Review: ‘Reacher’ Season 2 has more fists, more fury, and more finesse

Reacher Season 2 returns to screens everywhere this week on Prime Video. Alan Ritchson is back as Jack Reacher, a pure force of nature, and he’s not messing around when it comes to people he cares about being threatened. Reacher season 2 delivers blunt force action and a layered brawny mystery worthy of the iconic Lee Child character. Read on for a spoiler-free review of the season. 

The Story of Reacher Season 2

Because this is a spoiler-free review, I won’t elaborate much on the story of Reacher Season 2. That will have to wait until the episodes are out, where you can see for yourself. Prime Video’s official synopsis promises that we’re finally going into the story behind Jack Reacher and that the season’s mystery will deal with his former unit, the 110th MP Special Investigations. This is true, and Reacher Season 2 delivers on this promise of Reacher backstory and more. There’s betrayal, shady military contractors, and villainy that the titular character is up against. 

In Season 1 of Reacher, we saw the use of Jack Reacher’s particular set of skills. There was little of how that came to be, although we did see him begin to form bonds with some in Margrave. Oscar Finlay, played by Malcolm Goodwin (RIP Clive Babineaux in iZombie) and Jack Reacher in Season 1, was something to behold. The tension and push and pull between Willa Fitzgerald’s Roscoe Conklin was also fun. Seeing new friendships and bonds develop in that season was rewarding television. But Reacher Season 2 focuses on the old. 

The stoic hero shows emotional availability

Jack’s background is fleshed out in Reacher Season 2, and it’s pretty exciting to see the cracks start to form in the stoic hero’s facade. In Reacher Season 2, we see some of how he earned his extraordinary skills on display in Season 1 and where some of his well-known sayings came from. This season, we see that Jack Reacher is more emotionally available and has a masculine vulnerability. It’s rooted in his found family, the members of his former unit.   

Jack Reacher’s sense of right and wrong drives him in both the books and the show, even when he doesn’t necessarily want to get involved. His morality, even when couched in brutally efficient and justifiable violence, is part of what made him good at his job and why we like him. The storytellers behind the show remind us immediately in Reacher season 2 why he’s a good guy and why we root for a guy who blows through the world like a tumbleweed with only a toothbrush to hold him down.

If you have yet to see season 1 (what are you waiting for?), don’t worry – the worldbuilding is top-notch. As an audience watching Reacher Season 2, you immediately get a sense of the lay of the land. The stakes are clear. You don’t need 30 movies and television shows to understand what’s happening and why we care about what is on screen. (Sorry, Marvel.)

Alan Ritchson’s talent

It’s impossible to talk about Reacher without talking about the actor that embodies him. Alan Ritchson is Jack Reacher, and the appeal of this character is a testament to just how skilled Ritchson is as an actor. The actor’s talent was true in Season 1 and is even more true in Reacher Season 2. Ritchson has the requisite physical presence to be scary to the bad guys and the range to say volumes with simple cutting looks. 

Alan Ritchson, Serinda Swan, and Shaun Sipos in Reacher Season 2. Image courtesy of Prime Video.
Alan Ritchson, Serinda Swan, and Shaun Sipos in Reacher Season 2. Image courtesy of Prime Video.

As we see the things and bonds that matter to Reacher threatened in season 2, Ritchson telegraphs these emotions with such skill. With the Reacher of the books, we go through many internal monologues to understand the character. In the TV show, there’s more talking because that is the nature of TV, but Ritchson shows so much of what the character is thinking without even saying a word. 

While the towering mountain of a man, Jack Reacher, might dominate our screens right now, it’s hard to believe Alan Ritchson is the same actor that we’ll see take on a nuanced portrayal of Ed Schmitt in the upcoming Ordinary Angels. It speaks to Ritchson’s impressive versatility. 

Neagley and Reacher

Worth noting in this season is the friendship between Frances Neagley (Maria Sten) and Reacher. In season 1, we saw their strong bond, which continues in Reacher season 2. Seeing the platonic bond built on mutual respect, shared experiences, and sheer competence is refreshing. The trust and high esteem the two characters have for each other is excellent, and the level of connection and friendly intimacy is not something we regularly see on screen. The dynamic we see between Neagley and Reacher is just solid. 

Maria Sten in Reacher Season 2. Image courtesy of Prime Video.
Maria Sten in Reacher Season 2. Image courtesy of Prime Video.


Faithfulness to Lee Child’s book

Part of the excellence from Reacher comes from the decision to stay (mostly) faithful to the Lee Child books that inspired the franchise. Reacher Season 1 is based on Lee Child’s Killing Floor and deals with the wanderer’s trouble in Margrave, Georgia.

Reacher Season 2 is based on Bad Luck and Bad Trouble. Book fans, take heart. Reacher Season 2 continues the tradition of staying faithful to Jack Reacher’s story. There’s one big note to this, however. Although the spirit remains the same, there is a significant location change. TVLine’s Matt Webb Mitovich revealed this at the end of November, so it’s not a spoiler anymore. In the book Bad Luck and Bad Trouble, the inciting incident that starts Jack Reacher on his quest takes place around California and in the desert. Reacher Season 2 kicks off in the Catskills, NY. It works, and we still get to see the character use his investigative prowess to unravel the central mystery. 

If you’re a book fan, you might also notice that season 2’s book Bad Luck and Bad Trouble differs from the next book in the Jack Reacher story. Jack Reacher #2 is Die Trying. There are nine books between the two stories of season one and season 2 and they jump around a ton in time.  Using Bad Luck and Bad Trouble works in Reacher Season 2’s favor. Nick Santora and the other creatives behind the show get to tell a more linear story. 

Final thoughts on the second season of Reacher

Reacher Season 2 is a well-paced television season that delivers on the promise of brutal, brawny action, a complicated mystery, and the bonds of found family. Alan Ritchson owns the role of Jack Reacher and is fun to watch from the very first punch, or ahem, explosive kick. Reacher Season 2 is a satisfying watch and worth checking out when the first three episodes premiere on Friday. 

How to watch Reacher 

The first three episodes of ReacherSeason 2 will stream on Prime Video starting on December 15th. You can check it out however you like to watch your streaming media.

Are you excited about Reacher Season 2? Have you rewatched Season 1 to get ready? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or following us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

If you’re looking for more television reviews and news, check out all of our coverage.  You can also check out our coverage of other Book Adaptations, including A Man Called Otto.

You can learn more about Lee Child’s Jack Reacher world, including book chronology, by visiting the official website.