‘Santo’ Ending, Explained: Who is Santo? What Happens To Millan & Cardona? What To Expect From Season 2?


Netflix’s Spanish action crime thriller series “Santo” is more about keeping audiences hooked by revealing very little and in a questionably confusing manner, than having much exciting content in it. The execution and fast-paced action is entertaining to watch though, while the first few episodes being there essentially only to confuse, is not. Overall, “Santo” is a nice watch but nothing worth remembering.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Santo’ Season 1: Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?

Police officer Miguel Millan works a case in Madrid, trying to solve the murder of a man and the subsequent kidnapping of his son. The man killed was a criminal named Cristobal, and the crime has enough in common with other similar murders to point towards a notorious drug lord called Santo as the main suspect. Following the leads that the police department has; Millan and his team reach an abandoned warehouse from where they rescue a man named Cardona. This man turns out to be an undercover officer from the Brazilian police force who has also been trying to get to Santo. However, Cardona does not remember how exactly he ended up in such a situation or even how he got crosses etched on his eyelids, a sign that every follower of Santo’s dangerous cult carries on their body. As it is gradually revealed, Santo is no less than a saint or a father to his followers, and they would go to any extent to protect their patron. Santo himself is almost pure evil, as he often holds sacrificial rituals by kidnapping young children to decapitate them and drink their blood in order to make himself stronger. It is through multiple cases of kidnapping that the two police officers unite to bring the notorious criminal down. However, there is a major catch to it all, for Santo’s real identity or face has never been seen by anyone.

What Had Happened In Cardona And Millan’s Pasts?

During his time in Brazil, Cardona had first learned of Santo and directly faced his cruel actions. Cardona’s lover, Vera, had her nephew kidnapped and killed by the drug lord, and it was during his pursuit of the man that his police force first offered him an interesting opening. Cardona could become an undercover cop working inside Santo’s operations in exchange for giving up everything about his usual life, and Cardona readily agreed. While working in one of the drug fields, he first met Barbara Azevedo, a woman who became intricately linked with his life from here on. Although Barbara was Santo’s romantic partner for a long time, she and Cardona fell for each other and started their own affair. This was soon found out and the entire farm was burned down while Cardona was taken away from there. During a mission sometime after this, the Brazilian police attacked Santo’s gang, and unaware of Cardona’s real identity, they tried to kill him too. The undercover officer somehow managed to escape and confronted his superiors about the sudden attack, but he was instead asked to stop his undercover activities. Cardona is not convinced, though, as he knows Barbara is in danger, and he now attempts to work by himself and save her. After managing to do so, he takes Barbara away to protect her and flies from Brazil to Spain. However, Santo’s gang catches up with them here too, as Barbara admits that she herself had let their location be known to them since she still believes Santo to be a saintly father who would fight others to absolve their sins.

On the other hand, Millan was involved in his own share of shady activities in Madrid. Despite being a police officer, Millan had been working with criminals like Cristobal, receiving money from them to keep them safe. While it looks like Millan’s intention behind doing so was monetary, his own unfortunate past had a lot to do with this. A few years earlier, Millan’s professional partner had been killed by a psychopath, and the police officer always kept feeling that he could have done more to save his partner. At present, while working with Cristobal, he had fallen for his wife Maria, and the two soon started an affair. While all was going well, Cristobal’s young son saw the two sharing an intimate moment and told his father all about it. It was on that very same day that Cristobal was shot dead, and it did appear that Millan might have been behind it. While the police officer personally threatened some of the men involved with the crime to not share important details with the police, his professional partner, Susi, was growing rather suspicious of the man. Susi was already collecting information on Millan by herself but had not yet reported anything to her department.

How Do The Two Men Track Santo Down?

After Santo’s men held Cardona and Barbara captive in Madrid, they were taken to the abandoned warehouse, in which Cardona was drugged and initiated into the gang by cutting crosses over his eyelids. Although he had been rescued by the Madrid police, Barbara was nowhere to be found until Cardona received a letter from her about her location. Cardona quickly goes over to the spot where he finds his beloved tied inside a car, but Millan and his team also monitor the whole situation from a distance. After they had rescued Cardona and interrogated him, neither Millan nor Susi were convinced by what he had told them, and instead had doubts about the Brazilian’s intentions. Now that they finally see Cardona trying to save Barbara, who they know to be Santo’s partner, the police quickly rush in and take Cardona away. Right before this, Barbara had managed to hand over a USB stick to Cardona, and upon returning to his safehouse, he checked out its contents. In a horrific revelation, both to himself and the audience, the police officer finds out that during the ritual at the warehouse, Santo’s men had drugged him and made him kill one of the young boys. Cardona, therefore, had blood on his hands even though he had no memory of it.

Barbara is taken to a hospital by the Madrid police, where she is put up for recovery, but Cardona follows her there as well. It is here that they watch the news that a group of young children have been kidnapped and immediately realize that it is Santo’s work. Although Barbara keeps claiming how Santo will cleanse their souls through his sacrifice and all, Cardona thinks of the woman’s safety once more and takes her away from the hospital. On the other hand, one of the drug dealers Millan had been working with informed the police about his involvement with criminals, and an investigation into the matter was started by Internal Affairs. With voice recordings collected secretly from Millan’s car, the IA takes charge of the situation and suspends Millan from his job. Just as Millan is about to face more heat from the authorities, though, he receives news of his daughter having to be admitted to a hospital, and he takes leave. In his absence, Susi leads the investigation, and the Madrid police find themselves in quite a rush to save the group of kidnapped children.

As Barbara recalls the place where she had been kept hostage by Santo’s men, Cardona figures out that the drug lord’s hideout is at a place in Madrid called San Miguel. He meets with Millan and shares this information, and Millan then tells his department about it. However, a report of another crime at that instant takes the police force away, and a shootout follows, in which the chief of the police loses her life. This affects Millan terribly, as he feels responsible for her death too, and he decides to go after Santo on his own. He contacts Maria and tries using all sources to get to know about Santo’s gang and tries to infiltrate the club where they operate. But the officer is roughed up by the group of criminals, and although he manages to escape the place, a car with Santo’s men soon abducts him and takes him to their hideout. Meanwhile, Cardona’s old colleague from the Brazilian police force comes to meet him, and he is not too happy to see Cardona with Barbara. The woman manages to create a rift between the two men and then has a disagreement of her own with Cardona. The police officer and his colleague follow her through the streets and see that she is driven away by a car which she enters by her own choice. The two men now head towards San Miguel to look for Santo’s hideout in order to apprehend him and also save Barbara.

‘Santo’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Who is Santo? Can Millan Be Saved In Time?

At the hideout, Millan wakes up to see Barbara and two men approaching her. Barbara, who now seems to be leading the entire gang, makes Millan take a drink, which gradually makes him hallucinatory. He is then led to a big chamber where other members of the cult prepare for a sacrificial ritual with one of the kidnapped children. Their intention is to make Millan commit the same act as Cardona earlier, and they hand over a sharp blade to the tranced Millan to behead the child. However, at this very instance, both Cardona and the police force led by Susi arrive on the scene and intervene. A gunfight ensues in which many of the gang members are taken down while Millan and Cardona chase the fleeing Barbara. The three come face-to-face inside a hall, and Millan is about to shoot the woman when she seems to charm Cardona once more with her words, and he stops Millan from firing the gun. Barbara takes this opportunity to escape with some of her men, who also shoot Millan before leaving. The police officer is next seen waking up in a hospital room where Susi has come to meet him. He asks about Cardona, but Susi admits that nobody knows where he is as he seems to have disappeared. Susi then hands Millan a phone with a video playing on it, and Millan shockingly finds out that his own daughter has now been kidnapped by a group of men. In the end, it is revealed that Barbara is the one to have done this, as she records the video.

Unlike how it was believed by everyone from the beginning, Santo was never a man; instead, it was Barbara all along. She was the one leading the occult gang but had always kept her identity hidden as she pretended to be the drug lord’s partner. With this information, it becomes clear that she used Cardona’s attraction and feelings toward her to pave herself an easy way out of Brazil and into Spain. She is also intelligent enough to try and make both the police officers pursuing her case commit murders of children and also keep video records of it. It seems that Barbara was confident of her effect on Cardona, which is why she let him watch the video of him killing the child, and the confidence does pay off in the end. Despite realizing her true evil nature and her real identity as Santo, Cardona saves her from being killed or arrested.

What To Expect From ‘Santo’ Season 2?

Although season 1 of “Santo” does reveal the identity of the drug lord, the story is far from over as Barbara escapes the law. Cardona also disappears from the scene at the end, and it seems he might have followed Barbara once again. Cardona had earlier destroyed the USB stick that had his video on it, so it’s not like there was any direct threat to him at the moment. Whether Cardona reunites with Barbara to ultimately take her down or whether he now joins her cult, remains to be seen. Lastly, Millan now has an even more personal mission to take on, as his daughter has been kidnapped by the cult. How he goes about doing so is also something to look forward to, if in case a second season of the show is confirmed.

“Santo” is a 2022 Crime Thriller Series created by Carlos Lopez.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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