Obviously, this article contains majors spoilers for Jack Ryan season 2.
The second season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan series with John Krasinski, which dropped a day early on Halloween, manages to address many of the viable complaints that critics levied at its first season — while also injecting more emotional developments into an otherwise straight and narrow storyline. Krasinski’s take on Tom Clancy’s iconic character is a little bit more human this time around. Meanwhile, the latest plot that he and ex-boss James Greer (Wendell Pierce) find themselves unraveling is a bit more nuanced than season one’s global terrorist extravaganza.
Even so, Jack Ryan’s latest adventure in a dictatorial Venezuela ends pretty much the way general audiences will expect. (And not just because the series is already slated for a third season with new showrunner Paul Scheuring, best known for co-creating Prison Break.) President Nicolás Reyes (Jordi Mollà) loses the very election he tried to rig against challenger Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umaña). Meanwhile, his many political and humanitarian sins — including the kidnapping and torture of Greer, Bonalde’s husband, and many other dissidents — catch up with him in the form of Ryan and Mike November’s (Michael Kelly) team of American commandos. No, they don’t exact any vengeance against Reyes for his actions, though it’s presumed the Venezuelan people and their new president will be taking him to task.
As predictable as the conclusion to Jack Ryan season 2 is, however, it doesn’t come without significant costs. For starters, the series’s own version of the John Clark character from Clancy’s novels, the black ops gopher named Matice (John Hoogenakker), is killed while distracting Mateo Bastos’s (Eduar Salas) men from the escape made by his fellow soldiers. Both in this season and in the last, Matice was nothing more than a supplemental — if not tertiary — character in the grand scheme of things, but he was also a fan favorite. And his death doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by boatman Marcus Bishop (Jovan Adepo).
Though the biggest and most wide-ranging cost for Jack Ryan arrives in one of the finale’s penultimate scenes when Greer and his former underling sit down for some “chow” aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer. “You’re not hungry?” Ryan asks when he sits down at Greer’s table. “I had enough chow on boats like this to last a lifetime,” he responds. And when Ryan casually mentions he actually “kind of missed it,” Greer takes his cue and establishes the narrative bedrock for whatever story season 3 (and other potential seasons) will decide to tell.
“I used to sit across the table from an asset, and I swear to god I could hear their heartbeat. I knew when they were gonna sweat five minutes before they did. That’s how it has to be in the field. That’s what it takes to be great,” he says. “No. I can’t. Not anymore. It’s been a helluva run but it’s over. Time to move on.”
In the majority of Clancy’s Jack Ryan books, not to mention the property’s disparate film adaptations over the years, the character’s origins as a young CIA analyst turned field operative were always accompanied by a much older, desk-ridden version of Greer. With Jack Ryan’s first season, though, this interpretation by The Wire’s Pierce started a little earlier.
Yes, he’s still older and more experienced than Ryan, but he’s also still in the field. With his medical condition and the rigorous torture that Reyes’s man Bastos has subjected him to this season, though, Greer recognizes his limits. It’s time for him to leave the field entirely and, if not retire, at least apply his skills and knowledge to the CIA’s more administrative aspects.
This — along with the final scene with Sen. Mitchell Chapin (Michael O’Neill), whose involvement with Reyes’s administration and its discovery of a massive tantalum deposit led to the assassination of Sen. Moreno (Benito Martinez) — is all meant to set up a professional relationship between Greer and Ryan that better reflects the source material. Whether Scheuring and the creative team will pick up where season 2 leaves off and run with it remains to be seen, though one thing is sure: Jack Ryan fans should expect another tight eight episodes that feels more like one long action movie than a typically episodic television show.
Jack Ryan season 2 is available to stream on Amazon Prime.