The Recruit – Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a delightfully fun romp through the world of espionage with a leading man finding himself in all the wrong places at all the right times.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

Hiding behind your computer monitors.

The Recruit Review

I have to say that when I first heard about The Recruit, I was kind of a bit tired of the overall spy genre. Add to that, it was led by Noah Centineo, who I had never seen as a leading man before, and the constraints of the end of the year. Well, I was happy to give this a pass. But something niggled in the back of my head, and part of me had to see what was going on here and look. I am the first to admit I was wrong.

So to set the scene, Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is a brand new lawyer for the general counsel’s office of the CIA. Most jobs make you feel like you are in over your head when you start. The CIA takes that to a whole new level when all of your colleagues are also trying to sabotage you. To prove himself and because people wanted him to fail, he takes on the grey mail. These are letters from people threatening the CIA. 99% of them are not threats, but in his first week, Owen has to find the one credible letter. Max Meladze (Laura Haddock) is locked in a Phoenix prison for caving a guy’s head in with a tyre wrench. But she also knows code word clearance intelligence and might just be able to destroy all the CIA’s operations in Belarus and Russia. Owen is happy to find the threat but less comfortable when he is tasked by his boss Walter Nyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall), to take care of it, and then quite put off when that leads to him getting his fingernail ripped off in a ruin in Yemen. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

Noah Centineo with a Piña colada
Noah Centineo makes a compelling leading man. Image Credit: Netflix.

The first strength of this show is Noah Centineo, who perfectly captures someone in their first week and has no idea what is going on, but also someone who learns quickly and has the common sense and internal drive to do the right thing. He oscillates from bubbly joy to terrified, to a tiredness that exudes from every part of him. These wild swings should feel disjointed, but the charismatic personality of Noah helps make all these disparate aspects come together into an entertaining whole. I loved the almost buddy-cop-like relationship between Owen and Max as they are almost fish out of water in each of their worlds, which is good because this makes up the main thrust of the show.          

From a structure perspective, it was a boon to have Owen be in his first week because it allows you to have him stumble around and need help naturally, not forced. It also helps that all that bumbling leads to consequences for Owen. Just because he is our plucky protagonist does not mean he will leave with all his fingernails intact or need to crawl through a sewer line to escape. Owen gets thrown through the wringer, and I would usually say that the consolation prize for this was that everyone wants to sleep with him, including at least one honey pot attempt, but even then, it is not a smooth ride for him. There is also genuine kindness to him in a world that destroys empathy. This is a profoundly compelling drive going forward in the show.

Owen gets reamed out by his boss Nyland.
We get some good fish-out-of-water action as Owen gets thrown in the deep end. Image Credit: Netflix.

From a production perspective, I first want to say how much I like the title cards, which felt reminiscent of Fringe in all its fun. Also, I just liked the way they framed the shots in this show. The show also makes the most of its locations, even if Austria and California sub for many different places. It is also nice that they didn’t throw a dirt filter up over the screen during Lebanon. From a narrative perspective, I liked the slow complications built throughout the season and how they snowballed towards the final episode. These narrative problems also helped reinforce the characters and what drives them forward.  

If there is a weakness with the show, it lands on the development of some of the side characters. Unfortunately, it felt like Byron Mann was wasted as he was there, being tangentially an antagonist but more of an annoyance in the end. As well as this, it felt that Hannah (Fivel Stewart), Violet (Aarti Mann), and Lester (Colton Dunn) were building towards something with the character’s arc. It all sort of ground to a halt in the final episode. I am sure this was to position them for where they go in a hopeful Season Two, but it left that last episode feeling that it was missing something. However, at least they left an excellent hook to go forward with.

Owen Hendricks and Max Meladze plan their next move.
Owen Hendricks and Max Meladze have a great rapport. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend The Recruit? Yes, we do. I think Noah Centineo perfectly encapsulated this character who runs headfirst into danger regardless of whether he knows it is there. I also want to see more of this world, which is always a good sign.      

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen The Recruit yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review
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Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Recruit
Directed by
– Doug Liman, Alex Kalymnios, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour & Julian Holmes
Written by – Alexi Hawley, George V. Ghanem, Amelia Roper, Hadi Nicholas Deeb, Niceole R. Levy & Maya Goldsmith
Created by – Alexi Hawley
Production/Distribution Companies – Hypnotic, Perfectman Pictures, Entertainment One & Netflix
Starring – Noah Centineo, Laura Haddock, Aarti Mann, Colton Dunn, Fivel Stewart, Daniel Quincy Annoh, Kristian Bruun & Vondie Curtis-Hall with Angel Parker, Victor Andres Trelles Turgeon, Byron Mann, Kaylah Zander, Jesse Collin, Jake Lewis, David Denman, Alexandra Petrachuk, Katharine King So, Christian Jadah, Gabriel Infante, Nico DeCastris, Linus Roache, Gregory Hlady, Maddie Hasson, Kira Clavell & Nathan Fillion.
Episodes CoveredI.N.A.S.I.A.L., N.L.T.S.Y.P., Y.D.E.K.W.Y.D., I.Y.D.I.A.A.C., T.S.L.A.Y.P., I.C.I.N.C., I.M.F.T.B.S. & W.T.F.I.O.H.

1 thought on “The Recruit – Season 1 – TV Review

  1. Pingback: Awards – My Top 10 TV Shows of 2022 | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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