Home Television Recaps ‘Reacher’ – ‘First Dance’ – Review
‘Reacher’ – ‘First Dance’ – Review

‘Reacher’ – ‘First Dance’ – Review


Lee Child’s lone-wolf hero Jack Reacher has rolled into town and it’s clear after episode one, ‘Welcome to Margrave‘, that Amazon Prime’s exciting new action series, Reacher packs one hell of punch. We know roll into Episode Two, ‘First Dance’ and a seriously pissed off Reacher is looking for answers and damn anyone who gets in his way.

Following the shocking revelation that his brother Joe was murdered in a violent and dangerous conspiracy, ex-military policeman Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) burrows his way into the growing investigation of the Margrave killings and the bloodshed has only just begun. After a new particularly bloody murder it’s clear to Reacher and Margrave cops, Detective Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) and police officer Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) that they’re at the start of a particularly dangerous conspiracy and the three of them set out to find answers.

Episode One of Reacher, ‘Welcome to Margrave’, set down the gauntlet for a bold new standard in the action-thriller genre and Episode Two, ‘First Dance’ keeps the ball rolling with some particularly tense moments. Showrunner Nick Santora sticks to the outline of Lee Child’s gripping prose and the narrative moves forward quickly with Alan Ritchson’s Jack Reacher hungry for revenge and being forced into an unwilling alliance with the local Margrave cops who he assumes he can still trust. Santora keeps the pace of ‘First Dance’ moving fast and lose, mixing in moments of procedural investigation, character interaction and close quarter combat, and as an audience member, you don’t want to look away.

In his quest for justice, Jack Reacher falls into the Margrave investigation and another brutal murder soon occurs. This time it’s Margrave Chief of Police Edward Morrison (Peter Skagen) who suffers an unspeakable fate, but Reacher knows what’s coming. Found nailed to a wall and tortured to death, it’s the exact fate that jumpy accountant Hubble (Marc Bendavid) let Reacher know awaited him and this fact, and Reacher’s hesitancy to not reveal it, causes some severe friction between himself and Finlay. This friction between the two characters is interesting to watch and not content with having to deal with him, Finlay sends Reacher off with Roscoe to check in on Hubble’s family and it’s there where things get interesting. Knowing right away that Hubble’s wife Charlene ‘Charlie’ Hubble (Kristin Kreuk) is in danger, Reacher and Roscoe pack her and her family off to protective custody and it’s clear that the killing has only started in Margrave.

Along with the growing narrative, audiences are also introduced to several leading antagonists, although their exact antagonism is yet to be fully revealed. You have Bruce McGill as the pompous and arrogant Mayor Grover Teale who Reacher takes an instant dislike to. Then you have the slick suited and charming town benefactor Kliner (Currie Graham) who appears to be more than he actually portrays himself to be. Then there’s his dead-eyed son KJ (Chris Webster) who Reacher has a run-in with and who he severely doesn’t like, along with his shit-kicking cousin Dawson (A.J. Simmons). As KJ, Webster already has the shifty, psycho character down and while no punches are thrown, it’s certain that he and Reacher will get into it very soon. The atmosphere is building in Reacher and while there’s no clear villain yet, there are plenty of no-good suspects to fill the space.

‘First Dance’ is also an important episode in that it shines a light on the first interaction between Reacher and Roscoe. While there was a slight back and forth flirtation between the two of them in ‘Welcome to Margrave’, we now get a closer look at their interactions and there’s building chemistry between them. Along with an instant physical attraction both characters are drawn to each other’s investigative knowledge as police officers and this keeps things interesting. All throughout the episode the two are paired together and while following a lead, they’re forced to seek shelter at a motel, and while there’s no fun under the sheets just yet, the attraction is building.

Episode Two also goes back in time and we meet a young Reacher and see his growth as a character and his stance as a man who doesn’t like bullies, and who likes to stick up for the little guy. This trait is a defining part of the character of Jack Reacher and has been a cornerstone of Child’s series of books. Not only is this seen in Ritchson’s protective stance as Reacher throughout ‘First Dance’, but a nice little subplot develops with him looking out for a dog that is being abused by its owner. While Reacher fills the dog’s dry bowl with water and speaks some stern words to the owner, he makes it clear that he’ll keep an eye out on the dog. No punches are thrown, yet, but this little sub-plot is a key part of the reveal of Reacher’s character and we’ll see more of this come out in Ritchson’s portrayal as the series moves forward.

But ‘First Dance’ isn’t just all flirtations and lead following, Jack also gets his hands dirty again. Seeking to pay back dirty prison guard Spivey (Patrick Garrow), Reacher tracks him down to a bar and is set upon by a pair of hired killers, who he discerns are ex-South American military. What follows is a quick and sharp knife fight, where Reacher shows his stuff with an edged weapon and the slashing gets bloody. We also see Ritchson employ Reacher’s favourite technique, the headbutt, to good effect and his size and strength make him a natural fighter. From the start the fight choreography of Reacher has been too-the-point and unflashy, keeping very much in line with the style of combat Lee Child describes in his books. Reacher is a character who only cares about results, not showmanship, and everything he does is done to ensure that he wins. What does winning mean? It means he’ll do whatever is necessary to incapacitate or kill his opponent and we’re seeing Ritchson do this here in Reacher.

The narrative and action of ‘First Dance’ moves quickly and again audiences come to a hell of a shock ending. It’s starting to get dangerous in the streets of Margrave and no one is safe from the killers on the prowl. But these bay gays haven’t counted on one thing; a hulking 6’5, 220, ex-military cop who has got a hell of a score to settle and he plans to deliver it with extreme prejudice.

Reacher is streaming on Amazon Prime NOW.

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