Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor premiered on October 9.
The Haunting of Hill House follow-up also features a number of lurking "hidden" ghosts in several scenes.
Creator Mike Flanagan told Vanity Fair that the background ghosts "tell their own story" this season—here are the Bly Manor ghosts explained, in case you missed it.
This story contains spoilers for those who haven't finished the season.
If you're reading this right now, you've likely seen The Haunting of Bly Manor, Netflix's buzzy follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House. (If you haven't and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now!) And, if you're anything like us, you also watched while keeping one eye out for the previous season's hidden ghost easter eggs the entire time.
Both seasons of creator Mike Flanagan's The Haunting anthology series take place in enormous, shadowy old mansions, in which a simple hallway stroll feels like a bone-chilling event. Both tales also deal with family trauma. But Bly Manor differs from its predecessor in many ways. With a new story partly based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, the titular house is in rural England this time, and most of the action takes place in 1987. Bly Manor and Hill House share a few cast members, including Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino and Kate Siegel as the Lady in the Lake—but we're equally taken with its new actors, like T'nia Miller and Tahira Shah. And Bly Manor has its own "hidden" ghosts lurking in the background of several scenes, with a twist: They were meant to be found, because as we learn in episode 8, they're all part of the story.
Finding the specters who hid in the background of many Hill House scenes was primarily a "spot the spooky faces" game, serving to heighten the mood. As Flanagan told Vanity Fair, "we were just trying to hide faces and figures."
"This season we wanted our hidden elements to tell their own story," Flanagan continued. "And very much unlike the first season, they’re actually going to be explained. By the end of the season, you’re going to know who they are and why they’re there."
In case you've forgotten—or blinked, and missed one—here are the "hidden" ghosts in The Haunting of Bly Manor, explained.
The plague doctor
Where we see him: In episode 1, at around the 20-minute mark, we see what first appears to be a Babadook-ish figure to the right of the stairs as Flora takes Dani on a house tour, Miles and Hanna in tow. Later in the episode, we see him in the first floor hallway again, behind and to the left of Dani as she goes to investigate a creaking sound while making tea in the middle of the night. Then he appears and disappears behind Dani in the garden as she talks to Miles. At the end of the episode 1, when Dani sees the Lady in the Lake's muddy footprints for the first time, he's standing guard in the hallway once more.
In episode 2, he lurks in that same spot a bunch—as Jamie the gardener swings two buckets down the hall, he's way behind her if you peer past the urn on the table (the camera even zooms in for extra emphasis). During the kids' hide and seek game around the 36-minute mark, he's standing in shadow to the left of the drawing room window as Dani scans the room (you can juuust make out that pointy mask).
Who he is: All is revealed in episode 8, when we learn who the Lady in the Lake once was, a woman named Viola Lloyd whose portrait was hanging in the manor the entire time. The 17th-century doctor who treated Viola's illness wore a beak-like mask that was common at the time, intended to protect against the "miasma," or bad air, that was believed to carry disease.
A decade later, as Viola's ghost is roaming Bly Manor searching for her daughter, the mansion has become a quarantine for a plague outbreak. Although she encounters a completely different doctor wearing a similar mask (plus a hat and coat), she snaps that doctor's neck immediately.
The boy with the doll mask
Where we see him: We first see the sweet child ghost of Bly Manor in episode 2, when Dani is in the basement and finds the Lady in the Lake doll—which, presumably, the ghost boy had been playing with. Amid the pile of dolls, we see him tilt his masked face ever so slightly. A few minutes later, he's standing in front of a door downstairs, watching Dani as she runs down the stairs to find Miles after he's abandoned his bucket and mop.
In episode 3, he's also standing against the wall behind Dani around the 30-minute mark, as Dani wanders sipping coffee in her pajamas.
Flora officially meets the ghost child in episode 6, through a memory of Flora's when she's "tucked away." Later in the episode, the child plays with Flora's dollhouse, moving the dolls around.
Who he is: In what's possibly the most heartbreaking death of the series (and that's saying a lot), the child became a Lady of the Lake victim after she found him sleeping in what used to be her daughter's room. That's why he's wearing that eerie dressing gown, not unlike Viola's own.
The woman in the attic
Where we see her: In episode 2, the faceless, auburn-haired woman in a pink dress first shows up behind Flora when she's hiding from Dani—but she's not hidden then; she eerily tries to hum and moans until Flora shushes her.
In episode 7, Peter wrenches her from her attic hangout spot to explain the Bly ghosts' cursed, faceless fate so he can convince the kids to give Peter and Ms. Jessel free rent in their heads—literally.
Who she is: She was Perdita, Viola's sister (and "mercy" killer), who died in the attic after Viola's ghost got her revenge. Now, four centuries later, she's a mindless, face-free ghoul.
When we see him: In episode 2, when Hanna is speaking to the police officer about Dani's strange Peter sighting, a soldier is standing still against the wall behind her.
He appears again in episode 6. As Dani rushes up the attic steps to chase Flora—already spooked by her Ms. Jessel sighting—the soldier is in profile to the left at the top of the stairs. During Flora's "tucked away" memory in that same episode, we see Henry Wingrave tell Flora that he used to be visited by a ghost himself when he was a boy at Bly Manor: "He was a soldier."
Who he is: Unless we missed something, the soldier's story isn't fully explained on the show? But drop a comment below if you have other theories. We can only assume he died there during some period when the house was occupied during a World War. And, as episode 8 establishes, anyone who dies at Bly Manor is trapped there, regardless of how they died.
When we see him: Episode 6, when Dani chases Flora up into the attic. The vicar stands to the right of the staircase, opposite the soldier. He's distinguishable by his white hair and ruffly collar.
Who he is: The vicar—a type of ordained priest—performed a failed exorcism to expel Viola/the Lady of the Lake from the manor for good. "Failed," meaning, he was her second victim.
We "meet" all of the ghosts in episode 1— in Flora's dollhouse.
About 28 minutes into the first Bly Manor episode, Flora actually shows Dani (and by extension, us) all of the ghosts who live on the estate. First, by the Dani doll, there's doll-Ms. Jessel in her black dress.
In another room we see the plague doctor's doll in his creepy, historically-accurate getup, and downstairs there's the doll version of the ghost child who hangs out with dolls (meta!). There's a hooded doll with a beard in the dining room, and a faceless woman in a dress up in the attic. The soldier stands next to a staircase. Peter is there in a doll turtleneck. And Dani finds the scariest toy of all—a smooth-faced woman in a white gown—underneath Flora's dresser.
All of the ghosts are released to rest in peace when Dani invites the Lady of the Lake in, using those magic words: "It's you, it's me, it's us." Viola's spell is broken, the narrator says, "and all the spirits trapped in her gravity were released."
Did we miss any Bly Manor ghost sightings? Probably. Let us know in the comments.
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