Mentoring Authors One Scene at a Time – Thriller/Military/Non-Fiction/SF/Fantasy
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.
This post will spoil everything about episode 6 from the Jack Ryan television series, so make sure you watch it before reading on.
The episode begins 6 months in the past with Suleiman and his brother stealing an ebola infected body from a World Health Organization cemetery in Africa. Really, this could be the inciting incident for the Middle Build. I’ll break this down fully at the end of the series.
The inciting incident for this episode is Suleiman’s wife, Hanin, and her daughters trying to escape in a truck to the coast in order to get passage to Europe. The reason this is the inciting incident is that it is imperative for Ryan to get Hanin in order to stop the next terrorist attack. There is a couple countdowns at work here to: the window of time to get Hanin (before she is killed by Suleiman’s men or escapes to Europe never to be seen again) and the countdown to find information on the next terrorist attack before it occurs.
Once again, there are multiple storylines happening in this episode, as in the previous, but the 5 commandments need to follow the protagonist, which is Jack Ryan.
There are a number of progressive complications that lead to the Turning Point of this sequence:
The turning point is when Ryan realizes that Hanin won’t help unless they rescue her daughters as well.
The Crisis Question whether Ryan intervenes to rescue Hanin’s daughters so that they can get her cooperation to find Suleiman and stop the terrorist attack, or take Hanin without her daughters and hope she will help anyway.
Greer tells Ryan to stand down and wait, then Greer shoots Suleiman’s men to rescue the children and Hanin.
This results in a shoot out which Greer also joins in, the bad guys are all killed and Hanin and her daughters are rescued.
This value shift is a -/+. In the beginning, Ryan and the CIA realize that Hanin and her daughters have already left the refugee camp and they must search for them with the aid of the smuggler, but by the end they have Hanin and her daughters and possibly a lead on Suleiman as a result.
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. The other attacks were the rescue and the suicide bomber, but they wee not an attack because they were conducted in response to the actions of the protagonist. 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 thought that Suleiman wants to conduct a large terrorist event against the Western World, but he doesn’t yet know why or what it is. In this episode, Suleiman actually threatens a larger attack, though Ryan still doesn’t know when or where.
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. It’s possible this will be when or if Ryan is able to get a hold of Suleiman’s wife and use any information she can provide, his last desperate gamble to stop the next attack, we’ll have to see what information they get gather from Hanin given her son is still with Suleiman and in danger if they have to bomb his location.
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.
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; stop the terroist attack and prevent more innocent deaths
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.
The love story between Ryan and the Doctor changes very little in this episode, there is no progress at all with this storyline, though the doctor is involved in detecting the ebola inferring that this might be part of the future terrorist attack (it’s a good setup). Below are the Obligatory Scenes and Conventions so far in the series.
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
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.
Another action filled episode, only two more episodes left.
If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:
Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.
My blog posts analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.
Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!