Jack Ryan season 2 premiere recap: Cargo

Jack Ryan returns with a new mission in Venezuela.

It’s been over a year since we last saw John Krasinski in action as Jack Ryan, but the infamous analyst is back with a new mission. “Cargo” spends a majority of the time setting the board for this season, but does so at the expense of what happened between the finale and now. We only get glimpses of Jack’s and Greer’s lives as a quick throwaway before they’re tossed back into the action. It’s understandable, they are trying to build up a certain newcomer right away so that the audience cares enough about the ending but it does feel a little rushed at times.

Warning: Spoilers for the Jack Ryan season 2 premiere will be discussed below!

After a short recap and a new set of opening credits, “Cargo” kicks off. A mysterious satellite has been fired, which winds up being the heart of this mystery. Jack is on the case immediately, already looking for ways to tie this to Venezuela while Greer joins about halfway through the episode.

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Catching up with Jack

So why Venezuela? As Jack Ryan lectures a group of incoming CIA agents about who the biggest threat is to the United States, he brings up world powers. As expected many think that Russia or China pose the largest threat to the US, while a few suggest North Korea. Meanwhile, Jack points out (and one student agrees) that Venezuela is actually where everyone should be looking. The country is one of the richest in resources but is in the midst of a massive humanitarian crisis. He explains that this isn’t shown on the news because all of the world powers want countries like Venezuela to fall so they can swoop in to take advantage. One major issue: Venezuela has nuclear power and is the only country within firing range of the United States.

The lecture ends and Jack is approached by his friend, Senator Jim Moreno (Benito Martinez). Rather than talk shop for too long, Jim brings Jack back to his house for a surprise birthday celebration. It’s nice to see Jack in a casual setting and it’s clear from the familiarity with the Moreno family that he’s very close to them. However, it’s a bit odd that Cathy isn’t brought up once during this catch-up period. We know that she isn’t appearing in this season, but did they break up? Book readers know she’s a pretty major part of Jack’s story so it’s a little odd it isn’t even addressed.

It’s not all fun though, after the celebration has died down and Jim’s wife Vanessa has sent the kids to bed, Jack and Jim get back to business. A cargo ship has surfaced in Caracas and appears to be hidden. One major problem, that ship was allegedly being used to send weapons from Russia to Syria. Now that it’s in the hands of the Venezuelan and its dictator, both Jack and Jim are suspicious of why.

Sadly, suspicion isn’t enough to disrupt diplomacy. Senator Mitchell Chapin (Michael O’Neill) refuses to send the CIA or anyone down there to investigate without actual evidence. Instead, he agrees to let Jim and Jack visit the President of Venezuela to have a diplomatic discussion. Undoubtedly, this is going to go well!

Catching up with Greer

As Jack Ryan has stumbled upon a new problem, so has Greer. He’s working undercover in Moscow and apparently is still just as gifted as he was back in the old days. Easily shaking his tail, Greer meets with his Russian informant, Mikhail Pelevin (Lev Gorn) in a hotel room. The USA has gotten Pelevin’s son a way out of Russia but sadly his wife must stay until they have more information. Currently, they need to know about the satellite which was seen being launched, so Pelevin takes off.

Meanwhile, the faux couple that was following Greer before catches up with him to exchange words. Before they can actually speak, he passes out and they hurriedly dump him at the hospital. Hey, it’s better than leaving him for dead! Nevertheless, it turns out Greer has a heart condition which makes him too much of a liability to his boss, Carter Estes (Frank Whaley).

Greer being Greer defies Estes’ order to stay grounded and meets up with Pelevin where he discovers the satellite was not launched by the Russians but the Venezuelans! Pelevin asks to stay informed of any future news regarding the launch but departs before they can discuss it further. Upon discovering that Jack Ryan is the only one who requested to go to Venezuela, Greer has a new game plan. He tells Estes he’ll happily transfer so long as he can go to Venezuela and gets to inform the CIA of his heart issue himself.

It’s time for diplomacy

In Venezuela, Jim and Jack meet up with Ambassador Lisa Calabrese (Susan Misner) before they all head out to see the President. From the get-go, we can feel the tension in the room. Nicolas Reyes (Jordi Mollá) clearly thinks he can get away with anything and doesn’t actually care what the “Americans” threaten him with. However, his General Ubarri (Francisco Denis) isn’t quite as naive to think they can be so cavalier at this point. As expected the meeting doesn’t go well and Jack walks away even more suspicious.

Meanwhile, someone already has a plan of their own in action. Someone hires Max Schenkel to kill two targets but we don’t know who or why at first. He’s clearly an impressive assassin, but he works with a middle woman so it’s unclear who his boss is. Right away we can tell he’s not the best guy though.

Meeting the Ubarri’s

What Jack Ryan did very well last season was try to humanize its antagonists. It’s not interesting to have a villain who’s evil simply for the sake of being evil, especially when people have layers. Here we have General Ubarri, who seems like a candidate to attempt a military coup in the near future. He’s worried what Nicolas is doing and admits to his wife, Cassandra (Marcela Vanegas), that polls show the people of Venezuela are looking towards the Democratic candidate for President. She thinks he should be in charge, and we’re getting some early Lady Macbeth vibes from her.

However, their daughter Maria (Laura Giraldo), could pose a threat to their coup. As she gets older and more rebellious, she’s beginning to think more like her “left-leaning” friends. It makes sense, progressive ideas are generally favored more by younger generations. Could she disrupt her parents’ attempt to get more power?

A night out on the town

Greer shows up at the bar where Jack and Jim are drinking so the three men decide to go out. Jim takes them to a little outdoor restaurant since he actually grew up in Caracas. This explains why the corruption in the city seems so personal for him. These scenes are essentially there to explain the bond between Jim and Jack. The two served in Afghanistan together, where they were loyal brothers. In fact, after Jack’s many back surgeries, Jim was the first face he saw when he woke up. Not to mention, Jim was there every single day through recovery.

In contrast to this nice friendship, Jack and Greer are a bit more antagonistic. Jack resents the fact that Greer got a promotion then turned around to offer him an entry-level job in Moscow. However, Greer points out that Jack might be a genius but he only pulled off one operation. He’s far from being an expert and he still has plenty to learn.

Rather than go to bed like the other two guys, Jack heads back to the bar to chat with a woman he noticed earlier. It’s Noomi Rapace’s Harry Baumann, a mysterious new character who Jack is smitten with immediately. The two flirt casually over drinks before they spend the night together. Either Jack and Cathy are over, on a break, or he just cheated during a mission. Either way, would be nice to get some clarification.

It’s a personal attack

Schenkel bribes the police captain with money to put his mother in a proper care facility in exchange to trap the US envoy. Once they’re cornered, the captain drives off as the guards desperately try to shoot their attackers. Bombs are set off under two of the three cars, but thankfully Jack’s vehicle is okay. Jim doesn’t seem to have any major injuries, while Ambassador Calabrese has some shrapnel in her hand. The diplomat isn’t used to a war zone and spends most of the time terrified while Jack jumps into action.

Almost immediately, it’s revealed Schenkel is on the roof waiting to snipe his two targets down. Since Jack, Calabrese, and Jim are the only three left that means two out of the three are wanted dead. Realizing he needs to abandon the guards, Jack drives off to save their lives. He manages to get Calabrese to safety once another attacker slams into their car. However, when he goes back for Jim, it’s too late. Schenkel shoots Jim once, and as Jack rushes to save him, Jim warns him back in time for Jack to watch his best friend get shot again.

He doesn’t come out of hiding, so Schenkel quickly abandons his rifle and returns to the street but Jack is devastated. He calls Vanessa from the roof, and it’s clear from his face that he plans to get revenge for his fallen friend. As for the police captain, he returns home to find his wife and children all murdered. He manages to escape once his dog bites the attacker, but he doesn’t seem like the best person because he just abandons the dog to be stabbed to death rather than grab the gun and save her.

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Final thoughts

Overall “Cargo” does what it sets out to do. We have a clear sense of who the antagonists are this season and why Jack will become obsessed with this case. Greer’s time in the field is coming to an end and every moment he’s on-screen is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. That being said, it was hard to keep up with some of the new characters while I was wondering where the season 1 members are. Cathy is obviously MIA, but Matice and Nathan Singer are also not seen or heard about. Not to mention, introducing Jack’s best friend now just to kill him off immediately feels a little cheap but we’ll see how the show deals with his death throughout the rest of this season.

What did you think of the season 2 premiere of Jack Ryan? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!

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