The Recruit Review: The Rookie Creator Milks Their Niche Dry


Alexi Hawley has two successful law enforcement shows on broadcast television currently. The Rookie is in its fifth season on ABC, while its spin-off, The Rookie: Feds, is in its freshman season on the same network.

The shows have been successful thanks to their innovative ideas, whether on the premise or the in episodes. They both also have very interesting characters who are a pleasure to watch.

From Alexi comes The Recruit. To fully understand how The Recruit measures up against existing shows with his name attached, it is important to take a quick look at them.

The Rookie premiered in 2018 and is set in the Los Angeles Police Department. It primarily focuses on John Nolan, the oldest rookie in the department. He is treated as a joke in the early seasons but later earns himself a place in the force.

The Rookie: Feds premiered in 2022, and its premise is similar to that of The Rookie but set in the FBI. It focuses on Simone Clark, who leaves her decades-long job as a high school guidance counselor and pursues her dream of joining the FBI.

The Recruit is set in the CIA, deviates a little from focusing on older adults, and follows the youngest lawyer in the CIA as he is pulled into dangerous international politics that put his very life at risk.

Apart from all the shows sharing the article “the” at the beginning of their titles, it might not seem like they have much in common.

But upon close inspection, they all seem to follow a particular pattern. They are all set in law enforcement and focus on characters whose age makes them odd in their professions.

Noah Centineo stars as Owen Hendricks or The Recruit. He is on his second day on the job as a lawyer. His first assignment is the mundane task of looking through graymail for any credible threat when he stumbles upon one from a former asset who threatens to expose CIA secrets.

The world’s first good taste of Noah Centineo was as Jesus Adams-Foster in The Fosters. He played the lovable yet consistently unlucky brother to Mariana and the Adams-Foster children.

Next, he rose to global fame playing the romantic interest in To All the Boys movies for Netflix.

On the large screen, he had a part in the DC superhero film Black Adam which was released in 2022.

Arguably, the TV roles were oriented at teenage viewers who very much don’t care about acting skills if the ship makes them feel things and swoon.

The movie role didn’t demand much as most of the work in superhero films is done by computers in post-production.

It can be said that The Recruit is Centineo’s true acting test.

He rises to the occasion gracefully, balancing his character admirably. He manages to make the character appear naïve and inexperienced without the character looking like a lazy one-dimensional idiot. His performance is good enough that it subverts expectations.

Laura Haddock portrays Maxine Meladze, an international assassin and a former FBI asset. Saying she knocks it out of the park would be a slight understatement. She catches the viewer’s attention by focusing on delivering the emotional moments where Max’s humanity is on display.

She also impresses with how she handles the other side of Max, where she is a cold-blooded killer out to make sure she lives to see the next day.

Kristian Bruun’s performance as the ever-anxious Janus is also worth noting.

Most of the remaining characters feel unnecessary and only serve to bog the narrative down.

Owen shares a flat with two other people, his ex-girlfriend and the other his best friend. Both of these characters are so unnecessary they could all be replaced by a therapist who the viewer sees once every couple of episodes as he tells Owen what’s wrong with him.

Most of his co-workers are a drag to watch because they appear as bullies on the playground. They could have easily been replaced by a very mean boss, which would have done the job.

While it has its moments, especially in some scenes and episodes set overseas, the first couple of episodes makes the show feel like a good spy show parody. It comes off as a not-so-good dramedy in the early moments of the season. You learn to live with it, though.

It underdelivers its promise of serving the viewer with spy stuff, double-crossing, and international politics. Action is its only saving grace.

The big to small plot twists and revelations that one would expect in politically charged spy shows are not there. The grandness one would expect in international spy shows seems inexistent. International power plays are almost inexistent.

Even when Owen travels outside the country, it is to track down other characters who are more or less American. The only Russian villain in the show is not even that impressive. He comes off as a small-time thug suffering serious anger issues and grudge-holding.

At some point, it all becomes predictable, and the thoughts cross the mind. “How long is this supposed to be again?” “When is it ending?” “Will it end soon?”

I watched the show in three sittings throughout as many, if not more, weeks. While wild, the pilot didn’t incentivize me to click the next episode. The second time I binged four episodes, and finally, the last three a few days ago.

It can be easily lost in the many continue watching shows in the Netflix profile if someone starts it at all. It ends in a cliffhanger that raises more questions, but no one is in a hurry to find answers.

Huge to mild Noah Centineo fans might get through it easily, but other people might have difficulty focusing on some episodes.

Have you watched the show already, or are you planning on watching it?

Will you watch it?

We would love to know what you thought about it, so let us know in the comments section.

All episodes of The Recruit are streaming on Netflix.

Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.

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