Sunday, November 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'Jack Ryan' - Reyes Weaponizes the Distrust of America Throughout Venezuela in 'Persona Non Grata'

Amazon's Jack Ryan - Episode 2.06 "Persona Non Grata"

Reyes accuses the U.S. of tampering with the election. The U.S. Embassy is evacuated. Jack, Greer and Mike November must decide whether to follow orders or go off the grid. Reyes' men pursue Matice and the American soldiers in the jungle.

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 next episode of Amazon's Jack Ryan.

"Persona Non Grata" was written by David Graziano & Daria Polatin and directed by Dennie Gordon

A second American has died in Venezuela. It's a tragedy that immediately sets off a diplomatic crisis. One in which the entire embassy is ordered to evacuate because there is now the perception of the United States trying to influence the upcoming election. It's a narrative that President Reyes plays into because he wields the power and knows exactly what needs to be done in order to keep it. The perils of foreign intervention can be so profound for America. We are a country that exerts a bold image of democracy. We insist to be the gold standard for condemning human rights abuses. And yet, the Venezuelan people are more than willing to rise up against Americans as the perceived threat to their way of life. It may all just be a convenient distraction. Something for the people to be angry about as they turn their support away from Gloria and back to Reyes. Matice is dead. That was the danger of carrying out this covert mission. It's the risk that he mentioned to Marcus upfront. And now, his body is being desecrated by Venezuelan soldiers and publicized in such an immediately toxic and sickening way. It's horrifying. They are literally in a prison camp using this image to win public favor. Every American in the country is immediately in fear of their lives. They understand that corruption is rampant in this country. People are unsafe and society is failing because of the abuses happening at the top. And yet, it's incredibly difficult and complex to actually solve these issues because of the resistance they face along the way. It's more than simply fixing one problem or getting to the bottom of one mystery. It's a systemic institution of corruption that allows actions like this to continually take place. Reyes needs to remain in power so that he can profit from the sale of natural resources that have newly been discovered. That wealth won't be equally distributed throughout the country though to lift its citizens out of poverty. Instead, he uses the people as a shield in order to distract the Americans. Free and fair democracy is sacred. Everyone should aspire to achieve those ideals. Any suspicion that the results have been tampered with can easily destroy the notion of a reputable government serving the best interests of the people who elect the politicians into office. Mike would love to be furious with Jack over his disregard of orders. Jack went to London and is now on the run for murder. All of this is playing out with a seemingly disinterested America too. There is no sense how the story of a sitting United States senator being killed in Venezuela is playing back home. There is no understanding of whether or not the American people accept that a radical group in Venezuela that has never shown an anti-America agenda was responsible for his death. It's important for the Venezuelan people to have a voice. They are right to be concerned about their freedom and rights. Gloria's message is strong for a reason. But it also seems as if Jack can call up Senator Chapin for a favor only for a seemingly powerful man in the American government to have no clue what's actually going on in the world. All of this effectively builds to Mike, Jack and Greer deciding to stay behind in order to continue the mission to protect American interests and restore faith in democracy. They know how corrupt Reyes has always been. It's understandable why Jack wants Greer to get on the plane even if it's against his will. However, the show is extremely clunky when it explains why he will remain in Venezuela for the final events of the season. It would be engaging to watch Jack and Mike team up in pursuit of victory. But now, Greer is taken captive seemingly because he has been betrayed by a man who was loyal to America but who has never been a fully dimensional character to the point where the audience should care. This twist seems manufactured and forced. It wasn't the only reason why the creative team could have kept Greer at the heart of the action. It's just the most complicated way to ensure that there are clear and present personal stakes at the core of the story.