A life hangs in the balance after the shock finale to Netflix's The Recruit, which ended on a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that demands a second season to resolve.


The action-packed drama series stars Noah Centineo as freshly graduated lawyer Owen Hendricks, who finds what he expected to be a desk job is something far more dangerous.

Assigned the case of rogue asset Max Meladze (Laura Haddock), Hendricks soon finds himself in the line of fire as he frantically searches for an outcome that keeps dangerous secrets from leaking.

The show comes from the mind of Alexi Hawley (The Rookie), who is clearly holding out for season 2 to continue a narrative that seems nowhere near finished.

Here's your breakdown of The Recruit season 1 ending on Netflix – spoiler alert!

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The Recruit ending explained: Is Max dead?

Owen came close to a happy(-ish) ending in The Recruit finale as he raced across Prague to be reunited with ex-girlfriend Hannah (Fivel Stewart), realising he should have listened to her from the beginning.

However, before they can have a heartwarming embrace, Owen is bundled into a vehicle by thugs before Hannah's very eyes, leaving her shocked and struggling to process what she's witnessed.

When Owen wakes up, he's tied to a chair in a dingy cellar and startled to see rogue Russian asset Max opposite him, having also been kidnapped and bound by an unknown perpetrator.

Moments later, that figure is revealed to be a young woman by the name of Karolina, who makes a terrifying entrance by storming in and coldly shooting Max in the chest.

Fivel Stewart as Hannah Copeland in The Recruit
Fivel Stewart as Hannah Copeland in The Recruit. Netflix

As she slumps down in her seat – apparently lifeless – Karolina asks Owen: "Who are you, and what the f**k are you doing with my mother?"

This bombshell revelation adds an additional layer of menace to this emerging villain, although The Recruit creator Alexi Hawley would neither confirm nor deny whether she actually has just committed matricide.

He told TUDUM: "Look, we did the most dramatic thing you can possibly do. And we did the thing we were building to the whole time, even though the audience didn’t know it.

"The story of Max and Owen is one of her being a pathological survivor. Whether she cares for him, whether she doesn’t, whether she cares for her kid or doesn’t — everything comes in second to her just making it to the next day."

Laura Haddock stars in The Recruit
Laura Haddock as Max Meladze in The Recruit. Netflix

Hawley continued: "That ultimately makes her a bit of a tragic figure, and so it was important to get to that point. Then, of course, the twist was powerful.

"In this day and age, where there’s 9,000 things on television, you have to be bold, you have to go big, and I felt like we really earned that moment."

Haddock clarified that she is in the dark when it comes to Max's fate, but wasn't happy to read the dire note on which season 1 ends, adding she was "like Ross from Friends seeing his sister and Chandler making out from across the apartments".

One for the sitcom fans in the house.

Who is Karolina?

Maddie Hasson as Nichka in The Recruit
Maddie Hasson as Nichka in The Recruit Netflix

In a shock reveal, mafia lieutenant Nichka Lashin revealed her true identity to be Karolina, the presumed dead daughter of Max Meladze, who appears to be just as formidable as her mother.

Hawley explained that she had orchestrated the nail-biting gunfight that capped off this dramatic season, as was set up by an earlier scene where Owen unwittingly encountered her in a bar.

"She heard her mother was back, and she was going to go take care of that," he concluded.

As for what exactly turned Karolina so fiercely against Max, we'll have to wait and see, but Hawley teased that "there's a lot of history there to mine".

The Recruit is available to stream on Netflix now. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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