Based on Jack Carr’s novel of the same name, “The Terminal List” is directed by Antoine Fuqua, Frederick E.O. Toye, Sylvain White, M.J. Bassett, Tucker Gates, and Ellen Kuras. And it’s written by Tolu Awosika, David DiGilio, Olumide Odebunmi, Hennah Sekandary, Max Adams, Lisa Long, John Lopez, Brooke Roberts, and Daniel Shattuck. It follows Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt), who is having memory issues after returning from an ambush in Syria that led to the loss of his entire platoon. He is convinced by his superiors, Commander Cox (LaMonica Garrett), Admiral Pillar (Nick Chinlund), and JAG Captain Howard (Matthew Rauch), that he’s suffering from PTSD.
However, it turns out that he has a tumor in his head caused by an experimental program conducted on him and his team by the Navy and Steve Horn (Jai Courtney). And the death of his entire team was a part of an elaborate cover-up conducted by the Navy and Horn so that no one found out about this unethical practice. Aided by journalist Katie Buranek (Constance Wu) and friends Ben (Taylor Kitsch), Liz (Tyler Rushing), and Marco (Marco Rodriguez), Reece commences his mission to kill everyone who has wronged him and are involved in the deaths of his wife Lauren (Riley Keough) and daughter Lucy (Arlo Mertz).
Reece And Ben Find Themselves In An Awkward Situation
Titled “Reclamation,” the final episode of “The Terminal List” begins with Reece watching Howard’s son and wife being taken away by the FBI after he used him to kill Pillar. As he sits in his RV van, waiting for Ben to come back after changing his appearance, he notices that both of their faces have been plastered on the small screens. After exchanging a quick joke about how horrible they appear, Ben reveals that Hartley (Jeanne Tripplehorn) has moved up north and has surrounded herself with Talos operatives (private security). Reece realizes that that means Hartley knows he is coming for her. Ben asks him if it matters. He says that it doesn’t.
Katie technically gets abducted and brought to Hartley’s compound so that she can get the real story and then publish it. Without wasting any time, she starts to record Hartley’s answers to her questions. Hartley points out that Katie appears skeptical about this business of “setting the record straight.” She says that since Hartley used government resources to pull Katie’s story before it could even be sent to her publisher, Jordan (Arturo Castro), it creates an ample amount of ground for suspicion. Hartley says that Katie’s story was borderline libelous because the order of events regarding what transpired between Capstone Industries and the Navy SEALs was wrong.
Katie backs herself up by saying that her story was solid because she had direct information from Horn, Pillar, and more. Hartley says that her facts are right, but her conclusions are wrong, especially the one where Katie says that she is an unnamed beneficiary of Oberon Analytics. She says that she never received any kind of payoff from Horn or anyone else. Katie refutes this claim because she knows that every conspirator involved in the program was paid. Hartley says that she wasn’t a conspirator because she was acting according to orders from the Pentagon. Katie reiterates that she tested an unlicensed drug on a Navy SEALs platoon, and, except for Reece, everyone is dead. She replies by saying that she did initiate the test, but she wasn’t involved in the cover-up, and she didn’t do it for profit.
Katie asks about the purpose of administering RD-4895 at all. Hartley says that her policies helped troops returning from Afghanistan to have more time before they could be deployed again. But when it came to Special Operatives, she had to deal with their long deployments, which then led to more stress and more trauma. And she emphasizes the fact that she has a moral and professional obligation to address it. Katie says EUAs (Emergency Use Authorization, which is not equal to FDA approval) are done to prevent imminent catastrophic loss of life. Hartley cites a bunch of numbers and name drops 9/11 to defend her stance. Katie asks about the brain tumors, and she says that she didn’t know about them until she saw her on the TV yelling at Horn. She even says that when she realized that Operation Odin Sword was a cover-up for this, she initiated a DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Service) internal investigation.
Hartley gives Katie the permission to leave with what she has (and publish it) or stay in the East Wing of the compound so that they can pick up the conversation later. Elsewhere, Tony (JD Pardo) is seen venting his frustration on the treadmill after getting his butt kicked by Reece. Mac (Christina Vidal) shares a dossier with him, and they come to the conclusion that Ben and Reece are trying to kill Hartley, but she’s definitely going to kill him so that the cover-up is complete. Mac expresses happiness that that means everything that’s been going will finally come to an end. Tony says that he’s sure that Reece is the victim here and that those he’s going after are guilty as hell. Mac wonders if, for some reason, Tony is now rooting for Reece. He corrects her by saying that he sees this as an opportunity to nab both Reece and those who wronged him. She reminds him that they’re on the bench and can do nothing. He reveals that he has contacted the SEALs who helped them track Reece back in the wilderness to help them again.
Katie goes through Hartley’s bank statements, which she has given voluntarily to help with her research. She then sends a message to Reece about Hartley preparing to kill him. He realizes that that means Katie is with Hartley on the island, and, according to Ben, now she has her very own human shield. As they contemplate how they are going to execute the plan, Reece points out the police check that’s being conducted on the highway. Initially, Reece plans to outgun them, but Ben advises against it and tells him that his fake identity is going to work. The police start their thorough check as Ben stays in the driver’s seat, and Reece hides inside one of the compartments of the van. Like Ben said, his wig and glasses do the trick. However, the police officer checking the van comes really close to discovering Reece, causing the two to grip their guns. At the last moment, the police say they are satisfied and let them through.
Reece Completes His Final Assault On Secretary Hartley’s Compound
Hartley pats herself on the back for revealing her financial information, but Katie says that she wants to take a look at the Odin Sword mission log. She agrees to send it to her room. Katie resumes the interview, and they start by talking about Hartley’s father, who apparently suffered from PTSD and took his life. Katie sees this as a means to make the interview melodramatic and deflect attention from the issue at hand: the unlicensed use of a drug that led to the death of an entire platoon. Hartley says that, according to science, tests have better results when they’re done via blind studies. Katie asks her to make the findings public then. When Hartley says she’s doing exactly that via Katie, she says that Hartley is trying to control the narrative because the dead soldiers aren’t there to contradict it.
Hartley says that there’ll be critics of her work who won’t understand, but others will understand her decisions. Katie asks her if James Reece will understand. Since they both know the answer to that, Katie adds another question: Does Hartley blame Reece for his actions? And she reveals, for the first time, that she was in the war room when Reece’s platoon was attacked, and she heard them all go down. She says she was powerless to save them. She even empathizes with Lauren and Lucy’s death. Katie points out that Hartley is currently contradicting her stance by saying that she’s a champion for Reece’s cause while preparing to kill him by fortifying her compound. Hartley says she’s merely being human by protecting herself from someone who is planning to kill her.
Reece and Ben make their way to the island. Tony, Mac, and the Navy SEALs do the same. Katie makes major alterations to her article. An overhead shot of the compound shows that Hartley is ready for the assault. Ben requests Reece one last time to abort the mission because he’s afraid he’s not going to return. He tells him that they should trust Katie’s story to make some waves and take down Hartley, while they go to Peru and live out the rest of their lives. Reece says that’s not how this operation is going to end. Ben, still pleading with him, tells him that he doesn’t have to die alone. And in one of the most heart-wrenching shots in “The Terminal List” Season 1 (there are many!), we get to see Reece’s state of mind as he imagines going on the mission with Boozer (Jared Shaw) and Ramirez (Justin Garza).
On her way out, Katie sits down with Hartley one last time and submits the story. Hartley approves of it. Katie, though, tells her she needs to have one last conversation just to make sure she has her facts straight. She tells her that she entered the war room when the Odin Sword was already in progress. Katie points out that communication was down for roughly nine minutes after Hartley had entered the war room. She asks if she felt anything off about Pillar during the mission. Hartley says she didn’t. Katie states that that means the only time she felt something was wrong was when, 9 minutes later, the platoon encountered the explosives and the enemy. Katie then asks her if Hartley started the DCIS investigation before or after Steve Horn’s death. When Hartley protests this line of questioning, Katie repeats that she only wants to ensure that she has her timeline straight.
After seeing a brief shot of Reece emerging from the water and making his way to Hartley, Katie reveals that the Secretary of Defense has given her two separate stories. In one story, Hartley apparently made a decision to help with the mental health of Special Operatives and made the mistake of putting her trust in the wrong people, i.e., Horn and Pillar. In the other version of the story, she realized what the aforementioned duo had done, and she took steps to curb their access to her department and make sure that those who are responsible for the death of the Alpha platoon are punished. Hartley says that they aren’t separate stories, but one and the same. Katie points that out in the first story; Hartley didn’t know anything about the tumors until she saw Katie on the TV. In the second story, Hartley tried to punish Horn and Pillar before she saw Katie on the TV, which means she knew about what they were doing, and she still let those men die.
Hartley tries to recontextualize it all by saying that Pillar had informed her about the complications of the drug. She drones on about how she trusted Pillar to solve the Alpha platoon’s health issues. But Katie points out, getting increasingly agitated, that Hartley had more than enough time to notify the Alpha platoon to abort the mission, but she didn’t. She claims that for 9 minutes and 21 seconds, Hartley carefully weighed the implications of letting the Alpha platoon live because then she had to face the consequences of approving the use of an untested drug that gave 14 men brain tumors. Finally, Hartley breaks down and goes into a hyper-nationalist rant about how those men saved so many lives by dying, about personal sacrifice and how that makes them heroes. She congratulates herself for letting those men die because now the drug can be perfected and save more lives. Katie points out the lack of consent in all this patriotism, and Hartley realizes where she has gone wrong. Seeing no other option, she prepares to kill Katie, and that’s when Reece and Ben’s assault begins.
In about 10-15 minutes, Reece and Ben manage to make a clear path to Hartley (which essentially means they kill so many men). It’s one of the greatest displays of action filmmaking, and Chris Pratt absolutely bodies this whole segment. After Reece enters the room Katie and Hartley are in, Katie tells Reece to stop. She tells him about Oberon Analytics, the group that got the payoff for setting up Odin Sword. Hartley says that she never meant to hurt Reece. He says that it doesn’t matter, while struggling with his deteriorating physical and mental state. Katie pulls out Lucy’s drawing from Reece’s gear and requests him again to stop. She tells him that she is going to pay for her sins because her interview is solid. For a second, it seems like Hartley is either going to kill Katie or Reece, or both. Reece doesn’t listen and prepares to shoot her. Hartley pulls the gun and shoots herself, thereby bringing an end to this saga (or so you think!)
The FBI and Navy SEALs enter the office to see Hartley lying dead on her desk and Katie standing there, unarmed. Tony notices Reece exiting the compound and goes after him. He tells him to stop as he makes his way into the water. He picks up his swimming gear and continues walking. Tony warns him that he’s going to shoot him if he doesn’t stop. Reece turns to him and says that he’s already dead. That’s when Mac informs him that Reece didn’t kill Hartley. She killed herself. Mac asks Tony if he has eyes on Reece. Tony puts the gun down and lets Reece go.
‘The Terminal List’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Why Did Ben Betray Reece? Season 2 Predictions?
Three weeks later, Katie looks at the recent updates of her watershed reporting while filling out a dossier titled Oberon Analytics. She gets a message from Reece, admitting that her story has done some good as the Pentagon is making huge reforms in favor of the soldiers and their mental health. He then asks her about Oberon Analytics, and she tells him it’s functioning through a bank in Peru. He thanks her for the information and tells her to stop looking for him now. Katie tells him that’s not going to happen. As she exits her hotel room, she sees that the manhunt for Reece is still ongoing.
The narrative of “The Terminal List,” then shifts to Máncora, Peru, where Ben is having a swim and sailing on his very own yacht. As he makes his way to the interior of the boat, Reece appears. Instead of appearing relieved or happy, Ben seems regretful and sad. Reece starts with two words: Oberon Analytics. And everyone’s fears come true because Ben is the one who led the Alpha platoon to its death for 20 million dollars. Ben says he knew Reece and his men had tumors, and he tried to give them an “honorable death.” He says that he isn’t behind Lauren and Lucy’s deaths, though. That’s why he assisted Reece on his mission.
Reece, absolutely heartbroken, says that he knows that Ben isn’t behind Lauren and Lucy’s deaths. Ben reassures Reece that it’s okay and urges him to finish the list. Reece pulls the gun, takes his time, and shoots Ben down. Reece’s recurring dream replays. This time when Lucy asks him about death and what’s going to happen if he doesn’t return from one of his trips, he tells her the truth. He says that even if he’s gone, she has to learn to live with the knowledge that he died doing his job with some of the best men in the world. He tells him that Lauren will be there to take care of her, and then she’ll take care of Lauren. And he’ll always have his eye on them because he will always be alive in the hearts of his loved ones.
We see that Reece has crossed off Ben’s name from the list. He takes one final look at her daughter’s drawing, kisses it, and then lets it fall into the sea. We then see that he is charting a route to the Niassa province of Mozambique. Why? More unfinished business? But the titular list is made. So, what’s he going to find in Mozambique? Well, maybe he’s just going to lie low there, or maybe that’s where the best brain tumor surgeons reside, and they’re going to help him get well again. Either way, these eight episodes of “The Terminal List” are so good that I don’t think it needs a Season 2. It’s perfect. It tells a complete story. However, if Pratt, Fuqua, and Prime Video really want to extend James Reece’s journey, I hope they have a solid reason for it.
“The Terminal List” is a 2022 Drama Thriller series streaming on Amazon Prime Video.