Saturday, February 3, 2024

When Reacher Did the Sherlock Holmes Thing, I Was Hooked


Scott D. Parker

It took a pair of podcast hosts and Sherlock Holmes to finally get me to watch Season 1 of Reacher. By the time I finished the first episode, I wondered why it had taken so long.

Setting the Hook

Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin host the Fatman Beyond podcast and in the first episode of this year, Smith discusses Season 2 of Reacher. He was his usual ecstatic self when he loves something and that finally tipped the needle. Granted, when Bernardin mentioned it last year, that should have been my cue to watch because Bernardin is one of the brightest guys I listen to, and his understanding of story and structure is deep and I constantly learn when he talks.

So I tuned into episode 1 of Season 1 on Amazon Prime. All I knew about Reacher going in was a pretty short list. He was a drifter (a “hobo” as he says on the show); he was in the army but now wasn’t. He kills people. Lee Child wrote the books. And Tom Cruise played the character in two movies that I enjoyed.

Cut to an early segment in the TV show. After Reacher has been arrested and then released, he’s walking out of the police station, ready to get the hell out of dodge, when the lead detective, Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) makes a challenge to Reacher, our hulking hobo turns around and does the Sherlock Holmes thing. He says all the things he’s learned about Finley just by observation and deduction.

My reaction? A huge grin on my face. A guy who is super smart and can kick your ass? Sold!

The Plot

As the last minute or so of any pilot episode does, the cliffhanger gives Reacher the situation where he chooses to remain in Margrave, Georgia, and help Finlay and patrol cop Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) figure out what’s really going on in the small town. 

I’m always a fan of stories where a seemingly small thing is actually just a single layer of a wider, larger plan by the bad guys and this season is certainly that. In fact, I actively kept processing the clues and how they relate as I watched each of the eight episodes. This was because I was curious how original author Child and the folks that adapted the first book, Killing Fields, into this season’s storyline into a coherent thread. 

And there are multiple threads. It’s all well laid out and explained a few times but as I watched the show, a fact I know about Child’s writing process returned to my mind. Unless he changed, he writes every Reacher story without an outline. He just goes and trusts his creative mind to figure it all out. If that’s how he did it, more power to him.

The Actor and the Character

Alan Ritchson plays Reacher and he’s a giant. I think he mentioned he was six, five at least one time in the season. What I found fascinating was how Ritchson could, with barely changing his face, have Reacher go from kind to determined in a heartbeat. 

His size is intimidating and I appreciated how he would give his opponents the chance to walk away. Few did, but all believed after the fight. Reacher moved with precision. It wasn’t necessarily graceful. It was quite brutal, but his fighting style was efficient. 

There were a few times in which I saw how Ritchson played Reacher and I wondered if the character was somewhere on the spectrum. When a character asked Reacher what took him so long to meet up, Reacher was direct. “I killed five men.” Indeed, as I searched for the IMDB page to verify how to spell actors’ names, one of the top searched phrases was that very same thing. So I wasn’t the only one.

But I’ve come around to thinking that, no, Reacher isn’t autistic. He just takes no BS from anyone. The direct approach was his only approach. Why bother speaking extra words with the exact number will suffice. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Season 1 of Reacher and will start Season 2 soon. What are your thoughts on Reacher?

No comments: