Archive 81 season 1, episode 8 recap – the finale and ending explained

By Marc Miller
Published: January 14, 2022 (Last updated: February 3, 2022)
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Archive 81 season 1, episode 8 recap - the finale and ending explained - What Lies Beneath - Netflix Series


Archive 81 ends its first season will a killer ending that answers most of our burning questions and creates more in the process.

This recap of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 8, “What Lies Beneath,” — the finale and ending explained — contains spoilers.

Read the review of season 1. 

Archive 81 season 1, episode 8 recap – the finale and ending explained

Archive 81 starts its freshman finale with Jess and Melody telling the camera what they want to be when they grow up. Jess wants to be a bird to see everything from the sky. Melody, however, wants to be happy (this is revealed later in the episode). This is all recorded from the child’s Fisher-Price PXL2000.

From the accounts of Iris, she tells Dan that his father took Melody and put her in Rockwell, so she is out of danger from Samuel. She doesn’t like being held against her will, so she tells him off. He convinces her before she saves Jess to check in on Anabelle first. Her best friend draws dozens of Iris pictures as she enters the room. Of course, the senior Turner locks the door behind her. 

Now, Anabelle is still at Rockwell and drawing dozens of portraits of Melody because she needs to be saved. She hands him a box of tapes that Jess left for him (incidentally, she is a nun who is now known as Sister Mary Cecilia and has traveled to Haiti). Her Fisher-Price PXL2000 can only play those tapes. Somehow, this camera shoots on audio cassettes. These tapes reveal the truth about what happened that night. 

  • Melody attempts to save Jess and stays behind, so she is freed by escaping through the fire escape. Otherwise, she was going to be that human sacrifice.
  • It all appears to be a trap to capture a Baldung, just like the last episode. They capture Melody and use her blood to activate Kaelego’s powers.
  • Instead of Jess, Samuel sacrifices Tamara.
  • As Samuel reads the Baldrung prayers, he slices Tamara’s throat while the original snuff film plays in the background.
  • When the electrical force appears, Iris is on the other side, and now Jess, who shows a stunning lack of taking directions, is on the stairwell taping the entire thing. 
  • Iris grabs Melody and pulls her in. Jess screams and catches the fire that explodes on her Fisher-Price camera.

The scenes that show strange flickering specks in the air represent a defacto waiting room for both intersecting worlds. This is how Melody and Dan talked to each other and were not, in fact, dreams. When Iris opened that portal in 1940, she tried to pull Kaelego into her world, but she was pulled into the other dimension.

Dan uses the new tapes and knowledge to trick Virgil into letting him into his compound. The carrot was telling him Samuel survived. Of course, Virgil doesn’t care about his brother at all. He is about to ruin Dan’s plans to save Melody when Mark comes up from behind and knocks the older man out. But, before that, he reveals that Dan’s father grabbed those infamous tapes and brought them back to his house from a storage facility. This is why they burned down the Turner family home. 

Daniel’s escape was utterly incidental.

We have found out that Melody’s mother is a Baldung, and she is still alive. She is Virgil’s groundskeeper who Dan found staring strangely at Melody talking on the videotapes. She explains she cannot rescue Melody because she can only open the portal and keep it there for five minutes. Well, time must be relative because when Dan volunteers to go in after her, it seems like an eternity. He finds his sister, mother, and father on the other side. They have a nice meal together, but Dan quickly realizes it is a trap. 

He locates his pineapple Fanta guzzling friend in a church, where she is jamming out to Joy Division on her walkman. Melody is waiting for her mother because Samuel tricked her. As they run out of the church, it begins to crumble. They turn a corner, but end up in a bedroom and not the compound. As Dan tries to formulate a plan, Melody hears that damn prayer again. Oh, and the site of the full-size Kaelego in a mirror. This sends her shrieking, and Dan grabs her as they run down an endless hallway to a stairwell and near the Visser exit doors.

They see two on the right and the other on the left. Melody picks left, and as she gets there, Samuel jumps out and pulls her through and into the electric force. Dan reaches out for her, but her hand slips through his grip. But have no fear, Melody makes it out and into 2021 with her mother. However, Mark is wondering where Dan is.  An even better question, maybe this one.

Where is Samuel?

The ending

Unfortunately, Dan doesn’t make it back to 2021 with Melody. However, he didn’t die either. He wakes up in a hospital as the only survivor of The Visser Building fire. A tragedy, for sure, and as the nurse says, “God was on his side.” He turns on the television, and he sees Kurt Cobain has died. It is the year 1994. As he looks out the window, the final shot has the camera focusing on Dan, and you can see the reflections of the Twin Towers in the adjacent window.

God must have a twisted sense of humor.

What did you think of Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1, episode 8 (finale), and the ending? Let us know in the comments below!

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