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Jack Ryan: How S4 Mirrors Harrison Ford's Role In Clear And Present Danger

Jack Ryan is one of the best-known and most beloved characters in modern literature. If you are a fan of the book series by the late Tom Clancy, you likely have been enjoying the Amazon Prime series starring John Krasinski ("The Office," "A Quiet Place"). You have also probably noticed that none of the three previous seasons had much of any tie to the novels outside of the characters present. That is, until now.

With the premiere of Season 4, Jack Ryan (Krasinski) has been given the task of cleaning up the CIA and the title of acting deputy director of the CIA, a title the book character and a former screen version of Jack Ryan held before him. To add to it, a cartel leader is working in the background, which teases us even more that there could be a direct connection to "Clear and Present Danger," a book with similar plot points that was adapted into a movie starring Harrison Ford as the CIA analyst.

While there is no real confirmation of the tie-in to the novel, the fact that Krasinski's Ryan is now holding the same title held previously by Ryan in "Clear and Present Danger" may point to fans finally getting the book tie-in they have been waiting for, including a villain that could rock the series in its final chapter.

Things have changed for Jack Ryan

In Season 3 of "Jack Ryan," our hero found himself in the middle of a coup in Russia that could start World War III. While shadowy forces looked to overthrow the Russian leadership while attacking nations under the table, Ryan was the only one to see through the ruse, causing him to be on the outs with the U.S. government. Things seem to have changed between the seasons, as his exploits have slingshotted him up the ranks to the title of acting deputy director of the CIA.

His first briefing that we see shows an unexpected assassination of the Nigerian president in Lagos. While the CIA doesn't claim responsibility for the assassination, Ryan starts to believe it is an off-the-books operation led by someone high up in the CIA. While sharing his concerns with James Greer (Wendell Pierce), it is clear that former director Thomas Miller (John Schwab) had been running dirty operations before he was removed from office in Season 3. Ryan and Greer come to believe the assassination is another Miller operation of which the CIA is denying any knowledge.

While this is going on at home, an alliance between the Marquez cartel and the Triads out of China begins to take shape in Yucatan, Mexico. While Ryan and company look to clean up the CIA and restore its integrity, a new enemy is ready to knock on the door and cause more problems for them.

This is a mirror of Clear and Present Danger

If any of that seems familiar to book or movie fans of the franchise, it is because it feels pulled straight out of the pages of "Clear and Present Danger," the fifth book in the series, released in 1989. It was adapted five years later, in 1994, with Harrison Ford's second outing as the hero, following his turn in "Patriot Games." The book and film's storyline is so close to the developing "Jack Ryan" Season 4 storyline that it is hard to ignore the similarities.

It starts with the death of a prominent political figure, which Ryan is set to investigate. In Ford's version, the death is of a close friend of the president of the United States. Ryan is temporarily lifted to the position of acting deputy director of the CIA when James Greer (James Earl Jones) goes down with a terminal illness. His investigation takes him to Colombia, where leaders of a cartel look to have been taking out a business partner. While in Colombia, Ryan and his convoy are attacked, and he returns home.

Behind his back, another deputy director, Robert Ritter (Henry Czerny), begins an off-the-books operation to take out the cartel, which goes bad and gets an entire team taken out. To get the prisoners out, Ryan goes on his own to Colombia to meet with John Clark (Willem Dafoe) and go toe-to-toe with the cartel, later taking down his opponent in the CIA.

Another enemy behind the scenes

Between the corruption in the CIA, Jack Ryan's position as an acting deputy director, and going up against a drug cartel, there is a lot to suggest that "Jack Ryan" Season 4 is pulling straight from "Clear and Present Danger." However, if that is the case, are there two more big surprises to look forward to in the coming episodes?

The first surprise we can hope for is the long-awaited appearance of John Clark. Since "Jack Ryan" started, fans have been hoping for their favorite black ops soldier to make an appearance, but it has escaped them so far. Clark has been portrayed on screen three times: Willem Dafoe was first, followed by Liev Schreiber in "The Sum of All Fears," and most recently by Michael B. Jordan in Amazon's "Without Remorse." While an appearance from any one of those actors may be a pipe dream, there is a good chance that a big villain from the book and previous movie will show up.

In "Clear and Present Danger," Ritter and the president's national security advisor, James Cutter (Harris Yulin), strike a deal with the second-in-command of the cartel to lessen the shipments of drugs to the United States, making the president seem like he is winning the war on drugs. In return, they sell out the team of operators, and the president signs a preemptive pardon of all wrongdoing. This brings Ryan head-to-head with the president as he testifies in front of a congressional oversight committee. With all the other connections to "Clear and Present Danger," we are going to start keeping a closer eye on President Bachler (David Bedella) in "Jack Ryan" Season 4.