‘The Missing’ Ending Explained & Animated Movie Summary: Did Eric Get His Missing Parts Back?

Oh, it’s such a wonderful film, this one. The Missing deals with such a delicate issue with such tenderness that it has to be one of the better films of the year. Also, as it is an animated film, it kind of makes it easier to see it through a child’s lens, but it is not a children’s film. There is the topic of sexual abuse seated at the very core of the film, and how the trauma imparted from it ruins the life of a person. The film is hopeful in its explorations as it talks about how love, care, and emotional support are the only ways to get out of hell. But the great thing about The Missing is that it finds a metaphor to talk about these sensitive topics. Much like Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, there are clever yet empathetic ways here to get the nuanced points across without being too obvious. 


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Eric, working as an animator for a company, wasn’t exactly mute, but he had chosen not to speak. He communicated via a notepad that he kept to himself at all times. His mother, Linda, championed him no matter what, but she could not see that Eric was depressed. He had been that way for so long that everybody had forgotten that he was suffering. Eric befriended Carlos, and they were tiptoeing towards a relationship, but Eric had some deep-seated issues he needed to resolve. It was all moving along, but when Eric found out that his uncle Rogelio had passed away, troubling memories about an alien abduction came back, and slowly, Eric’s body parts started to go missing.


How Did Eric Start To Fear An Alien Abduction?

Precy was like him. She had grown up with Eric and had chosen not to speak. Eric wanted to reconnect with her when he saw her profile on Facebook. He remembered how she had once come over for a sleepover and had asked Eric to get his slippers inside the door. Young Eric was baffled, but what Precy told him terrified him. She told him the legend of a boy in the nearby village who had left his slippers out the door, and the aliens had abducted him because of it. This made no sense to young Eric, which is why he was all the more afraid of the aliens now. That was the first time Eric had ever heard of such a thing, and it was hard to process. A phobia set in, and Eric developed the habit of hiding under the bed whenever he thought the aliens were coming.

When Eric met Precy after Rogelio’s wake, they made small talk, but there was something they both knew was wrong. There was a reason why they both didn’t talk. It’s not clear whether what had happened to Eric and traumatized him into being a mute was the same thing that had happened to Precy, but they shared a connection nonetheless. 


Why Was Eric Traumatized?

The death of his uncle brought back a lot of memories for him. The first was Precy’s alien story, but soon Eric began to remember the other events that had impacted him. When Eric was growing up, Rogelio was living in Linda’s house, and he spent a lot of time with Eric. As Linda was a single mother, she didn’t mind Eric having a father figure around for him. But Rogelio sexually abused Eric and made him keep it a secret. There were instances where Eric brought up the matter with Linda, but it was too vague, and even when Linda tried to inquire further, she didn’t get any answers. Rogelio saved his hide and diverted the topic. It was when Eric was molested and abused that he started to have these full-fledged fantasies of an alien abduction, where the leader of the aliens had anointed him as the ‘chosen one’ to save their planet. It got Eric into the spaceship, where a ‘transfer of power’ was to be made, but Eric broke free, and the process was incomplete. It’s easy to surmise that the fantasy was a way of playing out of Eric’s inner torment, where in the end he had some kind of power over the alien, which was forcing itself on him. The conjuring up of the alien was Eric’s way to fight back against Rogelio, against whom he could do nothing. 

How Did Carlos And Linda Help Eric?

Just after Eric had found Rogelio’s corpse rotting in his house, the aliens had returned. This signified that the deeply buried memories were resurfacing and that the ‘transfer of power’ had not been completed. Eric had not processed what had happened to him. Neither Linda nor Precy had any idea what Eric had gone through. Precy was mute, so it may have been the case that she too had been molested by someone, and she was dealing with her own stuff and couldn’t help Eric in a way that could benefit him. 


Carlos had become Eric’s new friend, and he was the one who was truly patient with him as the talk about the alien abductions and the transfer of power grew exponentially. Eric was fully immersed in his fantasy, and it had become so real for him that he could see his body parts, including his privates, leaving him. He had lost an eye, a hand, and an ear, and he feared that he would lose his entire being when the transfer of power was over. There were times when Carlos didn’t get any of it, for he would have seen an able-bodied Eric spouting absurd stuff. There was Eric’s tendency to isolate, but Carlos persisted in getting through to him to the very end. He saw Eric punch imaginary figures when he was simply punching the floor. This was the pent-up anger Eric had towards Rogelio when he was talking out against the alien leader in the fantasy. Linda joined later, and when Eric requested that he visit Rogelio’s grave, she agreed to follow.

During The Missing‘s ending, Eric had left his notepad behind and asked Linda to give it to Carlos. This meant that he was ready to regain his body parts. He dug up Rogelio’s grave and found all the body parts neatly placed on Rogelio’s chest. It was symbolic, of course, and it meant that he had finally seen Rogelio for who he was. Earlier, when Eric remembered about his past, Rogelio’s face was blackened, as even in his memories Eric couldn’t see him clearly. His perception was faulty, but now that he had processed his trauma and defeated the alien leader, who was actually a placeholder for Rogelio. He could finally stand to see Rogelio’s face without getting triggered, and hence reversed the ‘transfer of power’ and got his body parts back. He was now ready to speak out and tell his truth to Linda. It is interesting to note that there were two sets of lips in the grave, which could very well mean that Rogelio was the one who had molested Percy as well, for all she was missing( in Eric’s pov) were her lips. So perhaps he was going to help her as well. Carlos and Eric were together at the very end, and it’s a great sign that they will form a strong relationship later.


The Missing was really about regaining those parts of ourselves that we had abandoned out of shame and fear, and it told a poignant tale about a young man who was lucky to have support so that he could process his trauma and get hopeful for a new life instead of a life of isolation.

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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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