The Recruit: Amelia Salazar, the human face of the CIA

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The Recruit was out on Netflix in December 2022, becoming trending streaming immediately. Viewers were fascinated by the TV series story, following the adventures of Owen Hendricks as a recruit inside the CIA. One of the most exciting aspects of the series is the representation of the work environment at the CIA: Owen struggles to get support from his colleagues, skepticism is diffused, and they all focuses on their interest. Amelia Salazar will be the first colleague who sincerely helps Owen, becoming more confident with the protagonist. Let’s explore one of the series’s best characters, played by the Latinx-Canadian actress Kaylah Zander.

You can watch the official trailer for The Recruit Season 1 here on Youtube.

The Recruit: why Amelia Salazar is one of the best characters of the series

When Owen enters the CIA, he starts working on low-level activities as training. However, he immediately stands out for his skills, identifying a dangerous threat among the many letters the CIA receives every year, making a good impression on his boss, who also blames the more experienced lawyers in the agency, Lester Kitchens and Violet Ebner, for not recognizing the danger earlier. This immediately creates bad blood with his closest colleagues, who try to sabotage him in many ways.

Once Owen realizes this, he becomes aware that he cannot survive that environment if he doesn’t find someone who helps him while he learns how to navigate the new environment. Janus is one of those colleagues who support him, but always with massive resistance. At some point, when Owen needs help to get Max’s case reassigned, he’s introduced to Amelia Salazar, an experienced resource at the CIA who immediately sets the relationship with Owen in a precise direction: she will help him in exchange for “some romance”: she will give him advice and practical help, and he will have to date her regularly, in a not too serious romantic relationship. Owen accepts, and while the series continues, we realize that their agreement works pretty well.

The viewer’s instinctive reaction could find that pretty materialistic, but the development of the TV show reveals something deeper. In an environment like the CIA, where nobody helps anyone if not forced, where you are always focused on protecting your interests against others and standing out over all peers, Amelia does two crucial things: first, she’s willing to help her colleague sincerely, not seeing him as a threat or a burden; second, when thinking about what to get in return (something very typical in that environment), she’s the first introducing the human dimension in the series, asking for a romantic interaction instead of professional favors. Behind an apparently materialistic request, Amelia Salazar actually represents the only person inside the CIA who opens a window into real life, human feelings, and personal experience, while all others stay protective and cold to each other.

This way, we get to know Amelia better: she works at the CIA, true, but she doesn’t see it as the career of her life. She wished to become a TV host and practices every night privately. Differently than Owen, Amelia is not the job she does. She’s a fully developed character with a different set of ambitions and a broad perspective that goes beyond her work at the agency.

At first, Owen finds it hard to align with the complexity of her character, but quickly enough, they get along and learn how to answer each other’s needs. The viewer starts to like how their relationship grows, but at some point, Amelia breaks up with Owen: showing a more mature and objective view of things, she realizes that they are too different, probably because of the age difference, and she prefers to interrupt the romance before it gets too serious. That doesn’t change how Amelia keeps supporting Owen professionally, proving her perfect control of all parts of her persona, from feelings to responsibilities.

Seeing the end of The Recruit Season 1, it’s clear that Owen’s private life now needs to deal with Hannah, his roommate and ex-girlfriend: they still have feelings for each other, and nothing prevents them from trying it again and coming back together, especially after we realize how much they still care for each other. From this point of view, Amelia’s step back makes sense for the plot development. But it will be interesting to check how her character will continue the interaction with Owen in the eventual Season 2, now that we know the romance they shared in the past.

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