The Ending Of Citadel Season 1 Explained

The ending of "Citadel" Season 1 manages to tie up loose ends while raising enough new questions to keep audiences intrigued about what could be coming. Kyle Conroy (Richard Madden) is finally reunited with his family, but the joy is cut short when Carter (Osy Ikhile) discovers a vial containing all his memories as Mason Kane, his prior spy identity.

Until then, the audience had been drawn in by the mystery of whether Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) was the mole who sold out Citadel, resulting in its destruction by an equally strong but much more clandestine intelligence agency called Manticore. The audience has no idea that this story aspect is just a red herring to distract from the main plot twist, which is that Mason Kane is the son of Dahlia Archer (Lesley Manville), the U.K. ambassador to the U.S. who also has close ties to Manticore.

The audience learns all this in a flashback in which Mason contacts Dahlia for assistance in finding Nadia after she goes missing. There, he reveals his native British accent and wistfully asks his mother, "Mother, am I still yours?" Dahlia views this as an opportunity to exploit Mason's vulnerability and convinces him that Citadel, not a Serbian warlord, is responsible for his father's death in a botched drone strike. However, in the current time, even though he can finally remember everything, he does not tell any of this to his family or colleagues. Let's dig deeper into these and other topics in this dissection of the ending of "Citadel."

What you need to remember about the plot of Citadel

The problem with shows that use time jumps is that they can easily start to feel bogged down and confusing — audiences may struggle to keep track of what's transpiring and when it's happening. So, to get everyone on the same page, let's go over everything that happens in the lead-up to the finale in chronological order.

Thirty years ago in Serbia, Thomas is injured in an incident that has yet to be fully investigated. His son, Mason Kane, a 10-year-old, sits in an army tent waiting for his father to recover. This event causes his mother to abandon him to seek her vengeance, leaving Mason in the care of his grandmother; this abandonment drives Mason to join an independent spy agency called Citadel in the hopes of finding a sense of belonging.

Two decades later on a Citadel operation, Mason — now an experienced but erratic agent — meets Nadia Sinh. Nadia joins Citadel as a "tier-one" agent, which means she has a high level of global intel clearance. For a time, there appears to be a period of calm as they develop a great working relationship that eventually leads to them falling in love. Mason finally feels like he has found a home in Nadia.

Celeste changes everything

The calm does not last long, however, as Nadia soon invites Celeste Graham (Ashleigh Cummings) to join Citadel as another "tier-one" agent. Celeste goes undercover as Abby, and Mason advises Celeste that a good undercover agent doesn't just lie well — they believe in their own lies.

Celeste then dyes her hair and meets with a Manticore agent named Anders (Roland Møller) to get a mysterious, potentially very destructive device called the "Oz key." Manticore is a criminal syndicate with influence over every major global industry. But as Celeste stops communicating with Mason, he becomes concerned that she is in too deep and has formed a loyalty to Manticore.

After they successfully extract Celeste from the operation, Nadia destroys the Oz key since she believes that not even Citadel should have that much power. As a result, Nadia is suspected of being a mole. To protect her, Mason erases all of Celeste's memories so that they can pin the missing Oz key on her. This causes Nadia to have a falling out with Mason, and she goes missing after discovering she is pregnant with his child. Mason seeks out Dahlia and begs her to assist him in finding Nadia. Dahlia manipulates Mason for Citadel intelligence, which she subsequently uses to eliminate all Citadel agents and assets. Mason and Nadia manage to escape, but they lose all their memories.

What happens at the end of Citadel

All of this builds up to the finale, in which Nadia and Mason successfully foil Dahlia's schemes. Dahlia decides to fake her death and go into hiding. Intriguingly, now that Carter has ensured that Mason recovers all of his memories and is aware of everything that has occurred, will this impact his relationship with the family he gained during his amnesia?

Furthermore, Nadia and Carter are surprised to find out that Mason Kane is married to Celeste, who also lost her memory after her tenure at Citadel. While the marriage comes as a surprise to Nadia and Carter, now that Mason is aware of it, too, he's oddly calm and seemingly unsurprised by the twist of events. It's unlikely that this marriage is completely coincidental; nothing in the best spy movies and shows ever is.

Mason's wife asks if he recalls everything now, and he simply says, "I don't know." The audience already knows this is a lie. Probably, Nadia and Carter will figure out Mason's deception pretty quickly. Celeste, on the other hand, is primarily concerned about her family at this point. Or perhaps that's just what she wants the others to think.

Bernard could be dead

After the fall of Citadel, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci) is the last active agent left. But that doesn't mean he's giving up; he's still kidnapping Manticore agents and questioning them about Dahlia's plans. And, after some brutal interrogation, he discovers that Dahlia intends to collect the Citadel X-Case — a briefcase containing nuclear codes, other documents, and, most significantly, vials of Citadel agents' memories.

Around the same time, Bernard realizes Mason is still alive under a different name. Bernard then takes Mason in along with his entire family, and emergency circumstances compel him to send Mason out into the field before he's fully prepared. The expedition ends in disaster and Bernard ends up captured by Manticore.

Dahlia mentally and physically tortures Bernard in her house until he hands her the secret password to nuclear weapons. Luckily, Dahlia's scheme with the nuclear codes ultimately fails, causing her to blow up her house and fake her own death. The audience never sees what happens to Bernard after Dahlia's house explodes. However, the death of such a significant character off-screen is a little dubious. Furthermore, the story concerning his family — a meaty angle that has yet to be completely explored — has only been teased. In light of this, fans can rest easy knowing that Bernard will return.

Will Celeste regain her memory?

Celeste Graham joins Citadel upon Nadia's recommendation. She then starts dating a high-ranking Manticore agent named Anders Silje as part of her first undercover mission for Citadel.

Mason is Celeste's handler throughout the operation, and their agreed parameters are that Celeste must contact Mason regularly and go as deep as she needs to in her new identity to persuade Anders to reveal information about the weapon he's developing with his twin brother. Mason overreacts when Celeste stops reaching out for a few months and decides to pull her out of her mission and wipe all her memories.

What's noteworthy about Celeste is that she reappears more than a decade later as Mason's wife in their new identities as Kyle and Abby. As far as the show has disclosed thus far, this is all just a coincidence. But it's unlikely, and now that Mason and Nadia have recovered all of their memories, all that remains is for Celeste to recover hers as well. It'll be intriguing to watch where this character goes in Season 2.

Where is Grace?

Due to the comparatively short, six-episode structure of "Citadel" Season 1, many storylines have been left unresolved. For instance, we know that before Citadel is destroyed by Manticore, the agency's commander is Grace (Nikki Amuka-Bird), but we don't know her status at the end of the season. 

The Citadel's rules and regulations are important to Grace because she is a no-nonsense and competent leader. However, she does not place more importance on these rules than her agents, who put their lives in danger on the job. This is both her strength and her weakness, because it is Grace's faith in Mason, despite his repeated rule-breaking, that leads to the destruction of Citadel under her watch.

After the Citadel falls, the audience does not see Grace again. The show does not, however, show her dying. It's worth remembering the present timeline on "Citadel" occurs during a relatively brief period. From the time Bernard locates Mason to the season's conclusion, it appears that everything in the present time happens in less than a week, leaving them no time to pontificate on Grace's location.

So, Grace is another character who might return in Season 2.

Manticore and Citadel are now on equal fotting

When Bernard explains their circumstances to Mason, who has forgotten what Manticore is and why it's even in conflict with Citadel, it comes off as one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments that turn out to be significant in later episodes and potentially even more in the overall spy-verse.

Bernard mentions to Mason that Manticore is made up of eight families distributed around the globe. The families' goal is to hoard wealth in whatever way possible, and they have monopolized almost every vital social amenity required for human survival. Manticore can only do this because it broke down and destroyed Citadel. Since then, they've caused oil rig disasters, electrical grid problems, and even warmongering. For this reason, Bernard sees them as being the greatest threat to global peace.

Citadel, for its part, is a century-old group that has been involved in every progressive world event, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bernard added that Citadel has always managed to stay on the right side of history by remaining apolitical and having no allegiance to any nation in the world. The fundamental question raised by the show is whether an agency like this can even exist, given the characters in "Citadel" demonstrate that it is human nature to prioritize self-interest over the greater good.

Regardless, with Citadel's victory in the finale, Manticore and Citadel are now on equal footing, which makes the show's future even more exciting.

What the end of Citadel means

The ending leaves a few loose ends, but one thing is certain: Dahlia is most likely concealing information regarding Mason's father's death. She says that Citadel murdered Thomas, and that this is why she wanted to bring them to justice. However, after Mason provides her with the intel she needs on Citadel, she sets forth on a murdering rampage.

Bernard is the only other agent who knows the actual circumstances surrounding Thomas' death, and when Dahlia and Bernard have a spat when he's detained by her henchmen, he tells her that Thomas would be embarrassed by what she's turned into. Dahlia responds by saying that the nuclear disarmament project she's undertaking alongside Manticore was a joint objective of theirs when he was still alive.

While Dahlia says she has good intentions, she clearly shouldn't be trusted. At its high moments, the series asks if covert, secretive, unaccountable individuals or organizations should have access to the world's most powerful weapons.

Another possible explanation of the end of Citadel

Nadia exemplifies why no one person should be solely responsible for deciding whether or not to use nuclear weapons. In the show, Nadia's circumstances make her almost like a warped version of Dahlia. They find themselves in similar situations, yet they make very different decisions.

When Nadia confronts Mason about what he did to Celeste, she makes it abundantly clear that she regards her memory wipe as equivalent to murder. And she has a point — what's left of a person when all of their memories and relationships are gone? So, Nadia, just like Dahlia, loses a loved one as a result of Citadel's tendency for overreaching.

Furthermore, Nadia is also forced to abandon her infant to protect the child's safety. Nadia and Dahlia both support nuclear disarmament. However, Nadia is not willing to stoop as low as Dahlia and murder people to have her way. Bear in mind that Bernard never expected Dahlia to turn out the way she does, so viewers should keep a keen eye on Nadia.

What the crew said about the ending

Amazon Studios is aggressively attempting to carve itself a niche in the streaming wars by drawing A-list talent and large budgets for projects they believe in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the head of the company, Jennifer Salke, was personally deeply committed to "Citadel," and she originally had the idea for an "Avengers"-style spy drama.

What better team to bring that vision to life than the Russo brothers, directors of numerous MCU films including "Avengers: Endgame." However, during the filming of "Citadel," the Russo brothers were still working on the Netflix spy film "The Gray Man," and had only a little influence on the show. When they eventually returned to focusing on the series, Joe Russo was unhappy with the direction of the show, so he began expensive reshoots, causing the show's first season budget to balloon to nearly $300 million. Unfortunately, not all of the reviews have been encouraging.

However, once the show began airing, it became evident that it was garnering enough viewers to satisfy the studio's boss. The Russo brothers issued a statement acknowledging the continuation of the saga that says "AGBO [The Russo brothers' production studio] is thrilled to embark on this next phase of the spyverse with Jen, Vernon, and the entire team at Amazon. The innovative storytelling of 'Citadel' has paved the way for an incredible, worldwide collaboration with creatives in front of and behind the camera."

What the teaser trailer of the spin-off means for the Citadel franchise

After the final scene of the season, the show doesn't cut to black and credits. Instead, we see a teaser trailer starring a lady with brown hair (Matilda De Angelis). It promises a lot of action but includes no dialogue or any further information about the upcoming show it's promoting — "Citadel: Diana," which intersects with the larger spyverse established in "Citadel."

When done correctly, an interconnected world is priceless, so it's no surprise that Amazon Studios is also experimenting with this extremely popular approach to storytelling. The next spy drama series, which will follow the exploits of an Italian Citadel operative, is set to air on Prime Video in 2024. This shared universe is taking a unique approach by assigning various regions to each part.

Diana's role in the saga is still unknown, but one thing is certain: The timeline will be impacted. Because Citadel has already been destroyed in Mason Kane's time, and the character presumably named Diana seems to be operating with the agency's full artillery in the teaser, the show takes place in a different time frame.

What the end of Citadel Season 1 means for the franchise

The studio's head announced that Season 2 will go forward a day before the Season 1 finale aired. This was a relief because the show truly gets better over the course of the season. When the first half of the season was released, it was not favorably received by critics. Some media outlets even went so far as to call the show a "disaster."

The negative reviews, combined with the costly reshoots, must have pushed the Russo brothers to become more involved. Joe Russo will direct every episode of Season 2, and hopefully, this move will be well received by critics, as the Russo brothers have a reputation for receiving generally favorable reviews as directors.

As for when fans can expect to see the second season of "Citadel," that's yet to be determined. It's expected to premiere after "Citadel: Diana" however. Until then, all fans can do is try to theorize whether a character like Bernard is still even alive.