jack Ryan S1Ep4

This post analyzes the Amazon Prime television series Jack Ryan using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

This post will spoil everything about episode 5 from the Jack Ryan television series, so make sure you watch it before reading on.


There are two storylines happening in this episode, one for the Protagonist and one for the Antagonist.

The 5 Commandments of the Jack Ryan’s storyline

Inciting Incident

The start of this episode begins with Suleiman’s brother, on the run and wounded, being stopped by a French policeman while fleeing through the Alps. Though seeing the blood, mysteriously the policeman allows him to go on his way. Once again, a good inciting incident for an action genre story, the terrorist is wounded (dying), he may decide to kill the policeman rather than be killed (he has his pistol ready). This inciting incident is further connected by the next scene where Jack Ryan and the French woman detective following Suleiman’s brother in order to discover the other terrorists and find out where a larger attack may take place.

Progressive Complication/ Turning Point

Progressive complications in this episode for the Jack Ryan storyline:

  • Suleiman’s brother stopped by policeman
  • The team loses Suleiman’s brother
  • The team discovers that Suleiman’s brother switched cars
  • Ryan discovers that the car next them at the gas station is suspicious
  • Suleiman’s brother sees Ryan looking at the car and pulls his gun
  • The French women detective is accidentally shot by a French policeman
  • The French Policeman is shot by Suleiman’s brother

The Turning Point is: Suleiman’s brother runs out of bullets and flees; this leads Ryan to the crisis question.

Crisis

The French woman detective is seriously wounded and insists that he follow Suleiman’s brother, and the crisis question for Ryan, the best bad choice, is does he stay there and give first aid to her and possibly save her, or does he chase after Suleiman’s brother in the hopes he can stop a large terrorist attack. Once again, both choices could end in death.

Climax

Ryan decides to chase after Suleiman’s brother after asking the gas station attendant to call an ambulance. He chooses to risk her dying over possibly saving many people in the terrorist attack.

Resolution

The French Detective dies and Ryan is forced to kill Suleiman’s brother, therefore not getting the information he needed to stop another terrorist attack. As a result, Suleiman’s men set off gas during a funeral in Paris, France.

This value shift is a +/-. In the beginning, Ryan has the hope that following the brother might lead him to stopping the terrorist attack. But at the end, when he is forces to kill the brother, they are unable to stop the attack.

The Antagonist Scenes

There is not so much a 5 commandments for the Antagonist scenes, rather they are set ups for upcoming episodes. As a viewer, I couldn’t figure out why they mugged and killed the priest in episode 2, but apparently it was to get disguises and set up a funeral for them to conduct their terrorist attack. Now that this is apparent, it is obvious that Suleiman is making further plans for terrorist attacks and he has taken over more men from his former boss/ Sheik and now has hostages to use in his future plans.

The Global 5 Commandments

It’s hard to divide up the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff; I think I’ll give up on that and sum them up after the end of the series.

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for the Action Genre

Obligatory Scenes

Inciting Attack by the Villain – this could probably be the Chemical/biological attack on the Church. This is a little late in the series, but it is the most significant attack of the series so far. We still have the threat of the big attack coming as well

Hero Sidesteps responsibility to take action – This occurred in the first episode, when Ryan states weakly “I’m just an analyst”.

Forced to leave ordinary world, Hero lashes out – Ryan is bored and decides to speak to the low value target (who actually ends up being the high value target)

Discover and understand the McGuffin (the enemy’s object of desire) – Ryan knows that Suleiman wants to conduct a large terorist event against the Western World, but he doesn’t yet know why or what it is.

Hero’s initial strategy against villain fails – Ryan fails to roll up Suleiman’s brother to get more information on the attack, first in Paris at the safe house, and second in episode 4 when he is forced to kill the brother.

Hero’s All is Lost Moment, when he must change his approach in order to salvage some form of victory – this hasn’t occurred yet.

Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – Ryan was at the mercy of Suleiman in the first episode, but I expect this will happen again as both escaped.

Hero’s Sacrifice is Rewarded – this hasn’t happened yet.

Conventions

Hero, Villain, Victim clearly defined – Hero – Jack Ryan; Villain – Suleiman; Victims – innocents of the terrorist attack

The hero’s object of desire – stop the villain and save the victims

The Power divide between the hero and villain is very large – Suleiman has secret contacts and operators everywhere and a secret network that he can secretly communicate with; also, very little is known about Suleiman and his motives. Ryan has to go through many levels of red tape to get things done.

Speech in praise of the villain – this was done in episode 1 and 2 when they discover who Suleiman is, what is rank in the terrorist organization is, and what he is trying to use the money for.

Love Story Sub-Genre

The love story between Ryan and the Doctor heats up.

Obligatory Scenes

Lovers Meet – 1st episode at the party before Ryan is whisked away by the helicopter.

First Kiss or Intimate Connection – Episode 4 when Ryan is invited to sleep over after their first date

Confessions of Love – not sure if this will happen in this season

Lovers break up – this might happen, Ryan is forced to lie about his job and this might damage the relationship

Proof of love – not sure this will happen in this season

Lovers reunite – Might happen if they actually do break up, they might reunite at the end of the season

Conventions:

Triangle – might not happen since this isn’t the global genre, but the viewer did feel a connection with the French women detective before she was killed

Helpers and Harmers – the French woman detective encouraged Ryan and the doctor’s woman friend in the hospital encouraged her

Gender divide – the doctor is a strong woman character who might be the more aggressive of the two

External Need – Ryan and the doctor need stress relief from their stressful jobs

Opposing forces – the doctor comes from a high status family, daughter of Ryans’ old boss who he pissed off, so this could definitely be a future opposing force. Ryan works for the CIA and can’t tell her about his job, also a potential opposing force.

Secrets – Ryan’s secret about his work

Rituals – none really so far

Moral Weight – Ryan is not comfortable with the lying

Once again, this isn’t the Global Genre, and this sub-genre plot might not meet all of the Conventions and Obligatory Scenes.

Summary

As I mentioned before, I’m still torn between Thriller and Action Genre with this series, I think in the end it will depend on two things: if the conflict between Ryan and Suleiman becomes personal, and if there is an internal Genre and Ryan changes through the series. Most of these action series don’t have the protagonist change, so it will probably end up being Action Genre, but I’ll keep tracking.

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

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