In episode 3, “Dressed to Kill,” Jack has quickly deduced that what they thought was a shipment of weapons was actually mining equipment. That isn’t illegal, as Mike points out; but why are they being guarded by arms dealers? Jack has also uncovered that one of the things also used in mining is explosive material – the same kind of material that was used in the bomb that killed Senator Moreno.
Unfortunately, Jack’s recklessness has reached the White House, and Mike gets a call that finally signals the end of our Boy Scout’s mission. No more “playing Rambo in the jungle,” as the man on the phone from the White House tells Mike.
Jack wants to go to London and run down his leads on Eprius, the company that hired Max, but Mike tells Jack he’s sending him back to the United States. Mike correctly calls him out on the fact that as an analyst, he can create neat puzzle pieces and pose good questions but not worry about the consequences. It’s people like Mike, Greer, and Matice who have to translate analysis into action and they’re the ones who have to worry about the ripple effect those actions have. It’s a conversation that echoes back to season 1, when Sandrine tells Jack that he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He pretends to not know what she’s saying but it feels as if this season will continue to show how out of his depth he is as he learns how to balance being the wolf and the sheep.
This is a wonderful way to deepen Jack as a character, especially if you’re a fan of the Clancy books. In this iteration of Jack, he is still very inexperienced and he has to learn as both a diplomat and an operative. It’s a good way to both remind the audience that he isn’t infallible or incapable of bad decision making, and it’s a good way to keep the character humble.
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed about this season so far is that the show is quick to point out that the people who stymie Jack and Greer (in Moscow, for example) are doing the right thing. Mike isn’t a villain here. He’s doing what is responsible. Jack has no authority in Venezuela and in fact, since he was loaned out to be a legislative aide, it’s not clear who is actually in charge of or responsible for Jack Ryan. He, like Greer, are on islands. Mike’s parting words to Jack are to caution him against trying to do everything alone because it’ll just alienate other people who want the same things he does.
Even though Greer isn’t in the room when Mike tells this to Jack, Greer needs to hear it too. No one wants to sideline Greer to a desk, but his heart condition poses a legitimate threat to both his health and the CIA’s ability to be effective. Mike doesn’t want to send Jack back to the United States if he can continue doing good work, but he’s concerned that Jack is being a liability to his office and international relations.
Greer and Mike start finding connections between the mining operation and Reyes, starting with Sergio Bonalde, who was the head of the mining office when he disappeared and Gloria Bonalde’s husband. Remember that there had been rumors that Reyes had him kidnapped and killed. Here’s where Gloria’s plot begins to converge with our main plot. Gloria gets a visit from Reyes, who offers her a job. It’s clear that she is a threat to his power, and offering her a job is the first step to keeping her quiet. Greer visits Gloria at her home and asks her questions about Sergio’s disappearance. Gloria, already paranoid about Reyes and his threats, is reluctant to talk to Greer but eventually brings him into Sergio’s office to talk. It’s good that Greer is trustworthy because when Reyes sends a bullet to her home, she calls Greer and asks for help.
I want to shout out the props and set design in this show. In one scene, Mike goes to the fridge to grab a drink or a snack and on the side of the fridge is a printout of a cat poster with ¡Lo Puedes Lograr! written on it. Roughly translated to “you can do it!” the poster was clearly made by someone in the office. There’s a bend to it like someone surreptitiously took it off the printer, folded it just enough to avoid detection, and put it up. I also love how the colors are so retro and match the brownish yellow color of the fridge and the “Crisp Rice” box of cereal on top of the fridge.
Jack, who has called in a favor with Senator Chapin to get to London, finds his old friend Harriet in his room holding a gun and warning him to leave the city. He obviously won’t so she takes him to Jeremy, her colleague, and Jack finds himself in a new city with a new team to track down Max. Will he learn to work with others this time?
I haven’t even talked about Matice yet. Matice’s team is back in the jungle, trying to find Marcus. Jack tells Greer (and us) that Reyes has imaging technology that shows him where to mine, but as we know from a scene with Reyes and his second in command, he’s also using that technology to find Matice and his team. “Uh oh” is pretty much all I can say at this point, as this episode was very light on Matice.
Max has taken a woman hostage to force her brother to meet with the head of Eprius, Rupert Thorne (it’s so great to see Anthony Stewart Head on my television again!). Max then uses a sniper rifle to shoot Thorne in the ensuring police scrum. Jack spots Max leaving the building across the street and they engage in a truly thrilling foot chase across London rooftops. This is the foot chase that was teased in all of the trailers. It is really well shot and beyond the more international scope of this season, I think you can see the budget being put to good use in showing off the locations they’re shooting in.
Overall, this episode was pretty great. There was some focus on everyone, the plot progressed quickly, and we got some answers. However, Harriet is the weak link in this season. Noomi Rapace has been great with what she has been given, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been very much. Harriet is plot fodder and doesn’t have much to do other than be an exposition and one-liner machine. What else can she do? I’d like to know! Come on, Amazon!