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Netflix's newest hit series is an analog-tinged work of throwback horror loaded with creepy VHS tapes and some reality-bending twists — so what does the showrunner of Archive 81 have to say about the big finale?
**Spoilers ahead for the season finale of Netflix's Archive 81**
Let's party like it's 1994! The season finale of Netflix's Archive 81 closed out with Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) saving Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi) from another dimension, only to find himself flung back in time by charming cult leader Samuel (Evan Jonigkeit).
While discussing the final episode with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner, executive producer, and director Rebecca Sonnenshine confirmed that Dan is indeed stuck nearly three decades in the past, several weeks after the fire at the Visser apartment building that was said to have claimed Melody's life. "I think people do wonder, but yeah, he really is there," she said.
A second season of the James Wan-produced series has yet to be green-lit, but it's not hard to imagine Melody, now living in the present with her mother, attempting to rescue Dan with help from the archivist's best friend, Mark (Matt McGorry). When asked how time travel works in this universe, Sonnenshine admitted that nothing is off the table. That said, she is a proponent of the block universe theory.
"It's funny because I have worked on a time travel show before and some of the other writers have too, so we'd already had like a million discussions about time travel," the executive producer explained. "I think this is kind of a spin on time travel. There's not a time travel machine kind of a thing, but there is, as you were saying, there's two different theories — block universe and expanding universe. I think that I don't want to cut off story possibilities, but I do think more of it as in a block universe. So I don't know if that would be true if there's an old version of Dan. But that's an interesting concept. That's what I like about this version of time travel is that kind of anything is possible. So anything is possible going forward."
Instead of the usual time machine hijinks, all of the the temporal displacement can be chalked up to Kaelego, the inter dimensional entity worshipped by Samuel's cult, which provides regular blood sacrifices to a stone effigy of the powerful and terrifying demon-god. According to Sonnenshine, the statue was made on a tight schedule with Kaelego's design drawing from several different influences.
"He's kind of a little bit based on Hannibal Lecter, the way he kind of looks up, and he kind of tilts his head down and looks up. That's kind of how the design began, a very still character who watches very intently," she said. "And then there was also this notion that, because we are sort of portraying this as a god or demon, that the head would have some sort of crown, because I was referencing medieval representations of Jesus with Mary. Hopefully this is not blasphemous to people. But that's how they were depicted in medieval and Renaissance, as divine, and they had these big round halos around them."
Loosely based on the horror podcast of the same name, Archive 81 is now streaming on Netflix.