Jack Ryan picks up quite a lot in its second episode of Season 2 as a chain of events and investigations is set into motion with the ambush that resulted in the death of Senator Moreno. Immediately suspect is President Reyes of Venezuela and this suspicion compels both Jack Ryan and James Greer to stay back and get to the root of this, instead of return to the US and get their hands tied behind their backs in the name of diplomacy.
A nice little touch in the episode is the amount of time Jack grieves over Moreno’s death. The duo had been shown together for only one episode but his demise has certainly affected Jack, as it should, and as the show makes a point of conveying. Director Phil Abraham, who also helmed the Season 2 premiere, makes sure that Jack isn’t immediately over Moreno leaving but is motivated further by his death; consequently, John Krasinski ensures that the grief partly guides his performance.
A lot of the plot is set in motion thanks to multiple elements slowly coming together. The biggest wild card is Noomi Rapace’s mysterious character who becomes involved with Jack in a big way, constantly lying about her origins until she finally comes clean. The police captain who was responsible for misleading the convoy also comes clean about his role in the ambush. And using his analytical bent of mind, Jack pieces things together and connects Reyes’ head of security to the attack in a satisfying, if somewhat contrived manner.
And yet, there’s still a lot of machinations going on behind the scenes that remain unexplained. A new supporting character Marcus is being persistently recruited for a job that seems to involve some high scuba-diving and boat fixing skills. All we know about Marcus at this point is that he comes from a highly decorated family and had to drop out of pursuing an ambitious career in the navy but is content scraping money by repairing boats and refuses to get involved in any sort of conflict. Until the very end that is. How else would such a plot progress to the inevitable climax.
While there are no major set pieces this episode, Jack Ryan continues to impress by its mounting scale and action. Of particular interest is Reyes’ residential home / palace that hosts an elaborate celebration sequence. The setting rings home big-budget movie vibes; kudos to production designer Mara LePere-Schloop for constructing and decorating sets to make them indistinguishable from real locations. Jack’s tryst with the Tom Wlaschiha’s assassin who we now know as Max was also a gripping sequence although predictably, Greer’s medical condition from the previous episode played spoilsport.
The episode’s title itself might refer to the Third Option motto that the Special Activities Division of the CIA endorses in getting covert operations done but the ops here felt anything but covert. In fact, Jack outright confronting the President, blaming him for the killings was as cinematic as it got, never mind it was partly in character given how devastated Jack is by Moreno’s murder. Good thing the show absolves itself from any association with the CIA by a disclaimer posted toward the end.
Jack Ryan is building up good enough steam that should hopefully result in the narrative kicking into high gear in the next few episodes. There’s certainly a bigger conspiracy at play in the background and new characters like Marcus are being brought into the fold. I just hope, unlike Season 1, the show brings all its pieces together into a finale that doesn’t look as rushed. For now, I’m finding Jack Ryan Season 2 to be a nice guilty pleasure for its espionage thriller aspects.
Jack Ryan Season 2 Episode 2 Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I’m doing individual episode reviews of Jack Ryan Season 2 as I watch them. These episodes may be laden with spoilers for the said episode so read with caution. The episodes however, do not contain any spoilers for future episodes.