Reacher Season 1 Ending, Explained: Who Killed Joe?

Image Credit: Keri Anderson/Amazon Prime Video

While the ‘Jack Reacher’ films starring Tom Cruise were commercially successful when they came out, the devoted fans of the source material (book series of the same name by Lee Child) weren’t particularly happy. Cruise doesn’t remotely look like Child’s walking oak tree of a protagonist, and even the Hollywood megastar’s infinite charm wasn’t able to make up for that.

However, the Amazon series ‘Reacher,’ developed by Nick Santora, rectifies this by casting Alan Ritchson as the adult version of the titular character. And he does look like a walking oak tree. The first season of ‘Reacher’ is a largely faithful adaptation of the 1997 book ‘Killing Floor.’ Being the first book in the series, it is basically the origin story for the character, and ‘Reacher’ season 1 seems to consciously replicate that. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Reacher’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Reacher Season 1 Recap

Jack Reacher is a case study of contradictions. He is way over six feet tall and weighs somewhere between 200 and 250 pounds. He is eerily quiet, but his razor-sharp intelligence and unnatural deductive skills shine through whenever he speaks. Reacher is a former soldier. At one point, he was part of the military police, serving as the Commander of the 110th Special Investigations Unit. After leaving the army, he became a drifter, carrying nothing but the clothes on his back and a French war medal in his pocket. The measly governmental pension he receives seems to be enough to sustain him.

Reacher gets down from the Greyhound bus in the fictional Georgian town of Margrave completely on a whim. He is a fan of blues music and had heard that a legendary blues singer named Blind Blake died in Margrave. Shortly after his arrival, Reacher is arrested for the murder of a tall man, who he later discovers is his older brother Joe.

The narrative shifts back and forth between the present time and 1998. Like Reacher, his father was in the military, and Reacher and Joe grew up in different bases all over the world. They were in the Okinawa base in 1998, and the show underscores how their time there shaped who they became later in life. Joe went on to join the Secret Service and played a prominent role in the country’s fight against counterfeit money. It’s his job that brought him to Margrave and got him killed.

Reacher gradually realizes that a significant number of residents of this picturesque town are corrupt — in the pocket of the Kliner family. Unlike most residents, the Kliners haven’t been in Margrave for decades. Before their arrival, it was just another dying town in the American southeast. The Kliners rejuvenated the town by setting up industries, virtually buying up the loyalty of most of the residents.

After realizing that Joe had been brutally murdered, Reacher decides to stay in Margrave and find his killer. Helping him is the chief detective Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin), who is originally from Boston. After his wife’s death, he decides to take the job in Margrave, despite being told by Picard, his friend in the FBI, not to do that. There is also Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald), a police officer who can trace her lineage back to the town’s foundation.

Image Credit: Shane Mahood/Amazon Studios

Finlay and Roscoe’s investigation leads them to Paul Hubble, a financier who gets spooked by a black car outside his home and falsely confesses to killing Joe, who is yet to be identified at the time. Reacher helps Finlay find out that Hubble isn’t motivated by drugs, money, or infidelity — the three big things that make people commit crimes. Against Reacher’s wishes, Finlay sends him to prison with Hubble so that Reacher can get the truth out of the financier.

Meanwhile, other people start dying, including a trucker named Pete Jobling, Police Chief Morrison, and his wife. Morrison’s murder is especially gruesome. He was found crucified to the wall of his home, with his testicles shoved down his throat. Margrave’s mayor, Grover Teale, subsequently makes himself the police chief and declares that there is no connection between the double murders at the Morrison household and those of the others. In the season finale, titled ‘Pie,’ Reacher learns the truth about his brother’s death and gets retribution. Afterward, the towering drifter says his farewell and leaves Margrave.

Reacher Season 1 Ending: Who Killed Reacher’s Brother Joe? Who Killed Kliner Sr.?

Before he even discovers that Joe is the victim, Reacher deduces that three people were involved in the murder. The first person, who actually killed Joe, is precise and almost professional, even though they take certain pleasure from killing people. The second is psychotic. They thrashed Joe’s body after he had died. The third person is the cautious one. They hastily tried to hide the dead body and did a poor job. For a considerable time, Reacher and his allies believe that Kliner Sr. is the mastermind behind all the deaths. And then he turns up dead as well.

It is revealed the Kliners run a sophisticated counterfeiting business. The US dollar is arguably the most stable currency in the world. The Kliners partnered with a Venezuelan organization and supplied them with the money they produced. With it, the South American criminal outfit became immensely powerful and influential, which, in turn, helped the Kliners acquire prominence. Kliner Sr. needed someone as talented as Hubble to manage the finance of his business and trapped him by making him deal in counterfeit money. He also threatened him with horrible consequences for extra measures.

Image Credit: Shane Mahood/Amazon Prime Video

After Hubble goes into hiding, Finlay calls Picard to watch over Hubble’s family. However, Picard eventually turns out to be dirty. So does Teale. When Kliner Sr. gets killed, Reacher initially suspects the Venezuelans. However, it is ultimately revealed that KJ (Chris Webster), the oldest son of Kliner Sr., is behind everything.

In a perfect antagonistic exposition, KJ claims that while his father had the brains to establish the counterfeiting enterprise, he didn’t have the guts to do what was necessary to protect it. So, KJ killed him, Jobling, and several others. He is also the one who murdered Joe. His psychotic brother, Dawson, then kicked him after his death. Morrison, who was also on the Kliner payroll, tried to hide the body. As for Morrison himself and his wife, they were killed because the police chief failed to deliver on his promises.

What Is the Significance of the French War Medal?

Reacher is a highly-decorated US soldier, but the only medal he carries with him is a second-World-War French medal. The reason for this is revealed towards the end of the first season. Reacher and Joe’s mother was French, and the medal belonged to her father. The brothers visited her in Paris while she was dying of cancer. She revealed to them that she knew that when they were young, it was Reacher who beat up a bully to protect someone, while Joe took the blame for it.

She gave her father’s medal to Reacher, finally acknowledging his bravery. In the present time, before leaving Margrave, Reacher buries the medal where Joe died and echoes the words their mother said to her oldest son. This is Reacher’s way of saying goodbye to his brother, who had the courage to shoulder the entire world’s problems.

Read More: Where Is Reacher Filmed?