The Recruit ending explained: what happened to Owen and Max on their mission?

Hannah Copeland (Fivel Stewart) and Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) sit across from one another in an office in The Recruit
(Image credit: Philippe Bossé/Netflix )

The Recruit follows Owen (Noah Centineo), a young CIA lawyer whose first week on the job kicks up a notch when he discovers a threatening letter by former asset Max Meladze (Laura Haddock). Wanting to get out of prison, she plans to expose the agency unless they help exonerate her. 

Over the course of The Recruit's eight-episode first season, Owen becomes entangled in a dangerous world of power politics and discovers it is nearly impossible to tell who to trust at the CIA. His wild first two weeks on the job come to a jaw-dropping end in the season finale where Owen is involved in a mission to reinsert Max as a CIA asset in Belarus. 

The show ends with a bang as nothing goes according to plan. While Owen is ready to throw in the towel, it seems the spy life is not done with him. But what happened in the last episode of the show’s first season? Did Owen make it out alive? 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the ending, but beware of spoilers ahead.

The Recruit ending explained — what happened to Owen Hendricks? 

Noah Centineo as Owen Hendricks

Owen's trip didn't exactly go to plan... (Image credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX)

Owen did not have a nice time on his trip to Switzerland then Eastern Europe with the ops team trying to put Max back in Belarus as a CIA asset. Things went south multiple times and Owen had to avoid many bullets before he eventually had to pick up a machine gun to defend himself. That eventually led him to kill a man to both save himself and Max, which consequently sent him into shock. 

Eventually, Owen comes to the conclusion that he has had enough. Enough of the manipulation, the backstabbing, the CIA, all of it. He tells Max he is through with her and the agency and starts walking away. She can’t let him go and points her gun at him. He admits he believed he could save her, that if he helped her perhaps she would be able to change. Despite Max asking him to help her get home, he refuses for fear that if he doesn’t get out now, he might never be able to. This time when Owen walks away, she lets him. He eventually finds a payphone and calls Hannah, but his plan to meet up with her go awry when he gets kidnapped by Nichka’s men.

What happened to Hannah in The Recruit? 

Fivel Stewart as Hannah Copeland, Noah Centineo as Owen Hendricks in formal attire in The Recruit

Hannah and Owen. (Image credit: Netflix)

Hannah and Terrence traveled to Geneva to make sure Owen was alright. After seeing Xander Goi’s dead body laying on top of a car, they became even more worried but Hannah managed to find out whether Owen was safe or not by calling in a favor with her mother.

Reassured that Owen was alright, Hannah promised her mother she was going to return to D.C. and even move out of Owen’s apartment. But feeling that she needs to reevaluate her life, Hannah decides to stay longer in Switzerland. That said, her decision is short-lived when a text from a mysterious sender changes her plans. 

Learning that Owen is in Prague, she decides to join him there. However, when the two finally manage to get in touch with each other, their plan to meet up in the Czech city does not go well and Hannah witnesses Owen being kidnapped right in front of her, getting yet another taste of how dangerous his life has become.

Who killed Xander Goi?

Xander Goi (Byron Mann) in a suit and tie

Who was responsible for Xander Goi's death? (Image credit: Netflix)

Xander Goi’s death is the event that turns Owen’s mission sideways. At first, the CIA is not sure whether he or Max is responsible for this death, and has to clean up the mess. It also sends Max and Owen on the run, forced to fend for themselves until they can safely regroup with the rest of their team. But when they do, the tensions between them and Dawn Gilbane are at an all-time high, mostly because they don’t trust each other. 

At this point in the episode, Max believes Xander was killed by the Russian mob because of the affair she revealed he was having with a criminal’s wife. A call between Owen, Dawn, and the rest of their team confirms that Goi’s killer was identified as Nichka Lashin, a Russian mafia enforcer according to their intel. But Max isn’t in that meeting, so she doesn’t see the picture of Nichka and cannot reveal her real identity… 

The Recruit ending explained — did Max Meladze make it out alive? 

Max Meladze (Laura Haddock) standing over two men at gunpoint

Did Max make it out alive? (Image credit: Philippe Bossé/Netflix)

That is up for debate. Throughout most of the season finale, and despite many people having strong opinions regarding whether Max should live or not, she did manage to stay alive. However, when she is about to finally taste freedom for good, Max is intercepted by bad guys who do not wish her well. 

The last we see of her, she is tied to a chair next to Owen, as they have both been kidnapped by the same people. In comes the blonde girl who was referred to as Nichka but when Max looks at her, she recognizes her daughter, Karolina. Before mother and daughter can have a warm reunion, Karolina fires a gun at her mother, shooting her right in the chest. Max’s body goes limp, but whether she is actually dead or not is a question that remains unanswered.

Will there be a second season of The Recruit? 

Netflix has yet to renew The Recruit for a second season but after seeing this ending fans will surely be hoping they will get to find out what happens to Owen next. 

All episodes of The Recruit are available on Netflix right now.

Marine Perot is a freelance entertainment writer living in London. She has been writing about television for 10 years, which led us to work with various publications including Paste Magazine, Radio Times, Konbini, Giddy, and more. Her favorite shows include LostOutlanderGame of Thrones, and The Haunting of Hill House. When not writing, Marine enjoys going on adventures with her corgi and reading a good book.