The fourth and final season of the latest adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novels offers a fitting farewell to the super agent, but not without a few glaring shortcomings
Story: Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) has taken on a new role as the new Acting Deputy Director of the CIA. His first objective in his new role is to root out systematic corruption within the organisation left behind by his predecessors. He soon discovers connections between the CIA's past mistakes and a new threat against the US emerging on the horizon.
Review: John Kraniski’s time as the famous CIA operative Jack Ryan has come to a close. The fourth and final season has concluded in a manner one would expect from the series – nail-biting drama and guns-blazing action. The performances by the cast, action sequences, and visuals remain immaculate as ever, but the storytelling aspect has taken a downward spiral since season three, and unfortunately continues down the same path for the fourth season.
The first two seasons of the series set lofty standards for the series, which the creators have been unable to match in seasons three and four. One of the main reasons why the earlier seasons garnered praise is the fact that the narrative is grounded in realism. The most noticeable shift is in season three when Russians and Czechs are communicating only in English to their fellow countrymen. This is a departure from previous seasons where the Arabs speak in Arabic, French in French, and Venezuelans in Spanish – in fact, all regional languages were given their due respect. This is abandoned in season three and now in the fourth season as well, where members of the Burmese Triad speak in English amongst themselves.
This creative shift takes away one’s immersion in the story. But if one is willing to look past this glaringly obvious deficiency there is a gripping story in season four. While it may not be as compelling as previous seasons, there is an abundance of drama with twists and turns. Season four’s best attributes are its stunning visuals and scintillating action sequences. And each episode is packed with great performances by the cast. John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, and Michael Kelly excel in their roles yet again, while new cast members Michael McElhatton, Louis Ozawa, and Michael Peña deliver nuanced performances.
Despite its engaging story, the series is riddled with plot holes. Even the major ‘shock’ twists towards the end of the season are predictable. This is a far cry from the excellent first season. And the final season’s greatest failure is its inability to establish a convincing antagonist. In previous seasons, the villains have clear motives as to why they are waging war against the US. However, in season four the villains’ rationale for their motives are less than convincing. The season ultimately spends more time setting up potential spin-offs than on its narrative. Whether these spin-offs will eventually materialise remains to be seen.
The detailed exploration into the Burmese Triad or even the human trafficking ring in Europe would have made for a more compelling TV program. In fact, the focus on the Mexican drug cartels could’ve elevated its storytelling, considering films like Denis Villeneuve and Taylor Sheridan’s Sicario implying the CIA’s role in manipulating the drug business in South America.
Verdict: The fourth season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan concludes the series with yet another engaging story with plenty of action and drama. However, the season fails to match standards set by previous instalments and is riddled with plot holes.