Reacher’s Special Investigators Flashback Reveals The Harshest Truth About His Character


  • Reacher season 2 provides in-depth flashbacks that reveal the history of Reacher’s old military unit, shedding light on Reacher’s character.
  • The flashbacks in Reacher season 2 show the evolution of the 110th Special Investigators, highlighting how characters like Neagley, David O’Donnell, and Karla Dixon have changed over time.
  • While the members of the 110th have grown and changed, Reacher himself remains unchanged, staying true to his personal set of rules and maintaining a minimalistic lifestyle.

Reacher season 2 provides an extended look into its main character’s history with the military, and the flashbacks reveal a great deal about his unit, including Reacher himself. Reacher season 1 also jumped around in the show’s timeline, but his military career was largely mentioned in passing. Reacher season 2 provides much more detail regarding Reacher’s ties to Neagley and his stint in the military, but it also includes a stark revelation about his character.

Reacher’s 110th Special Investigations Unit is fighting for its life in season 2, with the use of flashbacks providing some much-needed context regarding their shared history. The Unit is shown to have had great chemistry, with the death of certain characters in the present day meaning they’re only visible in retrospect. Although the focus is on the case known as Operation Kite Runner, the scenes also aid in getting a better understanding of the Reacher season 2 cast and how they’ve evolved since they served.


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The 110th Special Investigators Have All Changed A Lot Since Reacher’s Past Timeline

The flashbacks show the growth of Karla Dixon and others

The 110th Special Investigations Unit photo in Reacher season 2

The flashbacks in Reacher season 2 are set years in the past, so many of the characters are very different when compared to their present-day selves. For instance, Neagley is introduced in season 1 as self-assured and confident. The flashback to the Officer’s Club in Reacher season 2, episode 1, “ATM,” is set before season 1, and shows her in a time before she found her confidence. The present-day Neagley wouldn’t have tolerated being spoken down to like she is in the flashback, a trait she may have inherited from her time spent under Reacher’s command.

David O’Donnell also shows signs of progression. In the flashbacks, O’Donnell is forever referencing his sexual conquests and making predictions that he will never feel the desire to settle down into family life. The irony of these claims is immediately apparent, as O’Donnell’s family had already appeared on the show before his incorrect foresight was showcased. Although the 110th is surprised by the revelation, O’Donnell has since become a family man. This is a major O’Donnell book change in Reacher, as his literary counterpart remains a bachelor.

Karla Dixon’s time away from the 110th has also developed her character. The Reacher season 2 flashbacks show her as by-the-book and much more uptight than she’s shown in the current day. The years since Dixon’s service have brought about a certain level of serenity and a laid-back attitude that isn’t present in her younger self. She’s also much less afraid to go after what she wants, initiating a sexual relationship between Dixon and Reacher soon after their reunion.

Reacher Himself Hasn’t Changed At All

The 110th’s commanding officer is nothing if not consistent

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher talking on the phone in Reacher season 2, episode 7

Despite the growth of many members of the Special Investigations Unit, their former commanding officer has remained unchanged. Reacher’s demeanor, mannerisms, and overall approach to life, haven’t evolved at all since the 110th was disbanded. Reacher’s disobedience of his superior’s orders in the flashbacks serves as proof that the show’s main character holds his own personal set of rules above all else.

A quote from Tony Swan also implies that Reacher was the same even before the military. When packing up their belongings, Swan tells Reacher, “I am starting to see the appeal of your minimalistic lifestyle.” Reacher is shown to travel light throughout the show, and Swan’s statement suggests that this is not a recent development. As such, Reacher is clearly a man who knows how he likes to live and does so without apology or regret.

Why Reacher’s Lack Of Personal Growth Makes Sense For His Character

Alan Ritchson’s character works better by staying the same

Part of the appeal of witnessing a character’s journey through a story is also being afforded the chance to see their arc develop. A character is rarely the same throughout a narrative, but Reacher seems to be the exception to this rule. Reacher’s values and approach to life would seem to be immovable, and these are attributes that only reinforce the fact that his character is as stubborn as he is pragmatic.


The Story Behind Reacher’s 110th Photo Makes Season 2’s First Major Death Much Sadder

A newly-uncovered key detail from Reacher’s 110th flashback scenes retroactively makes season 2’s very first character death even sadder.

Reacher is written to be an unstoppable entity, even when his adversaries know his every move. If Reacher is shown to change over time, it would go against this persona, reducing the imposing aura he has accumulated over time. Therefore, it makes more sense to keep him just as he is, as if he could be plucked from any point in the Reacher timeline and be exactly the same person.

Reacher season 1 is on Amazon Prime Video, Reacher season 2 is being released weekly on the same platform, with the finale landing on January 19.


Release Date
February 4, 2022

Malcolm Goodwin , Maria Sten , Willa Fitzgerald , Bruce McGill , Chris Webster , Alan Ritchson


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