Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
“Black 22” (Episode 103)
August 31, 2018
When we ended the last episode, one of Ali’s minions detonated herself in a Paris apartment. Catch up on all of the action from Episode 2 of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan here!
Is Greer alive? What happens next? Read on to find out everything you need to know about Episode 3, “Black 22” … (SPOILERS BEWARE)!
We pick up moments after the bombing that ended the last episode. Sandrine (she’s alive, YAY!!) takes Ryan on a tour of the dead jihadis – they’re all locals, known to the DGSI. Ryan almost loses his lunch when he turns into what was once the kitchen and sees the dead body of the suicide bomber girl. He finds Greer (he’s alive, YAY!) there, praying over her body – did Ryan know Greer is Muslim? Does anyone know that?
Braideej, Syria. A man shows his son the proper way to do the wudu, the ritual cleaning or purification before Islamic prayer, and then takes him through their morning prayers. Father hugs and kisses son goodbye and heads out on a scooter, an AK-47 slung over his back (the irony of prayer and machine guns is not lost on me). Driving through the Syrian desert, driving through the Syrian desert, driving through the Syrian desert …
BOOM! The Syrian Father is blown to bits by a UAV (a drone) we see flying overhead.
[Note: The US military recently retired the MQ-1 Predator drones in favor of the larger, more heavily armed MQ-9 Reaper drones – I think this is a MQ-9 drone we see here but I’m not really sure.]
Meet Victor Polizzi (John Magaro), US Air Force drone pilot and his partner, Ava Garcia (Yani Marin), his spotter. Their job is to fly drone missions from this trailer and take out high value targets as dictated by their superiors. Victor is excellent at his job but also, looks like he constantly might vomit.
Ava (call sign Riot Grrl) hands Victor (call sign Tombstone) a dollar and tells him, “Nice shot, bitch.” You get the feeling she’s handed him many dollars. As we see their motto mounted to a wall, “One Shot, One Kill” (which is also the Marine Corps Sniper Division motto), an officer comes and relieves them of duty for the day.
You may not realize it but, unlike their targets, Riot Grrl and Tombstone are not working in the deserts of Syria. Nope, they are operating from Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nevada. Amazing how technology has changed warfare.
Paris. Sandrine gets a hold of Mousa’s prison records and we see that Ali was his only visitor the entire time he was incarcerated. He gave an address in “The 93”; a Muslim neighborhood Sandrine explains. Seeing his picture, Ryan realizes the man he was chasing (and didn’t fire on) was Ali – Mousa’s brother. Alone, Greer chastises Jack for not firing on Ali when he had the chance.
“If you pull your weapon out to shoot. You shoot.”
Al Mnajeer, Syria. Outside the compound walls of the Suleiman fortress, Hanin meets with her Uncle Fathi (Chadi Alhelou) in secret. He hands her passports for her and her children. Hmmm, doesn’t seem to be one for Mousa in there? Gurrrrl, you’re taking a risk but I like your moxy! Inside, she hides the passports in a rice urn. Let’s hope Mousa doesn’t decide to do some cooking. Anyway, after Hanin walks out, we see the silhouette of a man that looks a lot like Yazid (hate that fucking guy) appear, he’s definitely going to be snooping after what Hanin’s up to.
The 93. Ali wakes in the house of an old friend, Omer (Hassam Ghancy). They haven’t seen each other in a while as evidenced by Ali not knowing Omer’s wife died 3 years earlier. Omer informs Ali that he’s lucky to be alive, that the bullet just missed some vital organs. He doesn’t ask any deep questions, you get the feeling he really doesn’t want to know, and instead, shows Ali a photo and sketch album from Ali’s youth that Omer has hung onto for him (we see pictures of Young Ali and Young Mousa). Ali looks sad.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Oh Victor, you’re having some issues with your job. We see the drone pilot chasing some pills, presumably to try and sleep, and we watch him mark his latest dollar bill with “107” and tack it on his wall. That’s a lot of lives to be acutely aware of and I think that its getting to Tombstone. He gathers up the $107 and takes it to a casino where he let’s it all ride on 4 straight spins of the roulette wheel (including playing Black 22 twice in a row). Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The dealer pushes $29,400 to Victor who looks shell shocked and not terribly happy. Spoilers, Victor is also going to be walking away with a man and wife (Lee Tergesen and Cynthia Preston), they introduce themselves as Stanley Kowalski and Blanche Dubois (cute), who are digging his crazy, lucky vibe. But, we’ll get to that.
Paris. In the car, Ryan can’t understand how a guy who had his life going so well on the straight and narrow, becomes Mousa bin Suleiman. Sandrine explains that, unlike America, “there are no hyphenates” in France. There is no, Italian-American. No African-American. You are either French or you’re not and a degree from a university doesn’t change how people look at you.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Victor comes home with Stanley and Blanche in tow and they’re drunk. At least Blanche and Victor are. They are very handsy. Stanley fixes them drinks as Victor puts on INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” (on vinyl). The situation quickly moves to Blanche and Victor having fun looking couch sex while Stanley watches. After Victor finishes and Blanche goes to get dressed, Stanley stands, takes off his belt, and beats the shit out of Victor. Blanche comes back and tells him to not hurt Victor too bad. Stanley sends her to the car to wait – she’ll get her punishment later.
“Thank you for your service.”
As Stanley goes to leave, a bloody Victor pleads for him to take Victor’s winnings … he definitely feels like he deserves this beating. But, it’s not about the money. No, this is a well practiced, kinky, sex game between the couple. Tombstone is having a weird night.
The 93. As Omer plays with his boys, Ali loads a video game, End of Honor, into the kids’ console. Using the chat feature in the game, Ali reaches out to his brother. In the underground bunker we’ve seen in Suleiman’s house, the man in charge of monitoring the technology platforms notices the chat feature has come online and summons Mousa. The brothers chat about Ali’s condition and his location. Mousa tells Ali to get to the rendezvous point and also, “no witnesses.” Meaning, Ali has to kill Omer and his kids.
Down on the street, Ryan, Greer, Sandrine and the DGSI SWAT Team have arrived on the seen. The hostile vibe towards the police from the Muslim neighborhood is palpable. Sandrine asks Ryan some rather penetrating questions, including how he can work for the CIA knowing what his government does. Jack tells her that its better to be on the inside and try to fix things. Also, he’s an analyst, he tells her. Sandrine isn’t buying the office guy routine.
“I think you have everyone fooled. I think you are a wolf. A wolf who plays at being a sheep.”
Up in Omer’s apartment, Ali grabs his gun and plans his exit. He stands outside the kitchen as Omer and the kids sit to eat. You can tell Ali is conflicted but after a deep breath, he gets a resigned and determined look in his eye.
In a local mosque, Greer flashes around Ali’s picture but the Imams and elders claim to not have seen him. Out of the corner of his eye, though, Greer notices a boy (Mathys Clodion-Gines) who seems interested in the inquiry and maybe is tipping his hat that he knows something. Greer catches the boy and gets him to admit he knows where Ali is hiding.
Smash-cut to Omer’s apartment where the French SWAT Team kicks in the door, guns raised. They find Omer and his kids huddled in the kitchen. Aww, Ali didn’t kill them. That will probably turn out to be a mistake but I appreciate him for it.
Al Mnajeer, Syria. Mousa is playing Monopoly with the kids when Hanin comes through the room. She tries to beg off but Mousa and the kids insist she plays. He tells their children of how he proposed to Hanin. She looks like she might poop herself. Mousa has the children engrossed with his story of falling in love and he stands as he reaches the climax. As Mousa reaches into the urn and pulls out the passports, he tells them all how they have no secrets from each other.
“Isn’t that right, my love?”
Hanin’s face crumples and falls as a sad looking Mousa tosses the passports into the fire.
[Note: Not for nothing, but that was some great acting from both Ali Suliman (Mousa) and Dina Shihabi (Hanin). Interesting side note that, at least according to the Arabic translations, they are playing Monopoly with American denominations – its a strange thing where the West and the USA is so reviled, yet games are played with our currency and our system is so ubiquitous as to be integrated amongst our most hostile enemies.]
Omer’s Apartment. Sandrine and Greer interview Omer, we learn that Omer was a doctor back in Lebanon which makes him an obvious choice for Ali to visit. He also mention that they hadn’t seen each other in years (which is true). In the living room, Jack finds the photo and sketch album – there is a note in there that says, “Thank you, old friend.”A final message from Ali. Jack notices the video game, End of Honor, is still on the TV and when he learn the kids don’t like the game, he asks who had been playing it? The boys answer, “the man who was here.”
Al Mnajeer, Syria. Grabbing all the expensive jewelry she can carry and wear, Hanin wakes the kids, tells them to pack some clothes, and tells them they are going on a trip. Samir refuses to go when he hears his dad isn’t coming and runs off to tell him. Hanin and the girls get into a car that has been left for them. Samir raises the alarm with Mousa during a prayer circle of men and Mouse jumps into action. He sends men, including Yazid, to find them and bring them home. “No buts.”
The 93. Omer is telling Sanrine, again, that he has no idea where Ali went. Sandrine puts the screws to him, telling Omer that she’ll have to arrest him if he doesn’t tell he all he knows. And those boys need their father, she adds. He says that Ali just said he needed a car and so Omer gave Ali his own.
80km from the Turkish Border. In Western Syria, Hanin and the girls are standing next to a broke down (overheated) car. Hanin tells them they’ll walk to the nearby town but Sara is all, “hell no” and sets out the things going against them. Hanin tells her to stuff it (paraphrasing). They walk.
“God will protect us.”
DGSI HQ. Sandrine pulls up Ali’s car on a screen. They used the VIN to access the car’s GPS (technology!). Sandrine says they are getting ready to intercept him but Greer and Ryan to follow him and see where he is going. Maybe Ali leads them to his cell. Maybe to Suleiman himself. Sandrine says they are going to lose him in the Alps (which is the direction he is going) and Ali is responsible for dead Frenchmen. Ryan counters that whatever Suleiman is planning is a lot worse than the apartment bombing and they need the big win here. Sandrine acquiesces but says that “he doesn’t cross the border.” After she walks away, Greer tells Jack that he has to ride with Sandrine. HA!
Hanin and the girls arrive in the town. The girls go get some food while Hanin works on their next step.
Creech AFB. Tombstone and Riot Grrl are back at their controls and Victor is in no mood for her jokes. His face is also terribly swollen. As an officer enters the trailer, the duo turn their attention back to the screens and the target they are monitoring. Coincidentally, they are watching the same town that Hanin and the girls just walked into. Yazid and Fathi roll into town and now Riot Grrl’s eyes perk up. The silver Nissan is too “fancy” to be a local and she’s never seen the car in the area before.
Back in the town, Hanin is trying to find a taxi to the border. Sara spots her uncle and Yazid in their SUV and drags Rama away (Rama is hungry, yo) from them. Fathi is now hanging out the window, clearly searching for someone.
Back in the drone trailer, Tombstone grabs a picture of Fathi’s face and says he’s going to run it through Merc and see if it pings. It’s a facial recognition software.
Just as the girls reach Hanin, Yazid spots them and the chase is on. Back in the drone trailer, Ava is watching Yazid give chase while Victor reads the name that the system generated, Abbas Al-Fathi. Victor says he is marked as a Person of Interest but surveillance only. Victor alerts his officer to the chaos on the ground. The officer tells him if Fathi is surveil only, that’s that. But that’s not okay with Ava or Victor as they watch Yazid smack Hanin to the ground and Fathi grabs the daughters. Tombstone tells the officer to at least run it up the chain of command before denying his request to engage.
On the ground, as Yazid is struggling to tie Sara and Rama in the backseat of the car, Hanin is trying to convince Fathi to kill Yazid and blame it on her. Unfortunately, Yazid overhears her and shoots Fathi dead.
“What the fuck?”
Without context, Tombstone has no idea what’s going or why the one bad guy shot the other bad guy.
Yazid drags Hanin a bit away and begins to kiss her as she cries out for help. He’s definitely going to rape her.
In the trailer, the officer is on the phone and Ava is imploring Victor to do something.
On the ground, as Yazid is undoing his pants, Hanin scratches his eyes and kicks him in the balls. She runs away.
“Sir, I’ve got a shot.”
His officer tells him to stand down, that Tombstone isn’t authorized to take the shot. Victor doesn’t acknowledge the order. Victor takes the shot and Yazid is blown to hell as Hanin is blown back from the explosion.
After a moment of hesitation, Hanin gets up and makes her way to her crying daughters. In the trailer, Captain Whitmore (Andy McQueen) relieves Tombstone of his post for violating a direct order. But almost immediately, that’s reversed by some call from a higher authority.
“You are fucking lucky.”
Man, I don’t know that I’ve taken a breath in the last few minutes. Intense.
Hanin climbs into the Nissan, unties her girls and takes off. In the trailer, Ava and Victor breath a sign of relief and she hands over a dollar telling Victor that he’s earned it. Back in Syria, we see Yazid’s dead body and then watch the Nissan drive off. Hanin and the girls are definitely not safe but for right now, they are free.
In Episode 3, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan upped the ante and the realism by adding a new player into the boiling pot that’s getting ready to explode … Air Force Drone Pilots. An increasingly important part of the American military’s warfare strategy, UAV flights, and the men and women who conduct those operations, have a unique role in fighting our battles never encountered before in the history of man. Once used only for surveillance, UAV’s – in particular with the evolution of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, are offensive hunter killer weapons. Being able to kill your enemy located in Syria from a trailer outside of Las Vegas, is an advancement that I don’t even think was dreamed of a generation ago, let alone being used in action.
There is a downside to this evolution of warfare, however, one that Jack Ryan introduced tacitly tonight. A downside that the show will explore in greater detail as the series goes on. There is a psychological aspect and toll to a warrior taking life in such a bloodless way. We tonight that Victor Polizzi is very aware of each of the 107, now 108, lives he’s taken from the sky and he is starting to break. The pressure of playing a First Person Shooter video game that has real world, life ending consequences is a disconnect from our humanity and morality and cannot be easily reconciled.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Victor evens out or if the bender he slipped into tonight begins to spiral.
On the Suleiman front, the show continues to excel at showing the nuance and complexity of our enemy. Ali is not an arch villain, neither is Suleiman for that matter. They have soft sides, they have gray areas. They have a cause they believe in but they also have affection for their families and, in Ali’s case, for his friends and their kids. These are not one note, serial murderer terrorists but well drawn, emotionally complex and driven adversaries that have a code and a belief system and are living by it. We may not agree with it, in any way, but we certainly have to take pause and remember these are human lives in play. I think that’s a bit of what will be getting to Victor as well and certainly Jack is aware of this — it’s why he didn’t fire into the crowd when he could have taken down Ali last episode.
Humanity matters, we’d all do well to remember that a bit.