Archive 81 season 1, episode 4 recap – “Spirit Receivers”

January 14, 2022
M.N. Miller 3
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Recaps
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What the double f#$k! Episode 4 turns down the heat and delivers a lethal dose of bone-chilling thrills!

This recap of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 4, “Spirit Receivers,” contains spoilers.

Read the review of season 1

Archive 81 season 1, episode 4 recap

On 4/13/1988, Christie’s Auction House is selling Elenor Waller’s estate. A post-war artist born in London in 1928, she was a “Spirit Receiver” with several other abstract artists that double as a medium. (Please note the picture of the tarot cards. They are similar to the ones Melody encountered in the second episode).

The video continues to play, showing off her collection and her sister Cassandra in New York City in 1974. They offer various items, including a nude painting that Elenor did of her sister. The static crackles and the video stops. However, if you rewind before the first video cuts out at the 73-second mark, they capture an image familiar to us. It is of the armoire. The one is holding the demon statue that the group was humming and huffing to in the Visser’s common room. And perhaps most importantly. Cassandra is the rich woman at the Visser that told Dan, in the video, to stay out.

Dan continues to have images or hallucinations that end with an arm coming out of the television or mirrors that choke him. This time, after trying to break into a room with the files with a keypad (and he calls his friend Mark from the woods to see if he can help), Melody appears in the woods. While it’s better than a bear or a mountain lion, it’s still scared the hell out of him.

He begins to talk to her briefly, but he is then is startled by the groundskeeper, who calls his name. “Are you alright?” she asks. Dan begins to see Melody is gone (it is also nighttime). This begs the question: Has Dan been standing there the entire time, or has he been sleepwalking? It could also be parasomnias and hypnogogic hallucinations.

Melody and Anabelle begin to interview Cassandra. She still has most of her sister’s collection, including that regal hat with its teeth. Cassandra reveals to the two that she couldn’t bring herself to sell the collection. (Remember, this is six years after Christie’s video). However, Dan sees something in Melody’s recording – the armoire from the common room. Does this mean there is a second one, or do they use this for those special gatherings?

It must be the same, because, when she tries to open it, the sister tells her she lost the key. But we do learn that it is Estonian. And Cas even admits the group that meets in the common room is a cult. Though, it was more of a challenge to Melody. She explains that they are the Spirt Receivers.

As Cas continues her tour, she shows them that old naked painting. They comment on the pendant. “It’s Kharonite,” she says. We now see her reflection, which looks strangely like the ghost/skeleton head from the video. Then, her reflection quickly beings to cut in and out. The pendant is painted with an incredible black paint that Elenor made herself. At least, that was what Cassandra tells them before she gives them a mason jar of the stuff.

And we have an even better reveal. Anabelle tells Melody that Cassandra and Elenor were not sisters but lovers. She drowned herself in the Hudson River. Please note, Kharonite refers to an empire. They are known as the “Deathless people” who survived the cataclysm brought on by their mad emperor. These people transcend mortality.

Dan had another dream of his sister when they were kids, telling him ghosts are real. They are friendly but just lost. And that their father tells her they are honest, and she sees them all the time. Dan wakes up, what appears to be a dream still, finds Melody in a room reading his father’s notes. They talk and, again, connect on a deeper level. She is sitting on the bed, holding a tape player Dan’s father gave him. It played several films, including The Skeleton Dance. He reveals he destroyed it and gives Melody a bigger one – his father is her therapist.

Melody is upset because her therapist has a son who is a child. The light bulbs blow out, they begin to call each other’s names. Then, all of a sudden, the lights are on, and Melody is nowhere to be found. All that is left is that player and a notebook with “T. Bellows” written on the back. He looks in the closet, and he finds hundreds of them. Each one is filled with notes.

From there, he finds, of course, the keypad code to get in Virgil’s office. Dan finds several files, under S. Turner, that show his father was writing papers for parapsychology journals. He researched patients who experience paranormal hallucinations with individuals who are not suffering from such mental health disorders as schizophrenia. 

Please note, The Skeleton Dance was made by Walt Disney in 1929. The film depicts an actual ritual with European ties. It represents the fragile nature of life and how vain walking the earth is compared to the afterlife.

Melody is invited to a party at Cassandra’s. She interviews people, including a woman wearing a pendant of the symbol on the building and the armoire. She thinks the television is sending her messages (schizophrenia?). Another is the medium, Beatriz, that Melody met previously. Also, Samuel brings Evie Crest. 

Do you recognize the name and connection? Her father is William Crest, who made that film The Circle that never aired and Dan acquired for the museum. The film, according to Evie, was inspired by a real cult in Los Angeles that made a snuff film. That’s when Samuel walks in and sits next to Melody. The whole gathering feels like a way to get Evie to find out where The Circle went. Either way, Melody then has Samuel open the armoire, and there is not a statue of a demon but a self-portrait of Cassandra in the form of a small sculpture.

So, they have the medium perform a séance. They are desperate to get Evie to ask her father where he kept a copy of The Circle, but Beatriz loses the connection. But is it a setup to get Melody to try and contact someone? Just as the medium is about to quit and cannot locate anyone from beyond, she comes under tremendous stress when she touches Melody’s hand. 

Dan then stops the tape because Melody is behind him. Hallucination? Dream? Melody’s ghost? Dan then thinks back to what his sister told him about ghosts decades prior.

“You are dead, Melody,” he says.

The ending

Dan turns back to the videotape, and Beatriz does something I would never have guessed– she repeats everything she said to Dan in their meetings. While this is happening, Melody becomes upset and reveals that she has these conversations with Dan in her dreams. Then, Beatriz yells no and begins to claw her face and then her own eyes to make things worse.

What the f**k?

The final scene has Melody running up to her apartment, where she catches Anabelle painting hundreds of drawings with the beautiful black paint Cassandra gave her. She points to a picture she drew and has the camera pointed at it. She says, “There’s someone in there.” Dan continues to watch as the camera focuses on the black paint. 

And we then see that ghost/skeleton head fly out of the screen.

Again, what the f**k?

What did you think of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 4? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Archive 81 season 1, episode 4 recap – “Spirit Receivers”

  • January 24, 2022 at 2:45 am

    How did Melody’s camera get back in her apartment at the end of the episode as if it had been capturing Annabelle the entire time? Melody brought her camera to the party. She never went back to her apartment.

  • January 27, 2022 at 9:41 am

    The Kharonite Empire from World Anvil?

  • February 4, 2022 at 11:04 am

    JC – She put it down on the side table when she came back…

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