Kaelego from Archive 81, Explained

If you’ve just watched Netflix’s Archive 81, you likely have a lot of questions about the show’s main antagonist, Kaelego. Yes, the strange demon dwells in the Otherworld, and is worshipped, in statue form, by the Vos Society at The Visser.

Here’s everything you need to know about Archive 81‘s creepiest character, who is truly the stuff of nightmares. Thanks, Netflix.

Who (or what) is Kaelego?

For anyone wondering whether Kaelego is based on anything real, Archive 81′s showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine explained to The Wrap, “It is not [based on] anything except for my head.” To be honest, it’s probably a relief to most viewers that Kaelego is purely fictional, because the idea of this being roaming around our world is simply too much.

Sonnenshine also told The Wrap, “This is kind of a Lovecraftian element to this show, which is an elder god or demon depending on how you look at it. So it feels real but it’s an invention and obviously draws upon many tropes and other ideas, but the monster or god or demon himself is our creation.”

archive 81 episode 102 of archive 81 cr courtesy of netflix © 2021


Elite Daily described Kaelego as “a trickster god, one who is able to bend the laws of time and space.” The site also noted that the being was trapped inside the sculpture by the Baldung witches, who decided it was worth sacrificing their magic in order to keep Kaelego at bay.

The Vos Society obviously has other ideas, and is intent on releasing Kaelego and opening a portal to the Otherworld. Plus, supernatural mold appears to be seeping out of the sculpture and into the Visser Building, the mold being another manifestation of Kaelego’s power and evidence of the Otherworld.

Discussing how Kaelego came to be, Sonnenshine told TV Insider, “We had to create the monster of Kaelego very early because we needed to make a statue of him. It was the first thing we did actually.” It also might surprise viewers to find out that an iconic horror movie influenced the way that Kaelego looks onscreen. “I wanted to make a monster that was scary but sexy. One of the inspirations was this pose that Hannibal Lecter had,” the showrunner told TV Insider. “He would look up at Jodie Foster’s character Clarice, tilted head down, and be still. We also wanted to have a deity or regal quality to it, which is where the crown on his head comes from.”

kaelego in archive 81


Is Kaelego good or bad?

While Kaelego is often centered as the antagonist of Archive 81, some viewers aren’t so certain he’s as evil as he’s made out to be. After all, as Sonnenshine revealed, Kaelego can be viewed as either “an elder god or demon,” depending on how you look at it.

For instance, Redditor Nooni_Nooni theorized that Kaelego “is actually not that bad of a guy.” As for why, the poster explained, “So far Kaelego hasn’t actually done anything ‘wrong.’ We’ve seen it trying to come out of a television and trying to trick Dan into staying in its world But these things aren’t really inherently bad [seeing] as though it never hurt Dan and we don’t know why it was coming out of the screens.” As Kaelego doesn’t seem to injure or harm anyone, per se, perhaps he’s a victim of circumstance, just like everyone else, or is even just lonley.

It’s certainly worth considering that perhaps Kaelego isn’t the big bad of Archive 81. While his appearance is most certainly chilling, and he has a habit of trying to exit screens à la Samara in The Ring, there’s no hard evidence to suggest he’s inherently evil. If anything, it’s the Vos Society, which tries to summon Kaelego and make a bridge between worlds, that should be viewed as the “bad guy.” After all, both Iris and Samuel, in 1924 and 1994 respectively, sacrificed human beings in an attempt to summon Kaelego. Iris and Samuel opened the portal to the Otherworld by murdering innocent people, and carrying out a blood ritual involving a statue of Kaelego. Their actions suggest that members of the Vos Society will stop at nothing to access the other realm.

archive 81
Is this a sequel to The Ring, or no?


It’s also worth thinking about how the Baldung witches are involved. We find out in the finale that Melody’s mother is a Baldung witch, so Melody herself is of Baldung blood. But if the Baldung witches went to the effort of trapping Kaelego in a statue, thereby forsaking their own magic for centuries, he’s probably not a being you want skulking around our world.

If Kaelego isn’t real, then what about the Baldung witches?

Much of the tension in Archive 81 revolves around Kaelego and the various organizations (or cults) who either want to release him or keep him locked in the other dimension. While the Vos Society attempts to release Kaelego and open a portal to the Otherworld, the Baldung witches work to contain the demon/god.

Most of what we learn about the Baldung witches in Archive 81 is delivered via exposition, until we meet Melody’s mother, that is. She reveals that she gave Melody up as a baby in the hopes that her daughter could live a normal life. But when Melody went searching for her mom in the Visser Building, any hope of an ordinary existence went out the window, which was obviously all part of Samuel’s plan.

melody's mom archive 81 baldung witch
Melody’s mom is a bad bitch


It’s in Father Russo’s office that Melody discovers an ancient text about the Baldung coven. And while Baldung witches don’t actually exist, they appear to be based on the work of German Renaissance artist Hans Baldung. Dating back to 1510, Baldung’s woodcut “The Witches” is an iconic reference point, and it’s easy to see why the creators of Archive 81 may have been inspired to incorporate the artist’s name and aesthetic.

So while the Baldung witches mentioned in Archive 81 aren’t a real-life coven (that we’re aware of, anyway), their inspiration is firmly based in history.

What exactly does Kaelego do in the Archive 81 season 1 finale?

The explosive finale of Archive 81 sees Dan cross over into the Otherworld in an attempt to find Melody, who has seemingly been trapped there since 1994. Dan is able to open a portal with the help of Melody’s mother, a real Baldung witch who holds a key.

Once there, Dan struggles to overcome Kaelego’s persuasive powers. First, the demon tries to convince Dan that his family is still alive in this other plain, and that Dan could have a happy life here. Dan manages to break free from this emotional hold and rushes to find Melody. They try to escape together, and manage to get past Kaelego, but Samuel grabs Melody and drags her away. She appears in the present day, while Dan wakes up in a hospital bed in the year 1994.



As for Kaelego, it’s assumed that he is still in the Otherworld. Discussing the possibilities of a second season, Sonnenshine told Variety, “There’s a very powerful god or demon who inhabits that world. And we did drop the information that they can bend reality, basically. And that is what is happening.”

Basically, Netflix needs to renew Archive 81 immediately so we can find out what the hell Kaelego is up to, and why he is the way that he is.

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Amy Mackelden is a freelance writer, editor, and disability activist.

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