Silent and Deadly – Review of “Reacher” Episode One “Welcome to Margrave”

Reacher Poster Art. Source

I was a relative newbie to the Jack Reacher novels when the Tom Cruise films, Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, were released in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Written by British-born Lee Childs, the character of Jack Reacher immediately grabbed my attention: a wandering former military police officer who finds himself in the middle of criminals, corrupt cops, and violent situations. The book series the films were based on work well when trimmed down for the cinema but they would work even better in a long-form series. Amazon Prime’s Reacher tries to do that and succeeds, largely on the performance of Alan Ritchson.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the first episode of the series.

Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson). Source

An adaptation of Killing Floor, the first novel in the series, Reacher finds the eponymous character entering the small Georgia town of Margrave, only to be immediately arrested for murder. The leading moments in the first episode show Jack Reacher walking in to Margrave, a lone figure set against the open expanse, creating a visual tableau of what Reacher is, a knight-errant set out in the world to right wrongs wherever he sees them. We don’t hear Reacher speak for a good portion of the first ten minutes of the episode. Instead, we see him as he interacts with others, quietly intimidating an abusive husband as the man and his wife exit a diner. When Reacher sits down to have some coffee and peach pie, he sees the police arrive, guns drawn but no one else in the dinner is reacting. With only a handful of gestures and expressions, Ritchson conveys the calculating nature of Reacher, who immediately puts down his utensils and places his hands flat on the table.

Ritchson (who some might recognize from Blue Mountain State and Smallville) is an imposing figure, every bit the mountain of a human being Childs describes in the novels. There is a quiet intensity to everything Reacher does that Ritchson captures easily. Reacher is a man of few words most of the time, except when he’s dissecting a crime scene or using his powers of observation to pick apart the detective who thinks Reacher’s involved in the murder that sets off the plot. Cold and taciturn, Reacher fits the bill of a heroic archetype but as the first episode shows, he’s not some witless oaf. A decorated soldier and investigator, Reacher is meticulous (as he puts it to Detective Finley, the details matter) and he is not averse to violence when the need arises.

Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) and Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald). Source

The rest of the main cast is rounded out by Oscar Finley (played by Malcolm Goodwin, who some may recognize from iZombie) and Roscoe Conklin (portrayed by Willa Fitzgerald from MTV’s Scream). Finley is a fastidious overachiever, a Harvard graduate who became a police officer in a small Georgia town after serving in the Boston Police Department. Roscoe is the local girl with deep roots in Margrave who takes an immediate liking to the tall, brooding Reacher. The interplay between the three of them in the first episode goes a long way to set the mood and the three leads have excellent chemistry. Finley and Roscoe both quickly realize that Reacher was not involved but Finley uses Reacher to protect the man who confesses to the crime, a banker named Charlie Hubble.

When Hubble and Reacher are sent to the county jail for an overnight stay, they are placed in the general prison population by a corrupt guard. Despite not liking Hubble, Reacher shows that he has a strong code of honor, particularly when it comes to bullies. The fight scene in the shower is brutal, showcasing Reacher’s efficient method of fighting multiple attackers with hardly taking a scratch in the process. We soon learn that Hubble is involved in some fashion with the people who murdered a man in the opening minutes of the episode but the details are scant, save for an explanation of the gruesome method the conspirators would use if they kill Hubble.

The tension of the episode increases when it’s discovered there was a second body found near the site of the first one. Finley insists on Reacher coming with him to the morgue. There is a palpable tension in the room as the victim’s death is described but the lingering detail that catches Reacher’s attention is the bloating that occurred in the victim’s fingers from an allergic reaction. The look of dawning horror on Ritchson’s face as it begins to dawn on him who the first victim is sells the final moment when we discover the first murder victim is, in fact, Joe Reacher, Jack’s older brother. Reacher’s quiet declaration, said with absolute surety, that he will find and kill all of the people involved in his brother’s death ends the episode, setting up the story arc that will consume the eight episodes of this first season.

Overall, I enjoyed the first episode the series. The main actors are well cast in their roles and there is a brisk pace to the episode that doesn’t linger too long in any one place. We are introduced to an assortment of characters that will play a part in the series over the course of the season. And there are little character moments that reveal who we are watching, such as Reacher’s love of the Delta Blues (the reason he was traveling to Margrave in the first place), as well as Finley’s abrupt and standoffish personality grating against the cold demeanor of Reacher (with Roscoe serving as a foil between the two). I’m looking forward to finishing the series since all of the episodes dropped on the same day.

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