Santo season 1 ending explained – who is Santo?

September 16, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 3
Ending Explained, Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Recaps
View all
Loading JustWatch data...

This article contains spoilers for Santo season 1, episode 6, “The Lair”, including an explanation of Santo’s ending.

READ: Our spoiler-free season review.


Netflix’s Santo is a deliberately confounding crime sage spanning across the Atlantic and six head-scratching episodes. With so much going on, and at such a frightening clip, it’s only right that we try and do the audience a service by putting the pieces together in (roughly) the right order. So, here’s what happened at the end of the series, who it happened to, and why. Near enough, anyway.

In its broad strokes, the plot revolves around two cops, Millan and Cardona, working together to try and catch a notorious occultist drug lord known as Santo. Nobody has ever seen Santo’s face, so in this kind of show you know it’s going to be one of the main characters, Keyser Soze-style.

Santo ending explained

Millan runs into Cardona after finding him in a warehouse, but the Brazilian cop can’t recall how he got there or how he got the crosses cut into his eyelids. He recalls traveling to Madrid with Santo’s mistress, Barbara, but little else. He met and fell for Barbara while undercover in Santo’s gang. Now Santo is reportedly in Madrid.

Because of Cardona’s fuzzy memory and the reports of Santo using occult rituals and child sacrifices, the exact sweep of the plot is deliberately obfuscated. We know that Barbara and Cardona were forced to participate in some of these practices. We also know that Millan is corrupt, and has been working with a man named Cristobal Martinez (as well as sleeping with his wife). These two elements interweave throughout the season, as we learn more about Cardona’s experiences undercover through flashbacks while also seeing more of how Millan was carrying on. The Internal Affairs investigation into him, as well as him trying to keep things quiet from his partner, Susi, form much of the drama in the middle episodes.

With Cardona and Barbara slipping in and out of police custody, Susi trying to track them down, Millan suspended, and Santo having kidnapped a bunch of kids for thoroughly unpleasant reasons, all roads eventually converge in the finale. Millan, not able to convince the police to back him, goes after Santo alone and finds himself captured. Susi, tracking the CCTV footage of the murder of Chinche, who we earlier learned sold Millan out, leads her to where he’s being held, and Cardona, having become suspicious of Barbara, follows her there with his friend Paulo.

Yes, Barbara is Santo. And she’s in the midst of an occult ritual involving all the kids and a now severely wounded Millan when he arrives. Following a shootout, Susi and her team are able to save the kids, while Cardona and Millan go after Barbara/Santo. However, Cardona can’t bring himself to allow Millan to kill her, so he buys her time to escape.

In the final scene, we see that Millan has survived his ordeal, but will soon wish he didn’t – Barbara has kidnapped his daughter.

You can stream Santo exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on Santo’s ending? Let us know in the comments.

View all