Archive 81 season 1, episode 3 recap – “Terror in the Aisles”

By Marc Miller
Published: January 14, 2022
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Netflix Archive 81 season 1, Episode 3 - Terror in the Aisles


Episode 3 is Archive 81’s best yet. If only it didn’t have more obvious product placement than jump scares.

This recap of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 3, “Terror in the Aisles,” contains spoilers.

Read the review of season 1

Archive 81 season 1, episode 3 recap

Archive 81 season 1, episode 3 opens with a commercial for a film called Satan’s Carnival, a Rob Zombie-like slasher porn picture, and its merits are debated on a public access film critic show. One man is debating the merits of its religious, particularly faith-based religiously themed films like this one with a priest being disemboweled with a gotten candy machine. Fascinating is the comment that there have been multiple manipulative, pseudo-religious trash films that came out this year. Is this a sign?

Dan has decided to take the fight to them. He hacked and tapped his way into Virgil’s security system. He now knows the blind spots so he can have some privacy. While on the phone, he has Mark visit Melody and reminds him to be nice to her. He runs the showering the bathroom to do some research (no cameras in there), he finds himself sitting in a “common room” and Melody walks in. Whoah.

Dan, taken back, is wearing his Ministry of Fear directed by Fritz Lang shirt. (Side note, that is a 1944 film based on a Graham Greene novel about a just released from a two-year stint at a mental institution). Melody starts up a conversation with him and asks him out. He comes back to reality when he hears the doorbell. Virgil’s groundskeeper, Bobbi, let herself in and knocked on the bathroom door. She wants to move him because of the mold problem, but Dan suspects she wants to move him because they can’t monitor him. Later, he finds her looking at the videos of Melody in his workspace.

As Dan listens to his father’s sessions, he listens to Melody taking Jess to a therapy session with his father. Her mother barges in after and is furious that Melody broke a clear legal and parental boundary of taking her daughter to therapy without her permission. It seems that Jess lied to her new bestie because she told her she did have her parental consent later. He then falls asleep and dreams about talking to Melody in the stairwell. Why didn’t we grab those pineapple Fantas? she asks. They make a connection because he tells her she is a good person. “It’s a feature, not a bug,” he tells her. She smiles and then wakes up.

After Melody goes to church and talks to Jess’s priest, they find Jess on the ground convulsing. The priest feels this is a religious issue and not a medical one, as he tells Melody to not call an ambulance. Later, as Melody and Anabelle walk through a grocery store so Netflix can pay the bills with more shots of Kraft products, she tells her friend why she keeps wanting to help Jess.

“It’s a feature, not a bug,” Melody says. “What the f**k does that mean?” Asks her friend.  “It means I’m a good person.”

Mark, the podcaster of supernatural stories and Dan’s best friend, finds Melody in Pittsburgh. She is older now, in her fifties, and has burn marks over her arms and face. She confirms that she is in the video, but it was a Blair Witch-style movie they were shooting. (The film was shot years after 1994, so I guess they had the idea first). Marks tells him that it is another person who stole Melody’s identity, and her burns came from a car accident. This begs the question: Is Mark sparing Dan’s feelings by making up the story or is keeping Melody’s secret?

Now, Dan tells Mark that he has hatched a plan to sneak out of the church area and work from there because there are no cameras in sight (of course, I don’t know how much I would trust Virgil and his friends’ morals right about now).

Melody hears loud music coming from Jess’s apartment, muffling noises of cries and screams. Tamara has a key and lets Melody and Annabelle in. There, the priest is performing an exorcism on the poor child. Even though she pleads for him to stop, he doesn’t until Melody steps in. The priest, however, will not relent. As soon as the girls are about to leave, Samual walks in. He tells the priest to go. He also promises Jess’s mother that he will get her to Columbia’s pediatric psychiatry and neurology departments to cover all costs. She agrees.

When Melody runs after the priest, he tells her directly that she has no idea what she is doing, and Melody needs to leave immediately.

The ending

When Dan is reviewing the tape of Melody and Anabelle in the market, it cuts to Melody looking into the camera, and she is holding a pineapple Fanta. She is talking not to the camera but to Daniel in real-time.

“Is this happening?” he asks.

“Why wouldn’t it be happening?” she replies. 

She then hears her friend outside starting trouble, so she excuses herself to check on Annabelle. But that is when that rich woman, Cassandra, walks in. She looks around, finds the camera, and tells Dan, “Stay out!” She then reaches through the television, grabbing Dan’s neck and pulling him in. Daniel then wakes up.

What did you think of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 3? Let us know in the comments below!

You can watch Archive 81 with a subscription to the streaming service.

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