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‘The Recruit’ Ending Explained: How Season 1 of Noah Centineo’s Netflix Series Concludes

Warning: Spoilers for The Recruit‘s Season 1 finale ahead.

The Recruit, Netflix‘s new CIA series starring To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before heartthrob Noah Centineo, released its first eight episodes on December 16, 2022. And if you sped through all the chaos, you know things ended on a major cliffhanger.

Season 1, Episode 8, “W.T.F.I.O.H” — which stands for “Who The Fuck Is Owen Hendricks” — picked up right where Episode 7 left off. Xander (Byron Mann) had just been killed, Owen (Centineo) and Max (Laura Haddock) went on the run, and Hannah (Fivel Stewart) and Terence (Daniel Quincy Annoh) were desperately trying to ensure their CIA lawyer roommate was safe.

The Recruit‘s Season 1 finale is 55 minutes of twists, turns, close calls, shootouts, and burning questions that lead up to the aforementioned cliffhanger. Since so much goes down in this episode, we thought you might be in need of a detailed recap. Read on for Decider’s breakdown of The Recruit‘s ending.

The Recruit Ending Explained

As noted, The Recruit Episode 8 picks up right where Episode 7 left off. We open on a snowy street with flashing police lights and sirens blaring. We see Xander’s bloody hand hanging off the hood of the car he fell onto, and Lester (Colton Dunn) and Violet (Aarti Mann) are in the crowd of onlookers taking in the scene. “Fuck. That’s Xander. Do you think Max killed him? Or Hendrix?” Violet asks.

Lester tells Violet he’s going inside the hotel to track down Owen, scrub the room, and protect the agency. As he makes his way past officers in the lobby we see a terrified Hannah leaving Owen another voicemail. She asks him to call her and tell her what’s going on, and Terence suggests that if she really did see Owen and he was running away, maybe he had something to do with the death. Desperate for answers and action, they decide to be proactive and head to the CIA office.

Upstairs, Lester successfully breaks into the room and cleans up the crime scene, then heads for the consulate with Violet. Meanwhile, Owen and Max are on a bus full of…nuns. “You got a CIA officer killed,” Owen quietly reminds Max. She simply replies, “I didn’t. His dick did.” Owen presses her and says he can’t believe she signed the man’s death warrant by handing over those photos. She tells him she did what she had to do to get back home and warns Noah that there’s a possibility Xander wasn’t the target — that the assassin was there to kill her. Yikes. Even after that news, Owen can only wonder one thing: Did he really see Hannah outside his hotel? Owen grabs his phone and sees all the missed calls and texts from his friends, but Max snatches it from him and throws it out the bus window, reminding him that the phone is a tracking device and they’re radio silent until she says otherwise.

A group of CIA members video chat to discuss the situation at hand and Dawn Gilbane (Angel Parker) fights to keep the operation running in hopes of sending Max back to Russia. Lester is ordered to “burn the current players” (aka off Owen) if necessary, which prompts the hilarious titular episode question: “Who the fuck is Owen Hendrix?”

Noah Centineo in 'The Recruit' on Netflix
Photo: Netflix

Back on the bus, Max asks Owen to steal a nun’s phone and so she can call Dawn. She tells Dawn they’re ready to come home if it’s safe, and Dawn gives her the green light. Owen grabs the phone and heads to the bathroom to take photos of the notebook he stole from Max’s safety deposit box. He calls his connection and tells him the notebook pages hold high level Russian Intelligence that they can use to their advantage. Owen saves photos of the notebook to his Instagram draft folder so his hookup can download and delete. Ah, young CIA talent.

Owen’s friends finally meet with Violet at the CIA office in Geneva and wind up getting questioned about why they followed officer halfway around the world. After revealing the agency doesn’t know where Owen is, Violet advises Hannah and Terence to go home, but Hannah decides to hang back until she knows Owen is safe. She calls her mom and asks her to use her contacts to ensure he’s OK. Her mom agrees “on one condition”: Hannah comes home, moves out of the apartment, and stays away from Owen in the future. That’s three conditions, but you get the drift.

Owen’s connection calls someone in Africa and tells him to print the pages he’s sending over the notebook pages that incriminate Russian Military Intelligence and plant them at a Nigerian compound, then magically find them, then destroy the rockets. Meanwhile, Max tells Owen a “super illegal” secret that could get him killed: Dawn is running ghost assets and pocketing the money. “As long as Dawn plays nice, we keep her secret,” Max instructs him.

Back in the U.S., the White House Chief of Staff, Kevin (AKA David Denman) pays Nyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall) a visit to ask about Owen Hendricks and the “leaky ship” he’s running. Nyland gets him up to speed and Kevin orders him to keep him out of the drama.

When Max and Owen arrive on Dawn’s compound she “treats them as hostiles” until she’s certain they have nothing to do with Xander’s death. While Owen’s tied up, Max and Dawn get real with each other and Max reveals that she got Xander killed for having an affair with a high-level Russian mobster’s wife. Max convinces Dawn to leave her involvement in the death out and Dawn releases Owen. They all hop on a call with the CIA and convince higher ups to let the operation proceed. Before Dawn, Owen, and Max head to Prague, Nyland informs Owen that Hannah’s mom called the White House Chief of Staff to ask if he was safe, which can never happen again. Amelia (Kaylah Zander) calls Hannah to let her know Owen is fine, but Hannah insists on remaining in Geneva to do an “emotional audit” on her feelings for Owen. (Chaos!) She gets an anonymous text saying that Owen’s going to Prague, so she just…plans to do the same! OK!

'The Recruit'
Source: Netflix

Owen and company head out so Max can meet with Lev (Gregory Hlady), but things go south. Dawn tells Noah to stay in the truck for safety, but after Max leaves to meet with her guy with a massive suitcase of cash, Owen walks out into the snow to pee and sing Taylor Swift, as we saw in the pilot’s opening moments. After he finishes, he notices a suspicious line of cars heading to the building. He tries to warn Dawn but she dismisses him, so he runs closer to the cars and hides behind a snowbank. People dressed in all black tactical gear carrying guns emerge from the vehicles, and Owen smashes one over the head with a metal bar, then grabs a gun of his own. Bullets start flying and Max starts shooting and dodging gunshots inside. As Owen is being shot at and crouching behind cars he sees a familiar face from the hotel who smiles — but then shoots at him. Owen finally makes his way inside and accidentally shoots Max as he’s trying to save her. In the end, she comes to his rescue, and Owen is completely traumatized after killing someone.

Max shoots and kills Lev so she can go home, then gets Owen to safety. He tells her he can’t do his job anymore and quits her and the agency. As he’s walking away Max pulls a gun on him and orders him to stop. He tells her he’s been so stupid for caring about her and trying to help her and after a heartbreaking speech, she lets him go. He calls Hannah and they agree to meet at the war memorial. Meanwhile, Max gets a call from Dawn and informs her that the lawyer has become a problem. Dawn asks if Max is with him and she says no, but she can track him on the watch she gave him.

We see Owen walking towards Hannah, but just as the two are about to reunite a black car pulls up, two people emerge and punch him, throw him inside, and drive away. The next scene show him and Max tied to chairs with their hands taped behind their backs. Just as Max says she doesn’t know where they are, a door opens and a woman with short blonde hair walks through. Max looks up at her and says “Katarina,” then utters something in Russian before the woman shoots her. The mystery woman then walks over to Owen and asks, “Who are you, and what the fuck are you doing running around with my mother?” WHHHHHAAAAT?! We’re going to a Season 2 ASAP, Netflix.

The Recruit Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

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