‘Criminal Code,’ Netflix’s Portuguese action crime show, revolves around a federal investigation of a monumental bank robbery that becomes the key to unraveling the criminal underworld of the Brazil-Paraguay border. Detectives Benício and his new partner Suellen, equal in their work ethic and commitment to the job, helm the investigation with their tight-knit team of trusted officers. As the case progresses, Foz’s forensics department uncovers various links connecting the robbery with several other criminal activities across the country, highlighting the involvement of an overarching organization.
The show jumps straight into the thrilling Proguard robbery investigation, gradually establishing the expansive criminality network that lurks below the surface. As such, the narrative builds a stirring storyline that leaves viewers wondering where new threads will lead the characters in the end. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Criminal Code Recap
Brazilian gangs’ joint illegal ventures remain a common occurrence on the Brazil-Paraguay border. Yet, a bank robbery in Foz do Iguaçu takes precedence when an army of gang members takes over the Proguard building, making off with heaps of cash. After the crime, Detective Benicio, known for his tendency to bend the rules, teams up with his brand-new partner, Suellen, and convinces her to disregard orders by following his hunch and going after the Proguard robbers.
Three months earlier, Benicio’s previous partner and close friend, Santos, died after an organized prison escape plot. Since then, the detective has been searching hell and high water for Santos’ killers and found a street name, Soulless, belonging to a guy in the elusive “Organization.” Since Benicio has been tracking the gang ever since and believes them to be involved in the robbery, his hunch turns out to be correct.
As such, after the Detectives run into the robbers and call for backup, a city-wide chase begins with the authorities looking for the perpetrators, who initiate a free-for-all escape plan. Consequently, a few people get arrested with their share of the heist money, but most refuse to talk and give up valuable information. Worst yet, Benicio discovers that a perp he and Suellen had to release after some questions is actually Soulless.
Given their contribution to the various arrests, Rossi puts Benicio and Suellen as the leads on the case and forms a group of detectives to work on the top-priority investigation. However, Rossi’s boss, Wladimir, sends his own man, Moreira, a cop who infiltrated the Organization for years and is rumored to be on suspension, to keep an eye on the team. As a result, Benicio is reluctant to trust the guy. Similarly, while the DNA forensics guy, Yuri, plays a crucial role in the team, the other detective doubts the process’s efficiency.
Nevertheless, Yuri ends up bringing in a goldmine of evidence after Suellen and Benicio find the robbers’ base of operation, a mansion full of DNA samples from cigarette butts, alcohol glasses, and hair trimmings. Furthermore, Moreira reaches out to his old contacts behind his superiors’ backs and learns about a rival connection between the Organization and the famed Ambassador.
Meanwhile, Soulless, one of the top players within The Organization, is tasked with making back the money they lost from the Proguard robbery since The Organization needs big money urgently. Eventually, Soulless contacts Roleta, known for pulling off a crazy armed truck robbery, and comes up with a plan to rob two banks at once. Nevertheless, Benicio manages to figure out the secret to Roleta’s gang’s escape route: water travel.
However, the inter-region complications proposed by Soulless’ bank jobs lead to circumstances that force Benicio to go AWOL and to keep watch on the river. Thankfully, his team, including Suellen, Yuri, and Moreira, follow after him and manage to fight back against Soulless’ men. Even though the man escapes with some of the money, the mission remains a failure for him.
Nonetheless, the next time Soulless plans an attack, he partners up with Issac, the head of the Ghost Gang, known for their legendary heists that never leave any evidence behind. Issac manages to buy a mole in the Foz department and successfully pulls off a million-dollar robbery, affording Soulless the funds he needs to carry out the Organization’s bigger scheme.
Yet, Moreira’s deadly private investigation by infiltrating The Ambassador’s gang pays off after he manages to procure loads of recordings and evidence of the gang members before his cover gets blown. Even though Wladimir takes the suspended officer off the case, Moreira shares his findings with Rossi, allowing him and his team to crack the Organization’s plan.
Due to the constant rivalry between the Organization and The Ambassador halting the former’s business, they offered to pair up with The Ambassador to join up their resources and pull off a grand heist. In turn, the Ambassador agreed to hold up his end of the bargain if they could get him out of prison before his extradition to a federal prison.
Criminal Code Ending: What Happens to The Ambassador?
Although initially, the Proguard Robbery seems like an isolated incident, Benicio, Suellen, and their team soon come to a different conclusion once Yuri’s DNA forensics highlight the Organization’s connection with the crime. Furthermore, the robbery’s link to the previous similarly orchestrated prison break and several testimonies of arrested individuals confirm that the Organization is planning a more powerful third attack.
Thanks to Moreira’s collected intel, Rossi and the others are able to peek into the private messages sent by the Ambassador that present a coded message. After some brainstorming, the team figured out that the Organization plans to break The Ambassador out of his prison hold in Paraguay’s Tacumbú prison. Even though the criminal mastermind has been behind bars for a long time, he has been living a comfortable life and carries out his business from the guarded, lax prison cell.
Nevertheless, recently, the police had started talk of extraditing The Ambassador to a federal prison, which would rob the man of his relative freedom. Therefore, he wants to break out from Tacumbú. The first two rounds of the grand plan, breaking 25 bank robbers from prison and robbing Proguard, prepared various gangs’ members for the finale: The Ambassador’s jailbreak.
Furthermore, since Issac has a mole in the Foz department, Guilherme, who is directly involved in the case’s investigation, the Organization gains an advantage over the police. As such, when Rossi proposes fastpacing the prisoner’s extradition to Wladimir, Issac becomes privy to the knowledge instantly. As a result, he modifies the plan and prepares to grab The Ambassador during the convoy transfer.
In the end, the police end up getting ambushed by the Organization and their partnered gangs, who rain down gunfire upon the convoy and steal The Ambassador from their grasp. While chaos unfolds between the cops and the criminals, Issac uses another mole, a police officer behind the wheel, to transport The Ambassador out of the scene and to a private jet. Ultimately, many of the gang leaders, including Soulless, are left behind. Nonetheless, Issac managed to ensure his profit by fleeing with The Ambassador.
Afterward, Wladimir ends up taking the heat for the unfortunate turn of events, with the higher-ups deciding that despite everything, Rossi and his team performed positively. For the same reason, they assign Rossi the responsibility of hunting down Issac and his Ghost Gang, which could presumably lead him to the Ambassador in the future. Still, as the show ends, the Ambassador remains a free man.
Does Benício Catch Santos’ Killer?
Throughout the show, Benicio, the protagonist’s storyline heavily revolves around his all-consuming need to avenge his former partner, Santos’ untimely death. On January 29, Santos gives a talk at the Foz penitentiary to other officers and guards. The same day, the Organization plans a massive jailbreak, headed by Soulless, wherein they target 25 criminals with expert history in bank robberies.
The attack takes the Foz Penitentiary by surprise, but they still attempt to fight back, with Santos leading a squad behind him. Although Soulless tries to take a hostage, Santos manages to save his life but loses his own in the process. By abandoning his cover too quickly, Santos makes a rookie mistake and loses his life. Worse yet, Benicio believes that Santos only made such a mistake because he was hungover after a night of reckless drinking with the former man. Santos’ death obviously had a huge influence over Benicio, who continues to be plagued by the loss.
Therefore, a part of Benicio blames himself for Santos’ death and cannot rest until he gets revenge for it. Through the grapevine, Benicio manages to get Santos’ killer’s street name and starts obsessively searching for him. Even during his investigation of the Proguard robbery, Benicio often lets his desperation to catch Soulless cloud his decision before getting a grip on himself.
Consequently, after losing The Ambassador during the raging firefight, Benicio decides to make the most of the mission and goes after Soulless. Following the other man, Benicio arrives at a vacant plot populated by old trucks and buses. However, a civilian passes by and gives Soulless the opportunity to hold him hostage before Benicio can catch the guy. Nevertheless, even with a gun to an innocent man’s head, Benicio refuses to let the criminal go.
After investigating Soulless for so long, Benicio knows about the man’s past. While in prison, Soulless fell in love with a woman, Monica, his newly assigned lawyer, who helped him find his faith in Jesus Christ. Still, after a wrong move on Monica’s part, she ends up on the Organization’s radar. Therefore, to save her life, Soulless, a.k.a. Wellington Pereira, agrees to return to his criminal ways and work for the Organization. Yet, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to see Monica or their unborn child again, he continued to care deeply for them.
Likewise, although he claims to have let go of his faith, Soulless continues to hold on to his bible verses, Christian cross, and a few moral teachings. As such, Benicio goads Soulless into giving up by referencing his past and the hellish nature of his actions since he’s claiming an innocent man, a father, hostage. In the end, Soulless surrenders on his own, allowing the hostage to leave.
Thus, Benicio realizes he may have made false assumptions about the guy and that he has a more nuanced relationship with morality and religion than the Detective previously thought. Still, the man has to pay for his crimes and faces arrest for it accordingly.