If you’ve been watching Archive 81 on Netflix, chances are you already have a headache. Rebecca Sonnenshine’s thriller combines the twists and turns of traditional horror with a season-long mystery and a whooping dollop of demonic multiverse insanity. It’s a lot for even the most dedicated viewer to catch on first watch, which is why we’re here to help.
Desperate to know what really happened to Dan and Melody? Curious about what could happen in Archive 81 Season2? Consider this your guide to the Archive 81 ending, explained.
What’s Going on with the Otherworld in Archive 81?
It turned out that Dan (Mamoudou Athie) wasn’t crazy after all. Melody (Dina Shihabi), the woman on the tapes, was trying to contact him through his dreams and the tapes he repaired. Why? Because she wanted to escape the Otherworld.
It all goes back to 1924, so bear with us. That’s when Iris Vos, a member of high society and lover of secret organizations, assembled her own cult. This group worshipped the demon Kaelgo and wanted to bring him to their world, probably because life before TV and the internet was boring. Summoning a literal demon required Iris to open the door between her dimension and Kaelgo’s realm, a pocket dimension of sorts known as the Otherworld. Their first attempt to open the door to the Otherworld was a complete failure and led to mass death. That’s the real explanation for the disturbing tragedy that first haunted the Visser apartment building that Melody was doing a documentary on. But you know how cults are. They have a habit of sticking around.
The next person to take over as Kaelgo’s Earth-bound bff was a man by the name of Samuel Spare (Evan Jonigkeit). That’s where our story really picks up. In 1994, it seemed that Samuel and his cult were trying to recruit a little girl by the name of Jess (Ariana Neal) to reopen Kaelgo’s door. Thankfully, that horrifying plan was all a ruse. Knowing that Melody was protective of Jess, Samuel used the threat of harming Jess to lure her into his folds. Why did Samuel the cult leader want this random woman? Because Melody was secretly a Baldung witch this entire time, exactly the kind of witch this spell required. Despite Samuel’s carefully laid plans, the cult failed once again. Their attempt to summon Kaelgo ended with another slew of deaths while Samuel and Melody were both sucked into the pocket dimension.
Through the power of mixed tapes and podcasting, Dan managed to untangle this confusing web. Desperate to free Melody from this dimension, he tried to recruit Samuel’s brother, the mysterious head of LMG, Virgil (Martin Donovan), to reopen the door with him. Virgil refused, declaring that his brother deserved the weird tomb he created for himself. That left Dan and his podcasting buddy Mark (Matt McGorry) to attempt a ritual that had failed twice already. At least, that’s what they thought.
Who Is Bobbi?
Enter Bobbi. Right before Dan and Mark try to reopen the door between these dimensions, an old woman appeared to stop them. Dan, using his powers of watching too much true crime, quickly put two and two together and figured out that Bobbi was Melody’s biological mother and the parent who abandoned her. That meant two very important things. One, Bobbi wanted to save Melody as much as Dan did. And more importantly, two, they now had the key and the Baldung witch that this ritual required. Bobbi warned Dan that she could only give him five minutes in the pocket dimension and that Kaelgo would do anything possible to make Dan stay. Then she opened the door between the two realms and let Dan inside.
How Does Dan’s Father Fit into All of This?
Kaelgo’s grand plan to keep Dan in his realm had everything to do with Steven Turner (Charlie Hudson III). But before we get into that, it’s worth clearing Steven’s name a bit. In “What Lies Beneath”, Dan learned that his father was never part of the Kaelgo cult. Instead, he was trying to help Melody escape it. That’s how he got caught in this multiverse headache. Steven was also the one who went back to the Visser to retrieve the tapes, presumably because he knew they held the secret to freeing Melody. But that simple act came with its own extreme punishment. Another secret organization, this one hellbent on keeping Kaelgo locked in his realm, burned down Steven and his family’s home, causing their untimely deaths. That’s why Dan lost his father. He was supposed to die in the same fire that killed his father, but he managed to escape.
All of that grief and those lingering “what ifs” are enough to make anyone second guess their entire life. And that was exactly what Kaelgo wanted. Once Dan entered the Otherworld, he was immediately dropped into a lovely home that featured Jess happily playing the piano and Steven calling him to dinner. Dan was almost lost to this pretty fantasy, but at the last minute he pulled himself away to look for Melody. You were a good one, Steven. We’re sorry your memory was used by a demon for evil.
How Does Archive 81 End? Archie 81 Ending, Explained:
After escaping from his own deepest desire, Dan managed to find Melody. Quickly, she agreed to leave with him, recognizing Dan as the man from her own dreams. But their happy meeting was short lived. After being stalked by Kaelgo and found by Dan again, Melody was grabbed by Samuel Spare and thrown into the portal between dimensions. Archive 81 ended with Melody back in the real world, free from Kaelgo. But in the process, she left Dan in her place. The final moments of the series showed Dan in a hospital bed, trapped in the Otherworld’s version of 1994. Spooky.
What Could Happen in Archive 81 Season 2?
Season 1 was all about getting Melody back. If there’s a second season, it seems pretty clear what it has to do: Free Dan. Now that there are two cults and two witches, we can likely expect twice the twists and twice the insanity.
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