Essaying multiple storylines with varying points of intersection, the Dutch show ‘High Tides’ presents a dramatic coming-of-age narrative ripe with themes of love, friendship, and self-discovery. Within this story of three teenagers over one summer, Patrick Vandael, Alexander’s father, occupies a significant role as the persistent antagonist. Within the Vandael household, Patrick’s indiscretions, including an abusive attitude toward his son, constant infidelity against his wife, and general negligence of his daughter, continue to cause difficulties. Furthermore, he’s also the prime suspect in Daan’s mother, Melissa’s amateur investigation of her sister, Claudia’s disappearance.
Thus, given his many shortcomings and the numerous enemies he effectively makes throughout the show, the built-up pressure surrounding his character can make people wonder where he may find himself by the show’s end. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Patrick Vandael’s Ultimate Demise
Patrick’s first notable participation in the plot comes through his interaction with Alexander regarding the former’s business proposal of opening a nightclub. In an instant, the boy’s father is against the proposal and callously berates Alex for it. The same, paired with his wife’s almost obsessive suspicion that he’s having an affair, hardly paints his character in a good light. Worse yet, we soon find out he may have some connection to the protagonist’s aunt, Claudia, who went missing more than a year ago.
Initially, Daan’s arrival in the town of Knokke seems to be an arbitrary decision until Melissa reveals that she’s here to look into the Vandael family, whom she suspects to be involved in Claudia’s unsolved case. Yet, the woman seems to only have a hunch without any verifiable facts. Even so, after she manages to score a job as the family’s nanny, she notices Patrick’s indiscretions swiftly. The man is openly abusive toward his son to the point of drawing blood and holds no regret afterward.
Furthermore, after spending some time with his wife, Elenore, Melissa realizes the woman likely had a romantic relationship with Claudia after the former confuses her for her sister in a drunken haze. Thus, once Melissa gets confirmation that her sister used to work for the Vandaels as their former nanny, she puts two and two together and realizes Claudia must have fallen victim to Patrick’s violence after he learned about her affair with his wife.
Soon, Melissa gets confirmation about the same after Louise tells Daan about Alex’s confession, where he talks about how his father killed Claudia. As a result, Melissa doesn’t wish to waste any more time and report Patrick to the authorities. Still, Elenore convinces her that turning Patrick in won’t lead to any good. Instead, she hatches a plan to trap the man.
Nevertheless, the plan easily falls apart when Alex’s turmoil leads him to share an explicit video of his father with everyone at his parent’s wedding anniversary party. Within the video, Patrick is having sex with one of Elenore’s close friends. As such, the same quickly leads to the party’s dispersion, leaving the Vandael family to spiral out into chaos. Even though the video causes chaos, the real underlying reason for contempt remains the events that took place one fateful night that led to Claudia’s death.
Although the general assumption throughout the show remains that Patrick killed Claudia, there’s a more menacing truth beneath the surface. Claudia and Elenore were having an affair with each other, and Patrick did catch them in the act one night. Consequently, the man erupted in a fit of violence, attacking his wife and her lover without any regard for their safety.
Alex, younger than he is now, witnessed the entire thing unfold and intervened when he saw his father trying to strangle Claudia over the balcony. However, the kid was no match for his father, who didn’t hesitate to hurt him in his anger either. Eventually, in his attempts to save Claudia, Alex ends up accidentally shoving her off the balcony, sending her hurtling to her death. As a result, Patrick got to distance himself from Claudia’s death and gained immense power over his family.
In the present day, Patrick openly mistreats his son, knowing neither Alex nor Elenore can do anything about it since he holds his son’s future in his hands. For the same reason, Alex records his father’s unfaithful tryst with Christine to gain some semblance of an upper hand over him. However, these implicit games that the family plays with each other affect one neglected member more than anyone: Olivia.
Alex’s younger sister, Olivia, is used to being ignored by her family. In fact, most of her life is just a rotation of nannies that her family hires to care for her so that they won’t have to. Nonetheless, she still has to live in an immensely toxic environment where her father remains the obvious source of conflict. As a result, after seeing Alex’s video of her father cheating on her mother, Olivia becomes overcome with rage and locks herself in Alex’s room, unwilling to face her father.
Yet, Patrick tries to force her to leave the room out of his obsession with controlling other people. The resulting altercation between Patrick and Melissa, who tries to keep Olivia safe, reveals the entire truth about Claudia’s death. Thus, Olivia overhears the same from the other side of the door and makes a decision. In the face of her father’s mounting sins, Olivia emerges from Alex’s room with his hidden gun and pulls the trigger on her father.