Sunday, November 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'Jack Ryan' - Corruption Is Exposed in Venezuela as the Election Results Are Announced in 'Strongman'

Amazon's Jack Ryan - Episode 2.08 "Strongman"

Jack heads to the Presidential Palace to retrieve Greer. When the polls are shut down, violent protests erupt outside the palace, and Jack must make a decision that could determine his future.

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 finale of Amazon's Jack Ryan.

"Strongman" was written by Carlton Cuse & Graham Roland and directed by Andrew Bernstein

This season once again opts to produce a very clear-cut resolution that concludes every major concern that has been present this year. That's not an inherently bad way to produce finales. Sometimes ambiguity is necessary. Other times, it's important to tell the audience that everything eventually gets resolved with clarity by the end of the run. It may not present a realistic view of diplomacy and the actions that so many people representing the American government have to take every single day. But it is exciting for a tense action show. One that has a lot of big ideas on its mind. This finale essentially depicts the downfall of an entire government. The Venezuelan people rise up and riot until they burst through the Presidential Palace. They are being threatened and intimidated with the local politicians baffled at the sheer suggestion that anything sinister may be going on. Sure, it's a little too simplistic when Gloria is just named the winner of this election. This wasn't a free or fair election that allowed all Venezuelan citizens to feel heard by their government. Reyes moved up the election and then abruptly shut down the polls after the news started reporting on the gruesome images from the prison camps. That's the way he has conducted this government. It should be toppled. That just runs the risk of creating an incredible amount of instability in the region. There are factions in the American government that need Venezuela to project strength because it would break up the Chinese monopoly of the precious resource that has just been discovered. Gloria is installed as the new president with the reassuring gesture that the majority of the early vote was in her favor. That shouldn't be the basis for which an entire election is decided. People should have the ability to vote for as long as the polls are opened. They shouldn't fear that they could be shut down at any moment. Accessibility to the ballot is crucial for maintaining any democracy. There is the hope that Gloria will run things better than Reyes. The show just simplifies it a little too much in order to produce an uplifting ending that immediately states that the region will remain stable. It has a leader its people can trust even if she may not have been elected by the people. Plus, it's fundamentally Jack's decision to figure out what should happen to Reyes. Mike has found the evidence that can connect Reyes to the murder of Senator Moreno. The truth will be revealed. The world will know exactly what Reyes did in the pursuit of maintaining power. He still sits in the Presidential Palace though. Jack is motivated to rescue Greer before it's too late. He can't let his friend fade away in captivity. He is personally motivated. That's what has been fueling Jack for this entire season. He is more hot-headed and abrasive than ever before. And yet, it is seemingly justified because he is always right in the end. He's rewarded for going after Greer even though it means opening fire within the capital of another country. Clear antagonists are killed because of the actions they took this season. Reyes is allowed to live and face justice for what he has done. Jack decides to let him go free and face the people of Venezuela. It's a decision he only comes to because Mike is over his shoulder telling him to let the process work. Everything has the potential of stability so long as reckless and corrupt people don't mess it up along the way. Jack is the one making the decision. Everyone gets out of Venezuela alive. Greer survives despite the heavy foreshadowing that he was going to die this season. He does decide to retire though. This is no longer a life he can live given his current health condition. He needs to make way for the next generation that will carry the burden of this work. It's messy but necessary. It's important to maintain America's relationships throughout the world. It just sometimes gets very explosive and perilous. Jack may be presented as a hero. And yet, he doesn't seem to face any consequences for Max's murder in London. No one seemingly does because Harry is still free to move about the world and even take a piece of evidence from MI5. It's only because of that action that Jack unravels the true extent of the conspiracy and who is also financially tied to Senator Moreno's murder. The clues directed suspicion back to the United States and a company from Philadelphia specifically. As such, it's easy to pinpoint the suspect as Senator Chapin because he's been the only character of ongoing significance from America. That means Jack returns a hero who roots out corruption even from within his own government. He is patriotic and brave. The show just needs to make that glaringly obvious at times while not quite knowing how to utilize some of the supporting ensemble. Noomi Rapace essentially disappeared during the second half of this season.