The Recruit ending explained for all the thirsty Centineons out there

The Recruit finale spoilers follow.

Centineons? Centurions? Whatever thirsty fans of Noah Centineo like to call themselves, just know that you’re not alone. As with all of Noah’s Netflix projects, The Recruit has become another huge hit on the charts, which means that a second season is likely.

That can only be a good thing for the thirstiest Centineons among us. And it would be pretty cruel to cut this spy thriller short anyway given that season one ending. You know, the one where a major character just got shot (and maybe killed)?

But how does that big twist impact season two? And what does this mean for Max and Owen’s future? Grab a pair of stealthy sunglasses and join us here at Digital Spy as we break down everything you need to know about The Recruit’s surprise ending.

The Recruit ending explained: Is Max really dead?

It really looked like Owen was going to get a happy ending in that final episode, didn’t it?

Near the end of “W.T.F.I.O.H.” AKA “Who the F*ck Is Owen Hendricks?”, our boy wonder races across Prague for a sweet reunion with his ex. Cute, right? Well, just before Owen makes it to her, thugs kidnap him right before Hannah’s eyes, leaving her alone and distraught in the middle of the Czech Republic’s capital.

Owen then wakes up tied to a chair in some grimy room, and he’s not alone either. Max, the rogue Russian asset, has also been kidnapped by some unknown assailant too. But they don’t remain unknown for long, because just moments later, a young woman calling herself Karolina storms in and shoots Max in the chest.

Is Max dead? It sure looks that way, although it’s hard to tell in such a short scene.

As Owen recoils in horror, Karolina casually asks Owen: “Who are you, and what the f**k are you doing with my mother?”

Both good questions, although the way they’re framed actually raises a bunch more. Is Karolina really Max’s daughter? And if so, why would she want to kill her mum?

The Recruit creator/showrunner Alexi Hawley refused to confirm if Max is alive either way during a recent chat with 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,” he continued. “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. 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.”

noah centineo, the recruit


A big twist like this also doesn’t hurt a show’s renewal chances either, although there’s a risk of angering fans even further if The Recruit does then end up being cancelled.

Stars Noah Centineo and Laura Haddock were pretty taken aback by the ending regardless. “I didn’t want to believe it,” said the latter of her initial reaction (via Collider). “I was angry.”

“It was a crazy cliffhanger,” added Centineo. “And immediately, I was like: ‘Oh, I wonder what’s going to happen?'”

Same, Noah. Same.

Unless, Centineo already knows how this is going to play out…

“Who knows what’s going to happen? Right. What happens is Max survives, we get out of it, we leave, we start a family.”

To which Haddock said: “You adopt my daughter.”

“We move to the English countryside,” added Noah. “And everything’s really calm. And then we make The Holiday number two.”

Who is Karolina?

marcello bezina, laura haddock, the recruit


Assuming that Owen doesn’t adopt Karolina in a sequel to one of this century’s most beloved romcoms, the question remains: who is Karolina, really?

Up until this point, Max believed her daughter was dead, and therefore, so did we. Unfortunately, Max is unconscious and possibly dead, so she can’t reveal much more about Karolina’s motivations at this point.

However, it’s safe to say that Karolina is a Russian spy who was most likely working with the people trying to prevent Max from exposing the Russian mobster Kirill. But just because they’re working on the opposite sides doesn’t quite explain still why Karolina would shoot Max.

By the end, everything had been resolved, and if Karolina really needed to make Max disappear, she could have easily done so without killing her. Instead, there must be a deeper-rooted reason behind all this, perhaps something to do with the reason why Max thought her daughter was dead in the first place.

In Hawley’s aforementioned chat with TUDUM, he teased that “there’s a lot of history there to mine”, although he of course kept the specifics of said history close to his chest.

From the sound of it, this means that Max might be alive, after all, because there’s a lot more dramatic tension to squeeze out of another confrontation between her and Karolina. If not, then The Recruit might end up becoming a revenge story for Owen in season two.

Whatever happens, just know that us Centineons will be watching, of course.

The Recruit is now available to watch on Netflix.

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