The Action-Packed Ending of 'Who Is Erin Carter,' Explained

Our breakdown of all the secrets from Netflix's latest miniseries.

still from who is erin carter
(Image credit: Netflix)

Every couple of months, Netflix releases a limited series that shoots to the front of the streaming giant's Top 10 list, led a mysterious woman with a secret past who's thrown into a series of action-packed coincidences...I mean, situations. Who is Erin Carter? is the latest hit to join this category, starring Evin Ahmad as the titular British expat who now lives in Barcelona, Spain and works as a substitute teacher. When a group of gunmen hold up her local grocery store, the feisty-but-kind substitute teacher fights them off with so much skill that even the police begin to wonder where she learned the moves. Not only that, one of the robbers recognizes her, calling her by the name, "Kate." Soon Erin's tranquil life with her husband and daughter comes crashing down as she tries to keep her family safe by any means necessary.

The show's realistic and brutal action scenes are its biggest draw, as each fight unveils a new level of Erin's skill and keeps viewers interested in just what her big secret really is. After all, this premise requires enough suspension of disbelief that it's a surprise when a loving wife and mother is also a badass. By the time we get Erin's flashback episode (which is episode 4 if anyone wants to fast-forward), the mystery has been constructed well enough that the answer is fun to watch (this was also my favorite episode of the show). Erin's daughter Harper (Indica Watson) is also a big draw as the precocious ten-year-old begins to connect the dots of her hazy memories and her mom's sketchy behavior. Unfortunately, the rest of the show's plot is held up by a series of coincidences that makes you wonder how Erin can get away with her suspenseful shenanigans without either husband Jordie (Sean Teale) catching on or the police finally arresting her.

By the end of the seven-episode series, there's quite a lot of plot to unpack (including a hanging thread that leaves the chance that the limited series could still continue). So, who is Erin Carter? Read on for our breakdown.

What is Erin Carter's big secret?

The first episode of Who Is Erin Carter? begins with a peek into the mystery woman's past in Folkestone, England. We see her wake her five-year-old daughter Harper up at the crack of dawn to covertly leave the country via a fisherman's boat. When the story picks up five years later, the pair are settled in Barcelona, where Erin has apparently lived for multiple years without picking up more than a few phrases of Spanish or Catalan. (She works at an international school where everyone helpfully speaks English). Eventually, we learn about the dangerous path Erin was running from, with a twist: She wasn't a criminal, but instead an undercover cop.

Erin grew up in foster care after being abandoned by her mother at six years old. Eventually she joins the police academy, but she's kicked out after she assaults a sexist/classist/generally-prejudiced-against-her classmate. Instead, she's recruited by D.I. Jim Armstrong to become an undercover operative who embeds herself in criminal organizations. Her first job after training is to become "Kate Jones," a getaway driver in a crew of thieves going after roughly $10 million in gold bullion. Members of this gang include Margot, the woman who Erin kills on the night of the school musical, and Lena (Denise Gough), who has a five-year-old daughter named Harper.

Erin quickly befriends Lena (following a sweet side-quest where the pair steal the year's hottest toy for Harper), and becomes a friend-aunt to the five-year-old. The cop also begins to worry about what will happen to Harper after Laura's busted, with Erin obviously connecting the situation to her own childhood. Several things go wrong—another member of the crew is killed when the boss suspects a cop's in their midst, the heist gets moved up, and it becomes obvious that Armstrong has no intention of pulling Erin out if things really get bad (like, worse than her already being accused of being a cop). At the end of the gig, the crew does succeed in getting back to their hideout with the gold, but the police immediately storms in and starts a shootout. When Laura is shot down, Erin assumes that she's been killed, and she flees with a cut of the gold...and with Harper.

So "Kate Jones," who starts to go by another name choice she was given when she went undercover, "Erin Carter," goes on the run and keeps Harper out of the system by illegally adopting Lena's child as her own daughter, even taking Harper to Spain as Lena wished. If it wasn't for the grocery store hold-up, Erin could've stayed hidden with none the wiser, although she would likely eventually have to have the difficult conversation with Harper. However, there's a giant flaw in her decision-making: Lena didn't die in the shootout. She's been in jail for years, and from there, she hears of Margot's death in Barcelona. One work-placement shift later, Lena pulls up Erin's picture in the news article about the grocery robbery, and begins planning her escape from prison.

still from who is erin carter

(Image credit: Netflix)

What happens when Lena finds Erin (a.k.a. Kate)?

After Lena's impressive escape during her transfer to a higher-security prison— she unlocks her chains with a paper clip and knocks two guards out—Lena finds Erin by shaking down school secretary Olivia Thorne (Susannah Fielding) in such a fun scene (though, you know, terrifying from Olivia's P.O.V.). Upon meeting Erin at a bar (another great scene; seriously, Gough got the best dialogue of the series), Lena orders her at gunpoint to drive her to Canyelles, where Harper and Jordi are staying with Jordi's parents after his and Erin's fight. Instead, Erin drives Lena to the location where she buried her share of the gold, as she hasn't spent any of it since it could've led the police to her and Harper. (Erin also explains that she killed Margot instead of giving her the gold because Margot would've quickly been caught trying to spend it and all roads lead back to Erin and Harper.) Erin asks Lena to take the gold and leave, saying, "I know she's your daughter, but I love her more than any—" before Lena shoots her in the gut.

Episode 6 ends with Erin passing out from the gunshot, but by the start of the finale,  she's awake and stumbling through the scorpion-infested desert. Somehow alive, she happens upon an abandoned campsite where she finds a first-aid kit and stitches herself up. (How far did this severely-wounded woman travel to get from the desert to the woods? Why is this random campsite still set up and empty? If there were people in that one red tent, why did they not come outside when they heard someone rummaging through their stuff? Why is this not the first time I've had numerous questions about the logic of a single scene in this series?) Meanwhile, Lena has made it back to Erin's house, and Lena's there (and understandably crushed) when Harper and Jordi arrive home. She hides as the pair unload their bags and head back out to get groceries, and it appears that Lena's going to just take a picture of Harper and let the family be, before she's surprised and knocked out by a pair of Daniel Lang's (Douglas Henshall) goons.

I was going to completely skip over the gangs subplot because Emilio is a terrible cop and a horrible friend. (You find out your best friend’s spouse has been lying to them since they met and your response is to tell the spouse which new lie to tell so that your friend won’t leave them???) However, the show makes all of the storylines tie up because it turns out Daniel Lang is the former business associate whose villa Lena stayed at all those years ago. So he was the one that was funding the gold bullion heist, blah blah blah, I don't care, let's get back to Lena and Harper. Daniel and Lena the two Big Bads (though can we really call Lena a Big Bad when she's just trying to take care of her own biological kid... #TeamLena) trade info and realize that Erin's effed up their plans and lives in numerous timelines. Daniel learns Erin arrived back at the house and Lena offers up the gold so he won't also kill Harper.

Though poor Harper is spared the random appearance of her birth mom, she is there when Erin arrives home filthy and bleeding, telling Jordi that he can't call the cops. The kid's just sent to her room as Jordi patches up the wound and Erin screams. Erin asks Jordi to take Harper somewhere safe away from the impending doom (though she thinks it's Lena herself rather than Daniel's hitmen). Jordi and Harper drive away, Erin shoots herself up with something (adrenaline?) expecting a fight, and she prepares as she hears someone entering the house.

How does 'Who Is Erin Carter' end?

One thing about Erin, the woman can fight. She traverses the whole neighborhood to get away from Daniel's assassins in an intense, multi-scene fight sequence that involves a whole kitchen's worth of makeshift weapons (and an axe at one point). Midway through, Erin stumbles up to Penelope's (Charlotte Vega) car, and the frenemy becomes her getaway driver. Penelope of course doesn't get the gravity of Erin's situation, but the moment helps the neighborhood queen bee summons the bravery to ask her negligent husband for a divorce, so good for her!

Meanwhile, Lena has been anonymously texting Harper as the 10-year-old and Jordi go to Olivia's house for safekeeping. You know, the same place Lena first went to find out where Erin was. Daniel lets Lena go collect Harper, and the mother and daughter finally meet again in Olivia's backyard. In a harrowing scene, Lena makes Harper remember that she's her biological mom, but Harper is uncomfortable and just wants to know whether Erin will be okay. Of course, Daniel's the worst, so he sends the men he had trailing Lena to collect Jordi and Harper for blackmail material and orders Lena to find Erin using Jordi's phone.

When Erin and Lena meet up again, the two mothers find common ground. Lena recognizes that Erin thought she was dead, and admits that the woman gave Harper the type of home she couldn't provide at the time. Both of them just want the best for Harper, so they team up to try to fight their way through Daniel's men. near immediately, it becomes obvious that one of them will have to make the sacrifice play, and Lena blows herself up to take out the henchmen, while thinking of her one hug with Harper. (Lena is this show's MVP, argue with the wall.) Erin fights her way through to Daniel's office, where he's holding Harper and Jordi at gunpoint. The villain gets this whole final speech about seeing Erin Carter for who she really is, that she's not a teacher, or a mother, or police. (Women contain multitudes, gasp!) The show tries to grab a final bit of suspense with a "they both shoot" moment, but Erin comes and finds her family after shooting Daniel in the head.

still from who is erin carter

(Image credit: Netflix)

How does 'Who Is Erin Carter?' set up a second season?

In this era of television, even shows billed as limited series have some hanging thread that can be stretched to another season if the show's popular enough (see Big Little Lies and Squid Game). Erin Carter sets up a possible future in its happily-ever-after scene, which begins with Erin, Harper, and Jordi lounging at a beach club. But when Erin walks over to the bar, she hears someone tell her, "Nice family." D.I. Jim Armstrong is back.

Erin asks if he's going to "try to" arrest her, and he says that he wouldn't want to ruin their holiday. However, holidays end, and the cop hints that soon Erin will need to return back to work. She assures him she already has a job, but "Erin goes back undercover" is definitely something a possible season 2 would explore. The show ends with Erin Carter fully accepting her fake name (we never learned her real one) and her identity as someone who will do anything to protect her family.

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.