Netflix’s ‘Archive 81’ follows Dan Turner, an archivist tasked with restoring tapes filmed over two decades previously by a young grad student named Melody Pendras. As Dan watches the recordings, he is pulled into Melody’s haunting experiences at the Visser building. Eventually, Dan himself is beset by ominous occurrences at his deserted research facility, leading him down a dark path bordering on insanity.
Death abounds in the unsettling narrative, with mysterious fires and disappearances. Dan and Melody, who find themselves embroiled in a decades-long supernatural struggle, are constantly in the eye of the storm. The fact that the two protagonists doggedly confront their tormentors also puts them at considerable risk, and things don’t look too good. Do Dan Turner and Melody Pendras actually die in ‘Archive 81’? Let’s see. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Do Dan and Melody Die in the End?
Dan Turner first sees Melody after restoring one of her tapes from 1994. On the recording, Melody introduces her plan to film interviews with the residents of the Visser building and delve into the apartment complex’s history. Since Melody’s tapes are excavated from the burnt remains of the Visser building (which is why Dan has to restore them in the first place), when Dan first watches the tapes, he is under the impression that Melody is dead.
In fact, for most of season 1, Dan believes that Melody is dead. The archivist (and the audience) believe that the tapes essentially show the events leading up to Melody’s death. However, it is also revealed that since none of the victims’ bodies were recovered, no deaths have officially been attributed to the Visser building fire. The absence of dead bodies is the first clue that perhaps Melody is still alive.
As things get increasingly surreal, Dan begins speaking to Melody in his dreams. In what is one of the show’s creepiest moments, a piece of the “dream” conversation between the two protagonists then appears on one of Melody’s tapes. Dan is initially taken aback (to put it mildly) when recordings of Melody begin to quote the conversations from his dreams. However, he eventually realizes that he can use their connection to save her from the horrific death he is convinced Melody is heading towards.
As the ominous Visser building fire draws nearer, Melody is forced to participate in a blood ritual that opens up a doorway to another dimension (the “other world”). We then clearly see her pulled by Samuel through the doorway, telling us that Melody doesn’t die in the fire but is probably trapped in the “other world.” Dan comes to the same conclusion and decides to recreate the ritual so he can go through the doorway and rescue the filmmaker.
With the help of a Baldung witch (who also turns out to be Melody’s long-lost mother), Dan steps into the “other world.” He does find Melody trapped in the alternate dimension but is unable to save her when Samuel, also in the dimension, kidnaps her once again. When the dust settles, we see that Melody has been transported to the present-day (Dan’s) timeline while the archivist wakes up in a hospital in 1994 in the immediate aftermath of the Visser building fire.
And so, Dan saves Melody by rescuing her from the “other world,” but then ends up getting trapped in what appears to be the past. Therefore, at the end of season 1, both Dan and Melody are alive. However, this is heavily countered because the protagonists are also now in each other’s timelines.
Things seem especially ominous for Dan, who is mysteriously labeled as the only survivor of the Visser building fire, hinting that in his new timeline, he is somehow connected to the ominous apartment complex. In fact, it is possible that instead of going back in time to 1994, Dan is still trapped in some version of the “other world” that resembles the time period.
Melody fares better and ends season 1 finally free of the “other world” and reunited with her mother. Considering the filmmaker is now better versed with the dynamics of the supernatural, she will likely try to repay the favor and rescue Dan. Thus, the daunting odds ahead notwithstanding, both Dan Turner and Melody Pendras survive at the end of ‘Archive 81’ season 1.
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