Vortex Ending, Explained: Who Killed Mélanie?

Netflix’s ‘Vortex’ is a French sci-fi thriller series with a mix of romance, time travel, and serial killing. The plot revolves around Ludovic Béguin or Ludo (Tomer Sisley), a 52-year-old veteran detective attached to the Brest police department. In 2025, he begins investigating the death of a young woman who seems to have drowned on the beach where the body of his wife, Mélanie (Camille Claris), was found 27 years ago. In this slightly advanced society, the French police have begun using VR technology to assess criminal cases. As Ludo analyzes the woman’s death using the VR glasses, a vortex opens up in the space and time continuum, and he encounters Mélanie or Mél from 1998, only a few days before she is slated to die.

Overcoming the initial shock, they test out whether they can change the past. When it turns out that they can, it becomes a race against time to figure out how Mélanie died and whether foul play was involved. However, Mélanie’s actions in the past soon begin to have butterfly effects, drastically altering various aspects of the present. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Vortex’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Vortex Recap

The series begins on July 19, 1998, a week after France has won the Soccer World Cup. Ludo and Mélanie are young parents of their infant daughter Juliette Béguin, or Juju. Mélanie goes out for an early morning run while Ludo remains in bed. By the time he gets up, it’s already around nine. He grabs his daughter and gets ready for the day. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. It turns out to be Nathan Leroy (Éric Pucheu), his best friend and partner, and a couple of other police officers. Ludo notices the somber look on their faces and realizes that something horrible has happened. Nathan informs him that Mélanie died after falling off a cliff at the Corsen beach. Her death is ruled an accident.

Twenty-seven years later, on July 7, 2025, Ludo comes to the same beach to investigate the death of a woman named Zoé Isabelle Levy. She seems to have drowned, and her body has washed up on the shore. The case is initially deemed a suicide, but there are certain anomalies. Zoé was a 45-year-old woman who apparently wrote N+Z with a heart sign around it. The first time Ludo uses the VR glasses on the case, he notices a shadow made of energy jogging past his crime scene. It takes shape and becomes Mélanie. Ludo tries to follow her but slams against the wall of the VR room.

When Ludo returns home, it is revealed that he has rebuilt his life in the past 15 years. He married an Afghan immigrant named Parvana. She is a nurse and a few years younger than him. They have a son together, Sam. In Mélanie’s absence, Parvana effectively brought Juju up, and the latter is now a doctor. As Ludo knows that Mélanie used to go running in the morning and late at night, he returns to the office around 11 p.m. and enters the VR. When he encounters Mélanie and tries to tell her who he is and when he is from, she predictably doesn’t believe him. Ludo learns that it’s July 7, 1998, for her. To prove to her he is who he says he is, he tells her certain things that only he can know, including the fact that the young Ludo still smokes even though he was supposed to quit along with Mélanie.

After Mélanie gets enough proof to believe him, she returns to the beach. Ludo convinces her that if they work together, Mélanie will survive. To see if they can change the future, Mélanie doesn’t watch one of the matches with the friends of their group. As she vanishes from the photo taken during the match, Ludo concludes that their experiment is successful. But he soon discovers the butterfly effects of their actions. Mélanie works as a judge, and a woman named Flo or Florence works with her. Flo was supposed to be at that match-watching gathering. She was supposed to meet Nathan there, get married, and have two children. In 2025 of the main timeline, they are still very much together. But in the timeline that Ludo and Mélanie’s actions create, Flo is divorced from Hector (Ludovik), Mélanie’s childhood friend, and Nathan is a life-long bachelor. Moreover, Ludo now has a new boss, a woman named Yasmine Ben Salem.

Vortex Ending: Who Killed Mélanie?

The central mystery of the series is Mélanie’s death. Although it was considered an accident for 27 years, Ludo discovers that foul play was involved. When her body was found, Mélanie had a pearl ring that didn’t belong to her. His daughter had been wearing that ring for years now. They found a similar ring on Zoé’s hand as well. As the investigation continues, they find another woman whose dead body was found with a similar pearl ring in 2020. Her name was Nolwenn Gakou, and she apparently died after jumping from her window.

Later in the series, Yasmine emerges as the fourth victim. Ludo and Mélanie continue to change the timeline. To meet her husband’s future wife, Mélanie ties an 18-year-old Parvana to a drug dealer and brings her in for questioning. Her actions have a ripple effect, and Ludo suddenly discovers that he is no longer married to Parvana, Sam doesn’t exist, and Juju has become a slacker. He rushes to the VR room and pleads to Mélanie to change the past. And she does. Her actions bring things back to track for the most part. Ludo is married to Paravana again, Sam is back, and Juju is once again a doctor. Flo and Nathan are married, and their children are also back. However, Ludo finds out that in this timeline, Yasmine is the second victim of Mélanie’s killer.

Throughout the season, Ludo and Mélanie suspect a number of people: Nolwenn’s boyfriend, District Attorney Orsat, and even Nathan. It turns out that the first two have alibis for one of the murders. In the season finale, an increasingly panicking Mélanie shoots Nathan, who is subsequently hospitalized. As Mélanie still dies, it rules him out as the killer. Eventually, Ludo and Mélanie separately conclude that the killer is Hector. He had been obsessed with Mélanie since they were children and kept stealing things that belonged to her for his personal collection. When Hector claims he loves her and tries to give her a pearl ring, Mélanie figures out the truth.

In 2025, Ludo spots a similar ring on Hector’s hand in one of the photos when he visits the man’s house. Although Detective Kim, who has been helping him even though he was pulled from the case, doesn’t find anything that can connect some of the victims to Hector, Ludo deduces that the N in that love sign on the beach is actually H.

Does Mélanie Survive? Is Hector Dead?

Yes, Mélanie survives in the first season of ‘Vortex.’ In 2025, Ludo confronts Hector, and a brutal fight ensues, in which Hector kills Ludo with a piece of glass. In 1998, Mélanie runs away from Hector and eventually finds herself on the cliff from which she is supposed to fall and die. As the moment of her death approaches, Mélanie shoots Hector, killing him before he commits any of the murders.

Image Credit: Giles Gustine/FTV

Hollywood movies like ‘Frequency,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ and ‘The Butterfly Effect’ have with dealt similar themes. But as great as some of those movies are, the protagonist’s dilemma is much more significant in ‘Vortex.’ In Mélanie’s absence, Ludo has built a life for himself. He may still love her, but he also loves his family and doesn’t want to lose them. Similarly, Mélanie is horrified to learn how her attempts to survive have affected the future, but she doesn’t want to die and wants to see her daughter grow up.

Hector’s death creates a new timeline. All his future victims survive, including Ludo. Mélanie goes on the run for 15 years. She briefly returns to see Juju, and Ludo plays a part in her arrest. Ludo is married to Parvana and father to Sam in this reality as well, but Juju grows up resenting her father and his new family. When Ludo visits her, she is still together with her girlfriend from other timelines, but she is now a lawyer, likely because she hopes to get her mother out of prison. In the final sequence, Ludo has a bittersweet reunion with Mélanie, who realizes that this is the version of Ludo from all those years ago. While they were in virtual reality, they couldn’t touch each other. As tears stream down their eyes, they interlock their hands, and Mélanie tells Ludo that she has been waiting for him for the past 27 years.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Vortex Filmed?