After teasing World of Warships fans in the third season, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan gets off the Vodka to a sobering start in its fourth and final season. This time, when we first meet our titular super agent, he’s kidnapped and hung from above by a group of mysterious men. In the typical fashion of the show, we delve back in time to see how he got himself in trouble.
Ryan (John Krasinski) has gotten himself a sweet little promotion — he’s now the Acting Deputy Director of the CIA, which is quite natural if you almost single-handedly stop World War III. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is known for not leaving any loose ends, and so we see the repercussion of Ryan’s instinct-driven actions in the last season — where he placed the fate of the whole world on the word of Luka Goncharov, a Russian operative with a reputation for swinging both sides. As Ryan is being questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee in a private meeting, we realise something bigger, something far more shocking awaits us in the fourth season.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4 (English)
Creators: Carlton Cuse, Graham Roland
Directors: Lukas Ettlin, Jann Turner
Cast: John Krasinski, Michael Pena, Wendell Pierce, Betty Gabriel
Episodes: 2 of 6
Storyline: Jack Ryan, now promoted as the Acting Deputy Director of the CIA, has to weed out the corruption that runs deep into the CIA while also thwarting the terror plans of a Burmese terror outfit, which with the help of a Mexican drug cartel, has reached the borders of the U.S.
At the beginning of the first episode, we see men wearing gear that resembles that of the CIA break into a high-security building and assassinate Nigerian President Udoh, and when enquired about it by the Committee, Ryan says that he cannot confirm if the CIA was not involved in the assassination. From here on, as fans of the show would expect, the plot thickens and we begin to give glimpses of the story it will strive to put together in the season.
A mysterious man named Domingo Chavez (Michael Peña) oversees the coming together of the Silver Lotus Triad, a Burmese terror outfit, and a Mexican cartel headed by a man named Marquez. The pitch is that the cartel gets the pristine quality drugs that Chao Fah Sein (Louis Ozawa), the Triad’s head, guarantees in exchange for an invisible, untraceable network to distribute in the US. The Triad has no other option as Marquez’s is the last cartel standing, and Sein wants to make him the sole distributor in Southern Mexico, and if needed, even take him out and get him replaced. If you think the stake is pretty low compared to Season 3, Ryan clues us in on how this isn’t about drugs but something far more dangerous. “Only a fraction of the drugs is caught on the border. Apply that ratio to terrorist activities.” This is not a naval warship near Russia; this is a direct threat to the people of America.
As we learn over the two episodes, former CIA director Thomas Miller is dirty, not-so-surprisingly, and Chavez was in fact a CIA operative who with his teammates was sent by Miller on unauthorised covert missions over the years for personal interests — Operation Pluto, it was called. Ryan and his pals — Former CIA station chief James Greer (Wendell Pierce) and CIA Director Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel) — are on top of this and they place their trust in Chavez’s quest for revenge to weed out the corruption within their organisation.
This season will be about the CIA looking inwards to find for itself, and the American people, what it really stands for and the lengths it wishes to go to for that. And as we’ve known from the previous seasons, the writers like to keep their cards a little closer to the chest but this time, the plot seems denser than before. How they manoeuvre Chavez’s character is something to look out for.
In just two one-hour episodes, the show has managed to create intrigue but what the fans would wish to see in the rest of the series is more grounding storytelling — Jack Ryan lost this quality in the last two seasons in its attempt to paint on larger canvases. Jack Ryan has always been a plot-driven series, with only occasional conventional turns. To end well, the final season cannot afford to lose out on all that has been anchoring it — the real stakes for the characters, well-choreographed action with proper set-ups, and of course, well-written twists in the story.
All that said, what the two episodes promise about the character arcs of Greer and Ryan is what stands out. While you wish to see Greer get more hands-on in action (we got a glimpse in the third season when he kicked the ass of Vovo Litishenko), we might see him in an all-new perspective — as the man of a family. Ryan, on the other hand, was reduced to a cut-out of the typical Hollywood spy in the last season, becoming more of a pawn in a game bigger than he could have possibly imagined. Throughout that season, we don’t see even one moment that shows the human, the soul behind those piercing eyes. This time, we begin his arc from his personal life as his love interest Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish) makes a comeback after the first season.
With more personal angles coming into the mix, you can only hope the swan song mission of Jack Ryan ends on a high note. Krasinski deserves that for all that he brings to this wonderful character, one you can’t get enough of at times.
The first two episodes of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan are currently streaming on Prime Video; Episodes 3 and 4 drop on July 7, episodes 5 and 6 premiere on July 14.