'The Recruit's' Fivel Stewart Dissects Her Onscreen Relationship with Noah Centineo and That Cliffhanger

Hannah comes to the realization that it's not all about Owen, the actor tells Metacritic.
by Annie Lyons — 

Noah Centineo and Fivel Stewart in 'The Recruit'


Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Season 1 of The Recruit, streaming now on Netflix. Read at your own risk!

When Fivel Stewart first learned about The Recruit, she found herself, well, recruited for the project by a familiar name. 

"I first got the audition, and it said Noah Centineo on it," Stewart tells Metacritic. "I was a little skeptical about doing another show 'cause I've been trying to change direction. But I saw Noah's name, and I was like, 'Oh, how fun. I haven't seen him in such a long time.' Our paths keep kind of intertwining throughout the years, and I just thought that this would be a really fun experience."

The Netflix spy thriller stars Centineo as Owen Hendricks, a fledgling lawyer at the CIA's Office of General Counsel. Stewart plays Hannah, his ex-girlfriend from law school and current roommate. As Owen gets wrapped up more and more in his new job, he relies on Hannah and their other roommate Terence (Daniel Quincy Annoh) for support — especially once he gets entangled in a high-stakes mission in the world of international espionage. Hannah brings some much needed normalcy to his life. Owen might not fully know who he can trust anymore, but he knows he can always trust Hannah. 

"I really love Hannah's storyline, because there's so much chaoticness that Owen gets involved in," Stewart says. "But at the end of the day, he has someone to pull him back to home, and I think that that's really important."

She continues, "I feel like in your life, or my life or anyone's life, it's super relatable to get caught up in your job and whiplash between life, but you need someone or a family, and clearly Owen's family is M.I.A. He needs someone."

Hannah also struggles to adjust to her new job, plus she must deal with the expectations of her prominent Washington D.C. parents. But while she provides support to Owen, he doesn't give her the same. He even goes as far as to borrow her credit card for a $1,700 luxury hotel suite charge. Still, when Owen's CIA coworker shows up at their apartment at 4 a.m. on his behalf, Hannah assumes the worst and decides to fly to Switzerland with Terence to make sure he's OK, calling in a strings-attached favor from her mom in the process. 

In the finale, Hannah ultimately decides to stay for a little longer in Europe despite her mom's wishes. She nearly reunites with Owen too — that is, until the season ends with a cliffhanger of him getting kidnapped in front of her. 

"I think we always have that person in our lives who pushes us further than we want to go, but maybe in the end, we need it. I think Hannah comes to a realization that yes, this isn't about Owen anymore — that all of the situations leading up to this with her and Owen have made her realize that she needs to do it for herself," Stewart says.

Here, Stewart talks to Metacritic about Hannah and Owen's up-and-down relationship, what it means for Hannah to finally take control of her life, and what she hopes for her character in a possible Season 2. 

A large part of Hannah's arc revolves around Owen, but I enjoyed how we see other glimpses of her life outside their relationship. She has this job that she hates. She feels like she's kind of floundering. She doesn't fit in with this very transactional environment that she's in, as we see with her conversations with her mom. As far as your preparation process, were you imagining what her day-to-day life was looking like outside of their apartment?

I really tried to make it super personal to where if someone put me in a workplace, and I had to wake up everyday 9 to 5 and work in an office, how I would feel about it. So, it wasn't too far of a stretch for me to be like, "Oh, well, I would hate this." And feeling that pressure to fill my parents' shoes, I know personally, eventually, I would transition out of that, because me as me, is very stubborn, and I know what I want. So I filtered that through Hannah as well. We see Hannah in this job doing what her parents want. But eventually, Hannah will get out, and Hannah will do her own thing, and I liked that we kind of see that in the season.

Hannah agrees to her mom's demand to cut off Owen and move out of their apartment in order to get her help. But also clearly in her reply, it's this exasperated, "Fine," and then in her actions that follow when she stays in Europe, it's hard to believe she would ever really do that. This might be the biggest question for Owen and Hannah's relationship, but could you even ever see Hannah moving on from Owen in the way that her mom asks her to?

I remember being in a relationship when I was very young, and my parents weren't really happy about it, but I was so in love. The fact that they weren't happy about it made me more in love, because it was that Romeo and Juliet thing — like the thing that you can't have, you want more. So I think that her parents not liking Owen, [Hannah] can't care less. I don't know if it will actually affect her caring for him less. Maybe it would even enhance it. Also, I think that what Owen's getting involved in is awakening something in Hannah. Maybe she's giving Owen advice that she needs to hear for herself, where it's like, "Don't be fearful. Do what you want, and fight for what you want." I hope that Hannah takes that advice to the next season, if there is one.

Hannah helps bring Owen down to earth, but there's also an unhealthy pattern that we see with how he's going to her for emotional support without always reciprocating or how he uses her credit card. I found it telling that in the flashback scene where we see them meet at law school, he is kind of using her even then to get this book, which helps her as well, but it's for his own benefit. Tell me more about that pattern of their relationship. Why does Hannah keep putting up with all that?

Honestly, I think that's something that's unexplainable. I think it's a feeling that you just can't get rid of. I think we've all been there before, where it's like, we know we shouldn't love something but we do anyway. I hope if there's a Season 2 Owen comes to a place of genuineness towards Hannah and then Hannah comes to a place of independence. Wherever that can meet in the middle, whatever that looks like — boyfriend and girlfriend, or friends, or in no communication — I hope that they find a healthy balance. Because reading Hannah's journey throughout the first season, I was getting so irritated. I was like, "She has to have a backbone." Owen gets involved in a lot of stuff, and he's good at what he does. So he shouldn't also involve his friendship and use and abuse it either. And so, I was having a really tough time comprehending why she just kept allowing things to happen. But I hope in Season 2 we find a conclusion and an explanation and more of an understanding of where Owen and Hannah stand, and she gets more respect from him.

That being said, it is refreshing to see Hannah starts to give him a little tough love at one point and also take action in the final two episodes, even if it doesn't really feel like the best decision to drop everything and go to Switzerland. There can be the trope within this genre of the passive girlfriend, like a damsel in distress, but here's Hannah trying to go rescue Owen, even if there's limitations to what she can actually do. How did that feel to finally have her start trying to take control of her life towards the end?

When I was reading the script, I was like, "Finally." Finally she's stepping into her element. Finally, that she doesn't need to listen to her mom, to Owen, to Terence, to anyone. She can do what she finally wants to do. When I experienced that, it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I just really don't want Hannah to come off like obsessive or possessive. I hope in Season 2 Owen can give her a little bit more of a clutch to fall back on and not just like her being his clutch. I'm interested to see what they do in Season 2.

In the very final minutes of the show, Hannah and Owen are so close to reuniting when he's literally kidnapped in front of her eyes. In your dream scenario, what is Hannah's next move right after Owen gets tossed in this van in front of her? 

My brain immediately goes to Hannah calling her mom because her mom, I think, knows a lot more than we think, and hopping on a plane or going somewhere. I would go find him. I would try everything to go find him.

You also have a new show called Alert premiering in early January. Is there anything that you can tease about what audiences can expect from the show and your character Sidney? 

She's an edgy high schooler who is very confident in who she is. She holds her head really high, and she loves her parents a lot. You see her go through a really tough time. My storyline is a lot different than what the show is actually about. And that's what I really love about the show — that you wouldn't expect it. 

Get to know Fivel Stewart:
Stewart has been acting from a young age, with her early credits including an appearance in supernatural soap opera Dante's Cove. More recently, she played Izzie Taylor in the last three seasons of coming-of-age show Atypical(Metascore: 66) and starred in the supernatural horror film Umma (51). She also appeared in an episode of the women-centered anthology show Roar (57). Up next, Stewart has a recurring role in Alert, Fox's drama about a missing person's unit.