The Recruit

a guy with a cut up face - The Recruit





Adam R. Holz

TV Series Review

Owen Hendricks wanted a job with a little excitement, a little adventure. But he might’ve gotten a little more than he bargained for.

Sure, he’s a lawyer—not a profession known for requiring a lot of derring-do outside John Grisham novels. But he’s a lawyer for the CIA. And while most of the agency’s attorneys stay comfortably ensconced at Langley, Owen’s already been threatened, tortured, kidnapped and nearly killed.

Man, imagine what his second month on the job might look like.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier … Lawyer?

It’s his own fault, really.

Owen shows up for work and, almost immediately, his coworkers shove a box labeled “crazies” in his face. It’s filled with what the agency calls graymail: people around the world who want the CIA’s help with something and threaten to release state secrets if they don’t get it.

Most are indeed a little bit nuts. Others are simply lying. But Owen made the mistake of actually reading these letters, and he discovered that one accused killer—Max Meladze, she calls herself—just might know something. In fact, she might know way, way too much.

But it’s not as if the CIA can just eliminate her. She’s way too duplicitous for that. If the Agency spills her blood, she’s rigged the secrets to spill, too. Moreover, she knows just how the place works—and she doesn’t trust it one little bit.

So now Max has Owen working for her as he works for the CIA, too—doing his best to keep Max happy and keep her secrets safe.

But in so doing, he’s not just racking up frequent-flier miles: He’s racking up potential problems, too. His peers don’t like his rapid advancement. His bosses don’t like being kept in the dark. And his roommates, well, they actually don’t know anything. So if an assassin suddenly barges into their apartment and guns them all down, they won’t know what hit them.

Still, beats filing paperwork at the local county courthouse in triplicate.

The Hunt for Blue Language

Owen must navigate a dangerous world—traipsing into third-world countries, stumbling into dangerous ops and, often, getting in way over his head. But he must deal with petty office politics, too—bribing his own coworkers for information and trying to steer clear of the well-heeled feet trying to trip him up.

In fact, you could characterize The Recruit as something of a cross between a Jack Ryan story and NBC’s The Office. But Michael Scott never used the sort of language we hear here.

The show is meant to feel clever and funny. Owen and his assailants will sometimes queue up banter that would feel right at home on USA’s fondly remembered crime-centric comedies (think Monk and Psych).

But don’t let the quippy dialogue lead you astray. Between the dialogue, we see violence and torture aplenty. People are beat up, tortured and sometimes killed. Even in the midst of all that, the show still has time for a few little romantic asides: Owen’s roommate, Hannah, is also his ex-girlfriend. And the couple’s other roommate, Terence, is gay.

But perhaps the show’s biggest issue might be its language. Every sort of swear word imaginable can explode out of any character’s mouth at any ol’ time, up to and including the f- and s-word.The Recruit feels, in a way, much like its titular hero: a vaguely innocent premise thrown into a grimy, mucky world.

Episode Reviews

Dec. 16, 2022—S1, Ep1: “I.N.A.S.I.A.L.”

On his second day on the job, Owen’s handed a box of letters from folks threatening to spill CIA secrets. Most are just cranks or crazies, but one seems credible. Owen decides to try to figure out whether she is who she says she is—and that requires a trip to Yemen.

That trip nearly gets him killed. He rents a car and drives to a black ops site in his new lawyer suit. There, operatives beat him up, and the woman whom he traveled all that way to talk with pulls out one of his fingernails. (It’s bandaged for the rest of the episode, and Owen tries to pass it off as an innocuous car-door injury.) He leaves the country alive but bloodied and bruised.

Back in the states, Owen clashes with more thugs who want a gym bag he’s taken and gently threaten to kill him over it. He escapes by pushing them over with what looks to be a walker. When Owen’s recaptured and the thugs open the bag, acid—product of a booby trap left by the previous owner—sprays their faces. (Owen escapes with his life and the bag but vomits out a car door.)

The CIA seems like a pretty dysfunctional workplace. Most of the other employees seem bent on sabotaging Owen’s career. The nicest guy there demands drugs in exchange for information. (“You got any speed?” he asks, as he’s trying to stay awake to keep CIA spooks from diving into a clandestine operation he’s trying to prevent. No, Owen admits, but offers several of his roommate’s Adderall tablets instead.)

Owen lives with two roommates, incidentally. One is his old girlfriend (suggesting a cohabitating situation before the breakup). The other, Terence, is apparently gay. He and “Tad” are going to do some “roleplaying” that evening in the apartment, he says—and he threatens to do it in Owen’s room. We see Owen without a shirt.

We hear 25 f-words and about 15 s-words, along with “a–,” “b–ch,” “h—” and “p-ss.” God’s name is misused four times, and Jesus’ name is abused twice. A song playing in the background—“The Ground Below” by Run the Jewels—contains lyrics comparing the singer to God and containing references to Beelzebub.

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Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

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