Reacher: Welcome to Margrave
February 6, 2022 6:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

When retired Military Police Officer Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he did not commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy full of dirty cops, shady businessmen and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits, he must figure out what is happening in Margrave, Georgia. The first season of Reacher is based on the international bestseller, Killing Floor by Lee Child.

Jack Reacher returns to the screen as a really big dude who's ready to do a lot of punching - and a little smooching - while he gets to the bottom of his brother's murder at the hands of a multinational criminal conspiracy.
posted by ftm (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The level of white-dude-of-a-certain-age wish fulfillment fantasy is super duper high, but once I got over that - and that this isn't White supremacist/ nationalist* - this is ok. Only seen the first episode, will probably give it at least the 3 ep treatment.

The fight choreography is fun. The actor (and the writing, character) appears super wholesome.

It's also a little clever-jokey with snappy banter ("Do you recycle?"), especially the Sherlock Holmes-ian setups followed by an unbelievably detailed rundown of the victim's medical history - to reveal that the victim was his brother.

This is definitely not Tom Cruise's Reacher, size differences aside.

*super weird flashback of the bullies bullying a smaller (much younger?) Asian boy, "Dance monkey, dance!" was super weird, especially since the child actor appeared to be enjoying himself, but the character could either genuinely not understand that they're being bullied or are galaxy-braining it
posted by porpoise at 9:26 AM on February 6, 2022

If you like the Reacher books, you'll probably like this (which is not remotely true about the Tom Cruise movies). It seems like Amazon is committed to doing the best they can with the material. It looks good, like they spared no expense, and the music cues are good.

Lee Child still isn't great at dialogue that isn't smart-aleck exposition, Reacher's still too pretty and young-looking, and it's still a completely and totally over-the-top fantasy that wants to believe it's real. I don't say any of that to be critical--it's one of the most true-to-the-book adaptations that I've ever seen.
posted by box at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

I only saw a clip of this, but it seemed like it understood Reacher. Reacher is a top-tier mansplainer. He'll be faced off against 5 bikers or 4 ex-marines, or three gigantic farmer brothers, or WHATEVER, and he'll explain how you should handle this particular case, which, clearly, he has thought long and hard about or even handled many times before. Then what he says either happens exactly like he says, or he's wrong (because Lee Child has a sense of humor and knows this is entertaining BS). In the books it's an internal dialog; here, he appears to say it out loud.

I would avoid Reacher in real life.
posted by acrasis at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2022 [8 favorites]

It should have been called Round 1, not Episode 1.
posted by biffa at 11:26 AM on February 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Reacher's still too pretty and young-looking,

Yeah, probably agree with the age thing, even if it's him in Killing Floor. Bit too gym muscle also, but where would you find someone who fit the bill completely?
posted by biffa at 11:29 AM on February 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

It is very true to the book's major elements but I recall the female lead in this particular story being a black woman (I might be wrong though. I read it long enough ago that I don't fully trust my recollection).
posted by srboisvert at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2022

I had been thinking John Cena, Wes Chatham or Jared Keeso for Reacher. I like Alan Ritchson just fine. He's too pretty, yes, and a little too eager to lean into conversations - in the books Reacher is more like "Ima step back just a little and see if you trip on your dick." I'm hoping he'll relax into the role more as we get farther in to the series.

I appreciate the fight choreography. I like it when the combatants look like they're trying to end the fight as quickly and decisively as they can. I like fancy martial arts too, but the more brutal and realistic style makes the stakes feel higher, and it's not often done. It's definitely more appropriate for a show like this. The first season of Human Target did this too.

Detective Babinaux! Will Robinson! Space Ross! And Gizmo! Clearly this is a show to watch if you like seeing lots of (predominently Canadian) genre actors you recognize. I bet Roger Cross shows up before long. It's funny that with all the shows that shoot in Georgia, this one is shot in Ontario.

It seems they're being true to the book, with one major exception I'm interested to see how they handle. The books (up to a point, I've only read a few) are set in a time before ubiquitous cell phones and Internet. They have them in the show. It seems like Reacher would be putting himself at a disadvantage if he were the only one not using them.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:00 PM on February 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Another change (that probably isn't that significant)--Books Reacher was injured in the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps base in Beirut and left the Army in 1997, while Amazon Reacher was injured in... Kandahar, was it? Iraq or Afghanistan, anyway.
posted by box at 2:29 PM on February 6, 2022

*super weird flashback of the bullies bullying a smaller (much younger?) Asian boy, "Dance monkey, dance!" was super weird, especially since the child actor appeared to be enjoying himself, but the character could either genuinely not understand that they're being bullied or are galaxy-braining it

I don't think that child was Asian. I think he had or was representing a child with Down syndrome which is what pissed off the boys.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:04 PM on February 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

I have thoughts:
  • It’s really nice to see Reacher portrayed by someone who actually looks like the character (Alan Ritchson is 6’2”, rather than 6’5”, but at least his casting doesn’t have Child excusing it with “well, he portrays the spirit of Reacher”, as he had to with Cruise.)
  • As box points out, it’s really good to see a faithful adaption of “Killing Floor”, with the exception of one character introduced before her time, and a little more of Reacher's background than is shared in the first book.
  • The series is made for binging: each new episode starts immediately where the previous one left off, which no “previously on” or extended title sequence to get in the way.
  • When the coroner appeared, I was wait, where have I see him before?. It's Harvey Guillén, who plays Guillermo de la Cruz in What We Do In The Shadows.

posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 7:51 PM on February 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

In case this ends up being the season thread, I want to go on record that I ended up liking it progressively through ep 5 through not taking it seriously and just riding the narrative.

Wholesome. The banter is definitely "dad" level and I'm liking that. Willa Fitzgerald as Roscoe does a good job being compelling.

Anyone else remember 'Covert Affairs' with Piper Perabo, or 'Nikita' with Maggie Q? This has a similar feel for me once I recalibrated.
posted by porpoise at 8:15 PM on February 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

For those who might not have read it, the Okinawa backstory seems to be a very abridged and modified nod to the short story Second Son - just long enough to let you know that Dad is military, Mom is French, and the brothers have always been like this. I liked Second Son and recommend it.
posted by ftm at 5:02 AM on February 7, 2022

I have never read the books but watched the first two episodes of this last night and found it fairly compelling. I started out feeling like Reacher is a wish-fulfillment stand-in for a particular kind of white man, but having identified that, I could kind of move past it.

Once I moved past that, I had a different realization. Reacher seems coded to be on the autistic spectrum, to me. I'm not saying it's a nuanced portrayal of the autistic experience or anything, but I thought that the way he observes others in detail and with insight, and the way that he interacts with people so directly, and the way that he has ordered his life in a way that works for him but that is sort of, orthogonal to the way others order their own lives, all sound in autism to me. Even what comes across as "mansplaining" seems more to me like just needing to smooth over and get right some detail that would otherwise stand out in his mind like an itch -- I have known autistic people, male, female, and nonbinary, who do this.

I don't have a diagnosis and I'm happy to be corrected by folks who do. I just thought it was interesting to see a potentially neurodivergent action hero.
posted by gauche at 8:32 AM on February 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Alan Ritchson is 6’2”

Thanks for this, me and my SO, who have each read a bunch of the books were arguing over whether he is too short or not.
posted by biffa at 9:22 AM on February 7, 2022

started this last night. it's a bit dumb and cheesy but very fun. there are times Reacher has an almost Terminator quality for me LOL.
posted by supermedusa at 10:25 AM on February 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

They're doing a good job of making him seem taller than 6'2", I think. And I will say I have zero complaints about him being too pretty. Honestly, LOOK at him. I could look at him all day.

I've read all the books, even the latest shitty ones, and this show is exactly what I would have hoped for with a Reacher TV show. It does make all the murdering he does seem particularly egregious, though. So many dead bodies for such a small town!
posted by something something at 11:50 AM on February 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

It's funny how much of a pedantic little shit Reacher is. He's a bit like how book Conan is, but even worse. Just insufferable -- no one is allowed to score even a single point on him in general. But it's fun having a competent character just going around.

I listened to about half of Killing Floor on audio book, on a road trip, a few years ago. It was pretty bad, and got prettttty dang racist in prison. My SO and I still mock the dialogue in it whenever we hear the word "great". The show is better about it though. I think also audiobooks magnify tryhard edginess and that is not something that needs to be magnified in that book.

Reacher in the raw is so obsessed with height, to the level of being a fetish, it's kind of bizarre, thirty seconds can't go by without a HE BIG detail.
posted by fleacircus at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

I had a lot of fun watching this. It felt very nineties and there are plenty of refrigerator moments (sometimes you don’t even have to get off the couch) but that’s sort of the fun of it. And it’s nice to have a tv hero that’s not an antihero for a change. His deductions are especially ridiculous.

I think it was smart to go with a younger actor. That way they can run with it for ten years or until we get bored.
posted by condour75 at 7:55 PM on February 7, 2022

Thanks for this, me and my SO, who have each read a bunch of the books were arguing over whether he is too short or not.

The camera angles are fargin' hilarious though, the over the shoulder shots looking down at Finley so he looks small for example, then switching it around so we're peering up at Reacher. When he's in the car next to someone it's obvious he's not THAT big but a lot of shots are close to LotR levels of visual manipulation and it's making me chuckle.
posted by mark k at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2022 [5 favorites]

He's a bit like how book Conan is, but even worse. Just insufferable -- no one is allowed to score even a single point on him in general. But it's fun having a competent character just going around.

This is such a good comparison. There's a short story where Conan is being strangled by a man who was raised by a strangling cult to be their head strangler. But because Conan is Conan he out-strangles the man. That's basically Reacher.

I thoroughly enjoyed this intro (and whole series) but considering the reputation of the books, I thought there'd be a bit more to the character than "he's extremely tall, competent, smart, handsome, strong, morally incorruptible, the best fighter, has a 100% conviction rate, has eidetic memory etc. etc." Even his (implied) troubled past/backstory is just stories of him doing the right thing.

Still, great fun, can't wait for more.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:16 AM on February 8, 2022 [7 favorites]

In the books he's not very good at running. I think that's his only weakness. He doesn't let it bother him too much.
posted by biffa at 6:42 AM on February 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I liked the bit in one of the books where he doesn't know how to hotwire a car and everyone is astounded. But he reasonably points out that they don't teach you how to hotwire cars in the army.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:47 AM on February 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I think he doesn't really like driving either. He might be scared of all the hissing tires. Tires hiss a lot in Jack Reacher's world. sssss
posted by ftm at 6:59 AM on February 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

I’m playing The Witcher 3 right now for the first time and it occurred to me the other day that Geralt and Reacher are essentially the same person. Big muscular guy with a strict moral code, terse and reticent but not unkind, wandering around helping strangers murder their evil enemies and sleeping with beautiful women.
posted by something something at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

Finished it last night. Fun, in a good-bad kind of way. It reminded me of how I felt back in the day watching the good seasons of 24. The conspiracies that made all institutions untrustworthy, a ridiculous quantity of replaceable henchmen who could be mobilized and deployed anywhere with a couple hours notice, Mary Sue levels of competence in the protagonist, a problematic issues with sadistic violence and jingoistic militarism, and compelling enough pacing that you can basically roll with it all.

Totally agree on the praise for the fight choreography, especially for the first 5-6 episodes. It was Bourne style "not fooling around" approaches to a fight.

Love the Conan comparisons too!
posted by mark k at 2:11 PM on February 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

“Toss a coin to your Reacher”?
posted by gauche at 4:20 PM on February 8, 2022 [10 favorites]

Yeah I've read a lot of the books. Greatly diverting competence porn. The puzzles are usually interesting. Envious that he can travel with just a toothbrush and a passport, shedding his dirty clothes. Nearly every person he's been close to or associated with in the past is dead and I think that was a mistake by the author. I prefer his retro army days to the small town eeeevil plots.

Not sure this story can stretch for eight episodes without a ton of filler.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:36 PM on February 8, 2022

I listened to the audio book the other week to get the story back in my head before watching the show and my first thought was "good lord, how is this audio book 18 hours long?!?"

But otherwise, agree with the assessment - Reacher is pure cheesy 100% competence porn. A more violent, physical and yet still jokey Burn Notice type of affair - Bond, without the gadgets, Matt Helm, but less suave. Holmes with fists. Remo Williams without the Sinanju.

Plus, I don't believe I've ever seen my wife openly drool nearly as much as she has at Ritchson. So that's been amusing.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:10 AM on February 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of movies where Schwarzenegger or The Rock walk around in the world and interact with people who treat them completely normally -- instead of reacting to the sight of a hulking freak like they've never seen before. With Reacher, people at least notice that this guy is major anomaly.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:18 PM on February 10, 2022

Oh hey, that was Lee Child passing him in the diner in the last scene.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:22 PM on February 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Competence porn that's a great description, as is the insight that he seems to be a bit blind to what maybe a majority of people find 'normal' in human interactions: that said, I thought this was a pretty good embodiment of 'Reacher' (so, so, so much better than Cruise, if only for the size of him, which is a huge part of Reacher's character) the ex-MP. He 'knows' how things are 'supposed' to be and how 'people' will react 'normally' and uses that knowledge to his benefit. There's a lot of Sherlock in him, really ("Why would a banker have a burr/hitchhiker on his dress shoe?") which is not bad.

I'm only have-half through but its exactly what I expect (and yes, has a definite Burn Notice aspect to it. That was a diverting show...) if Reacher were a bit uglier (he's emphatically not good looking in the books - big, but ugly: not unlike Travis MacGee (who Childs has compared him to).

The real stars of the books are the secondary characters and I thought this so far has done that right.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Since I watched the series I have been wondering why they skipped the resolution on the actual reason Jack Reacher went to Margrave, which is present in Killing Floor. I did a little googling and to be as spoiler-free as possible, it turns out that historians now know that the explanation in Killing Floor is contrafactual. So I feel better about that.
posted by ftm at 8:34 AM on February 12, 2022

(This Slate review is pretty good.)
posted by box at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2022

I started a 'full season - books included' thread.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2022

In the books he's not very good at running.

That’s why Tom Cruise was wrong for the part!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:54 PM on February 14, 2022 [6 favorites]

When the coroner appeared, I was wait, where have I see him before?. It's Harvey Guillén, who plays Guillermo de la Cruz in What We Do In The Shadows

Not only did I clue into that, I thought... hmmm, what with WWDITS filming schedule, where could Reacher be filmed? Aha... Southern Ontario, same as WWDITS.
posted by rozcakj at 12:36 PM on February 18, 2022

I read a few of the Reacher books when I had some time to kill once, and I have to say that the first ep of this is much more enjoyable than the books. Some of it is that we're missing a lot of Lee Child's explanations that don't really make a lot of sense (i.e. that Reacher got so muscular from digging out in-ground pools on Key West by hand), and in part because the visual impact of the character somehow makes the whole concept work: even if he's not six-five, Alan Ritchson is big enough that people probably assume that he's just a big jock who may have taken a few too many shots to the head, and just not realize how observant he is. (I also like the theory that he may be on the spectrum, although I'm not giving up on my own theory that he's really the sole subject of Reacherworld's version of the army's super-soldier project.) I also like Oscar Finlay and Roscoe Conklin a lot.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Murderville: Season 1...   |  Project Runway: Finale... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments