Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of Jack Ryan.

Well, so much for glasnost and all of the warm and fuzzies we’ve had with the Russians over the last 30 years. In the finale of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, we come to find out that a small cabal of ex-Red Army hardliners are intent on returning the former Soviet Union to its halcyon days before the wall came down, and the ruthless clutches behind the Iron Curtain were very much still in place. It was a time when nuclear arms proliferation was at its peak and the relationship between the United States and Russia was ice-cold. This period is better known as “The Cold War,” and the race to gain a nuclear advantage was at a fevered pitch. Thank goodness for the steely resolve and cool hand of a CIA analyst turned field agent, Dr. Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) and a handful of past and present associates who were willing to go rogue and be accused of treason to expose the plot. In a chess match that saw gambits all over Europe, including Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Russia, Ryan navigates his way through a seemingly endless maze filled with deceit, espionage, and counterintelligence and will risk life and limb in the process. Clancy’s protagonist and his tribulations always make for a terrific ride, and Season 3 is perhaps the best one yet.

The Terrorist Threat

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After ordering the assassination of the Russian Defense Minister, and framing the United States for it, his successor, Alexei Petrov (Alexej Manvelov), is determined to restore the former Soviet Union to its greatness before the end of the Cold War and the subsequent deescalation of nuclear weapons. It is at his direction that a small faction of like-minded Russians begin to carry out a plot to detonate a nuclear warhead inside of Russia and make it appear as if it was an opening salvo of war by the United States. By orchestrating the assassination in The Czech Republic, it is his desire to then strong-arm the Czech President, Alena Kovac (Nina Hoss), with his own propaganda in order use her as a puppet by which he can expand Russia’s military presence far beyond its current position and into countries like Ukraine. Once he has the world believing that the events in the Czech Republic were carried out by the United States and NATO, he will have the full support of the Russian people to stage a coup and lift the country to the once lofty superpower status it enjoyed in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

RELATED: ‘Jack Ryan’: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, and Michael Kelly Talk Season 3 & Dropping Out of Black Hawks

Jack Ryan Leads an International Effort to Thwart the Plot

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Jack is joined by his former handler and old friend James Greer (Wendell Pierce) and former CIA operative Mike November (Michael Kelly) that leads the group on the ground that is attempting to thwart the Russian threat. They are joined by Season 3 newcomers Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel) as Jack’s new handler and a wily, former Soviet soldier and spy Luca Gorchurov (James Cosmo). Together the group must go rogue and convince the higher ups in the CIA and eventually, the President of the United States and Joint Chiefs of Staff that the threat being posed is not being organized by the Russian government, but a terrorist cell within the country hell-bent on returning Russia to its pre-glasnost glory days as “the country that kept the world up at night.” While Jack deftly handles the nuclear threat by detonating it in a tunnel before it can reach its target in the Czech Republic, the wheels are already in motion to create a faux Russian response to an act that they initialized and executed themselves called, “Operation Crossbow.”

Stopping Operation Crossbow

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When Defense Minister Alexei Petrov usurps the Russian President and chain of command within the Kremlin in Moscow by giving false war orders, he uses Captain Antanov and one of Russia’s most battle tested destroyers called The Fearless to head out into the Baltic Sea and launch a strike. When Petrov is discovered, he is ordered to withdraw the ship as it will be seen as an act of military aggression. Instead of standing down, however, Petrov doubles down and seeks the removal of the president, who he claims is too happy with policies that encourage stalemate and compromise. Meanwhile, Jack is desperately trying to get to the USS Roosevelt to defuse the situation, and Luca Gorchurov is making his way aboard The Fearless trying to do the same. Back in Moscow, the widow of the assassinated Defense Minister Popov is revealing a recording of Petrov’s, stating that he was the one who killed former Defense Minister Popov in an attempted coup of the Russian president and top generals. Once exposed, Petrov is shot dead by officers at the Kremlin.

A Maritime Game of Chicken

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Even with Petrov dead, the two ships are still heading straight toward each other in the Baltic Sea and neither one is prepared to back down. It’s the Russian destroyer, The Fearless and the United States vessel, the USS Roosevelt engaged in a very high stakes game of chicken. Who is going to blink first? The Fearless launches a torpedo that fails to hit the Roosevelt and the ship’s captain and the President of the United States must decide if they want to return fire, engage withe Russians, and start World War III. Ryan, meanwhile, has managed to board the Roosevelt via chopper and is there the whole time pleading with the captain that he not do what the rogue Russian faction wants which is to return fire and thereby justify a retaliation which would leave war as the only option. Luca is aboard The Fearless, making the same case to the Russian contingency, and eventually convinces the Russian Executive Officer (second in command) to relieve the rogue captain of his duties.

He then establishes contact with Ryan and the Captain of the Roosevelt and cooler heads eventually prevail. Both ships stand down, disengage, and war is averted. The final scene shows Ryan and Greer being awarded medals for their bravery by new head of the CIA, Elizabeth Wright, who vouched for them when it mattered most.

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