‘Archive 81’ Ending Explained by Showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine and What Fans Can Expect if There’s a Season 2

Netflix’s new supernatural horror series Archive 81 dropped on Jan. 14, 2022, and fans are already buzzing about the possibilities for the next season. The show follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) as he unravels a mystery involving demonic gods, alternate timelines, and creepy cults. Archive 81 might give you whiplash from all the twists and turns, but showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine explained the ending recently.

[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix series Archive 81.]

Dina Shihabi as Melody Pendras talking on a payphone and wearing a mustard colored jacket in a production still from 'Archive 81.'
Archive 81. as Melody Pendras in ‘Archive 81.’ | Cr. Clifton Prescod/Netflix

What really happened to Dan Turner in the ‘Archive 81’ season finale?

When viewers last see Dan in the Archive 81 season finale, he’s waking up in an unfamiliar hospital bed. He just watched as Edward (Evan Jonigkeit) yanked Melody (Dina Shihabi) through the door back to his timeline, and now the nurse mentions him surviving the fire at The Visser. It’s not long before audiences notice Kurt Loder on the television screen announcing Kurt Cobain’s death.

With the existence of alternate timelines, some fans might be confused about where Dan landed. Is this another timeline in The Otherworld where Melody stayed all those years? Did Dan somehow get transported back to 1994, right after The Visser burned to the ground?

Archive 81 Showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine recently sat down with Variety to clarify. 

“I can tell you that he is in the ’90s. He’s in the real ’90s, and the clue for that is that it does not have the particulates floating around there. He’s in 1994. And the question we’re asking is, we saw people disappear into The Otherworld in different time periods, right? So what does that mean? It means there are little holes, little poke, poke — little entry and exit points. And that people have gotten kind of mixed up in there trying to exit, and maybe didn’t exit through the right door.”

Melody escaped through the correct door and returned to Dan’s timeline

In Archive 81, Dan’s goal was always to save Melody, which he succeeded in doing. However, he got himself lost in the process. When Melody returns to the correct timeline, she’s met with her birth mother and Dan’s friend, Mark. Neither Samuel nor Dan arrived home with Melody, though. However, Sonnenshine promises Samuel is still a key component in the story.

Sonnenshine said, “Samuel is still very much part of the story. And I think Season 2 is, where is Samuel? Where is he? And I think that that is a very exciting branch of our story that we definitely know what we’re doing with.”

Will ‘Archive 81’ get another season?

Netflix hasn’t given the word on an official renewal for Archive 81 Season 2, but it’s something both Sonnenshine and fans hope could happen.

“I think there’s a lot of story that we didn’t get a chance to tell in that eight-episode first season. But we do know what Davenport is up to and so that is very much a part of Season 2. That’s great that, hopefully, we leave people with questions. I definitely try not to answer questions before people ask them as an audience. You don’t want to frontload information. We have a lot of cool stuff planned for Davenport,” explained Sonnenshine.

Because Archive 81 is loosely based on the podcast of the same name and has two more seasons, there’s definitely content to use. Whether or not fans see it transpire to their television screens is different. All eight episodes of Archive 81 Season 1 are currently streaming on Netflix.