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‘Reacher’s First Episode Hooked Us With This One Scene

The first season of Amazon Prime Video’s Reacher delivered on every level. The show was a breakout success and a hit with both critics and audiences. After its debut, the series ranked as one of Prime Video’s most-watched series ever in the United States and abroad. The viewership and interest in the show were so high that Reacher received a quick Season 2 renewal a mere three days after the show’s launch. With Reacher Season 2 expected to debut later this year, it’s time to take a look back at the first season and the scene that had us hooked from the first episode: the prison bathroom fight. The fight scene was the moment that had viewers all in for the first season and put us on the edge of our seats.

‘Reacher’s First Episode Is a Slow Burn to Unleashing Hell
Alan Ritchson in Reacher
Image via Amazon
Based on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher book series, the new television series hit a homerun with its first episode. It introduced the show’s season-long murder mystery, which Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) would later discover was his own brother, along with Alan Ritchson as the new actor portraying Reacher. From the first scene, Ritchson’s Reacher exudes an undeniable presence, and he intimidates with his steely gaze and towering physique. However, the series utilized a slow-burn technique and waited to showcase Reacher’s first legitimate fight scene in the series. Rather than showing a big fight scene with Reacher right off the bat, the episode builds up to that fight sequence and makes both the narrative and the audience earn that moment.

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Reacher opts for a more interesting choice early on by establishing the character’s intellectual prowess. In his interrogation scene with Detective Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin), the series shows that Reacher has been taking stock of every minute detail at the Margrave police station since his arrest. The early scenes establish that Reacher is not a book to be judged by its cover (pun intended), or rather a person who can be judged by mere appearance alone. Reacher might look like a muscle-head, but he’s actually rather brilliant, with a keen intellect.

In yet another scene of Reacher’s intellectual prowess, he easily talks down the prison guard, Spivey (Patrick Garrow), who processes Reacher and Hubble at the lockup. Reacher denies the prison guard a strip search, confidently explaining the legal regulations that would make any type of strip search related to their suspected crimes unlawful. With just a few words and his steely presence, Reacher intimidates the prison guard into submission.

It is not until the prison bathroom fight that the series finally unveils that Reacher is a true force to be reckoned with. After Detective Finlay sends Reacher and Paul Hubble (Marc Bendavid) to the county lockup for a week, a group of inmates targets Hubble for execution in the prison bathroom. Reacher’s keen intellect quickly clues him in on what is about to happen, and he knows there is only one way out of this situation. He begins with a preamble, warning the other prisoners, “If you know what’ll happen to you, you’ll leave now. So, I’ll give you to the count of three.”

There is no count to three. Reacher jacks up the first inmate with a mammoth headbutt and does everything he can to take his attackers by surprise. Every move Reacher makes in this fight is done to quickly incapacitate his opponents. His fighting moves are not meant to look flashy. They are quick and brutal. The scene effectively showcases that Reacher is in a fight for his life. If he makes one mistake here, he and Hubble are going to get brutally massacred. Reacher’s only recourse is to incapacitate the other inmates before they get a chance to lay a hand on them. The most eye-popping, quite literally, moment of the scene comes when Reacher catches one of the inmates carrying a makeshift prison shank and jams his thumb right into the thug’s eye socket. He manages to get the better of another inmate who tried to attack him from behind, slamming him against a wall before stomping the thug’s ankle, immediately snapping it in twain.

The actual fight portion of this scene lasts less than a minute. However, for that short timeframe, Reacher unleashed hell on his opponents. All his attackers are incapacitated, and Reacher is the only one left standing before the prison guards arrive to mop up the chaos. The short length of this scene is important since it displays that Reacher is aware of the stakes. He is not trying to stall for time or give the audience a long-drawn-out action scene. He is fighting for his and Hubble’s survival. The fight sequence also displays that Reacher has seen combat from his military background and knows how to deal with a situation when cornered by a group of assailants.

The Prison Fight Scene Sets the Stage for ‘Reacher’ Season 1
Alan Ritchson in Amazon’s Reacher
Image via Amazon
Aside from its realistic, gritty approach to hand-to-hand combat, the fight sequence is notable because the editing does not cut away from the brutality. The camera takes in Reacher’s fighting abilities and Ritchson’s intensely physical performance. The audience is allowed to see Ritchson in character as Reacher performing all the major beats of the fight scene and stunts. It imbues both the fight sequence and the series with a higher level of verisimilitude. Ritchson’s performance looks all the more genuine and authentic since the audience can clearly view him performing the fight sequence. Also, Ritchson performed all the stunts of the fight scene.

The prison fight sequence concludes that Reacher, as a character, is not only an intellectual genius but a wrecking ball of destruction. Reacher is a pure force of nature and is not to be underestimated. It is not Reacher who should fear the conspirators and murderers in Margrave, but the villains who should fear Reacher. Normally, the first season of a hit television show is the weakest. There are usually growing pains, but those issues were not present in Reacher’s first season. If Season 2 of Reacher can deliver on the promise of the first season and feature more gritty fight scenes like the one in the prison from Season 1, Reacher could become the action-thriller show that television has been missing for a while.


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