russia Defense Minister Popov at a soccer game between the two country’s teams to work together as countries, but Popov is assassinated during the conversation.

Shit-starter Alexei Petrov takes over Popov’s spot and immediately calls Alena to tell her any deals she was making with Popov will not be honored and any increase in NATO’s presence in the Czech Republic will be seen as a threat to the national security of Russia. Basically, he has ulterior motives and is a part of a cabal with Petr Kovac to restore the power of the Soviet Union with Sokol, but what makes things even more difficult is that Petr is Alena’s father. Additionally, Alena’s main security Radek is a double agent. Accused of treason and having a serious lack of resources, Jack works to stop Sokol with only a few people on his side. This leads to an uneasy alliance with the most dangerous man in Russia in Luka Gocharov. Though he’s not one to be crossed, he knows of Sokol and of Petrov’s plan and wants to avoid war at all costs. In Season Four, we are given a glimpse of Jack Ryan being tortured for information. Then, we move backwards to lead into how it happened. The President of Nigeria is assassinated by a team sent in by Bill Tuttle (Michael McElhatton) from a BizHub office building, and he calls Chao Fah (Louis Ozawa Changchien) in Myanmar to let him know it’s done. Jack admits to a US Senate committee that the CIA may have been involved in the assassination under CIA Director Miller’s regime, though since he’s the new acting Deputy Director and Wright has become the new Director, they will work to change this. However, the senators don’t fully believe in Jack because they bring up how he technically went rogue back in Season Three. While this is going on, the Marquez cartel has killed off its last competitor via Domingo Chavez (Peña). Now, they’ll have a monopoly of drug trafficking in America. Working as a Silver Lotus Triad representative, Chao shows up to Mexico to see if they can strengthen their relationship with the Marquez cartel. During their meeting however, they are all disrupted by shootout with authorities. Back at the offices of the CIA, Jack collects information on nine different operations under Miller but neither he nor Greer can decipher the file encryption to figure out the exact details of each one. So, they cut each operation and stop funding them.

After Chavez shows up in Jack’s home and points a gun to his head to demand he reopen operations, Jack is forced to delve into further research on who Chavez is and his connection with Miller. Eventually, he befriends Chavez once he realizes how he’s been working deep undercover in this relationship with the cartel and the Silver Lotus Triad, how Miller was really in the pocket of the triads and Chavez wasn’t made aware of this, and the deaths that were caused by Miller’s orders on Chavez’s team. Greer asks Miller about “Operation Pluto”, but he refuses to say anything. Later, Miller tells Chao, who yells at Miller for bailing on Pluto because the triads think Miller was behind the failure. However, Miller tells him that it’s the work of Jack. After Chavez shows up at Miller’s house and demands Miller tell Jack everything, Miller tells Huttle everything instead. Jack updates Wright on the situation, and they go straight to the president with the news that the former director was an asset for the Silver Lotus Triad and Miller was using Chavez and his team to eliminate the other cartels, so the Marquez cartel could take over. The triads could then use the cartels to create a free market for terrorist groups across the world. These repercussions directly affect the United States because the triads can use the cartel influence to smuggle anything into America. Now, Jack has to figure out a way to get to Chao and go from there following Miller’s suicide, but Chao’s inclusion in Pluto isn’t as one-dimensional as it seems. This leads to Jack resigning from his position and taking his own team of Mike November and Chavez to Mexico, Croatia, and back to America to try and save the day. At the same time, Wright is sent to Lagos to assure the acting President of Nigeria, who is at odds with a warlord, that the CIA didn’t have any involvement in the previous president’s death, though additional corruption within the CIA threatens her job and Greer’s family’s life.

Every season’s story is just as exciting as the last. If I were to pick my favorites though, I would say Season Two is the best, followed by the slow-burn of Season Three, the exciting but shorter conclusion of Season Four, and the awesome Season One going last by proxy. It’s very hard to pick favorite episodes with the way the show is structured but the season finales in “Inshallah“, “Strongman“, “Star on the Wall“, and “Proof of Concept” are the best. They never missed an opportunity to end the season on the highest of notes. Other favorite episodes are the team’s mission to Croatia (Bethesda), the excitement surrounding the casino infiltration (Wukong), the initial failures of the Venezuela mission (Persona Non Grata), the strength of Greer (Dios y Federacion), Jack and the message board (End of Honor), the Russia mission at its height (Ghosts), and even when it all started (Pilot).

This may be hard to digest for some, but this is Jack Ryan at his absolute best. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and star John Krasinski make this take on the character the perfect blend of a model American citizen, smooth leading man, an incredible CIA analyst who has an ability to detect danger or evil out of pure intellect and years of being the best at his job while believing in himself every step of the way, an unshakeable moral compass, and a pure action hero that will step in when he has to do what is right. This was the modern interpretation of the character that was needed to continue this franchise. This production alone has put Jack Ryan on par with his fictional peers, and this is the show that has made Amazon Prime Video worth a shit. Let’s all thank the streaming service for giving them the budget they had because the cinematic quality in every episode is what puts this on a higher tier than most. Though the movies have their moments, the collective four seasons of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is the best we’ve seen of the character, and I hate to say it…

…but I think Krasinski might be the definitive Jack Ryan as well.

If we ever got a Jack Ryan movie where Krasinski and this cast returns, I will be the first in line to see it.

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