Netflix’s ‘Archive 81’ takes viewers down a dark and surreal path. The series follows archivist Dan Turner, who is tasked with restoring a collection of tapes filmed by Melody Pendras over two decades ago. Through the tapes, Dan follows Melody’s haunting investigation of the Visser building, which houses a cult that holds ancient secrets.
As a new tenant, Melody is cold-shouldered by her neighbors until she meets 14-year-old Jess. The young girl is a Visser building encyclopedia and quickly familiarizes Melody with the tenants. However, there are darker aspects that Jess refuses to talk about, and the last time she is seen is shortly before the disastrous Visser building fire. So what happens to Jess at the end of ‘Archive 81’ season 1? Does she die? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What Happens to Jess?
Jess reveals that she has lived in the Visser building all her life, and Melody is slightly aghast to learn that the young girl was actually born in one of the building’s stairwells. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Jess is well versed with the tenants and their strange habits. However, the young girl refuses to divulge any of the building’s secrets despite constant reassurances from the filmmaker about wanting to help.
The young girl is troubled from the start and experiences frequent fits, which her mother believes are caused by evil spirits. When Melody catches a priest, Father Russo, attempting to forcefully exorcise Jess, the former has the priest ejected from the building. However, Jess’ troubles continue.
As the cult’s blood magic ceremony draws near, Jess ominously disappears. Convinced that the teenager is going to be used as a sacrifice, Melody breaks into the out-of-bounds sixth floor and is relieved to find Jess. She tells the young girl to escape through the fire escape, and we then see Jess running away from the street to apparent safety. However, during the blood magic ceremony, we see that Jess has returned and is secretly filming the proceedings. This is the last time she is seen in ‘Archive 81’ season 1.
Does Jess Die in the End?
Though we do not see Jess again, a brief dialogue near the end of season 1 gives us a hint about her fate. Dan is eventually given Jess’s recording of the cult ceremony at the Visser building. The woman that gives him the recording reveals that Jess survived the Visser building fire, changed her name, and became a missionary in Haiti. Thus, Jess is seemingly still alive and seems to have completely extradited herself from the messy supernatural affairs that were a significant part of her childhood.
It is interesting to note that Jess is possibly one of the only ones to make it out of the Visser building alive after witnessing the cult’s ceremony to open the doorway to Kaelego’s world. All the other tenants go missing after the fire and are supposedly dead. This could be explained by the fact that Jess doesn’t take part in the ceremony but merely films it. This seems to have helped her escape the ominous curse that seemingly falls on all others (including Melody) who mysteriously disappear after participating in the blood magic ritual. Strangely enough, Melody’s mother’s fate remains completely unknown, and her disappearance (before the ceremony) is merely explained by the caretaker saying that she “left.”