Previewing Prime Video’s Reacher with Willa Fitzgerald and Malcolm Goodwin
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books get the TV series treatment this Friday when Prime Video drops the first season of Reacher, with series creator Nick Santora adapting the first novel, The Killing Floor, into eight episodes. Headlined by Alan Ritchson in the titular role and co-starring Scream‘s Willa Fitzgerald and iZombie’s Malcolm Goodwin, the season begins as Reacher steps off the bus in Margave, Georgia at the absolute worst time.
Arriving just as a murdered man turns up in a cornfield, he becomes the prime suspect, if for no other reason than he’s a drifter, and a rather physically imposing one at that. Arrested before he can partake of the peach pie at the local diner (it becomes a thing), he’s a puzzle for Goodwin’s Detective Finlay, a Boston transplant happy to finally have a big-time case in their sleepy little town.
During their initial interview, Finlay has the tables turned on him as he and we learn in short order that Reacher was an Army brat who went through a lot of schools in a lot of countries before enlisting and serving in the military police, where he was very, very good at his job. And Reacher puts those observational skills to work when he flips Finlay’s interview back on him, sussing out the detective’s history pretty easily.
It’s a fractious start to what will become an uneasy partnership once Finlay recognizes that Reacher’s actually helpful. Fitzgerald’s Roscoe is a deputy in the local police department and she pretty quickly sizes Reacher up that while he might be a threat, he’s not their guy. Soon she, Finlay, and Reacher discover they can only trust each other.
The series was filmed in Ontario and the cast is rounded out with familiar CdnTV faces including Marc Bendavid as Paul Hubble, a mild-mannered accountant who knows more than he’s telling; Kristin Kreuk as his wife, Charlie, who’s left in the lurch with their daughters when he cuts a runner; Currie Graham as Kliner, the head of the company that bears his name and is the lifeblood of Margrave; Patrick Garrow as jail guard Spivey; and Martin Roach as Finlay’s FBI friend, Picard. Also in the cast are Maria Sten as Reacher’s former MP colleague, Neagley; Harvey Guillén as medical examiner Jasper; and Bruce McGill as Teale, the mayor of Margave.
Last week, I chatted with Fitzgerald and Goodwin about the series. In the first part of our conversation, we talk about the found family their characters build with Reacher, and how the trio’s shared experiences and personalities inform their fast, tight bond with each other.
While the character of Reacher isn’t specifically identified as neurodiverse, the bead I get on him here is that he is on the spectrum. He’s extremely precise, laser focused, and self-reflective. He’s also methodical when he goes after the bad guys with lethal force or a righteous smackdown, but no remorse. And refreshingly, while Roscoe and Finlay sometimes take issue with his methods, they never treat him as other.
Fitzgerald enjoyed the dance that created between the characters. “The dynamic between the three of these characters is that they are all very sure of themselves and their own perspectives on the situation,” she explains. “And they’re all willing to assert that point of view and they aren’t necessarily afraid of how the other person’s going to take that, which I think makes for a lot of great dialogue.”
“It makes for a lot of interesting conflict and a really interesting character relationship. It’s also what makes them all respect each other so much because they see in each other that sort of truthfulness that they embody themselves and I think that’s probably why they do become so close and so trusting of each other.”
“While they’re so different, what unites them is also that they’re all honest. None of the characters apologize for who they are, but they have a common goal in mind, which is solving this particular crime,” adds Goodwin.
“And we have our own particular ways of doing so. That causes the conflict, but I think ultimately, we all realize we’re more the same than we are different. And we do allow each other to be and stay true to each other while trying to figure this thing out because we have a common thing to solve.”
One of the other uniting threads for the trio is a combination of strength and vulnerability as each has been affected by trauma. “We’re all dealing with grief and that is a driving force behind what we do. And that adds to the initiative and to the tenacity that we all have in order to solve this case,” shares Goodwin.
“For Roscoe, having lost her parents so early, and then having been raised by her grandmother and the people who live in the town and then having [the late sheriff] be like a second father, the place that she lives–Margrave–is her family,” explains Fitzgerald.
“And I think that that’s why she’s never left. And I think that that is what adds a whole other layer of impetus behind wanting to help figure out what’s going on in Margrave and in her town, because it is that important to her.”
Until Reacher arrives, Roscoe and Finlay don’t pick up on the trouble brewing in their town. “There’s obviously the inciting incident of the book and of this season that propels everything forward. And without that, the whole machine that’s going on in Margrave, I think would’ve existed forever,” Fitzgerald says.
“Or at least until something really badly went wrong. And that’s often how any sort of cover up or underground ring goes…it goes on and on and on until someone really messes up and then someone else realizes. It’s definitely Reacher’s kind of bullheaded insistence that something’s wrong that gets us all moving on that.”
“This is [also] the first murder that Margrave’s had in 20 years. So we don’t quite have the experience of working an actual murder investigation. This is the first one. And I think for Finlay, he’s excited for it because he gets to prove that he can do this,” explains Goodwin.
“He wasn’t able to attain this position back in Boston, after working as a police officer for 20 years, but he has an opportunity now in this small town and this is their first murder case. And then the prime suspect is trying to take over the case. So obviously you’ve got that butting of the heads. It leads to so many things unraveling that Roscoe and Finlay would’ve never probably ever figured out.”
All eight episodes of Reacher will be available worldwide this Friday at 12:01 am ET on Prime Video. And check back next week for part two of my interview with Fitzgerald and Goodwin. Here’s a sneak peek of the first season.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Prime Video
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