Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 12, 2023)
Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series of novels debuted in 1997 with The Killing Floor. This story gets adapted for the small screen via 2022’s first season of the Amazon series Reacher.
All eight episodes appear on these three Blu-ray discs. The plot synopses come from IMDB.
Welcome to Margrave: “Recently discharged from the Army, Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) travels to Margrave, Georgia where he discovers that the idyllic town is a cesspool of corruption. After it becomes personal, he vows to burn it down.”
The character made it to the big screen with 2012’s Jack Reacher. Though Child wrote Reacher as a 6-foot-5 behemoth, that movie cast the 5-foot-7 Tom Cruise to play the lead.
I liked the 2012 movie but understand why fans found the casting of the diminutive Cruise as problematic. Though not quite as tall as the literary Reacher, the 6-foot-3 Ritchson certainly better approximates the role’s physical dimensions.
How well Ritchson depicts Reacher’s demeanor I will leave up to the fans, as I never read the books. At least in this first episode, Ritchson’s Reacher feels more glib and genial than Cruise’s more world-weary version.
Still, Ritchson seems fine so far, and as noted, he lives up to the part’s physical requirements well. We certainly buy him as the muscular ultra-fighter, at least.
As an initial episode, “Margrave” manages to launch the series well. It presents an intriguing mystery and gives the characters positive introductions. Though I can’t call it a great show, “Margrave” works well enough to get me interested in where we’ll go.
First Dance: “When more victims are discovered, Reacher attempts to get answers but is set up. Roscoe (Willa Fitzgerald) discovers a threatening message.”
As expected, the plot thickens with “Dance” – and sometimes in predictable ways, as anyone could tell we’d get a romance between Reacher and the awfully-hot-for-a-small-town-female-cop Roscoe. Still, even with that eye-roll inducing development, “Dance” manages enough intrigue to push it across the finish line.
Spoonful: “Reacher and Finlay's (Malcolm Goodwin) investigation leads them into a confrontation with Kliner (Currie Graham). Roscoe learns unsettling news about Reacher.”
Probably the best aspects of “Spoonful” come from the way the episode allows Finlay to evolve into a tougher character than his Ivy League look implies. The rest of the show pushes along the main narrative in a pretty solid manner as well.
In a Tree: “As the danger increases, Reacher and Roscoe grow closer and make plans to meet their contact at Homeland Security.”
In S1’s least-surprising development, the sexual tension between Reacher and Roscoe finally erupts. I don’t know if this side of the story comes from the original novel or if those behind the series invented it, but it still feels trite.
Other parts of “Tree” drag a bit as well, though the episode picks up as it goes. Despite the lackluster moments, we get enough useful narrative info to make the show decent.
No Apologies: “As the mystery deepens, Reacher teams up with an old colleague and Finlay makes a shocking discovery.”
One running thread resolves in a surprising way, as we see what appears to offer the end of the minor subplot in which Reacher helped an abused dog. This comes to a positive conclusion but not the one I anticipated.
As for the rest of the episode, it thickens various plot elements in appropriate ways. I appreciate that it relies more on actual detective work than most other shows, so it advances the story well.
Papier: “While the town is rocked by another murder, Reacher heads to New York and learns the truth about the illegal business in Margrave. Roscoe faces danger in the woods.”
The change of scenery adds a nice spin for this episode, and we find useful flashbacks to expand on narrative domains. As the season approaches its conclusion, “Papier” propels matters well.
Reacher Said Nothing: “Reacher springs a trap and then gets trapped himself.”
Without much room left in S1, “Said” expands the various story points in a positive manner. Throw in some of the expected action and intrigue and we find another solid show.
Pie: “Reacher leads a rescue mission at the warehouse that ends in a showdown.”
S1 comes to a conclusion in an exciting way. Reacher gets stuck in difficult spots and finds a way to wrap up this whole affair with events that satisfy.
All of this means Season One of Reacher works well. This long-form telling of the Killing Floor novel uses its time nicely and makes me look forward to what Season Two might bring.