HomeTelevisionJack Ryan Final Season Review: Compelling New Characters & Explosive Action Sequences End...

Jack Ryan Final Season Review: Compelling New Characters & Explosive Action Sequences End the Series on a High Note

John Krasinski (Jack Ryan)

When John Krasinski took over the role of Jack Ryan for the Prime series back in 2018, some still were unable to see him as anyone but Jim from The Office, despite his performance in 13 Hours or A Quiet Place earlier that same year. Through the first three seasons of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, we saw a very capable Krasinski inhabit the well-known titular character and make it his own on a respectable show that was sometimes quite good. As the series ends and his time as Ryan comes to a close, not only has Krasinski left his mark, but the final season is the most entertaining yet.

Picking up shortly after last season’s nuclear crisis was averted, we see Ryan – now Deputy Director of the CIA – questioned by the Senate for confirmation the agency was not involved with the Nigerian President’s recent assassination. Something he cannot do. The stark realization that so much is unknown about the various dark ops carried out during Thomas Miller’s (John Schwab, The Queen’s Gambit) tenure causes him to cut funding to all of them and see what surfaces. That choice causes a ripple effect across multiple continents, bringing a member of the mysterious “Project Pluto” directly to Ryan’s home.

Returning staples this season include James Greer (Wendell Pierce, The Wire) as Ryan’s closest friend and confidant at the agency, everyone’s favorite plucky badass Mike November (Michael Kelly, Man of Steel), and Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel, Get Out) – who is up for confirmation as the new Director of the CIA. Analyst Patrick Klinghoffer (Adam Bernett, Ghosts) and Ryan’s love interest Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish, Bright Star) are also back for the first time since Season 1. Klinghoffer provides Greer a target for playful jabs, and Mueller is a surprising and welcome return to the series, allowing Ryan more enriched, albeit brief, character development, adding the personal stakes he’s lacked in the prior two seasons.

While there are several other newcomers and returning members of the cast also worth mentioning, the clear standouts of Season 4 are Chao Fah (Louis Ozawa, Hunters) – head of operations for the revered Silver Lotus triad in Burma – and Ding Chavez (Michael Peña, American Hustle), who has been carrying out missions as part of Project Pluto without question for a long time, prior to Fah’s approach with a deal in exchange for information. Both characters are given sufficient screen time to be fleshed out and seen in various lights.

With the most engaging and tense arc of the season, Ozawa excels in portraying Chao Fah as someone who has undoubtedly done terrible things most of his life but will do anything to give his wife and daughter a future. Peña turns in one of the best performances of his career and is truly so fun to watch as Chavez. He’s touted as one of the CIA’s best operatives on record, and, after losing his team, finds the best way forward with his plan for revenge, working with Ryan. Peña is convincing as a stone-cold killer, but also brings humor and charm to his character in a way only he can.

The perceived antagonists of the story are constantly changing, as Ryan and his team continue to dig deeper into motivations and corruption to ultimately discover who’s pulling the strings from the top. Cartels and terrorists are common enemies for stories like this one, so the writers smartly create moving targets and focuses as things evolve. A far cry from where Ryan was when the series started, nobody’s hands are truly clean at this point, and the season features a lot of characters looking to make amends and do whatever good they can as Ryan examines if he’s capable of restoring the ideals of providing national security which he feels the CIA was intended for.

As is standard for a series like this one, the gorgeous locations it’s shot in feel like characters of their own, and the cinematography of this season needs to be commended. Greer repeatedly speaking with Ryan on the phone to discover he’s in some new exotic location in another ridiculous circumstance is a fun bit throughout, and just one of the ways in which the show can provide levity among some starkly intense and disturbing sequences.

The best set piece of the season comes in Episode 4, “Bethesda,” as Ryan, November and Chavez must infiltrate an exclusive party full of some of the world’s most dangerous people to keep bomb triggers out of their hands. It’s one of a couple of sequences that would make the IMF proud. From that point on, things continue at a frenetic pace as everyone’s intentions are gradually made clear, and Ryan and his team have to work fast to keep each other alive and prevent global disaster.

While some plot points and decisions don’t entirely make sense, and twists and character turns are easy to see coming, the narrative of this season is a fun one to track. The writers give the audience breadcrumbs to follow for themselves before things are fully revealed and work fan favorite characters back into the story while also delivering some of the best action set pieces and heart-pounding sequences the series has seen. All of this is within a tight six episode-run. It’s a terrific finale for the series – even if we are likely to see many of these characters in another iteration in the future – as they took care to bring many things full circle and gave everyone their time to shine.

Jack Ryan Season 4 is now streaming on Prime Video.

Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison is a regular contributor for TV and Movies. He’s that guy that spends an hour in an IMDb black hole of research about every film and show he watches. Strongly believes Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the best show to ever exist, and that Peaky Blinders needs more than 6 episodes per series. East Carolina grad, follow on Twitter and IG @bdmurchison.

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