After Tom Cruise’s turn as Jack Reacher, the Amazon web series was greenlit with the intention of doing a more accurate iteration of Lee Child’s iconic character. With the casting of Alan Ritchson, the show hit gold. That said, the first season, which was based on Killing Floor, was a bit of a dud as it only managed to have a few decent action sequences while having the most meandering storytelling I had seen in a long time, especially in an action-oriented show. The second season, which is based on Bad Luck and Trouble, showed promise from the trailer itself, as it featured some solid fight sequences and a plot that seemingly had Reacher and his entire team of special investigators on the back foot. Having watched the first three episodes that have been released today, I can say that Nick Santora and his team have outdone themselves.
Jack Reacher and Frances Neagley meet Franz’s widow.
The first episode of Reacher Season 2 opens with a guy being dropped in the Catskill Mountains from a helicopter. Yes, he is dead. Then, the episode cuts to the titular character, who is still living his life on the road, getting clothes from thrift shops, and eating at local diners. His reintroduction is pretty cool, as he saves a woman and her son from a carjacker. Everything, from Ritchson’s performance to the suddenness of the action scene and the funny interaction with the cashier at the thrift shop, is perfect. I love how Reacher is given the option to not pay for all the stuff he is taking from the thrift store because the cashier is a disgruntled employee, and he decides to buy his stuff because that’s how honest he is. That said, taking out money from the ATM to pay the cashier is how he learns that his buddy from the past, Frances Neagley, is calling him, and she has bad news: their colleague, Calvin Franz, is dead, i.e., the guy who was dropped from a helicopter. The narrative goes back into the past and shows Reacher assembling a team of special investigators, which includes Calvin Franz, Frances Neagley, Karla Dixon, David O’Donnell, Jorge Sanchez, Orozco, Swan, and Stanley Lowrey. It’s evident that they didn’t exactly gel together, but Reacher had hand-picked them for their special skills because he knew that they’d be the best people to unearth any fraudulent activities happening in and around the army.
In the present day, Reacher reaches New York and meets Neagley. They catch up and go over the details of Franz’s murder. What shocks Reacher, though, is the information about Franz’s wife and kid. He is also shocked to learn that Lowery died in a car accident a few years ago. That’s when he begins to realize that his nomadic lifestyle has isolated him so much that he didn’t even get to honor his best friends’ memories. He tries to blame Neagley for it, but she deflects the accusation by telling him the truth: even if Reacher knew about Franz’s wedding and Lowery’s funeral, he wouldn’t have come. With that out of the way, Reacher and Franz head over to Franz’s house to talk to Angela Franz and Mikey Franz. On the way to the Franz household, we see two separate people following Reacher and Neagley. Later on, Reacher makes a note of the first car, but he doesn’t notice the second one. Reacher and Neagley also observe that the remaining members of their old team are unreachable, which means that they’re either hiding or dead. When Franz and Reacher arrive at Franz’s house, there’s a quietly hilarious moment where the two are as transfixed as Mikey is while watching a bizarre song about bananas. It’s unclear if they are horrified at what is being categorized as “entertainment for kids” or if they are genuinely enjoying it, and that’s what makes it funny. Angela, despite being absolutely distraught, walks Neagley and Reacher through the events that led to Franz’s death. There’s nothing in particular that sticks out, other than the fact that Franz’s office was trashed, and even though the police searched the place, they didn’t find anything noticeable. Angela hands over the keys to Franz’s office in case Reacher and Neagley find something that the police couldn’t. They depart on a really sweet note as Angela tells Franz how much he loved the people of the 110th, while Neagley assures Angela and Mikey that Franz loved them a lot and cherished every second he spent with them.
Jack Reacher Reminisces About The 110’s First Party
There’s an interesting, albeit very obvious, Easter Egg during the conversation between one of the guys (the dude who has a scar on his face) following Reacher and Neagley after he checks out the aliases that Neagley and Reacher are using while staying at a hotel. The names are Starlin Castro and Sarah Connor. Castro is the name of a baseball player, and Sarah Connor is a fictional character from the Terminator franchise. Shane Langston, the guy who is apparently ordering the guy with the scar to tail Reacher and Neagley, is being played by Robert Patrick. Yes, it’s the same Robert Patrick who played the T-1000 in Terminator: Judgement Day. Reacher and Neagley reach Franz’s office, and, as expected, it’s in a completely trashed condition. They analyze the place and come to the conclusion that whoever turned the office upside down must’ve been looking for something small. Reacher gives up, but Neagley notices that the keychain to Franz’s office holds a small key that looks like the one that is used to open those rental boxes at post offices. It’s cool to see Reacher being bested when it comes to wits. The guy thinks he is perfect, and why shouldn’t he be? He has the brains and the brawn. So, when Neagley shows that he isn’t necessarily the smartest person in the room, which is something that Reacher acknowledges and appreciates, it makes him feel realistic and not a walking representation of Lee Child’s fantasies.
When the duo gets to the post office, they see that it’s closed, which means that they’ve to go back to their hotel, and Reacher has to open up to Neagley. It’s a simple scene where Reacher assesses why Neagley is doing so well in life, and Neagley confirms Reacher’s observations, and then Neagley studies Reacher, and Reacher tells her how off base she is (she isn’t). It’s actually Alan Ritchson and Maria Sten’s performances that make it enjoyable to watch because you can see Ritchson getting exponentially awkward due to the pointed nature of the questions and Sten refusing to back off. Again, it makes Reacher feel like a human being and not the Terminator. As the duo hits the hay, the narrative goes back in time again to show the 110th or the Special Investigators finally galvanizing after a brawl at the bar. They take the party into the forest, where they sing and dance around the fire. It’s also where they take the picture that all the members of the team have in their possession. What’s fascinating, though, is that the members’ transition from “we don’t like each other’s company” to “we’ll ride into hell together” is by design. Reacher confesses to Franz that he knew that the regiment that is a stickler about ranks, and who gets to drink at the bar for the soldiers and who doesn’t, was going to be there. He was expecting one of them to get angry about Neagley’s presence. And he was hoping for the rest of the 110th to stand up for her, thereby turning them from individuals into a unit. Thankfully, that’s what happened. That said, going by how Reacher is haunted by Franz’s mangled corpse, I think that, deep down, he feels that he signed the death warrants of all these people by assembling this team. Yes, this is great writing.
Who is trying to kill the special investigators?
A new character is introduced in the third act of the episode. He has been credited as A.M., and he is British. His first and last names change all the time. But his initials stay the same. After burning the passport he has recently used, he gets a fake passport and then kills the guys who have made the fake passport for him. He then proceeds to use that passport to board yet another plane to Denver, this time under the name Andrew McBride. Reacher and Neagley take another go at the post office. Neagley distracts the postmaster as Reacher tries Franz’s key on different boxes. He is nearly outed by a senior citizen, but he successfully extracts the envelopes from Franz’s box. It’s hilarious how angrily Reacher looks at the elderly lady, but he’s powerless in this situation because, well, it’s an old woman. After searching through all the envelopes, Reacher finds a USB drive. Neagley tries to use it on her laptop, but the ports don’t match, thereby forcing her to look for an adapter. It’s a throwaway moment, but I think the show is critiquing technology, something that Reacher (the character) is against, and how it’s regressing in the name of exclusivity. The meaning of USB is Universal Serial Bus, and one should be able to use a pen drive on any device. But Apple wants to stand out from the rest of the crowd, even though it inconveniences their customers. The onus is also on the customers because they’re the ones who are keeping Apple a successful company because, nowadays, having an Apple product is a status symbol. I apologize for this rant, and no, Jack Reacher hasn’t forced me to write this.
Coming back to the plot, given how they are going deeper into the proverbial rabbit hole, Reacher decides to rob a drug peddler. That way, he gets a gun for free and some cash, and there’s one less drug peddler on the streets. Reacher and Neagley get back to the hotel and find out that it has been trashed, too. Conveniently enough, O’Donnell is there, but since he’s an old friend, they retract their claws and talk about how much all of them have changed and assess what kind of pickle they are in at the moment. Neagley fires up the pen drive and finds out that it’s password-protected, and if they don’t guess the password in a limited amount of time, the data in it will be erased. The trio begins dissecting Franz’s character to come up with something that he might’ve used as a password. After a lot of chaos, Neagley types in “Reacher,” and it works. It’s a heartbreaking moment, which is perfectly conveyed through the expressions on Ritchson’s face. He seems to be on the verge of bursting into a flood of tears because he has just found out that his deceased friend used to worship him like a god, and he wasn’t there to look out for him. The moment doesn’t last very long, but the devastation is apparent.
At the end of Reacher Season 2, episode 1, Neagley prints out the documents present on the pen drive. One of them is obviously a list of the aliases that the British killer is using, and the other seems to be a list of dates. Given how it’s not very informative, the trio decides to continue their pursuit of reconnecting with their old mates—the ones that are alive. They go to Swan’s house and discover Swan’s dead dog. They immediately assume that Swan has been kidnapped, too, or that he is dead, and Reacher comes to the conclusion that they’re being hunted one by one. It’s not a big mystery that Shane Langston is the guy behind all this, and that A.M. is also involved. Reacher said that it could be a case of revenge, which is a fair deduction because the Special Investigators might’ve ruffled quite a few feathers when they were at their peak. They don’t remember the details, but maybe someone holds a grudge against them and has become resourceful enough to go after the 110th. Reacher and his team have also lowered their guards, thereby making it a little easier to attack them. That said, the villains have clearly lost the upper hand because Reacher knows that someone is coming for him and his friends, and by the looks of it, he is not going to let the killers have the advantage anymore.