Warning: SPOILERS Below For Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan!
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan ended its first season in slam-bang fashion, while also setting up season 2. Amazon Prime has already greenlit the series' second season, which stars John Krasinski as the heroic CIA analyst. Season 1 detailed how Ryan leaves his comfortable desk job for the grimy world of CIA fieldwork, leading to a complex tale of Ryan battling an international terrorist plot born in the Middle East.
Krasinski's Jack Ryan begins as a financial analyst for the CIA's Terror, Finance, and Arms Division (T-FAD). His specialty is "following the money" of terrorists in Yemen, which leads him to uncover a mysteriously well-funded new figure rising in the region named Suleiman (which means 'man of peace'). The first half of the season splits its attention between the analyst learning the ins and outs of dangerous fieldwork from T-FAD's new division chief Jim Greer (Wendell Pierce) while fans learn the tragic life story of Suleiman. But by the season's midpoint, bloody terrorist attacks in Paris and in the United States begin to escalate and Jack Ryan embraces a more outrageous plot reminiscent of Tom Clancy's novels.
Suleiman's labyrinthine scheme involving Sarin gas, corpses riddled with the Ebola virus, kidnapped Doctors Without Borders, and a nuclear dirty bomb is a challenge not just for Jack Ryan to understand but for the viewer to as well. So let's break down just what Jack Ryan's nemesis was trying to accomplish and how the series' patriotic hero matched him move for move until he ended the terrorist threat.
- This Page: Suleiman's Terrorist Plot
- Page 2: How Jack Ryan Sets Up Season 2
Suleiman's Terrorist Background Explained
Jack Ryan explains the villain's history in detail. In 1983, Mousa bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman) and his younger brother Ali (Haaz Sleiman) were orphaned by a horrific bombing raid that destroyed their village in Lebanon. Both brothers fled the Middle East and came of age within the Muslim community in Paris. Though they became French citizens, they were always outsiders, seen as Muslim first and not truly French. As such, the Suleimans were subject to racism and harassment by suspicious French police.
By 2001, Mousa had graduated from college with a degree in economics, but no French bank would hire him despite his forward-thinking dissertations that online banking is the future of finance. Dejected, Mousa was arrested for assault when he saved his brother from being harassed by two French police officers. Mousa was imprisoned for years but was radicalized by ISIS during his incarceration. Upon Mousa's release, the loyal Ali followed his big brother and joined the radical Islamist terrorist network. Basing himself in Syria, Suleiman rose in power and influence as a Sheikh, using his expertise in finance to secure European funding through Yemen for his own splinter group within ISIS. He also married a woman named Hanin (Dina Shiaibi) and fathered three young children.
While the tragic details of his life make him seem sympathetic, Suleiman is certainly evil and hellbent on death and destruction. When Jack Ryan encounters him in the first episode, Mousa is posing as the bodyguard to his Yemenese contact when they are detained by the U.S. Military. As Ryan interrogates 'the bodyguard', he discovers Mousa is the 'Suleiman' he's after, but Ali leads an attack on the U.S. base and rescues his brother. The initial face-to-face meeting between Ryan and Suleiman sets the stage for the rivalry between the two men that encompasses the rest of the season.
The Terrorist Master Plan Is Very Tom Clancy-esque
Tom Clancy's best-selling techno-thrillers usually contained fantastical elements, from the undetectable nuclear sub stolen in The Hunt For Red October to how the author foresaw the real-life events of 9/11 when he wrote of terrorists flying an airliner into the U.S. Capitol in Debt of Honor. Jack Ryan's story begins as a straightforward spy game but gradually escalates into outlandish territory, but that very much honors Clancy's operatic style of plotting.
Suleiman's hatred of France and the U.S. make them the targets of his bizarre master plan. It begins six months before the main plot of the series when Suleiman exhumes corpses that were riddled with a particularly virulent strain of Ebola and has them delivered to a 'black biology' site to be experimented on. Then, 7 weeks before the main story begins, a group of Doctors Without Borders, including four Americans (one of whom, Dr. Nadler, is a personal friend of the President of the United States), are captured and imprisoned by ISIS under the command of Colonel Al Radwan (Jameel Khoury).
After he escapes U.S. Military custody thanks to Ali, Suleiman sends his younger brother to Paris to pay off their terrorist cell and prepare an attack on the City of Lights. Ryan and Greer team up with French Intelligence agents to neutralize the cell, but not before one of the terrorists ignites a suicide bomb that demolishes an apartment building in Paris. Now in action hero mode, Ryan eventually tracks Ali to the French Alps and kills him. Afterward, Suleiman's people murder a well-liked French priest. At the priest's funeral in Paris, Suleiman's agents set off Sarin gas in the church, murdering over 300 people. Suleiman then publicly takes credit for the Paris attack in a series of videos uploaded to the Internet.
Back in Syria, Suleiman uses his funds funneled through Yemen to buy the loyalty of Colonel Al Radwan's troops. He overthrows Al Radwan and consolidates his power as the new Sheikh. Feigning generosity to the captive Western doctors, Suleiman offers them much-needed medical supplies, but the medicine is actually laced with the Ebola virus derived from the corpses. Ryan and the CIA then learn Suleiman's location from Hamin, who fleed her husband with their two daughters, fearing for their lives. (Their son chooses to remain with Suleiman, however). Ryan and Greer retrieve Hamin and the girls in Turkey and bring them to the U.S. as refugees. When the CIA sends a black ops team into Suleiman's base, they discover the terrorists have all escaped - they knew the Americans were coming because Suleiman's children innocently talked to each other via the chat room of a video game (which Ali and Mousa also used to secretly communicate). The American troops rescue the Doctors Without Borders, however, which is the result Suleiman wanted.
Back in the U.S., President Andrew Pickett is reunited with his friend Dr. Nadler (Matt McCoy), who unwittingly carries Ebola and ends up exposing the President and other members of the administration. They are quarantined in Washington Memorial Hospital, which is the target of Suleiman's next attack. Entering the U.S. with a Canadian passport, Suleiman has one of his men plant a bomb in a local pizza parlor; the explosion distracts the police and emergency services so the terrorists can target Washington Memorial. Posing as EMTs, they plan to set off a nuclear gas bomb in the hospital to kill the President, but Ryan figures out the hospital is Suleiman's true target. With Greer's help, Ryan is able to chase Suleiman out of the hospital and into the Metro subway, where the terrorist can't get a signal to set off the bomb. Ryan then shoots Suleiman (in the back!) while Greer kills the other terrorists in the hospital, saving the President.
Suleiman's plot is certainly involved, but much of it seems like illogical overkill. For instance, it wasn't enough to conjure such a bizarre scheme to poison the President with Ebola; Suleiman still chose to come to the U.S. to personally nuke the hospital because somehow President Pickett wasn't exposed to enough of the Ebola for it to be lethal. Suleiman also entered the U.S. wearing glasses (like Clark Kent) and went undetected by Homeland Security, despite the fact that by posting videos of himself claiming credit for the Paris attacks, his face was seen on every TV and he was the most famous terrorist in the world. Suleiman's motivations were also vague; he promised his followers the typical religious-fueled holy war against the West but even if he succeeded in killing the President, he'd only end up igniting an all-out war with the U.S. so his goals were murky at best.
Also, while Ryan and Greer killed Suleiman and his closest lieutenants, most of his terrorist network remains at large in Syria. They'll likely join the next leader who rises to power. But at least Suleiman's son was reunited with his mother and sisters and they are all safely living in the U.S.