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Reacher season 2





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

They say certain animals, and certain people, know when a storm’s coming in. Dogs get antsy. Sheep gather a little more tightly. Old-timers’ trick knees start acting up.

Some folks might wish their knees would twinge when Jack Reacher nears their city limits. He’s like a thundercloud: Big, powerful and impossible to miss. And once he’s in town, it’s too late: The storm’s just about to break.

Big Guy, Big Problems

It’s not that Reacher goes looking for trouble; well, not often, anyway. He travels from town to town, stopping in for a piece of pie here, buying an old vinyl record there. He calls himself a hobo, and he lives his life without strings: no family, no real friends, not even a Facebook account.

Weird how trouble always seems to know where he’s heading.

In Season Two of Amazon Prime’s Reacher (based on Lee Child’s book Bad Luck and Trouble), we learn that our hulking hero wasn’t always a loner. Back in his Army days, he led an elite team of special investigators, every member of which was smart, dedicated and lethal. All ultimately left the Army. While Reacher moved on (and on and on—making him nearly impossible to find), everyone else was moving up. Some got married and had kids. Most found success in the civilian world. And lately, it seems, some of them are dying.

When former special investigator Calvin Franz is found dead in the middle of nowhere—apparently pushed out of a helicopter—old teammate Frances Neagley contacts Reacher via a secret code in his ATM account. They soon realize that this was no isolated incident: Someone is picking off Reacher’s old pals.

Why? Reacher has no clue. But he and his surviving teammates aren’t running scared. They’ll be running toward trouble—and that trouble, in whatever guise it comes in, won’t know what hit it.

Reach for the Why

Reacher began his long, bloody career in Lee Child’s 1997 novel Killing Floor. He’s since fronted another 25 books and been the cornerstone of two aptly named movies: Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

Those movies starred Tom Cruise, who at 5-foot-7 doesn’t quite measure up—literally—to the massive character Child envisioned. The Amazon Prime show (based on Killing Floor and priming itself for a multi-season run) seeks to correct that, trading out Cruise’s charismatic hero for Alan Ritchson’s glowering, hulking, straight-faced killer.

And it’s not just Reacher who’s bigger these days: The problems are, too.

Cruise’s Jack Reacher films were both rated PG-13. Amazon’s reboot, if it were a movie and not a television show, would be rated a hard, bloody R.

People die with some frequency, and often in some really horrific ways. (A Season One victim was stripped naked and nailed to his own wall.) Even those that don’t die suffer nasty, wince-inducing injuries. We see and hear bones snap. Fisticuffs can leave loads of people bloodied and bruised. Knives cut. Bullets fly. If the character Reacher is a harbinger of storm, his clouds don’t come with rain, but blood.

Profanity blows in on the winds of this Amazon storm, too, with the occasional f-word and frequent s-word howling through the speakers. We see nudity and sensuality as well, though our characters rarely have much leisure time.

You have to ask how unlucky Jack Reacher has to be: Trouble seems to follow the guy. And from what I can see, some of that trouble might go straight through the screen.

Episode Reviews

Dec. 15, 2023 – S2, Ep1: “ATM”

Frances Neagley, a compatriot from Jack Reacher’s old Army investigative unit, contacts him via a numerical code in an ATM machine. When the two talk, Neagley tells him that another member of the team, Calvin Franz, was found murdered. Reacher flies to New York to help Neagley investigate the matter, and they soon discover that someone seems to be killing off their old friends, one by one.

They’re not just killing them, though. They’re torturing them—apparently for information. When Reacher looks at Franz’s autopsy file, he quickly deduces that his legs were broken and he was practically starved to death before he was killed. We see Franz thrown out of a helicopter and plummet hundreds of feet, where his bloodied corpse lies, still and lifeless. Later, the specter of the mutilated man confronts Reacher.

The show opens with Reacher in line for an ATM behind a woman, who’s bleeding and terrified. Reacher quickly learns that the woman’s minivan has been carjacked, the thug has a gun and her son is in the back seat. “Stay here,” Reacher tells her. “This won’t take long.” He quickly goes to the car, smashes the window, punches the carjacker several times and forces him to release the gun. The man lies unconscious in the street by the time Reacher’s done.

As part of his investigation, Reacher decides he needs a gun. He goes into a local church, tells the pastor a lie about his drug-addicted brother and learns where drugs are typically sold. He drives out to the locale, smashes a drug dealer with his car door and beats him and another guy up. (One bleeds heavily from the mouth.) Reacher rifles through both men’s pockets and pulls out drugs, a roll of cash and a gun. He keeps the gun, throws the drugs (cocaine, Oxycontin and meth, we’re told) down a sewer grate and gives the roll of bills to the priest.

In a flashback, Reacher and his newly formed special-investigation team get into a fight with about a dozen Army officers. (The team was hanging out in an officers-only canteen, and Neagley was not an officer; the other Army guys took exception.) We see Reacher throw one guy out a window. He and another teammate punch a couple of other soldiers relentlessly.

A man kills two people with a knife. Reacher finds a dead dog in a bathroom—apparently dying of thirst. Several rooms are found ransacked.

Characters drink beer and jokingly tease each other. Reacher is shown shirtless. Neagley asks Reacher if he ever found another female member of their team attractive. (Reacher admits that he did, but when Neagley asks if he ever slept with her, Reacher says no. “That would’ve been inappropriate,” he says.) There’s a reference to suicide. Reacher learns another member of his team died in a car crash a few years earlier.

Characters use the f-word four times and the s-word nearly another 15. We also hear “a–,” “b–tard,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p-ssed.” God’s name is misused once.

Feb. 4, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “Margrave, Georgia”

Jack Reacher rides a bus into town and stops by a diner for a piece of peach pie. He never gets a chance to finish, though: Reacher is quickly arrested for murder and hauled in for questioning. Even when he proves that he didn’t do it, he’s still thrown in the clink—in part to keep track of Paul Hubble, the mild-mannered banker who confessed to the killing. Did Hubble really kill the guy? And if not, why did he confess? Reacher and his uneasy partners, Det. Oscar Finley and Officer Roscoe Conklin, are determined to find out.

The prison guard demands that Hubble and Reacher strip, bend over and “spread.” Reacher and Hubble do strip down to their skivvies, but he refuses to allow the cavity search for either of them (citing regulations that suggest it’s uncalled for anyway). In prison, a fellow detainee makes some homosexual moves on Hubble, even undoing his trousers. His advances are terminated when Reacher head-butts the guy a few times, rendering him unconscious.

The two are attacked in the shower, as well (we see someone’s exposed rear end). Reacher snaps an assailant’s arm, breaks another man’s foot and gouges someone bloodily in the eye. He winds up a bit bloodied and battered himself.

We see a victim who’s shot by a killer via sniper weapon. The victim is then stomped relentlessly by someone. (We see those brutal actions from the dead victim’s point of view, and Finley explains the body was battered after the victim was dead.) We also catch a glimpse of a corpse in the morgue. We hear about Reacher’s war record (where he killed a few people, but they were all ruled “good kills”). In flashback, Reacher and his brother prepare to fight a handful of bullies. Guns are pointed.

[Spoiler Warning] Hubble tells Reacher that he’d fallen in with some bad elements, and they’d threaten both him and his family with gruesome death unless he played ball with them (including confessing to the murder).

Someone smokes. Characters say the f-word twice and the s-word five times. We also hear “a–,” “d–n,” “b–ch,” “g-dd–n” and “h—.” Jesus’ name is abused once.

Feb. 4, 2022 – S1, Ep2: “First Dance”

More murders crop up in Margrave, including the grotesque killings of the town sheriff and his wife. But despite repeated efforts to make Reacher join the growing litany of the dead, the traveling hobo’s still alive. Now, it seems, the killers may be gunning for Reacher’s favorite law enforcement officer, Roscoe Conklin.

The murder scene depicts the sheriff’s wife lying face-down on a floor, her clothed body bloodied badly. But her husband is clearly staged by the killers to draw the most attention: His nude body has been nailed to the wall (we see every bloody inch of the corpse, including his genitals and the massive stakes in the man’s arms). One man inspecting the corpse discovers (using a variety of curse words) that his testicles have been removed: Reacher says they’re probably in the man’s stomach—and that the killers made him eat them before he died.

Reacher battles several beer-drinking youths (who’d obviously been instructed to attack him). He quickly breaks the hands and arms of three of them (we see one assailant’s wrist snap grotesquely), leaving the fourth unscathed to drive the rest to the hospital. He also fights two much-more-skilled mercenaries: He and one of them fight with a couple of knives (leading to bad cuts on both men). He breaks the arm of another with a car trunk door. After the fight, Reacher insists he doesn’t need stitches for the worst of his wounds (which we see on his exposed back). “Super glue it is, then,” Conklin says.

Conklin (a female officer) and Reacher go out to a roadhouse in neighboring Alabama, where the two dance somewhat sensually with each other. When a washed-out road forces them to get a hotel, we see both of them in stages of undress (Conklin’s in a tank-top and panties, while Reacher walks about shirtless). But Reacher sleeps on the floor.

We hear about someone’s mental issues, drinking problems and eventual suicide. A house is ransacked. A man uses chewing tobacco. In flashback, a posse of teenagers forced a mentally impaired child to dance until Reacher and his brother step in. We hear a great deal of speculation about potentially crooked officers and politicians. Reacher threatens a detective and lies to someone to get a meeting. There’s a reference to capital punishment via lethal injection.

We hear the f-word twice, the s-word five times and a smattering of other profanities, including “a–,” d–n,” “h—” and “p-ssed.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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