Netflix’s ‘Archive 81’ opens on a relatively unremarkable note but quickly devolves into a convoluted plot seeded with multiple timelines, secret cults, and ominous entities. Into this supernatural mire walks unsuspecting grad student Melody Pendras, aiming to make a video project about the Visser Building and its inhabitants. Instead, she is taken down a dark path that reveals forces she wouldn’t have believed possible.
As the vast, decades-long mysteries of a secret cult living in the Visser building start to unravel, members of a hidden group known as the Baldung show up at pivotal moments. For all her inexperience regarding the supernatural, Melody also seems to have some kind of connection to the shadowy group. So who are the Baldung? And could Melody be one of them? Let’s take a closer look at ‘Archive 81’ and find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Who are the Baldung?
The Baldung are first mentioned when Melody breaks into the recently deceased (seemingly murdered) Father Russo’s study. There, in an ancient text of the supernatural, she finds mention of the Baldung — an ancient coven of witches that apparently gave up their powers. However, she is interrupted before she can read any more and hides the book in her bag. Melody never does finish reading the book as it is then stolen by Samuel.
However, through fragments of conversation, we can piece together that the Baldung is an ancient group of witches who have long fought to stop the opening of the doors of the “other world.” Even though the show follows the stories of Melody Pendras and Dan Turner, there is an overarching war between two ancient groups ensuing in the backdrop.
On one side is the mysterious cult, which includes the Vos family, Samuel, and basically anyone else seen taking part in the group rituals in front of the statue of Kaelego. Across from them, trying to stop the cult from merging the real world with Kaelego’s “other world” are members of the Baldung. Interestingly, the book that Melody finds in Father Russo’s office is revealed to be a powerful ancient artifact that the Baldung disposed of in order to stop the advent of Kaelego. However, by discarding the book, they also lost their magical powers.
Is Melody a Baldung?
Another important discovery Melody makes due to the ancient book in Father Russo’s office is that her mother’s ring, which the filmmaker wears around her neck, has a Baldung sigil. Thus, it is hinted (and eventually confirmed) that Melody’s mother is a Baldung. In fact, the reason she abandons Melody as a child is to ensure that the latter never gets involved in the dangerous supernatural affairs surrounding Kaelego and the Baldung.
However, the fact that Melody gets sucked into the world of dark magic despite her mother’s best efforts to avoid it means that the daughter has inherited at least some of her mother’s magical inclinations. This is further supported when Samuel exclaims how important Melody is and that they (the cult) would never want to hurt her.
Thus, it seems like Melody is definitely carrying some magical powers in her as a result of being the descendant of the Baldung. Though she has so far remained ignorant of her powers, being reunited with her mother (who is a full-fledged Baldung witch) and the fact that Melody might now have to rescue Dan seem to hint that she will begin to take her magical heritage more seriously and might even use it when needed.