The first season of the Netflix action thriller “The Recruit” made us privy to an intriguing character named Max Meladze, who was in prison in Phoenix, Arizona, serving a sentence for killing a man in cold blood. Max had threatened the CIA that if they didn’t get her released, then she would reveal some state secrets and put the agents involved in jeopardy. When Owen started investigating the case, he realized that Max was no ordinary convict. She was an ex-asset who operated from Belarus and worked closely with the Russian mafia. Max and Owen had developed a kind of trust over a period of time, and he even got the state to drop all the charges against her. Eventually, through the course of the series, we come to know that after murdering her husband, Max took his place in the Russian mafia. She was soon approached by the CIA since they knew the truth behind her husband’s death. She decided to work as an asset for the CIA to protect herself. Later on, the mafia tried to deal with her when they got to know that she was feeding information to US intelligence. She worked with Xander Goi at that time, and he managed to help her escape from Belarus and bring her to Phoenix. Even after multiple attempts, she failed to contact her handler. She later murdered a man who inflicted harm on a girl who stayed at her safe house. She was brought to Phoenix Prison for homicide, and that was when she wrote letters to the CIA, blackmailing them into helping her.
When Max met Owen, she immediately knew he was new to the game. He had not yet learned to conceal information and was struggling to keep himself together during their conversation. Max’s immediate instinct was to manipulate him. She tried to establish that she had leverage that could completely destroy Owen’s career if he failed to cooperate with her. While Owen initially fell for her words, he eventually realized that he, too, had to establish that she needed his help more than anything at the moment. He was the only one trying to figure out a way to release her from prison, and she had no other option but to trust him. Trusting someone did not come easily for Max. All her life, people betrayed her, and she had to look out for herself. She believed that she was a survivor, someone who would do anything to make it till the very end. Therefore, even when Owen requested that she avoid going behind his back and making the case difficult for him, she could not trust him. She believed that there was no other better way to deal with her witness than to murder him, so she hired a hitman to take care of business. While Owen was able to handle the situation, he could no longer live with Max’s distrust. After her release, he was glad to be done with her case. On the other hand, Max realized that Owen stuck to his words and had always found a way to help her. Not for a minute did he try to play her, and that was quite new for her. Max knew that her life could be in danger after she was reinstated as an asset in Belarus. She doubted that maybe the CIA’s plan was to use her for information and murder her outside of the United States. She wanted to be careful with the people she was dealing with. She did not trust Dawn as much as she did trust Owen, which is why she requested for him to join the mission, even though that was not his initial task.
During their stay in Phoenix, Max shared about her life with Owen. She disclosed that the only person she had been in love with all her life was her daughter, Karolina. She spoke of her daughter as if she were no longer alive. Max’s tough exterior had fooled Owen, making him believe that she was unsentimental. But he realized that Max’s life was extremely challenging, and maybe that was the reason why she had become the way she was. She had endured injustice, and life had taught her to trust no one. Owen sympathized with her. He believed that if he provided her with emotional support, she might change as a person. She might learn to trust people and care for those who believe in her. Owen’s relationship with Max is an emotional one. Unlike Dawn, who did not care about anything but the mission, Owen was too invested not to care about Max’s safety. Therefore, when he noticed that there were people gathering outside the building Max was in, he jumped in to save her. He risked his life, held a gun, and shot a man dead simply to protect her. But after the entire incident, Owen could not live with what he had done. He suffered from an intense panic attack and wanted to get back to his safe place with the people who loved and cared for him.
In the process, he also realized how little Max cared about what he was going through. She treated it as just another emotional episode he would get over with. He realized that all she cared about was her selfish interests. He decided to get out of the car and walk back to his comfortable life. As he walked away, Max pointed the gun at him. But he was no longer threatened by her. Before leaving, he stated how they were equally trapped in their own problematic interests. She was trapped in her will to survive, even if that meant hurting the people who cared for her, and he was trapped in need to seek validation and engage in self-sabotage. He wanted to break free from his prison before he completely lost himself in the game. Max knew murdering him would have been a safer option than letting him go, but she could not pull the trigger. She was aware that whatever Owen had stated was the truth and that he was the one who helped her till the very end.
Max and Owen’s relationship was quite the lethal one. Even though she always meant bad news in his life, he could not stop caring about her. Her voice made him tremble, knowing the rollercoaster ride he would soon be on, but circumstances forced them to be together. Not only were they emotionally attached, but they were also intimately attracted to each other, making it all the more difficult to stay away. Even though Owen makes the correct decision by walking away from Max, it appears that fate may not be able to keep them apart. While we do not know if Max will make it in the end, we can expect more from this odd pair in the second season of “The Recruit.”