TV Recap: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – A Bird In The Hand …

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
“The Wolf” (Episode 104)
August 31, 2018

Last episode on Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Greer and Ryan were able to convince Sandrine to track (rather than capture) Ali, on the hope that he’ll lead them to Suleiman. Also, we met Victor “Tombstone” Polizzi, an accomplished Air Force drone pilot who is skilled at killing enemies from his Reaper drone high in the sky but maybe is breaking a bit from the stress. And Hanin. She made a mad dash departure with her daughters (Samir wouldn’t leave his father and even ratted on his mother) in the middle of the night. Mousa sent Yazid and Fathi to bring them home.  Catch up on all the details of Episode 3 here.

Caught up? Great! Let’s get to Episode 4 of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, “The Wolf” … after the jump (SPOILERS BEWARE)!

Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France. We pick up Episode 4 with Ali still driving to his rendezvous point, somewhere in the Alps.  Speeding along the empty road, he is stopped by the French Highway Patrol (French CHiPS?) but after a brief encounter, the cop lets him go (he’s told to do so) and Ali breathes a sigh of relief that he won’t have to shoot anyone right now.

Watching drone footage of the encounter, Sandrine and Ryan reignite the same conversation they had before – she thinks they should grab Ali now and Ryan is sticking with the idea that this gets them further up the chain to Suleiman.  She capitulates for now but makes it clear that she prefers a bird in hand.

Photo: Amazon

In the second chase car, Lt. Bruno Cluzet (Stéphane Krau) (Sandrine’s number 2) is railing against Islam … to Greer. The Muslim. Who, Cluzet clearly doesn’t realize is Muslim. In response to Bruno’s worry about sharia law coming for all of them, Greer holds up his Tasbih (the prayer beads we’ve seen him with).

“I use it when I am unable to pray, or when I need Allah to grant me restraint.”

Awkward.

Al Mnajeer, Syria. As Suleiman prepares for his day of, we hear on the news report in the background that 12 aid workers were kidnapped the previous month and remain missing. They were part of a Doctors Without Borders-type NGO and were doing work in Syria.  File that away for later. Mousa turns off the news and throws one of Hanin’s brushes he was cradling in a drawer. Compartmentalization is key!

Driving to Colonel Al Radwan’s compound, driving to Colonel Al Radwan’s compound, driving to Colonel Al Radwan’s compound. Suleiman and his militia arrive for the pow wow that Al Radwan demanded in the series premiere.  We don’t know why yet, but these two? Don’t like each other.

Photo: Amazon

Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France. Sandrine makes small talk by asking inappropriately personal questions about Ryan’s love life. She’s been married 4 times, herself.  On Cathy, Sandrine tells Jack to stop being a pussy and text Cathy, ask her out.

“You’re a wolf, remember?”

Jack takes her advice and Sandrine compliments him; then warns him that Cathy may find his bold approach creepy. Advice you should have given 30 seconds ago, Sandrine! Oy.  In Ali’s car, the younger Suleiman isn’t looking great (his wound is bleeding heavily now and he’s very sweaty) and he’s out of gas. This chase will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Washington, D.C. We see Cathy contemplating Jack’s ballsy text in real time as a doctor comes by to ask about some abhorrent Ebola tests she saw. It’s from a patient in Liberia – they think it may be a relapse but the patient never exhibited Ebola before … weirds-ville.  The doctor, Rebecca (Natalie Brown), notices Cathy is distracted and she tells her about Jack and his date offer. She voices hesitancy since Jack is kind of a dorky government worker-bee with a Type B personality and Cathy is definitely a Type A. Rebecca suggests it might be a good thing to date someone not exactly like her.  Not bad advice.

Al Radwan’s Compound. Al Radwan begins their tea service with some  needling comments about things he’s heard regarding Hanin. He’s heard many things, Al Radwan says, including that Suleiman is building a militia with Shia and Sahani and Salafi fighting side by side.  Al Radwan makes it clear that he won’t permit apostates fighting in his holy war. Mousa counters that he’s not asking for Al Radwan’s permission.  He shows Al Radwan a big bag of cash and tells Al Radwan that he’s buying something with his money …

We get a quick cut to Suleiman entering a darkened bunker with … hey! Look! It’s the Missing Aid Workers! There you are!!!

Photo: Amazon

Back at the Al Radwan meeting, Suleiman sips his tea with a cat that ate the canary grin.  We move to the courtyard where the Mousa is checking off the passports of the aid workers as they are loaded into a van – he’s buying them from Al Radwan. But wait, he’s not done making chess moves.  Instead of giving the bag of cash to Al Radwan, he tells announces that he knows Al Radwan’s men haven’t been paid in a while. he starts handing out cash to all of the armed men and, without much work at all, gets every man to abandon Al Radwan. Right there. On the spot.  “Checkmate, bitch.” (this is a possible paraphrase but it captures the spirit of his triumph.

Suleiman is dangerous because he’s not just a zealot with tunnel vision. He’s intelligent and has the ability to strategize; to think 10 moves ahead of his enemy. Together with his deeply held belief in the cause … that’s a dangerous man to fight.

Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France.  Night has fallen and Jack can no longer see Ali’s car on the screen (French drones don’t come with night vision, apparently).  Sandrine radios Bruno to check out a ski resort up ahead while she and Ryan stop for gas and cigarettes.  They’ll catch up.

Al Mnajeer, Syria. Suleiman returns to his compound and the aid workers are ushered into their new holding pen.  Out of the frying pan, into the fryer guys. Though, this does seem a modest upgrade in lodging. Al Radwan is brought to the center of the courtyard and as he spits out the word “traitors” to his former men who now surround him, Mousa kicks his a bit.

Photo: Amazon

Suleiman speaks to the assembled men, telling them that their Prophet was honest and humble and set a good example to follow. But Al Radwan? He was none of those things and never care for them.

“Instead of being a good shepherd, he acted like a wolf.”

Suleiman puts a rifle to Al Radwan’s head but smashes his face in instead of killing him. Which is smart – killing Al Radwan would only allowed him to become a martyr; this way, he’s nothing more than an old,  broken man.  Mousa has Al Radwan thrown in the pen with the aid workers.  To his militia, Suleiman promises them that they will live “under the faith of Islam” together and that together, they will make the greatest Islamic empire.  The men begin to cheer and chant.

Later that night, Samir appears at the aid workers pen. He asks the head aid worker, Dr. Nadler (Matt McCoy) if Al Radwan is going to die.  Nader says he doesn’t know and then asks Samir if he knows what his dad wants with all of them? Before can Samir can even think about answering, Suleiman appears and calls him back to the house. Mousa returns inside – no more “get to know you” conversations tonight, apparently.

Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France. Sandrine pulls into a gas station and heads inside while Jack plays with his phone, willing Cathy to respond to his text. For what it’s worth, Sandrine tells Jack that she would have texted Jack back. She is a cutie, that Sandrine …

Photo: Amazon

Greer and Bruno have lost the car but find it right away as they pull up to the ski resort.  They approach the vehicle, guns drawn, but the car is empty. Greer notices that there are fresh tire tracks and car is missing from the parking lot (you can tell because the snowfall is less where the imprint of a car would have been).  Ali has switched vehicles.

Bruno tries to radio Sandrine but she’s still in the gas station and check is still playing with his cell reception.  Jack notices the car next to them for the first time and, being nosy I guess, feels the hood to see if its warm.  When he looks inside the window, he notices there is no key in the ignition and the wires have been pulled out – it was hot wired. Unbeknownst to Ryan who is now checking out all parts of this car, Ali is coming out of the bathroom at the rear of the gas station.

Photo: Amazon

Ali notices Ryan (Ryan is busy looking in the back window and practicing no PERSEC) and goes to shoot just as Sandrine comes out of the gas station. She alerts Ryan who gets down in time, as Ali’s shot goes wild having dodged Sandrine’s simultaneous gunshot. Next, Gendarmerie officer, who had gone into the gas station after Sandrine, comes out. He sees the gun in Sandrine’s hand and, as she turns to face him, shoots Sandrine in the gut. Ali shoots the Gendarmerie officer dead. That was 5 seconds of pure adrenaline. All the while, Ryan is hiding on the side of Ali’s car, no gun in hand.

As Ali makes his way round to the driver’s side of Ali’s car (where Jack was hiding), Jack hustles to the driver’s side of his car. Sandrine scoots herself to a modicum of safety. The Gendarmerie officer is still dead. Ryan grabs his gun from the glovebox and opens fire on Ali as Ali’s clip runs dry.  Ali takes off running into the night and Ryan wastes some bullets with wildly inaccurate shots.  He checks on Sandrine is bleeding really good now but she shoos him to chase Ali.  She’s a badass French lady, that Sandrine.  The Gendarmerie officer is still dead.

Ryan can easily follow Ali’s tracks because there is blood dripping along the way. He finds himself in a creepy barn. Distracted by a screeching owl, Ali is able to get the drop on Ryan and he’s beating up on him pretty good. Ryan eventually gets some leverage as he begins to punch Ali’s bullet wound over and over again. Reaching for his handgun, he pistol whips Ali, knocking him off of Jack for good.  Ryan gains his feet and holds his gun on Ali.

Photo: Amazon

Ali eventually gets up and Jack wants to talk. “Where’s the attack?” Ali doesn’t answer but makes a move for a gun and Jack puts him down with two to the chest. They stare at each other as Ali dies, no anger – just sadness on both their faces.

Jack returns to the gas station. A crowd has started to form but Jack moves through the bodies to where Sandrine is laying. While Jack was away, Sandrine died; no help came to save her. Her face looks almost frozen.

Washington, D.C. Greer and Jack are back on American soil. Greer warns Ryan to not dwell on this. He tells him to “get laid, get drunk. But don’t go home and think.”  He tells Jack to call him if he needs to (really needs to).

“I’ll talk you down.”

At home, Cathy has finally responded to his text that she’d like to see him and so he booty calls that shit, hard.

At a crab shack, WAIT. Record Scratch. We’re supposed to believe Cathy grew up in  Maryland and has never had crab?!? Or at least cracked a shell?!? I call bullshit on that. Big time! The only unbelievable thing I’ve seen in this show.

Moving on, Cathy lets Jack know she chose him or Ebola cultures so, figure out your worth in that matrix, I guess. When she notices a chip on her glass, Jack’s personality changes and calls over the manager and begins to be a real ass to him about his shitty establishment. Cathy’s awkward feelings are palpable but no worries, Jack and Buster (John Robinson) have known each  other forever. Bear hugs all around. Buster was a Baltimore cop with Jack’s dad back in the day, good friends. Jack lets Cathy know his dad died the year before he entered college (from Lymphoma cancer). Jack reminisces some more before moving on to the most boring explanation of what a supply logistician does. Remember, its about “manifests and receipts” and you’ll be good.

Photo: Amazon

The date ends well enough for the beautiful couple. Cathy invites him up to her place and the two get.it.on! Sexy times, sexy times, sexy times.

Paris, France. Remember Father Morel? The French priest who was stabbed to death by Suleiman’s guys a couple of episodes ago? It’s time for his funeral and the church is jam packed with mourners. As the funeral begins, we see Suleiman’s men prepping a bomb or two. We also see some of Suleiman’s guys in the church, together with Ansore Dudayev (the white dude that Al Radwan stashed at Suleiman’s compound in the Pilot episode), they’re all dressed as priests. The 3 men arm the bombs and then discreetly and respectfully make their way out of the funeral.

Outside, they padlock the church doors. Dudayev sends a text igniting the three weapons and we see them go off in the church with a little pop. Soon, the church is filled with the aerosol weapon and the parishioners begin trying to rush the doors as breathing becomes increasingly difficult.

Photo: Amazon

As the parishioners realize the doors are locked, the episode ends with their hands and faces trying to stick through the locked doors. The last thing we hear are their screams. It’s a disturbing image.

And scene.

Thoughts.

Before I give my general thoughts, a quick bit on book versus show.  Readers of these recaps will note that I haven’t really nitpicked anything in Jack Ryan the show versus the Tom Clancy novels because nothing has struck me as so egregious as to worth mentioning (and in fact, some changes have been good, like Cathy’s medical specialty change). But, tonight’s throw away line about Jack’s dad dying of cancer made me pause.  It’s an interesting choice to make Jack’s die of cancer in the show versus a plane crash as in the books (both of his parents dies in a crash, I believe). Why? Because his parent’s death was a part of Jack’s fear of flying, which, come to think of it, they haven’t really incorporated into this Jack Ryan iteration. I guess if they decide to play up that character attribute, they could place the source of the fear on his helicopter crash which is clearly a source of his PTSD episodes. This all leads me to think if there will be a narrative reason for the change down the road …

That’s not really a dunk on the show as much as a question on the reasoning behind the creative choice at work.  In tonight’s episode, we got some nice pay off from a variety of threads in the first 3 episodes. For example, the Father Morel funeral scene that ended the episode was such a nice tie back to the opening scene of episode 2 after literally seeing nothing on it for the last 2 hours.

It reminded me very much of Clancy’s writing style – his books were known to be sweeping with hundreds of characters, all of which had plot threads that seemed disparate but eventually coalesced together into a coherent story. That narrative style, often copied but hard to do well, gives the impression of Jack Ryan existing in a real, operating world – one that continues even when we’re not watching an episode and this Jack Ryan season 1 plotline is just one story pulled from the living, breathing universe.

That’s the kind of world building and immersive storytelling that I love and want from my favorite TV shows.

Ali’s death is a wrench in all sorts of works.  Jack and Greer have lost their link to Suleiman and for Suleiman, he’s lost his beloved brother.  That’s going to have important ramifications, none of which will likely be good. Is this Paris church attack the big plan Suleiman had? Seems unlikely with it happening in only Episode 4 but if not this, what else can he have planned? What’s the aid workers role in it?

I want answers dammit and i want them now! Oh well, I guess I’ll have to keep watching. Join me, won’t you?

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