‘The Recruit’ Character: Max Meladze, Explained: What Made Max A Ruthless Assassin?


“The Recruit” makes us privy to a lot of characters who are going through an internal conflict and are stuck somewhere in transit. All these characters are too scared to address that conflict. They abstain from seeing reality, though they know that someday, they will have to confront their darkest fears. Max Meladze was somebody who had tried to escape her past by creating a narrative inside her head that she had to do what she did to survive. She went about her business in an unabashed manner until she met a naive CIA lawyer named Owen Hendricks, who tried to bring about a change in her perspective. So, let’s see why Max became this cold-hearted assassin and if Owen’s presence changed her as a person.

Spoilers Ahead

What Led Max To Become A Ruthless Assassin?

Sometimes, a person gets defeated by their own circumstances, and they realize that they have to start seeing “suffering” as their constant ally. These people either accept that they are going to be oppressed their entire lives, or they raise a voice against it and wage a rebellion. But then, even after becoming rebels, they come to know that their hardships can never end. In order to survive, they tread a path where they start forgetting who they actually were when they started in the first place. They become accustomed to violence and witness humanity dissipating from their core. Max Meladze was one such person who was a victim of her own circumstances. She thought that she had everything under control, but she hadn’t assessed the situation properly, and that is why her master plan to rule the mafia world met a fateful end. Max had killed her husband and put the blame on a rival gang. She then took his place in the mafia world, but her cover was blown when the CIA got a whiff of the fake narrative she was cooking. “The Recruit” never shows us why Max killed her husband, but still, we can safely assume that if this was an effect, then surely there would have been an equally potent cause. Something would have triggered her to the extent that she was ready to enter a perilous world and put her life at risk. Seeing those melancholic eyes, we can assume that life mustn’t have been very kind to her. She still had the picture of her daughter, safely kept in the bank of Geneva, which told her that she longed to be with her and regretted having lost her.

Max Meladze had been on the run for over a decade. Her life had become a hopeless pursuit, and she had forgotten what she was trying to attain. Dawn Gilbane wanted to have leverage through Max, as everybody knew that she was quite close to General Kuznetsov. Max knew that she was surrounded by imminent danger from all sides. She was bartering her life and juggling it between three parties who had the potential to end her life quite effortlessly. She had to keep the Mafia happy and constantly feed the CIA with all the information. Max was walking on thin ice, and that gave birth to a callous survival instinct. She had been in that state for such a prolonged period that she had forgotten how to be empathetic toward others. She had forgotten that for one person to survive, it was not necessary for the other to die. Max had come far away from home, and now she didn’t know how to go back. She had forgotten how to trust, and that is why she always had her guard up. The part of her that lacked empathy was also because of the treacherous people she had to deal with on an everyday basis. Everybody looked out for their own interests, and Max knew that the moment they realized that she had nothing to offer in exchange, they would end her life without thinking twice. Max was doing everything so that she wouldn’t become a liability. She had to always stay on her toes and have a far-reaching approach. When she went to meet Lev Orlov in the end, she knew that the man was only accepting her demands because she was giving him a huge sum of money. Had she been deprived of such resources; the man wouldn’t have cared whether she lived or died. In the end, we see that she kills him even when Owen tells her to spare his life. Max knew that if she left Orlov, he would come back for her. She couldn’t be lenient and had to be ruthless to survive. There was no room for mercy in the clandestine world of spying. Max Meladze knew that either she had to be the hunter, or she would become the hunted.

What Changed After Max Met Owen?

Max wouldn’t have developed that kind of bond, which she had with Owen, with any other seasoned spy. Owen was ignorant of the intricacies of the espionage world, and that took Max by surprise. Owen was not trying to deceive her; instead, he kept all his cards on the table for her to see clearly. Max found it very absurd, as all her life she had been surrounded by manipulative and inhuman people. She had forgotten that there was still some innocence left in the world. She almost had to lead the way and show Owen how things were done. He goofs up and makes silly mistakes, which at times annoys Max, but still, he never once thinks about betraying her or using her for his own interests. He was an honest man, which was a rarity in the spy world, and some even considered it a weakness. Owen wanted to save Max, and that was something that nobody had ever tried doing.

Max, like all the others, was a selfish person who always looked out for herself and didn’t care about the world. She hadn’t met a man who would jump in the pit just to save her life. When Max was attacked by the Russian Mafia in the end, Owen voluntarily risked his life so that he could save her. On any other day, Max would have killed a person who put her life in jeopardy, but she wasn’t able to do that with Owen. She pointed the gun at him, but deep down, she knew that Owen was the only one who was trying to pull her out of the swamp. She knew that he had no vested interests or any ulterior motive in doing so. Max did end up calling Dawn Gilbane and telling her that Owen had gone rogue, but she knew that whatever Owen had told her was absolutely right. Owen had shown Max the mirror, but she was just not ready to accept the reality. She was not ready to accept what she had become. Max was shot by Karoline in the last episode of “The Recruit,” and if somehow, she survives, we will definitely see her accept the change that was already happening within her. Max had shown the first signs of sympathy. Her conscience was still alive. There were still some feelings hidden beneath that ruthless pragmatism. Max knew that in order to reach her native place, it was imperative that Owen stay with her. But she still couldn’t stop him, and Owen also knew that she wouldn’t pull the trigger. Max was shot by her own daughter, Karolina, and the series never shows us whether she lived or died. If Max survives, then we know for sure that a day will arrive when she realizes that Owen is the only one who can take her back to her proverbial home and save her from doom.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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