Episode 2 continues to slowly engross the viewer with its ominous tone and well-placed reveals.
This recap of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 2, “Wellspring,” contains spoilers.
Archive 81 season 1, episode 2 recap
A commercial, which we can presume is a videotape that Dan is working on, shows many different cultures enjoying their family’s company. The commercial is for Wellspring, a genetic testing company.
Melody reveals to a fortune teller that she is trying to track down a historian. Her name is Julia Bennett. She lived there in the 1970s and went missing because she dropped off the face of the earth. The fortune teller’s third card gives everyone an ominous tone. She then tells her not to worry about it.
However, she does lead Melody to a mailbox on the fourth floor. This particular box is always filled to the brim to its capacity. That may be the woman she is looking for. Melody is then caught trying to rip a piece out that is not hers. Then, the man who wanted to open the door for her (and cornered her in the stairwell) caught her. His name is Samuel (Together Together’s Evan Jonigkeit), and he asks her out. She says yes, but as she gets ready for the date (and while the camera is rolling), she receives a message from Dan’s father. He wants to check in on Melody to see how she is doing. He sounds like she was a former patient.
Dan is having a bad day. He can’t get a hold of his new boss. His best friend (played by Matt McGory) won’t call him back, and Dan dreams that his father entered his room and led him to a door. When he opens it, Melody comes out, and he wakes up. When he makes a cell phone call in the woods, he sees someone jog away from him in a red winter coat.
What the hell is going on in the Catskills?
Meanwhile, Samuel takes Melody to that Opera. However, Melody is having an anxiety attack. He senses this and takes her out to a bar instead. She asks him about the secret sex club that the fortune teller says is on the fifth floor. (I mean, if anyone knew, it would be her, right?). Samual tells her that she is probably talking about the Visser Historical Society. (Even Melody, not just the viewer, is shocked about it being a thing).
Anyway, guys do what they do when sleeping with a pretty girl. Samual gives her a “skeleton” key that opens up the mailbox. She gives him a passionate kiss, and he heads off to buy some whisky for a nightcap. When Melody opens the mailbox, all the mail is gone, and her new friend Jess walks up behind her. She says a woman is knocking on everyone’s door asking for her. So, Jess has let her in Melody’s apartment. It’s Anabelle, and she is the one who told Dan’s dad to call her because she was her therapist.
So, Dan wants to clean up the mess his new pet Rat made in the kitchen. He goes into the pantry, grabs the broom, but notices what looks like a fresh wall behind the giant shelves of product placement to fund the show. Dan then notices how each side sounds hollow. He grabs a wrench, tears a wall down, and sees dark stairs that lead down to a hidden floor/basement. There appears to be a metal door that is dented and dozens of empty rooms. There are offices with files, hundreds of VHS tapes, and a room acting as a Christian faith church. He finds on the back of one of the pews the etchings, “TB + AF.”
Of course, Virgil then walks into the room. I mean, just because something shady is going on doesn’t mean you have to inflict property damage. He begins to explain that his family’s generosity was nominal. Also, debate club. He describes how his family would debate the merits of Christianity, and he took the stance that Jesus was a demon (yikes).
As the storytime reveal continues, Virgil explains he built a nice little company called Wellspring. He says what a wonderful gift to let people know where they came from. Virgil then explains to Dan that he never realized that Dan’s father was recently involved. He also dropped this crumb for us to mull over: Dan’s father, the NYU professor and therapist, had a mental breakdown.
Dan pulls out another tape and watches as Melody hears that rhythmic, melodic sound is coming from her vent. She wanders down the stairwell with her camera recording and enters the common room. The entire space is filled with residents of the Visser, and they are practically talking in tongues. As their, what I can only assume is a type of prayer session, in front of some demon statue, she hides in the coat closet with everyone’s, you know, coats. (No one said she is smart under pressure).
As they leave, she enters the room to look at the armoire that holds the statue. It has the same symbol that the building has on the outside. She then hears footsteps. She begins to hide behind the furniture, and the opera singer, Tamara, closes the door with Samuel inside. They begin to kiss (that bastard). They take it to an adjacent room, and as their animal sex noises get louder, the tape again has a piercing screech that makes Dan cover his ears.
When Melody walks back into her room, Anabelle sleeps on the couch. She tells her what has happened, and her best friend says we should leave. Melody begins to hesitate, and her friend wants to know why. Because Lila, her mother, is not her birth mother. Melody has been notified that her birth mother is living in the Visser and has to find out when she is.
Then, there is a knock at the door. Anabelle tells her not to answer, but of course, she answers. The tape shows that she opens the door, and no one is there. But Daniel flashes to his knocking on the door in his dream when Melody opens it.
Could it be overlapping worlds?
Even worse, when Dan takes Virgil’s bike to get coffee and meet his best bud, Mark, he then tells him that the Visser Historical Society’s ominous tune was written by his sisters years ago. However, the reveals are just getting started. Mark has one of his own. He then lets Dan know that Melody is alive and well in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She never died in that fire and may help Dan understand what happened to his father.
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