Noah Centineo (fresh off of a super supporting role in “Black Adam,” expanding his on-screen prowess from the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” movies) stars in the series as Owen Hendricks, a new recruit to the CIA. He’s just a lawyer when the series starts, working in an office space that’s bleaker than Initech, and learning through one loss after the next about how things are done in Langley. For example, don’t write a person’s name with their pseudonym on the same Post-It, and don’t mention any specific case details when having a team room in the boardroom. And because he’s so green, Owen is hazed by two new and unamused co-workers, Lester (Colton Dunn) and Violet (Aarti Mann).
As part of his hazing, Owen is given stacks of “graymail,” written letters by people who threaten to release government secrets. Most of them are kooks, but he has to check them all. Sure enough, he finds someone who might be the real deal, a woman named Max Meladze (Laura Haddock), who is currently in an Arizona jail for murdering a truck driver. She is threatening to release secrets unless she is set free. Owen looks deeper into these claims and meets her, and it becomes apparent how much connection she has to everything and so many people. Her backstory, jumping back years and a few bodies to its count, is presented to us in brief snippets, highlighting a life of working with the Russians before so many things fell apart.
Owen is immediately over his head with this assignment, but his dedication to the job meant to make us like him perseveres. He goes to Yemen and gets his ass kicked (and a fingernail ripped off) by someone connected to this web of spies and assets, which becomes increasingly tangled as the show continues. There are fleeting moments of mildly rendered action, accompanied by peppy music, in which his lack of physical training leads to some improvisation the script uses lazy shortcuts for (at one point, he unscrews a toilet to escape from a bathroom in the fastest way one could do that, ever).