Jack Ryan, Season 2, satisfies and mystifies as some critics miss the Venezuela boat

Photo of Mt. Roraima in Venezuela from CIA World Fact Book.
Photo of Mt. Roraima, the world’s highest tabletop mountain, in Venezuela from CIA World Fact Book.
Promo poster from Amazon Prime
Promo poster of Jack Ryan from Amazon Prime

Tom Clancy’s ‘Jack Ryan’ is back on Amazon Prime for Season 2, and it’s not surprising to see some critics completely miss the boat. Venezuela is the location for this season, and the story is vintage screen version Clancy.

Secret mining ops for a valuable mineral. Corruption within a brutal government regime. Sophisticated technology that has to do with the South China Sea—this last aspect is a bit confusing, I admit. Overall, though, this is one series you want to watch from start to finish.

This season just as the last one was is binge-worthy. You want to keep watching to see what happens and once you’re done, you’re wondering when Season 3 will come.

Clancy’s novels—those written by him, not his designated posthumous heir—always tackled politics, technology, and corruption. I’ve long been a fan, and although I still prefer his books to anything I’ve seen on screen, the Amazon series provides worthy entertainment.

Some critics have complained about the hero (Ryan, a white guy), but equally important in the hero category is practicing Muslim and fellow CIAer James Greer whose complexion is brown. All that has nothing to do with the content, it’s just more social angst among critics. Ryan, played by John Krasinski, and Greer, played by Wendell Pierce, are an excellent match in terms of opposites in every way but one—seeking justice at any cost. A pleasant surprise is the character Harriett Baumann played by Noomi Rapace who does a fantastic job portraying a kick-ass female.

Certain critics have decried US intervention in countries like Venezuela, even if the premise is fictional. Mostly ignored is Cuba’s long relationship with Venezuela, and the push of communist ideology, often in the name of social justice. None of this impacts the plot, however, because the plot is a story as old as time. One country has something valuable. Other countries want it.

At the center of the story is a particular mineral or element critical to manufacturing technology, and the corruption and self-interest among power players in Venezuela and abroad. The story revolves around Ryan, naturally, and how he handles a personal tragedy in a country where you pretty much have a choice between socialism lite or full strength. Both require the surrender of inalienable rights, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a country in Europe or South America.

Things get a little smarmy when a female candidate for president learns the outcome of the election, but in general, the plot works and Jack Ryan, Season 2 delivers entertainment worthy of a serious binge. There’s one scene towards the end in the presidential palace that gave me a surprise shock—that is hard to do. The series is skillfully replete with action and suspense.

I always loved Tom Clancy’s books, and he often foretold developments in foreign relations. Some critics have alleged the Amazon product signals right wing favor, but it really doesn’t. For one thing, the concept of left and right vary from country to country. For another, we can walk away assured that for Venezuela, full scale socialism has invited more corruption and rendered the country very unstable. In the Chavez era, according to the CIA World Factbook, more than 1 million Venezuelans in the middle and upper middle classes left the country.

One thing I learned as I read more about Venezuela after watching the Ryan Season 2 series is how the country came about getting its name. This nugget came as a complete surprise to me from the CIA WFB:

“[N]ative stilt-houses built on Lake Maracaibo reminded early explorers Alonso de OJEDA and Amerigo VESPUCCI in 1499 of buildings in Venice and so they named the region “Venezuola,” which in Italian means “Little Venice.”

I try to keep up with news from Venezuela, and one interesting source is a fellow who Tweets daily from that country. You can follow his reports on Twitter @KalebPrime.

(Kay B. Day/Nov. 11, 2019)

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