The Recruit is a popular TV series that landed on Netflix in December 2022. It was immediately among the most streamed items on the platform for many reasons: a spy story that involves secret services, where every character seems to hide something and plot against others, an excellent soundtrack (the song in the trailer already gave a hint about it), and a plot full of twists, open for Season 2. The questions are many after viewing Season 1: in this article, we will present the recap of Season 1, have the ending explained, and delve into the surprise character showing up at the very last moment, Nichka Lashin, aka Karolina.
You can watch the official trailer for The Recruit Season 1 here on Youtube.
The Recruit: the Season 1 plot recap
Owen Hendricks is hired at the CIA. As one of his first tasks, he has to analyze the hundreds of letters the agency receives every year from people threatening to reveal classified information and presenting demands. Owen identifies an actual, potential threat among the many letters: a message from a certain Maxine Meladze, who refers to top secret information that she could publicly reveal, demanding to be taken out of prison.
Owen takes the initiative: he first goes to Yemen and speaks with Dawn Gilbane, asking for information about Maxine. Then he meets Maxine in his prison, understanding that the threat is real: she wants to get out of jail, and he needs to take care of it. His boss Walter Nyland is pleased to see Owen taking the initiative, but Owen will need to solve the threat in the easiest way possible.
After some initial issues, Owen succeeds in obtaining help from some of his colleagues, especially Amelia, who addresses many doubts from Owen in exchange for a short romance story with him. In this way, Owen first obtains to get Maxine’s case taken over by the federals, and afterward, he manages to take Max back as a former CIA agent, preventing her from going to trial for murder.
While doing his job, Owen gets in contact with Xander Goi, a compromised CIA agent about whom Maxine has much risky information. Owen also gets to meet “not Bob,” a top-level boss from the President’s office who’s worried that his name has been made: he asks Owen to discover how his name came up, and Owen does it, realizing that the name “not Bob” was summoned by Max just to speed up things: she knew his name because Xander Goi mentioned it once while he was drunk.
Dawn Gilbane returns from Yemen and leads the new CIA mission: recruiting Max Meladze back as a precious connection with Russian secret services. At some point, it seems clear that Dawn and Xander are planning to kill Max because she knows too many things, but this plan doesn’t come to light while the plot goes on: on the contrary, both Dawn Gilbane and Xander Goi contribute to the CIA interest, helping Max reach Belarus and restoring her Russian connections.
The plan takes shape in The Recruit plot: the whole team will fly to Italy, then hit Geneva to allow Max to withdraw money from one of her frozen accounts. Max will use the money to buy back her place and connections in Belarus. Owen obtains a temporary window when the account will be unfrozen, utilizing a contact provided by his roommates. But his plan fails because of a timezone misunderstanding: when Max and Owen enter the Swiss bank, the director confirms that the account is still frozen, blocking their request to take money. Max has another idea: she will collect from her security box a set of photos that will be sold to Kirill, a Russian mafia boss. Those pictures will reveal to him the identity of the man his wife was cheating with: the CIA agent Xander Goi. This leads us to the ending of The Recruit; let’s have it explained separately.
The Recruit ending explained: who’s Nichka / Karolina?
After Max sells Xander’s secret, we see Xander Goi entering Max & Owen’s room at the hotel and getting killed. This complicates the operation: Max and Owen escape and lose contact with everybody, and the CIA suspects they are involved in Xander’s death. The truth is that Xander is killed by the army led by Nichka Lashin, a personality in the Russian mafia who’s trying to kill Max: Xander is just in the wrong place at the wrong time in the plot of The Recruit.
Max and Owen cross the border and get again in contact with Dawn. Max explains that Xander is dead because she revealed to Kirill that he was his wife’s lover: it’s a lie because Xander dies a few minutes after the deal between Max and Kirill, but she prefers this version to hide the fact that someone is trying to kill her. The operation goes on, and Max is supposed to meet Lev and give him the money that will allow her to enter Belarus again.
Max meets Lev, and the two start discussing the terms of the deal, but the Russian mafia shows up again and starts shooting, trying to get Max killed. Max survives and kills Lev because he’s now an enemy who believes she’s a traitor. Max and Owen escape in a car without a real plan.
Here, Owen decides to step back, quitting the mission and the CIA. Max threatens to shoot him, but she has feelings for him, so she lets him go. But she calls Dawn, explaining that Owen is now a problem. Meanwhile, Owen contacts Hannah, his roommate and ex-girlfriend, who flew to Europe to help him. She’s one of the few people knowing that Owen is in Prague because she received a message from an unknown number informing her: it was probably Nichka, who’s trying to catch Owen and Max and could make use of Hannah’s presence for this purpose.
When The Recruit plot comes to its ending, we see Owen being kidnapped by a black van in front of Hannah’s eyes. He wakes up in a dark room, tied, and Max is beside him, kidnapped like him. The kidnapper shows up: she’s Nichka Lashin, the girl from the Russian mafia who’s trying to kill Max. The plot twist takes place quickly: Max addresses Nichka as Karolina, her daughter’s name, and we understand that her daughter is actually alive, working for the Russian mafia. Karolina shoots Max, and we won’t know if she dies (that’s left for a possible Season 2). Nichka / Karolina faces Owen and asks him who he is.
Nichka Lashin is, therefore, Karolina, Max’s daughter. We don’t know her story, but we understand that, at some point, her path took a different direction than her mother’s, and now the two are enemies. Nichka / Karolina wanted her mother dead, and we don’t know if Max is actually alive or not.
What could happen in The Recruit Season 2?
The Recruit Season 2 has been confirmed by Netflix, so soon, we will see how the plot continues. Owen is undoubtedly alive and will have to escape the dangerous situation: he’s in the hands of the Russian mafia, with Karolina questioning him about what he was doing with her mother. Max could still be alive; in that case, we will have to understand if she will succeed in restoring her position in Belarus and what money she will use for it.
We will need to understand Dawn Gilbane’s true intentions better: does she really want to handle Max as an agency asset, or she’s waiting for the first reasonable opportunity to kill her? And we will have to see what will happen between Hannah and Owen: the two still seem to have feelings for each other, and maybe they could come back together.
All this, together with the other collateral plot elements of The Recruit Season 1, would need to be developed in Season 2. While we wait for it, we always have in this article the full plot recap of The Recruit and the ending explained, including the theories about Nichka Lashin / Karolina.