TV Recap: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – We’ll Always Have Paris …

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
“French Connection” (Episode 102)
August 31, 2018

Picking up soon after the events of the Pilot, Episode 2 of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan moved the hunt for Suleiman forward in a significant way, as well as Jack and Greer’s burgeoning team (and dare I say, friendship?!?!).

Before you read on for Episode 2’s recap & review, make sure you’re caught up on our recap of the Pilot here! All caught up? Good!

Read on for our recap & review of Episode 2, “French Connection” … after the jump (SPOILERS Beware!!)

We open in Paris at night time.  Father Morel is finishing up his day of Priesting at the Church and headed home. On the cobble stone streets, two “Middle Eastern” looking men stab him and rob him.  Hmmm, me thinks this is more than just a violent mugging.

CIA HQ.  Ryan (who we see has gotten a bandage on his sliced torso) and Greer are attending an after action report on the Suleiman kerfuffle from last episode. The room is packed and, denoting their place vis a vis the big wigs in the room, Ryan and Greer are on the outer ring of chairs, up against the wall. Know your place, I guess.

Ryan sits quietly, listening to the talking heads run down Suleiman (first name unknown, though we know it because Young Ali says it in the opening scene of the Pilot. It’s Mousa) and the little history that they know of him. They do not know who the identity of the Zombie Warrior (we know that it is his younger brother, Ali).  In response to a question, Nate Singer confirms to his boss, D.N.I. Bobby Vig (Ron Canada), his belief that Suleiman is ISIS.  But, Ryan objects … out loud.  Having put himself on the spot, Jack stands (at Greer’s urging) and drops some knowledge on this room of important people.

Photo: Amazon

Clarifying his statement, Ryan says that Suleiman may have been ISIS but not any more.  DNI Vig asks how he knows so much when none of the very important people in this room have even ever heard of Suleiman.

“I was just following the money, sir.”

Ryan explains that Suleiman is using a real bank, a real European bank, funded in a sophisticated way – not the Hawala Networks preferred by ISIS.  The point: Suleiman is next level shit. Greer picks up the thread that, having seen Suleiman’s men in action, this new group is a real, well coordinated threat. Singer concurs and, to the very important people in the room, requests a formal task force be established to hunt Suleiman and be run … from CTC Europe. T-FAD will stay on the task force, doing all the work as they have been.  The meeting ends and Greer confirms to Ryan that the CTC Europe snub was about Greer and not Ryan or T-FAD.

Gulf of Aden, Yemen.  The Brothers Suleiman have a nice moment on a pier. Ali is quite the sketch artist. Anyway, Mousa is sending Ali on a task, the importance of which, he only trusts his brother (we don’t know what yet). Mousa rejects my moniker of Zombie Warrior and refers to Ali’s heroics in freeing him from the American Black Site as being “like a ninja.” A Zombie Warrior Ninja, maybe?  The brothers are obviously very close. They embrace and Ali goes to get on a boat setting sail.

Mousa: “Peace be with you.”
Ali: “Not if she’s been with you first!”

Photo: Amazon

The parting words are an obvious thing the Suleiman Brothers do which I repeat here … you know, just in case it comes up later.  Ali jumps on the fishing boat and there is waving and smiles between the bros.

Back in D.C., Ryan is having an MRI done on his back which he tweaked in the escape from death overseas (remember his spine scars we saw last episode? Yeah, we get confirmation here that he did have significant back surgery, previously).  B T Dubs, enclosed spaces are awesome for people with PTSD.  Anyway, Dr. Yen (Jenny Raven) confirms he’s got some inflammation and a lumbar sprain but Jack refuses any pain pills. Well, then ice and yoga, she suggests. Seeing as Jack conveniently made his appointment at Washington Memorial, he stalkerishly heads to Cathy’s floor and drops in on her. She’s definitely thrown off her game to see him there but he moves it along by apologizing for his abrupt exit … via helicopter. He blames the urgent departure on rotting produce and an E. Coli scare, but I’m not sure Cathy is buying it.

“I didn’t know the Coast Guard picked people up for bad lettuce.”

Out in the medical bullpen, Jack is following Cathy trying to apologize and score some more time with her. Her response is to share her father’s words on Jack, “you’re too good for your own good.” Adjectives such as “moralistic” and “self-righteous” were used as well. Ouch.

Luckily, Cathy is a functioning adult and doesn’t care what her dad thinks. She gives Jack her digits and then tells him she’ll see him soon. She also suggests yoga but this time, Jack doesn’t object to the doctor’s orders.

Back at CIA HQ, Tarek and Patrick accost Jack in the hallway. They’re trying to get the skinny on the Yemen work with Greer but Jack denies going to Yemen and having any idea what they’re talking about. He just gets into his chair (gingerly) when Greer requests “Rain Man” into his office.

Inside, Greer hands over Suleiman’s phone which he left in the Black Site. Greer … “borrowed” the phone from the “eggheads” in the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI) who were using brute force mathematics to try and crack the 8 digit passcode. Greer thinks Ryan can figure it out, psychology style, much faster and leaves him to it.

Photo: Amazon

Back at his desk, Ryan gets busy on cracking the code by stalking Cathy’s online footprint. We see she is a very distinguished epidemiologist having worked around the world and won many awards.  I’ll post the screenshot of this article on her work with Ebola … just in case it becomes important later or something …

Photo: Amazon

His Cathy and Ebola (he’s clicked on some articles about mutations) reveries is interrupted by a phone call summoning him to the 7th Floor.

In Singer’s office, Nate tries to make small talk and connections with Ryan … that he’s buttering Jack up with false intimacy and getting ready to spring something on Ryan, is visible from 100 yards away.  Ryan asks Singer, what’s up?  Singer says he was impressed with how Ryan conducted himself in the after action briefing earlier in the day and asked how Jack would catch Suleiman.  Ryan tells him that the key is getting inside Suleiman’s head, that Suleiman isn’t motivated by the normal Jihadi rhetoric of “death to the West, rise of the Caliphate.”

“Everything he’s doing. It just feels more specific, more calculated … he’s like Bin Laden.”

Singer gets to his real point. Greer isn’t long for HQ life, it’s not where his skills lie but Jack? Jack can rise through the ranks, head the Suleiman task force inside Langley and work directly with Singer. “It’s a career maker.” Jack asks for some time to think about which Singer gives with the warning that he shouldn’t take too long.

Al Mnajeer, Syria.  Hanin is giving her son, Samir (Karim Zein), a shot … for something. The other kids run in to tell her that Mousa is home. Outside in the court yard, the kids are super excited but Hanin … not so much. Gifts are given and smiles abound.  That night, there is a large dinner for Suleiman and his men. Hanin watches one of the men, Yazid (Kamel Labroudi) eye fucking her oldest daughter, Sara (Nadia Affolter), in the most creepy of ways. Put a pin in that for now.

Washington, D.C. BACKSTORY ALERT! Greer is Muslim and he’s meeting with Kamal (Nasser Faris), a friend or Imam of sorts, at a diner. They catch up and Kamal invites him to prayer, Friday. Everyone would love to see Jim! Greer admits he hasn’t been praying very much lately; not since he and Jasmine (pronounced Yasmine) split.  We learn he converted to Islam for her, so they could get married. Very interesting. Kamal hands over some prayer beads as a reminder.

“You may have taken a break from Him but Allah is with you always. Never forget that brother.”

Photo: Amazon

CIA HQ. Jack has dived completely into Suleiman research but hasn’t been able to crack the 8 digit passcode … yet. Of course, Greer finds Jack in the middle of a brief yoga break. “How’s it going,” Greer asks, and Jack lets him know he only gets 10 tries to crack a code which has a 1 in 100 million chance of being right. So, it’s going great. Super duper! Greer is all defeatist and says it was a long shot anyway, pack it up. Ryan calls him on his bullshit and brings up the stories he’s heard about Greer’s time in Karachi. One such story was that Greer threw an asset out of a second story window in the CIA Annex.

“Oh, that’s ridiculous. Karachi Annex is on the first floor.”

Oh, I think Greer is making an attempt at humor and teamwork. Wait, nope nope. Since Jack doesn’t want to talk about Afghanistan, he won’t talk about Karachi. And, by the way? Greer is not :your fucking friend” and also, he doesn’t “owe you shit.” So take that, Jack!  Jack tries to protest but Greer has already moved on … he’s noticed something in the Suleiman video playing in the background. We see that Mousa, as he’s being shackled, holds his hands in a way of someone very familiar with having handcuffs on.  Jack digs down into Suleiman’s possible jail history and finds a French record for a Mousa bin Suleiman.  Drawing on the personal nature of a passcode, Jack uses Suleiman’s prison number.  The phone unlocks.

Photo: Amazon

Cut to Jack and Greer meeting with Director Shelby Farnsworth (Daniel Kash), Directorate of Operations (the CIA and the National Intelligence apparatuses of this country have so many levels of bureaucracy, it’s shocking), about the phone. Singer walks in as Jack is talking about how 4 numbers were in Suleiman’s call log, all in Paris. FYI, Farnsworth invited Singer.  Greer says that Farnsworth should send him and Ryan to Paris to nail this down but Singer reminds everyone that he tasked CTC Europe with this manhunt. Farnsworth, his own man, asks Ryan what he wants to do? Jack says him and Greer should go track it down. Farnsworth approves it and tells them to liaise with the DGSI (the French version of the FBI).

Ryan makes a choice in this moment. And he knows it.

Paris. We catch up with Ali strolling through the streets of gay Paris! Except, we’re in the middle of an Arabic neighborhood.  He meets with an older man who hands over a thick pack of SIM cards. Ali inspects the goods and hands over a wad of Euros.

Photo: Amazon

He just smiles at the man’s message that “they” said this is the last time they’re helping. Sure, I am sure that’s exactly how it works when dealing with the Suleiman brothers.  Ali packs up his SIM cards and leaves the old man sitting there with his cash.

Al Mnajeer, Syria.  Sara snoops into her father’s weapons stash and pays the price with another run in with Yazid. This time, the creeper makes suggestive innuendos with lollipops, the meaning behind which is not lost on the teenager.  Interrupted by Samir’s appearance, Sara makes a beeline for her mother’s arms. She’s full on crying, complaining about the men her father brought home, and Hanin promises that no one will hurt her.

That night, Hanin sits morosely while Mousa gives her a gift of a necklace. Noticing how unhappy she is, Suleiman asks Hanin what’s wrong and she makes the mistake of telling him.  She lays it all out for him that she’s worried about the men Suleiman’s brought to the house where her (“our,” he corrects) children sleep.  He’s different now, she tells Mousa. Also, she tells him that he’s being “used” by these men.  He grabs her face.

“Using me? They need me.”
“We need you. Your family. Here.”

His response to Hanin is basically, you need to trust me because I’m your husband. Know your role, in other words. Speaking of … he strips Hanin of her night gown and takes her into bed.  It’s passionate at first but then as we focus on her eyes, we can see Hanin disengage. She’s NOT okay with how things are going.

Paris.  DGSI’s representatives, Sandrine (Marie-Josée Croze) and Lt. Tariq La Pointe (Réginal Kudiwu), meet Greer, Ryan and Matice (going by Garth on this op) at their CIA executive jet. The perks of being a spy, amiright?

Photo: Amazon

Sandrine sets out the basic rule without preamble – Greer and the Gang are guests in her country so if she gives an order, she expects it to be followed. Greer agrees. “Welcome to France.”

Headed to the location of the phone DGSI’s been tracking, Greer and Ryan get everyone up to speed.  They don’t know exactly what Suleiman is planing but they know he’s in France to pick up the cash that’s financing him and will be trying to transfer it back to his cells.  Their best guess is Suleiman’s going to be using an app called, TracEuro, to move the money.  Ryan picks up the thread that TracEuro allows you to load money  (in $10,000 increments) onto SIM cards (AHHHH!) and transfer via cell phone.

Jack turns to Matice and asks him about “Garth.” Matice clarifies its in reference to “Brooks” and that he picks a new name every trip. He hands a gun over to Ryan, assuming he doesn’t really know how to use it. He asks he not get shot in the ass as his kids think he’s an astronaut … and he doesn’t think he’d be able to explain a bullet wound in space. Jack racks his gun and clears his magazine like a pro. “Yeah. Kind of like that,” Matice says.

Cut to a room with Ali and a ton of young Muslims, the latter of which are smoking and listening to music and swapping out SIM cards like mad men … and women.  As the hit team nears their location, we notice a kid, acting as a look out, raise the alarm.  Ali gets the text of “5-0” and they begin an obviously well choreographed plan of equal parts packing up and also, arming themselves. With guns as well as a suicide vest that Ali holds up. A young girl steps forward.

Photo: Amazon

The SWAT Team (or the French version of it) moves in and gunfire erupts on both sides. In the hallway, Lt. La Pointe is hit fast. Inside, Ali is quickly struck in the gut and skedaddles to the back of the apartment looking  for an exit. The SWAT team and the young Muslims continue to square off.

Ali bounces out a window and into a downstairs apartment. He heads for the apartment building’s staircase.  At the same time, a floor above, Ryan begins helping La Pointe down the same stairs. Ryan, noticing blood on the railing, looks over and see a sketchy bad guy beating a fast retreat. He sets La Pointe down (La Pointe asks Ryan where the fuck he is going but, I guess French isn’t a Ryan language) and pursues the baddie into the streets of Paris. Ali runs and Ryan chases but the streets are crowded. Though Jack brings his gun up to fire, in the end, he lets Ali get away – he doesn’t risk firing into the crowd.

Photo: Amazon

Upstairs, the SWAT team moves into the last uncleared room of the apartment, the kitchen with the suicide vest wearing girl. The girl, who has been having an understandable freakout, almost seems like she wants to surrender.  She even says “help me.” But, when she raises her arms and says, “please,” the SWAT team shoots her dead.

Unfortunately, having not watched nearly enough spy movies or read enough spy books, the SWAT team doesn’t realize the girl already had her hand on a dead man switch.

Outside on the street, at the sound of the apartment explosion, Jack turns his head in time to see the fireball erupt from the side of the apartment building.

And scene.

Thoughts. 

That final scene! Before the blast, the last we see of Sandrine and Greer is them moving into the apartment from the hallway.  Were they taken out in the blast?!?! We’ll need to wait to next episode to find out, but boy howdy, THAT is how you do action on a television show!

As I have said before, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is movie quality on a TV season time frame. This last set piece was as good as anything you’re going to find in an action film today.   If I have a con for this show, it’s that I would like more big band set pieces like this. But really, that’s just me being greedy.

The pacing of this episode was crisp and even the plotting of Jack having to figure out an 8 digit passcode never felt bogged down or boring.  On almost every other cop or military show, this would have been so bogged down that you’d want to gauge out your eyes OR the show would have completely ignored the complexity of the problem and made it seem like magic to solve. Jack Ryan straddles the realistic with the fantastical in a really impressive way.  One thing Jack Ryan does well is move things along and get you from the good stuff you’re enjoying to the really good stuff you want to see.

A complaint on this show as a full season (we’re not there yet in these recaps) is the misuse or lack of use of Cathy in the plot.  I can see where they are going with that but Cathy was never a major plot player in the novels so, it’s not unexpected. That being said, you don’t get Abbie Cornish to play wilting flower in the corner so, at some point, I want to see Cathy get in the shit. Making her an epidemiologist in the series (she’s an ophthalmic surgeon in the books) seems like a choice to keep her close to a plotline involving modern terrorism.  I guess we’ll see. I do like the chemistry between Krasinski and Cornish – they’re no Jim and Pam but I like where this could go.

Another thing about Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan that is separating it from the pack, even after only two episodes, is the maturity and care with which it is treating Islam and the villains of our show.  For every gross Yazid that instinctively dislike as gross and a probable monster, we have an Ali who seems to be a fairly sensitive soul. An artist, devoted to his brother, and a believer in their cause, Ali is no one note character straw man.  Even Suleiman, the baddest of baddies, has exhibited clear emotion and affection for his brother, his children and, while he didn’t really like being questioned by his wife, he’s clearly in love with her. And again, I’d contrast that bedroom scene with how Muslims terrorists would have been depicted on any other show on TV. He would have smacked her around, abused her in some sledge hammer way. But Jack Ryan showed restraint and a measured response. Suleiman makes it clear that he will brook  no disobedience or distrust, as he is the husband, but then he makes, what I am sure he thinks, is very passionate and romantic love to her.

And then, THEN, the show goes and makes one of its two leads MUSLIM. A convert to be sure, but Muslim in any case.  Who doesn’t want to kow more about Greer’s backstory after that diner scene tonight. I do!  Not since The Brave, and rarely before that ever, has a military-based television show shown Muslims in such a complex and yet, fairly balanced, way.

Complex. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is complex and thoughtful and enjoyable on multiple levels. Why? Because it makes you think about, and question, the types of things we’ve been told we have should have knee jerk reaction to. I find that refreshing, especially in a TV show.

Stay with me as we unravel Suleiman’s plan and whether Ryan and Greer (if he’s still alive?) can stop him in time … whatever he’s planning.

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