Jack Ryan Season 3 was easily the best of the series, with more action and plot twists that captured everything good about the spy-thriller genre. Now, the series is coming to an end. The fourth-and-final season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan finds the titular character on his most dangerous mission yet. While the wrapping is the same, facing a threat from the inside and out, there are new stakes and less support as the United States and the CIA become more prominent villains. As the new CIA Acting Deputy Director, Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) is tasked with unearthing internal corruption, and in doing so, uncovers a series of suspicious black ops that could expose the country’s vulnerability. But when the call comes from inside the house, the danger rises in Jack Ryan Season 4.
As Jack and the team investigate how deep the corruption runs, he discovers a far-worse reality that may not be the most creative plot from a narrative perspective. A drug cartel with a terrorist organization is getting closer to converging, but the force pulling the two together is ultimately revealed to be a conspiracy much closer to home. One element that has made Jack a compelling character is that he is not immovable in his worldview. Malleable by circumstance and open to pushing back against the idea of American exceptionalism, Jack Ryan has come a long way, and in Season 4, he’s pushed even further when he has to decide to keep believing in the system he has always fought to protect or to hold it accountable.
Tom Clancy’s stories are at their best when they capture how the government chews up and spits out, even those sworn to work for it and protect it. Never shy to critique the United States in the measures taken, as a series, Jack Ryan has worked well because of how often the US is the bad guy—they’ve just hidden it well.
I was skeptical when it was announced that Jack Ryan Season 4 would shift Michael Peña to the center of its story, setting him up for a spin-off show. I wasn’t bought in. Sure, Peña is a fine actor, but his slew of comedic roles kept him reaching any sort of intimidating vision in my mind. But I was wrong. Unassuming because of his stature, Peña as Domingo Chavez is often underestimated. Unlike his counterpart Krasinski who is just physically taking up the space in every frame he is in, Peña doesn’t. But he brings a stillness to the role that churns into a tense undercurrent for his character. Chavez is intimidating and doesn’t have to work hard to be. The cadence of his speech and the way he carries himself all work on-screen.
But Peña isn’t the only great addition to the cast for Jack Ryan Season 4, Louis Ozawa as Chao Fah is one of the guiding forces of the season. A true focus of the season, Chao is a character that gives the audience an empathetic tie to the story that goes beyond what you would expect. A criminal, yes, but he’s also a family man. Ozawa carries that love into every scene and grounds the character in something more than espionage and cartel convergence.
As a whole, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4 is a big story with layered and moving parts. That said, there are still moments of intimacy that make this season one of the strongest but also the most stripped down. Where Season 3 felt bigger in an action sense for the series, Season 4 returns the series to its roots with intricate plotting, a mystery that doesn’t stop as you solve it, and compelling characters that make you and our leads question ideas of loyalty and morality.
Last season brought on-sight locations that awed, and this season aims to make everything feel and be closer to home. While we visit some locations abroad, ending the series in the United States ensures that one of Tom Clancy’s central messages is clear: don’t trust your own government as the heroes. That said, in the season’s final episode, there is a balance and intensity that puts a fantastic and resounding end to a character and his story. As everything is revealed, we see elements of the past seasons snap into place.
Jack Ryan hasn’t been a perfect series, but the way it’s been able to build on the tempo, genre, and cast with each subsequent season is something to applaud. Each better than the last in different ways, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4 is a great end to a series that re-sparked the spy-thriller and brought a whole universe of Clancy characters to Prime Video. Its success in this final season of the series and last season allowed the series to end on a high, even setting up the future with characters that are easy to get attached to.
Jack Ryan Season 4
Jack Ryan hasn’t been a perfect series, but the way it’s been able to build on the tempo, genre, and cast with each subsequent season is something to applaud.