Who is Karolina in The Recruit?

December 19, 2022
Adam Lock 3
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Who is Karolina in The Recruit? This article discusses the character of Karolina and contains spoilers for the Netflix series.

Netflix original series, The Recruit, created by Alexi Hawley (The Rookie), continues the spy genre trend of pitting American agents against Russian spies, one of those Hollywood tropes that just doesn’t look like it is going away any time soon. In this case, CIA lawyer Owen Hendricks (played by Noah Centineo), must work alongside a Belarusian asset called Max Meladze to help infiltrate the Russian Mafia once again, to bring the enemy down from the inside.

Owen is quickly thrown into this seedy world of global espionage and governmental corruption, guided by the criminal mastermind Max Meladze. Due to the wide-spanning narrative, the series involves a large cast of untrustworthy, sinister characters, from many different nations. One name that continually pops up throughout the series though is that of Karolina. But who exactly is Karolina in The Recruit?

Who is Karolina in The Recruit?

Karolina is the daughter of Max Meladze, the CIA asset that threatens to expose agency secrets. The Belarusian sleeper agent, Max Meladze, opens up to her charming, every-man lawyer Owen as they start to form a stronger bond as the series progresses. She later reveals that she once had a daughter called Karolina. It is heavily implied that Karolina is dead, having passed away in a tragic event some years back. Meladze says that her daughter was strong-willed and stubborn, but it is obvious that she adored her daughter. This undying connection seems to spur Max on, adding an extra layer of complex human emotion to our otherwise stereotypical anti-hero.

Who plays Karolina?

For the most part of the series, Max seems to be tortured by the memories of her daughter, someone she appears to have lost many years ago in a heart-breaking event. This tragedy shapes everything that Max does moving forwards. She seems driven by this grief and a relentless need for revenge. However, in the season finale, it is revealed that Karolina is very much still alive. She has taken on a new identity now though. Karolina is, in fact, Nichka Lashin, the Russian spy who tried to seduce Owen as Marta, and the very same person who has been trying to assassinate Max for many years now.

The character of Nichka Lashin, aka Karolina, aka Marta, is played by Maddie Hasson. This up-and-coming American actress is famous for starring in James Wan’s horror movie Malignant, and she also had a recurring role in the TV series Mr. Mercedes. Hasson is another American actress using an Eastern European accent in the spy-adventure series, much like her onscreen counterpart Laura Haddock, who plays Max Meladze with a thick Russian drawl.

Is Karolina Max Meladze’s daughter in The Recruit?

Yes, Karolina is Max Meladze’s daughter, and furthermore, she is very much still alive, now living under the alias of Nichka Lashin. Nichka has been pushing the Council to kill Max Meladze for years now. Throughout the series, she spies on Owen and Max. She even tries to seduce Owen at one point, but she comes on a little too strong, and the lawyer sees straight through her lies.

After following the duo, Nichka initiates a shootout while Max is brokering a deal to get back into Belarus. Max and Owen escape from this ambush but are eventually captured by Nichka. She ties them both up in an unknown location and shoots her mother square in the chest. After possibly killing Max, Nichka asks Owen what he has been doing running around with her mother all this time.

We aren’t aware of the history between Max and Nichka, but it seems to be a tumultuous relationship, to say the least. Max adores her daughter, yet they have drifted apart over the years and a rivalry has sprouted in place of this love. Nichka is so angered by her mother that she wants her dead and in the end, pulls the trigger herself. Hopefully, a second season will address the past between mother and daughter, explaining why they are enemies and why Nichka wanted Max dead.

What do you think happened with Max and Karolina? Please comment below. 

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3 thoughts on “Who is Karolina in The Recruit?

  • December 20, 2022 at 12:55 am

    Didn’t a CIA agent reveal that Max was responsible for killing her own husband? Perhaps Karolina found out and that is why she hates Max & wants to kill her mother to avenge her father.

  • February 10, 2023 at 3:43 am

    I wonder why (other than for plot purposes) why Max refused to identify Nichka as Karolina, or somehow did not recognize her in pictures previously. I suppose “lost” her daughter and “tragedy” is up to interpretation when she says that earlier in the season. As far as what happened between them, I suspect that Max may have trained her daughter to defend/protect herself “too well” in some sense when she was growing up. Either that or Karolina picked it up from watching her. The killer/survivor instinct dominated her life, and her mother became a rival/threat in her mind. Or Max killed somebody whom Karolina loved, including and beyond her father.

  • March 12, 2023 at 3:44 pm

    There is a problem with the age of the performers! Laura Haddock (37), “Max”, plays the role of Veronika’s mother (Madelaine Hasson, 28)! This is inconsistent! Are we afraid to play older actresses?

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