Vanished into the Night ending explained: who took Pietro and Elena’s children?

Vanished into the Night cast
(Image credit: Netflix)

Vanished into the Night is a Netflix original Italian thriller (dubbed in multiple languages). It follows a couple, Pietro and Elena, who are facing a difficult divorce. If discussions over custody and assets weren't tense enough though, when Pietro is looking after his two children while Elena is away on a trip, they are kidnapped. And so, unravels a twisted crime-drama full of secrets, a dangerous mission, and the commitment of a father to risk everything to get his kids back. 

So, do Pietro and Elena find their children? And, who took them in the first place? Read on to find out exactly what happens at the end of Vanished into the Night on Netflix.

It’s clear from the outset that Pietro and Elena are struggling to come to an agreement about the dissolution of their marriage. Their kids, Giovanni and Bianca, are just part of it. For Elena, it’s the loss of her psychotherapy career that she wants to return to in the US. Also, we learn that Pietro has a gambling addiction, while Elena has an addiction to painkillers due to a serious car accident. Elena is also concerned about the money she lent Pietro to buy a farmhouse they were going to develop into a hotel.

The pair now seemingly live separate lives - Pietro in the farmhouse and Elena in an apartment. As Elena is going away on a trip, Pietro takes them on a fishing trip where they bump into ‘uncle’ Nicola and he wants him to come aboard his boat, but Pietro says he’s busy, letting his kids go on for a short time.

When he returns home, a man is waiting. His name is Santo and he’s demanding 250,000 euros that Pietro owes him. It’s not clear how Pietro got into this debt, but knowing about his gambling addiction, this could suggest the reason. Santo wants the farmhouse in exchange for the debt, but Pietro asks for more time.

Pietro puts his kids to sleep for the night and watches football on the TV. When he goes to check on the kids, they’re no longer in their beds. Elena calls to say she’s arrived at her destination, to which Pietro informs her the kids are gone. She comes to Pietro that same night, despite saying she’d need to catch the first plane back from wherever she went.

Pietro receives a phone call demanding 150,000 euros for the safe return of his children. He calls Santo and leaves a message accusing him of taking them. Elena suggests going to Nicola for the money, and Pietro agrees. 

When he visits Nicola the next day, Nicola is angry at how Pietro is treating him and says they used to be like brothers, but that he is ashamed of the work he is involved in. Pietro asks for the money and Nicola gives him a job to do. He tells him he must drive his boat to Greece, sit at a small restaurant, and wait for instructions. He will take a load of goods onto his boat and drive it back in exchange for the money.

That evening, he takes his boat to the Poseidon restaurant. Elena leaves him at the dock, but not before apologising for the way their marriage has gone and the couple share a passionate kiss. Pietro leaves and travels to the restaurant where he waits hours for instructions, of which none come. He borrows the phone of a restaurant guest to call Elena at 11:30PM, but she doesn’t pick up. Finally, when he asks for the bill, he is handed the cheque that says, “Torna a casa ora” translated to “Go home now.” He rushes back to his boat where two men appear to hand over a duffel bag of drugs and wait for their payment. When they’re happy, they let Pietro go.

In true thriller fashion, it's not that simple. While he’s driving his boat back to Italy, the engine fails. Pietro cuts his arm badly trying to fix it and, in desperation, calls the coast guard to come and help him. He conceals the drugs and is told that it will take some time to get back, but he's on a strict timeframe.

With the tension rising, Pietro makes a run for it with the drugs once they get back on land. He borrows another phone, now at 6:12AM, to call Elena who still doesn’t pick up. You see that her phone is in the same position it was seven hours prior and wonder where she might be. When he shows up at Nicola’s, he’s having a party and the pair get into a fist fight, but Pietro finally gets the 150,000 cash and heads to Elena.

Vanished into the Night cast

Pietro and Elena share a kiss.  (Image credit: Netflix)

Do Pietro and Elena get their children back?

Racing against time, Pietro arrives at Elena’s apartment and the door is open. When he enters, Bianca and Giovanni are eating breakfast at the table, unharmed. He speaks to them about the kidnapping, but they tell him they don’t know what he’s talking about. Elena comes and says there wasn’t a kidnapping, asks Pietro if he’s on drugs, tells him he’s crazy, and that he must leave her house. He’s left wondering what’s going on.

He drives off and receives a voice recording from Elena of him telling her that he went to get the drugs to pay the ransom for the kids. She had been recording him, but says she did it to protect her kids. She says she’s taking the kids to New York that night and that he must meet her at the airport to sign the letters of consent. 

He hurries back to her apartment, but they’re gone. He goes to his kids horse riding lesson, where they both are. He begins to ask them about the disappearance, but they still don’t remember. Elena turns up and she says she’ll send the recording to the judge. 

Vanished into the Night cast

Elena in Vanished into the Night. (Image credit: Netflix)

Who kidnapped Bianca and Giovanni?

Pietro returns to the farmhouse and while he’s in the bathroom, he notices an empty pill packet in the toilet, unflushed. He picks it out and rushes to Elena’s apartment to search through her belongings when he finds Oxycodone, a strong painkiller, with one packet missing.

He rushes with the evidence to the airport and confronts Elena saying she drugged their kids and that he’ll report her to the police. He says that Oxycodone remains in the hair for some time and that he can prove her guilt and that she could’ve almost killed them both.

She admits she felt she had no way out and that she was forced to do it so they could finish their divorce, but that the kiss they shared was real. Pietro leaves with the kids. 

When he returns to the farmhouse, he calls Santo to say he has money for him. While the kids are playing, he looks at a photo on the fridge of the family, but he stops to turn around as if he senses someone is there. In a thrilling and mysterious moment, a blurred figure steps into view.

Vanished into the Night cast

Pietro is a man on the edge.  (Image credit: Netflix)

What does the Vanished into the Night ending mean?

It appears the blurred figure is wearing a long tan-brown coat and black trousers, which is what Elena was wearing at the airport. We know that Pietro holds damaging information on Elena, but we also know that Elena has a similar threat against him, so it’s a stalemate. 

Perhaps she decided she didn’t want to leave Italy after all and had returned, following their kiss, to rebuild their marriage. But, could he forgive her? Or, perhaps, she didn’t want to leave so easily and is still determined to destroy Pietro by revealing his criminal wrongdoing and leaving with the kids back to the US.

We don’t meet anybody else in Pietro’s life aside from Nicola and Santo, but the figure doesn’t appear to be male. What we do know is that the relationship between Pietro and Elena is clearly not straightforward, nor is it easily solved. The fact they kissed shows that there’s unfinished business, despite it looking like the airport was the end of their relationship. While their kids may have vanished into the night, it seems Elena won’t go so easily.

Vanished into the Night is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Grace Dean
Freelance Writer

Grace has been writing about TV and film for most of her journalism career. After graduating, she's been a YouTube presenter, tech showrunner, and head of short-form content, including podcasts for Audible, comedy shorts for the BBC, and entertainment shorts on ITV2 and Ch5. When she's not writing about entertainment, she's most certainly watching it. Her favorites shows include Succession, Bridgerton, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and movies include Forrest Gump, Love in the Time of Cholera, and the OG Total Recall. In her spare time (of which she has little with two small kids), you'll also find her reading books or playing video games.