Thursday, October 31, 2019

REVIEW: 'Jack Ryan' - Jack and Greer Are Immediately Thrown Into a Dangerous Situation in Venezuela in 'Cargo'

Amazon's Jack Ryan - Episode 2.01 "Cargo"

Jack Ryan searches for the truth behind Venezuela's nuclear ties and its imminent threat to the United States. About to get sidelined from his new post in Russia, James Greer joins Jack in Venezuela and the two find themselves in the midst of a dictator's re-election effort.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Amazon's Jack Ryan.

"Cargo" was written by Carlton Cuse & Graham Roland and directed by Phil Abraham

The season is immediately interested in making the new conspiracy one of personal importance to Jack Ryan. The first season ended with him being promoted within the CIA while Greer was sent to Moscow for a high-ranking position. And now, the narrative works to bring them back together with a new threat. It's not one that immediately connects back to Russia and the grand geopolitical ambitions that nation currently has. People understand that Russia, China and North Korea may be the greatest foreign threats that the United States has to be worried about. Jack makes the argument that Venezuela is just as important mostly because of it's place on the world map. It's a nation that is failing and descending into chaos which makes it the perfect target for corrupt operators to come in to drastically change the government. If Russia gets a foothold in this country, it then means it has a much closer base of operations to target the United States with nuclear missiles. Jack articulates all of this to a class to show why Americans should be concerned about what is currently happening in South America. Of course, the season premiere takes it one step further by having a sitting U.S. Senator killed on Venezuelan soil. That is bound to further increase tensions in an immediate and gripping way. However, it mostly plays as Jack experiencing a tragic loss as he tries to help navigate the complicated world order. This senator was his commanding officer when he served overseas. In fact, Jack was tempted to move over to Capitol Hill in the hopes of being a more effective analyst there. He no longer felt like he had a future within the CIA because they slightly undermined all of the hard work that he contributed to stopping Suleiman before he could enact his grand plan. Again, this premiere is working overly hard to establish why these main characters need each other and must come together once more. Greer realizes he has an undiagnosed heart condition that immediately cripples his ability to be in the field. He won't stop until he is forced to though. As such, he is slyly manipulates the situation in order to transfer to Venezuela. He too sees the threat emerging on the ground. That's the most important mission right now because it involves secret missile launches for satellite programs and weapons being moved into South America. Diplomacy doesn't seem to be all that effective. That's an unfortunate message because it should be the first action taken when negotiating with other countries around the world. There are people who tirelessly work in many major countries to maintain America's global strategic interests. All of that is threatened because Jack and the Senator go to Venezuela to get an official reaction from President Reyes. His advisers may see this as an immediate mistake he is making. He needs to project a sense of strength even though his political rival is gaining traction to replace him. Again, all of this is relevant and timely. There is more going on than first appears. However, it still ends with a deadly attack on the U.S. envoy. They are ambushed by operators who hired a professional to get the job done and intimidate the police chief into making it happen. A U.S. Senator should feel safe and protected when traveling aboard. And yet, all the systems seemed to fail so efficiently here. No one notices until the attack is underway. There is only so much Jack can do to protect the people in the vehicle with him. He saves the ambassador. He doesn't save the Senator. He is tasked with calling his family and letting them know what happened. This will further enrage him and motivate him to get to the bottom of what's happening in this country. It's personal motivation. That can be helpful. But it can also blind him along the way too because he needs to get justice. Right now, it's unclear what the show is hoping to achieve with this look at the current state of affairs. Jack may always be the hero. However, his actions should be questioned. He should be able to withstand legitimate pushback. The show should be more than a simple action series that talks a big political game but may not have the execution to follow through on it all. Only time will tell how successful all of the work done in this premiere actually turns out to be.