Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: 1.03 Black 22
The first two episodes of this series focus on characters who are obviously integral to the story; Jack Ryan and his team, and Suleiman and his family. However, this episode takes a an unexpected turn as a third storyline is added to the mix.
This new plot centres on drone pilot Victor Polizzi, and while some of it makes sense, other parts are thoroughly baffling. It is quickly made obvious that Victor is experiencing some moral turmoil because of his job. It's an interesting addition to the story as drones are both a very modern and controversial military tactic. Drone strikes mean that a target can be eliminated without putting your own men at risk, but give it a callous feeling. There is a sense of having no care for the life being taken, which is unsettling no matter how bad of a person the target may be.
The more confusing part of Victor's story is the couple he brings home from the casino after trying to get rid of the the 107 dollar bills he has earned, one for each kill. In the casino it is implied that he was trying to lose all the money, but ends up turning it into $30,000. He then goes home and has sex with the wife of the couple in front of her husband, who then beats Victor up and refuses to take Victor's money even though Victor asks him to take it. None of it makes any sense at all. Is the couple expected to reappear later on in the series? Or else it is just a very odd sexual blip in the story? If the storyline was trying to emphasise just how much Victor wanted to get rid of his money, there are surely less weird ways to do that.
One thing from the first two episodes that doesn't come across as much here is the disorganisation of the military that I have mentioned in both of my previous reviews. This is partly because there aren't any large scale operations, but it did make a difference to how engaged I was with the episode. Without this distraction I felt more engrossed by the characters and story. And it is an interesting story indeed.
All of the sympathy I felt for Suleiman in the pilot is now gone, as he is once again angered by his wife's fears rather than taking them into account. Further cementing him as the antagonist, is the fact that he orders Ali to kill the family in Paris who have given him shelter. Ali defies these orders, sparing their lives and fleeing Paris. This make me think that Ali's conscience may also play a part in his brother's downfall.
I hope that the show continues to deal with the issues of loyalty, family and faith in both the terrorist cell and the representations of Islam in general. It is important not to lump all of one group together and to have nuanced representations to give these characters humanity. As such, I am very interested to see how Greer's connection to his faith is dealt with throughout the rest of the season. I was touched by the respect he showed to the body of the suicide bomber, a stark contrast from Victor's drone strikes.
But my favourite aspect of this episode, much like last episode, is Hanin. Her bravery and determination to escape and keep her daughters safe, is amazing. Of all of the characters on the show, she is the one that I am rooting for the most.
As for which characters will have a happy ending, we will just have to wait and see.