Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: 1.02 French Connection
Episode two of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is much slower than its predecessor. Jack and Greer have returned to the US, but their team isn't given the job of continuing to chase Suleiman. This shows just how much Greer has fallen in the eyes of the higher ups in the CIA; he can't even continue to follow the lead that someone in his department found.
In this episode, we learn that Greer is a Muslim. He converted so that he could marry his wife, but tells his Imam that, since his separation, he is failing to see the point in prayer. I really enjoyed this scene: it made me hopeful that the series is going to have a more complex narrative than 'Westerners good and helpful, Middle-Eastern Muslims bad and destructive', which often seems to be perpetuated by media. The way that Greer was meeting his Imam at a dinner and they were talking about people they knew from the congregation, frames their friendship as being just as much to do with community as it is religion. Pastors and Reverends are often shown as pillars of their community on television, but this is the first time I have seen an Imam portrayed this way on American television.
One thing that definitely hasn't changed between the two episodes is how unorganised the military and law enforcement of the Jack Ryan universe seem to be. At the end of this episode, the French police raiding Ali's flat they don't even think to check whether the children they walk past are working with Ali and Suleiman. When Ali escapes through a window, he goes unseen as there is no one on watch outside or in the surrounding buildings.
It seems as if Ali's escape is done to make Jack look better than the rest of the raid team. In the chaos of the building evacuation he is the only one who notices that Ali is attempting to disappear into the crowd. This lack of attentiveness is a real stylistic break from the rest of the scenery and narrative, both of which lean more towards realism. Whilst I am used to suspending my disbelief when watching shows and films, in this instance the lack of organisation is jarring.
Elsewhere in the world, Suleiman has returned home to his wife, son and two daughters. His wife, Hanin, was visibly uncomfortable with what her husband's underlings were doing in episode one; this discomfort only increases once her husband is home. I think that the women in Suleiman's life will be his downfall. The assumption that they aren't paying attention to what they are seeing, and that they won't rebel in any way, could be a deadly oversight.
The unhappiness of the women in Suleiman's life does quick work in eroding a large amount of the sympathy that was created toward him in the pilot. Whilst wanting revenge on those who destroyed your family and your town is understandable, completely ignoring your wife's concerns about your actions and then having sex with her and not noticing that she is just lying there crying, not so much.
As it stands right now, I am more invested in Hanin's storyline than Jack Ryan's. I am sure they will converge later in the season, but for now I am hoping for her survival. I am also interested to see how Ryan's love interest, Dr Cathy Mueller, is going to be incorporated into the story. She is an epidemiologist, so I am assuming that weaponised diseases are going to come into the picture at some point.
This was an intriguing follow up to an explosive pilot, and while is wasn't as thrilling, the lull meant that the various storylines could be better explored. I am once again left wanting more.