The Terminal List season 1, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

By Marc Miller
Published: July 1, 2022
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The Terminal List’s pilot episode is a high-octane thrill ride.

This recap of the Amazon original series The Terminal List season 1, episode 1, “The Engram,” contains spoilers.

Access the recaps, reviews, and news for The Terminal List.

The Terminal List season 1, episode 1 recap

The Terminal List starts with James Reece (Chris Pratt) smashing the SEAL pin of a fallen special forces soldier into a coffin. Then a montage of sorts happens, almost something you would see out of a Michael Bay summer blockbuster. Reece is prepping his team for a mission to capture a chemical weapons terrorist named Kahani. Reece leads his team on an underwater mission to infiltrate a facility through underground sewer lines. These guys even bring a Special Forces German Shepherd who senses C4 and trip wires under the water. It’s a harrowing opening scene. Things go bad quickly. Two of his men are now shot, and one is barely hanging on.

They are pinned down after engaging and removing a couple of soldiers from enemy forces. When Reece sends a man to find a way out, they find an escape. Unfortunately, one of the SDF troopers panics and runs for it. He ignores the pleas of the team yelling about the tripwire. An explosion occurs, and Reece is knocked out cold and sinks face-first into the water. Reese is dragged through the muddy waters and to safety. As a helicopter machine gun is providing covering fire onto a cliff above the beach, Reece can get one of his wounded men to a medical chopper. Reece wants to stay behind to get all his boys off the coast but is told he is the last one. The only one to survive besides him is Boozer (Jared Shaw).

The military interrogates Reece about what happened that day. They tell him it was Donnie Mitchell, a Navy SEAL, not an SDF trooper. He was one of Reece’s men, who was the one “freaking” out that evening. Reece lost 12 of his men and is approached later by a reporter Katie Buranek (Constance Wu) at a bar when he drinks with Boozer. When he finally flies home with Boozer and lands in California, he is picked up by Ben (Taylor Kitsch). He is an old friend and a former CIA agent. He tells Ben that he thinks it was a setup, perhaps bad intel by the Russians or worse. Ben says that is “God’s hand” type s**t, and Reece agrees. Ben will check with a high-level contact.

From there, he drops Reece off to be reunited with his wife, Lauren (Riley Keough), and his daughter, Lucy. As Reece tries to adjust, he is numb to the world and ruminates over losing his men. An example of this is holding a plate of cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, and it takes him five seconds to realize the searing pain from the hot tray. He then gets called that Boozer shot himself last night, but Reece was told his suicide was two days ago. How is that possible when the commander flew back with him to California? (Boozer wasn’t on the plane when Reece woke up).

Reece has a meeting and claims that this was a setup. He further states that someone has manipulated the audio recording. His superiors look at him like he is crazy, and when he is walked out, his commander tells him that Boozer shot himself with a nine-millimeter. They do not believe him. Reece meets Ben at his boat and tells him he does not buy it. Boozer hated the gun model and always carried a .45 caliber.

However, Ben does not buy an internal coverup targeting Navy SEALS. He suggests that Reece borrow his boat and take off for the weekend with his family to get his head straight. Meanwhile, he tells him if Reece ever feels like something is off with him, to call him right away. (Is anyone else getting strong gaslight vibes from Ben at this point?). He then emails Buranek and asks if he was alone at the bar that day they met.

From there, Reece has to hand out 12 flags to his fallen soldiers during every funeral. The Secretary of Defense (Jeanne Tripplehorn) hands out a baker’s dozen Silver Crosses that day, and she awards him the Navy Cross. As he drives home, he sees a grey car following him. When they arrive home, his wife comforts him but sees the car again parked by the house. He pulls his gun, and when he pulls the door of the car open, it is Katie, the reporter he sent the email message to. She has information and theories on what happened with his unit, but he does not want to hear any of it. She leaves him his card.

The ending

Reece finally has come to the conclusion he needs help. He goes to the clinic and is told it could be an engram — a brain injury that can cause years-old memories to seem like yesterday. The commander falls asleep during his CT scan, and when he calls for the doctor, he is met by two hooded masked men. Reece fights them off, taking a knife, killing one (we think, but before that, shot him in the knee), and one escapes. He then realizes that the gun one of them had pointed at his temple, which he later was able to take off, was the nine-millimeter he keeps in his safe. Reece calls the cops to go to his home as he races there. When he arrives, he finds his wife and daughter have been murdered.

What did you think of the Amazon original series The Terminal List season 1, episode 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Amazon Prime. 

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