The Recruit ending explained: Who kidnaps Owen?

‘The Recruit’ is a series that follows Owen Hendricks, a CIA lawyer, who comes across a case that keeps getting more complicated the more he tries to get rid of it. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

When Owen Hendricks gets recruited to work for the CIA, he realizes that people here take advantage of others to get ahead. He manages to make an enemy out of the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee within the first two days.

As the new guy who knows nothing about how the agency works, he is asked to go through a bunch of graymails that are written to blackmail the agency. 

He comes across a letter written by Max Meladze, a woman who is in prison for murder, threatening to expose sensitive CIA secrets.

His coworkers, Lester and Violet, want him to fail at all costs and ask him to go to Yemen to investigate without informing him of the proper protocol, which leads him right into a trap; he is tortured and beaten up before being allowed to go back home.

He realizes that he will have to learn the rules of the game being played here if he wants to survive. He also discovers that Max was a CIA asset in Belarus who gathered Russian intelligence five years ago.

Owen is naive and has a lot to learn; he ends up giving Max his real name along with other information in their first meeting, and he almost gets killed when he trusts her. 

He then goes to Vienna to learn more about Max. He meets an agent there named Xander Goi, who informs him that Max was an unvetted agent, which is why he could not find anything about her in the CIA records.

It is also revealed that five years ago, Xander got Max out of Belarus when there was a bounty on her head. However, he abandoned her after getting her to the US.

After this meeting with Goi, he faces an assassination attempt while he is on the phone with Max, who guides him to safety. Later, they come to an agreement of sorts — he would get Max out of the prison and she would help him since he cannot trust anyone else.

Owen is sent to Beirut with Lester, where they bond after solving the case. However, the anxiety that comes with the job causes problems in his personal life. 

Hannah, his ex-girlfriend and roommate, keeps advising him to quit, but he does not listen. Violet sends Owen on a date with Amelia, another lawyer at the CIA, in the hopes of getting some dirt on him. 

He also has to deal with a subpoena that the Senator sent him after he made him angry. His work and the details of his case are at risk of being exposed to the public if he cannot make the subpoena go away.

Meanwhile, Owen goes out of his way to get Max’s case moved to federal jurisdiction, where Max meets Cora, a woman from her past.

Max ran a business where she provided safe houses to people who needed them. Cora was one of her customers, and they were almost like friends.

Cora was attacked by a man, and when she was taken to the hospital, she got arrested. Max killed the man who assaulted Cora, but there was an eyewitness. 

The CIA agent Owens met in Yemen, Dawn Gilbane, decides to make Max a CIA asset again, as she was once close to General Kuznetsov, who has now risen up in the ranks of the FSB. 

Owen figures out a way to keep the eyewitness from talking, and Max is released from prison. However, the daughter of the man who was killed by Max is Owen’s acquaintance, and seeing her sad makes him regret his choices.

He thinks he can finally move on from Max now that he has done his job. He is sick of being betrayed by her and risking everything to do as she says. 

However, Max requests him back on the case; she refuses to cooperate if he is not present. He is sent to Phoenix, where Max forces him to stay in a hotel room with her. She then coerces him into making a deal on her behalf with the Aquino Cartel.

She needs to get a certain amount of money to buy her way back into the Russian mob if she wants to get to Belarus safely. He makes the deal and gets her $7 million.

Earlier, Max had thrown out the name Not Bob to him. Being new, he did not know who that was, and he kept asking around about him. Kevin Mills, chief of staff to the President of the US, was Not Bob and had called Owen to meet him.

Mills gave him the job to find out who told Max his name. Owen meets him again and tells him Goi was responsible, which makes Mills offer Owen to work as a spy for him. However, Owen refuses because he respects his boss too much to do that to him.

He then has to help Max pass her polygraph test to be approved as a new asset. To avoid further inquiries, they choose to file her as a new asset instead of an old one. 

Dawn, who wants Owen off the case, makes him take the test, claiming that he has been compromised as he spent a night with Max in a hotel room.

Owen passes the test, but Amelia breaks up with him, stating that his self-sabotaging behavior is too immature for her.

He is then sent to Geneva with Max to get the rest of her money from her Swiss bank account. Owen’s boss, Mr. Nyland, doubting Owen’s ability to stay neutral, sends Lester and Violet to backstop Owen.

At the same time, Owen’s other coworker, Janus, who initially helped him in exchange for Adderall, finds himself in a fix. His spec ops team did not listen to him and sold missiles to terrorist groups to trace their location. 

Since Owen came to Janus asking questions about the symbol that he saw on the crates of Aquino Cartel, he gets involved in the mess. If the information gets out, the whole agency could go down; Owen and Janus will have to face the brunt of it.

The Recruit ending explained in detail:

What happens in Geneva?

Owen and Max get Goi as their operational support in Geneva. They go out to eat, and Max beats up a man sent by Kirill, a mob boss. She then sleeps with Owen.

The next day, they face a glitch when they go to withdraw Max’s money from the bank. They also find out that they are being tailed by Lester and Violet.

Instead of getting the money, they get information from Max’s locker that is worth two million euros. They sneak out to meet Kirill without Lester, Violet, or Goi finding out. Max tells Kirill that Goi was the man who slept with his wife to get the reward.

Goi goes to their hotel room to find them and is attacked there. Owen and Max return to find Goi dead. They decide to flee Geneva to protect themselves.

How does Owen help in solving Janus’ problem?

Owen stole a pocket diary from Max’s locker. The dairy had Russian information in it. He sent the photographs of it to Janus, who sent them to his spec ops team.

The team was asked to destroy the missiles and hide the photographs with the missiles to make it seem like they belong to Russia and that it was the CIA that discovered them.

They made a potential CIA disaster look like a victory.

Why does Owen quit the mission?

Owen and Max contact Dawn, and Max tells Owen that Dawn has been stealing money from the CIA. Dawn wants to send Max to Belarus again because she aspires to be the Moscow chief of the CIA. 

Max goes to meet Lev to pay him in order to be able to return home, while Dawn and her team keep watch. They are attacked by assailants, which causes Max to kill Lev. Owen is also forced to kill a man for the first time.

Owen realizes that he cannot do this anymore and decides to quit his job then and there. Max asks him not to leave and threatens him at gunpoint. He tells her that she cannot be saved, but it is not too late for him. 

Max cannot bring herself to shoot Owen, so she tells Dawn that Owen has now become a problem. She tracks him using the watch she had earlier gifted him. 

What is Hannah doing in Prague?

Hannah finds out from Amelia that Owen had made a mistake and was possibly stuck. She drags Terence, their other roommate, to Europe to find Owen.

In Geneva, Hannah sees Owen running away with Max from the crime scene of Goi’s death. When they go to inquire about Owen, they find out he is safe.

Hannah asks her mother to call Kevin Mills and find out about Owen’s condition. While Terence leaves to go home, she decides to stay back.

A distressed Owen calls her after quitting the mission. They realize they are both in Prague, and she asks him to come and meet her. She sees Owen walking towards her, but before he could reach her, he is forcefully taken away.

Who kidnaps Owen and Max?

In Geneva, Owen had met a woman in a bar, and he had assumed that she was a spy. He saw the woman again among the people who attacked them when Max was meeting Lev. 

She was present when Max made a deal with Kirill, but she was not seen by either Max or Owen.

She kidnaps the two of them and brings them to an unknown location after Owen quits and leaves. 

Max sees the woman’s face and recognizes her as her daughter, Karolina. Max had earlier told Owen that she had only ever loved her daughter and that her daughter was dead.

Karolina shoots Max, but it is not known whether Max survives or not. She then asks Owen who he is and what is he doing with her mother.

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