The first thing you'll notice about the Jack Ryan Season 3 Premier is the tone. It's a fundamental shift and one that puts it in an entirely different category. Surprisingly, this is a very good thing. Gone is the campy atmosphere and, it would seem, the real Jack Ryan has arrived. If nothing else, measured against previous seasons, Season 3 is astonishingly ambitious. It's big, it's deep, and it's a whole lot tighter than any season yet. However, it is not without its flaws.
The series falls prey to the insufferable greys that blockbusters seem to thrill in these days. The color keying is bleak, which serves to create a very frigid tone to the series. This affected color keying is emblematic of an industry trend, one that many critics have lamented. (This one included). The bleak coloring does serve a purpose, but with an industry so homogenous in palette, it would have been nice to see something else.
The closest comparison to another show in tone and plot structure would be 24, although with slightly less panache. The show is one that requires undivided attention, and your undivided attention it will have. It may be more cerebral than the previous two seasons, but this is no American Idiot. When Green Day made that album, many longtime fans felt at a loss: it was a fundamentally different band. The same could be said of Jack Ryan. But this time the band, so to speak, has changed for the better.
Even if fans of the original two seasons feel a bit put out, it is difficult to argue against the decisions made because Jack Ryan has started to punch way above its weight. Its tightrope plot, and undercurrent of chaos ready to unleash on us, keeps us guessing. It added in some clever twists that are pleasant surprises as well. This makes for much better television, but can it hold its own against similarly complex genre benders like Barry? It may not have the emotional depth of Barry, but the razer sharp tension is there throughout the episode, keeping us on the edge of our seats.
Speaking of razor sharp, Jon Krasinski gives a phenomenal performance finally coming into his own as Jack Ryan. The boy scout routine is replaced by a stern, confident Jack Ryan that has grown accustomed to the field and the compromises that often become necessary there.
We also get an excellent supporting performance from Wendell Pierce, delivering a hardline ally for Jack throughout the episode. Another bright spot was Nina Hoss, the staunchly pragmatic Czech Republic Prime Minister, a character who is put together quite well by the actress. The performances all around are much tighter. Jack, Greer, and the new supporting cast's performances are deep, layered, and well done on all fronts.
Finally, the overall purpose of this series premier, as with all great season premieres, was to set up the rest of the season that would follow. It did this in spades. We are left with Jack on the end of a string, fighting against the chaos. It's a harder Jack Ryan, but one worth watching. Jack Ryan's series premier is not perfect, but it is well worth the time it asks of you.