Ending Explained is a recurring column in which we explore the finales, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, both new and old. This time, we consider the ending of Partner Track, Netflix’s new romance/legal drama. Yes, prepare for spoilers.
The life of a New York lawyer is full of trials, tribulations, twists, and turns. No one knows this better than the protagonist of Netflix’s Partner Track, a young lawyer named Ingrid Yun (Arden Cho), who is up for a junior partner position at a prestigious law firm called Parsons Valentine.
Throughout the ten-episode first season of Partner Track, Ingrid’s professional and personal life is jam-packed with obstacles and complications. For one thing, she is caught in the midst of a sizzling love-triangle with doting wealthy heir Nick Laren (Rob Heaps), and fellow lawyer Jeff Murphy (Dominic Sherwood), the British bad-boy with whom she shares a racy history.
On the work side, Ingrid is leading the charge on Parsons’ biggest case of the year, which sees a massive energy enterprise called Sun Corp acquiring a smaller energy company called Min Enterprises for 2.9 billion dollars. While in a challenging position with her love life, Ingrid is put in an even more challenging position in her work life. To make the deal, she is forced to manipulate environmentally conscious Min-heir Zi-Xin “Z” Min (Desmond Chiam) into getting on board with the acquisition, even though she knows that Sun Corp’s chairman, Ted Lassiter (Fredric Lehne), is planning on immediately axing Z’s noble efforts to save the planet.
But Ingrid gets through these adversities relatively unscathed. Or so we think. Season 1’s final episode, “Dawn Raid,” reeks of false hope. Although Nick breaks off his engagement with Ingrid when he discovers she is cheating on him with Murphy, Ingrid is happy. She believes she has finally found true love with Murphy.
On top of this, Ingrid has finally made amends with her best friends, fellow lawyers Tyler (Bradley Gibson) and Rachel (Alexandra Turshen), whom she alienated when she didn’t stop her boss, Marty Adler (Matthew Rauch), from offering Tyler hush money, so he doesn’t speak out against Parsons’ culture of racism.
Ingrid also comes out (seemingly) victorious in her work life – even after quitting Parsons when Marty offers the partnership to Murphy instead of her. In the end, quitting turns out to be a good thing, because it forces her to realize how wrong it was for her to convince Z to accept the Sun Corp deal. She attempts to get the company’s shareholders to vote Ted out to make things right.
Her powers of persuasion are unsurprisingly impeccable, and over half of the shareholders – including Z’s stubborn, traditional father – say “aye” in the vote of no confidence. Z’s dad then becomes chairman, and elects his son as CEO of Sun Corp. Naturally, Marty is furious at Ingrid for deceiving him and threatens to get her disbarred.
But luckily, Z steps in to save the day, telling Marty that if he doesn’t make Ingrid partner, he will take his business elsewhere. In a last-ditch effort to get rid of Ingrid, Marty tells Z that she recently spent a night in jail after being mistaken for her sister, Lina (Lena Ahn), who stole diamonds from Nick. That night behind bars, he infers, is the real reason she didn’t make Partner.
Ingrid is shocked that Marty knows about her brief stint in jail, as the only people who she told about it were Lina and Murphy. Marty then says that Murphy told him, maliciously adding “I hope the two of you have fun together on Sun Corp.” The final shot of the season sees Ingrid looking at freshly-recruited partner Murphy, dumbfounded that someone who just told her he loved her could have betrayed her like that.
This shocking cliffhanger perfectly sets up Partner Track for a second season. But the real question is: how will Ingrid contend with such a horrific deception? We’ve already seen that she isn’t afraid of playing dirty at the law firm. In the first episode, for example, when she discovers that Dan had been disclosing the details of the Min acquisition to people outside of Parsons, she immediately tells Marty, effectively getting herself onto the case.
So it stands to reason that she’ll play a similar game with Murphy, as the lovebirds are continuing to work together on the Sun Corps case. Season 2 of Partner Track will likely see a battle of the wits between the two as they vie for the top spot at Parsons. And now that we know Murphy is a nefarious character, who’s to say that he won’t go so far as to attempt to undermine Z’s environmental efforts just to spite Ingrid?
And then there’s Ingrid’s personal life. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I would be shocked if she lets bygones be bygones and forgives Murphy, especially as so much of Ingrid’s character growth this season involves her realizing the importance of doing the right thing. So who will she end up with? Of course, there’s always a chance that, after realizing that Nick was actually the good guy of her two suitors, she’ll try to make amends with him.
But hear me out: another sneaky contender is Z. Besides a clear under (or over) tone of sexual tension between them, there is also a moment earlier in the show where Z tactfully brushes an eyelash off Ingrid’s cheek. With hundreds of rom-coms to back me up, I can confidently say that that is not something you do unless you have a crush on someone.
But enough about Ingrid. Where are the rest of the characters headed? For one thing, Rachel announces that she has enrolled in a playwright course, but will be keeping her job at Parsons for the time being. However, the status of her love life is less clear: after engaging in a clandestine affair with paralegal Justin (Roby Attal), she tells him she doesn’t know if she wants to commit to him. He seems to look at this as a dealbreaker, while Rachel clearly still has feelings for him.
The last time we see Rachel, she is eyeing a flirty text from Dan Fallon (Nolan Gerard Funk): Parsons’ problematic fuck-boy. Sure, it’s just a text – but Rachel doesn’t brush off his advance like she usually does. Could a Rachel/Dan affair be on the horizon for Season 2?
Meanwhile, after quitting Parsons because of the office’s culture of racism, Tyler is on a mission to find himself and what he really wants to do with his life. After a chance encounter with his former enemy and fashion tycoon Valdo (Alejandro Hernandez), the two team up to take down a corrupt fashion line named Luxe. But when it comes to the characters in Partner Track, we know by now that nothing can be simple. So it makes sense that Tyler accidentally sleeps with the Valdo CFO. Could Tyler spend Season 2 mixing business with pleasure?
While no one knows whether or not Partner Track will have a second season, if it does, you can expect a mountain of moral quandaries, high-stakes deals, relationships gone wrong (and right), and probably a few more backstabbings. And sure, we can make our predictions all we like, but the only way to really prepare for more episodes is to learn to expect the unexpected.
Partner Track is available to stream on Netflix beginning Friday, August 26. Watch the series trailer here.