Warning: This article contains references to suicide which could act as triggers to some readers.
You may want to wait before booking your next Airbnb. To be honest, after watching Netflix’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor you may never want to leave your house again. Just in time for spooky season, the spiritual sequel to 2018’s The Haunting Of Hill House is here to offer another creepy look at a giant house full of vengeful ghosts. The series is primarily based on the 1898 Henry James horror novella The Turn of the Screw with shout outs to other James stories and the creepy 1961 movie The Innocents, which is also based on The Turn of the Screw. The gothic romance focuses on a young woman who takes a job at an English manor as an au pair for two young orphans who have experienced too much loss in their short lives. This new update takes place in ‘80s so get ready to hear pop hits from Cyndi Lauper and lots of acid washed high-waisted “mom jeans.” For some, that may be scarier than the ghosts.
Like that previous Haunting, the show deals with grief and how we move on from it, which as the title implies, is way harder when the ghosts of your past linger. The new season of the anthology series features some familiar faces from the Crain family: Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Victoria Pedretti, who plays the American au pair in London, are all back. While some of the cast remains the same, the story does not. Gone is the bent-neck lady, but women still be haunting. This time, it’s the lady in the lake that you have to watch out for. Along with other ghosts that are hiding throughout each frame of the show. Seriously, keep your eyes peeled and your screen’s brightness up.
To help stay ahead of all the terrifying twists, we are recapping all eight episodes. Spoilers are definitely ahead, but, for those who like to read horror movie Wiki pages before watching, these recaps might help you decide whether this show is too scary for you. Word of advice for the horror TV show challenged: read this with the lights on.
Episode 1: “The Great Good Place”
If you needed a sign that Bly Manor would be as creepy as Hill House, just watch the opening credits. There is no cold open for the premiere, we meet the players of this season via oil painting. Each character looks seemingly healthy in their grand portraits until they just… aren’t. Their faces begin to decay and their eyes are swallowed up. The music box tune makes this introduction all the more terrifying.
The episode begins in darkness with an Irish brogued narrator reciting the lyrics to the old folk song “O Willow Waly.” (The song also plays an important role in the 1961 film The Innocents, based on The Turn Of The Screw.) “We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow,” she says. The camera closes in on a foggy lake where a woman in white peeks out. Carla Gugino, who played Crain family matriarch Olivia in Hill House, awakens from a nap in a hotel room, gasping for air. “But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree.”
A lonely Gugino walks to the bathroom where the sink is full of water, as is the bathtub. Before we get an explanation, she arrives by yellow cab to a manor in Northern California in 2007. It’s a wedding rehearsal dinner, to which she is showing up late. The jetlagged Englishman giving a toast seems pleased but maybe surprised to see her. He continues his speech about the measure of a successful marriage being the ability to watch your partner die. Not the most cheery speech, but he is English after all. The real measure of love is being willing to endure the pain of losing, he says as the camera pans to Gugino who seems emotionally torn over his sentiment. What the viewer understands is the loss of a lover is a major factor in this story.
A house also plays a role. After all, it is the title of the series. These soon-to-be newlyweds are discussing why they didn’t want to stay overnight in this giant house that is their wedding venue. “I said, ‘No way.’ Not after those stories.” The stories are about a dead nun who has been spotted crying in the corners of this house, which used to be a convent in the ‘40s. The groom believes there is no truth. “They can charge a few hundred extra for the ghost story.”
As this conversation continues Gugino keeps sipping her drink, which might as well be hot tea since you know she’s got something to spill. After hearing about the different ghost stories that have been used to sell hotel packages, she decides to tell her story, which isn’t exactly her story. She also warns it isn’t exactly short, but with enough wine to keep them happy, she begins, but not before offering a few final warnings. This story includes “ghosts of all sorts,” and not one child, but two, which these wedding guests believe add an extra edge.
We timehop again, this time to London 1987 where a young woman is on her way to answer an ad placed by Lord Henry Wingrave. His young nephew and niece need a full-time live-in au pair at the family’s estate. With that description by Gugino’s character, we get our first jump scare. Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) nearly gets hit by a car, but look close and you’ll see a ghostlike figure with glowing eyes pop up in the vehicle’s window. She’s scared, but perhaps, not as scared as she should be.
We learn from her meeting with Henry (Henry Thomas) that this fourth grade teacher from the States has only been in London for six months. The British lord seems to despise her American-ness, her love for iced tea instead of high tea, her au pair inexperience. It’s not teaching he tells her. The kids are exceptional, he marvels, but challenging. When she asks why the little boy was kicked out of boarding school, he glosses over the reason. A major red flag.
The house is in the country where the kids used to spend holidays with their parents. There is a cook and a live-in housekeeper, but the children are her responsibility. “And yours alone,” the lord makes clear. “Don’t call on me, unless it’s an emergency. I’m extraordinarily busy.” Now, I would have some questions about that statement. You can’t be with your niece and nephew who just lost their parents? That seems pretty cold. But Dani says she understands and has experience working with children who have lost a parent. She sounds sincere, but he believes there is a catch to her wanting the job. Again, a sign this is not ideal work. He thinks she’s rather young to want such a demanding job so far away from the city. It’s then Dani shows she has a bit of bite to her, remarking that the listing is also odd. It seems too good to be true, but yet, it hasn’t been filled in six months. See, she saw the ad when she first moved to London. “So what is the catch?” she says. “That really is the question.”
The fact that she’s circling job listings in a bar, lets us know she probably didn’t get it. But when a frustrated Henry walks into the same bar she decides that she needs to toast to the awkwardness of the job interview. It really was a feat. Still, she wants to know the catch. He says they did find someone last summer who the children liked, but then she went and well, died. “It was her fault, to be blunt,” he says. “Her choice, to be blunter.” The fact she died on the grounds has made other more superstitious applicants turn down the job. The story of two orphans and a dead governess isn’t much of a sales pitch.
Dani also has her own backstory that makes her hard to hire. She says she couldn’t be home anymore. Teaching 25 kids left her spread too thin. She talks of being very attached to them, “even the worst ones.” A clue that something went wrong and now she’s trying to make up for it. She tells Henry she wants to make a difference in these kids’ lives, which is why she applied. “Now, I understand death. I know what loss is,” she says. And that statement right there got her the job.
When she tells someone back home that she’s staying around London for a lot longer, she gets some push back. “I’m not running from anything,” she says. “And it hurts me when you say that.” She does appear to be running from her own reflection. As she packs, she removes a pair of sheets hanging to cover the mirrors in her room. As she leaves, she takes a glance back at the mirror where we see that same shadowy figure with glowing eyes. She looks distressed as she leaves, but it’s clear this is nothing new. It also explains why she’s so tired, falling asleep on her chauffeured drive to Bly Manor.
The driver, Owen (Rahul Kohli) assures her that it will be quiet out there. He’s a local who isn’t all that impressed with Bly, the town, not the manor. “I escaped for a bit,” to Paris, he says to train to be a chef, but now he’s back because of family. The driving pays the bills, which doesn’t sound all that bad to Dani, who tells him there are worse places to be stuck. She seems to be speaking from experience. Still, he pushes back. The people in Bly live and die there, he says. It’s a rather benign statement, but it feels like ominous foreshadowing. “The whole town’s a big gravity well,” he says. “It’s easy to get stuck.”
Dani doesn’t seem to mind, asking to walk the rest of the way to the manor, which covers acres and acres of green grass. As she walks she hears a little girl singing “O Willow Waly,” the ditty that is heard in the opening. What is Carla Gugino’s character connection to this song 20 years later? And why is this little girl singing about her lover’s return? Well, the little girl, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith), Henry’s niece, didn’t even realize she was singing, so that’s alarming. But she is excited to see Dani and offers to introduce her to everyone at the manor. She also offers Dani a word of advice: stay out of the pond. Flora leaves behind a strange little doll. It’s nothing more than sticks and twine, but that closeup of it staked into the dirt lets you know it is worth remembering.
Also worth remembering, the fancy way in which Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), Henry’s nephew, greets Dani, like he’s some playboy prince. A kiss on the hand feels both formal and too cozy. It’s here we meet the housekeeper Mrs. Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller) who seems nervous and flustered. She also seems preoccupied with that well.
Gugino’s narrator begins to explain that the house feels oddly familiar to Dani. “It yawned open to welcome her home.” Still, Flora gives her the grand tour, racing through the foyer and the kitchen, which are “splendid.” A word she uses to describe almost everything including Owen. She’s a little too proper for my liking. Also, does anyone else think Owen might be the nameless man giving the speech in the beginning of the episode?
No time to think too much about that since Flora is showing off the oil paintings that fill the house, which are, you guessed it, just “splendid.” The paintings pop up in the intro and while we know they were painted by hand, Flora doesn’t give any other details. She does warn Dani of the stairs, which are too dangerous for running. They’re “not forgiving in the least,” she says. “They’re brutal on the knees.” Flora points out the old wing where their parents used to live and Miles says they don’t go in there anymore. It’s all covered up, but underneath it’s “perfectly splendid,” of course.
Dani’s room is the last stop on the tour, but there will be more to see like the statue garden, which sounds creepy. Is that where they keep dead relatives? Creepier is little Miles peeping on Dani as she settles in. That camera shot of him peeking through a slightly opened door is very Hitchcockian, so you understand Dani being a little weirded out. He gives her a butterfly hair comb and leaves but you don’t blame Dani for locking the door on his way out.
Dani still needs work on her tea making skills, but during dinner, we start to learn more about this American in London. She really just wants to see the world and Bly doesn’t seem like a bad place to start. Well, unless you’re Owen who has a real bad attitude about the place. To be fair, he seems to be dealing with a sick mom, who he lives with. “Lives for her, more like,” Mrs. Grose says. While Owen says his mom is getting better, Mrs. Grose doesn’t believe him. He’s leaving earlier and earlier to go be with her. Mrs. Grose also leaves without eating dinner leaving Dani alone with the children.
Flora isn’t happy to see Dani wearing the hair comb Miles gave her. The clip belonged to Miss Jessel, their previous au pair who allegedly died by her own hand. Dani apologizes, but more concerning is Flora looking off into the distance as if she’s staring at someone who Dani can’t see. “I was wrong. It’s actually fine,” Flora says as if someone has given her the OK. Perhaps that wouldn’t be all that weird to Dani, who once again sees the shadowy glowing eyed figure in the bathroom mirror. This time she stares the figure down, swatting at the mirror only to realize he’s gone. Whoever Dani is trying to outrun, they followed her.
Dani is more interested in getting Miles to open up. She wants to know why he had to leave school, but he’s not taking the bait yet. Instead, he wants to know why she isn’t wearing the butterfly clip. It’s because of Flora, who appears to be doing some kind of voodoo. As Dani walks through the bathroom to turn out the lights, we watch Flora play with a doll that looks a lot like Dani. The doll is also walking through the house, taking the same path as Dani. When Dani enters Flora’s room we see she has a lot of dolls. One for each person she knows? Too early to say, but Flora’s dollhouse is a replica of the manor.
The doll she’s playing with, well, it’s just a doll that happens to look alot like Dani. Totally normal, yeah? The other dolls in the house include another stick and twine man, a scary looking baby ghost, and another blonde all placed in different scenarios. Dani finds a faceless brunette doll lying under the dresser, which Flora demands she put back.
She also asks Dani to do something else: stay in her bed all night and not leave her room until the morning. It’s something Dani says she can’t do. “But you must,” Flora says. Easier said than done for Dani, who has trouble sleeping. The narrator returns to speak of the expansive manor, that has “an emptiness that called out to be explored.” As anyone who has seen a horror movie knows, you do not go exploring in the darkness. Not in a house this big with kids this creepy. Yet Dani wanders down the stairs towards the kitchen to make a pot of tea. That’s when the creaking begins and the faucet drips become horrifying echoes. The ominous music kicks things up a notch. You might also find yourself screaming at the screen as Dani starts wandering back into the dark hall.
The sound drops out and we see things from Dani’s perspective. She’s afraid to know what lurks behind the corner and do you blame her? Too dark to see, but easy to sense something bad as Dani begins to breathe a little heavier. It’s the teapot whistle, though, that causes her to jump.
After a spot of tea and some cookies, Dani walks back to her room. The faucet continues to drip and the crickets get louder. When she’s out of view, it’s then we see another gray figure in the foreground of the shot. They were there the whole time and I’m justifiably freaked out for her. But she’s none the wiser the morning after, going on about the beauty of the manor and how she’ll never get sick of it. Flora though is none too happy about Dani’s midnight stroll. Flora doesn’t want her to see Dani. “The lady in the lake,” she says before her spider-carrying brother frightens her enough to stop talking.
Dani assumes this is his way of scaring her off, but all his spider trick did was traumatize his little sister. “I’m a lot braver than people think,” Dani tells him, a warning that she’s in this for the long haul. But he wasn’t looking to scare her, he knows that she’s brave. He sensed it in her. What we see is how starved for affection this kid is. All he wants is for his uncle to come visit. But it’s Dani who is getting a new visitor.
We see her spot a well-coiffed man staring at her from the second floor patio of the manor. She waves, but he doesn’t wave back. He just stares until he is gone. She seems confused as if he isn’t someone she’s seen before.
When Dani enters the house, Owen is back. He once again mutters under his breath about what a shithole this place is and picks up the ringing phone to have no one answer on the other end. This keeps happening, according to Mrs. Grose. There is also another person to meet, the gardener, Jamie (Amelia Eve), who walks into the kitchen without introducing herself or even acknowledging Dani. No one else seems all that weirded out by this. Dani, the narrator reveals, feels as if she had already met this woman. There is a connection that the show isn’t ready to reveal quite yet.
To be fair, Dani is too busy trying to figure out who she just saw in the house. No one seems to know who she’s talking about. More concerning is where she saw this guy. To get up there, he would have had to go through the old wing where no one is allowed to go. Mrs. Grose believes she imagined it, which sets Dani off a bit. We know she saw something; is she being gaslit? Also, when does Mrs. Grose eat? She’s now skipped two meals, a clue that something is off about this woman. Well, assuming she is a woman and not something more supernatural.
How should we describe Dani though? Is she brave or just foolish to explore a room where she was told not to go? She traipses right through to the parapet where she saw the peculiar man. She stands where he was and finds another creepy twine doll sitting where the man once stood. She doesn’t get too much time to inspect it before she sees a light in the small stone house across the way. No surprise, she walks over to check it out. It’s a chapel and Mrs. Grose has lit a candle.
She seems unfazed by seeing Dani, even asking if she found anyone on the grounds. The question sounds genuine as if she’s hoping to get an answer. Is she also seeing strange men on the premises? Dani asks her about the doll and Mrs. Grose asks her not to judge the children “after what they’ve been through.” Two years ago, their parents died, but Mrs. Grose seems to feel that losing their last au pair, Miss Jessel, was actually worse. She was brought down by a man, Mrs. Grose says. “The only thing that can bring down a woman like that.” He left town with Henry’s money and Rebecca’s heart. She died in the lake and Flora found her, which explains why she’s so afraid of it. The doll is a talisman that is supposed to keep them all safe. The candles, Mrs. Grose says, are for the dead. Four are lit but only three can be accounted for: Flora and Miles’ parents and Rebecca. Who is the fourth?
No time to find out, Dani has to put Miles to bed. Unfortunately, he’s gone all Saw on us, asking if she likes games. He’s just being weird, Flora says, but scary is the word I would use. Dani decides bedtime is a time to discuss the talisman with Flora. She thanks her for keeping the safe, but asks her to keep herself safe first. To do that Dani asks Flora not to go on the parapet anymore to which Flora tells her she’s splendid, of course. That splendidness doesn’t last too long though. Dani ends up kicking one of Flora’s dolls, the faceless brunette that was under the bed. Flora shoots up and Dani realizes these dolls are very real to her.
Miles then pops in to ask for a fan, but it’s hard to ignore that nod Flora gives him as if this is a setup. As Dani looks through the closet, the two kids stand outside the door watching until they lock her in. The two swear that the door is stuck as Dani pleads with them to open it, getting more scared with each second she stays in there. Soon things go silent and the ominous music starts, not unlike what we heard during her late night wandering. The kids stop answering her and she starts pounding on the door. She starts to panic and sees a mirror behind her. She screams and covers it and screams some more until she blacks out. It’s unclear how long she’s in there before the kids let her out, but the doll is once again under the dresser.
Dani is once again alone wandering the house. She finds dirty footprints all over the floor. She assumes the kids went outside and follows the steps to find the front door open. She looks out on the fog that covers the garden. She then looks up to see the kids watching her. That’s quite a first day on the job.
Episode 2: “The Pupil”
This one begins with the sounds of a mop sloshing. Mrs. Grose is left to clean up the muddy footprints from the night before. As the narrator explains, this was nothing new. A few times a year she was forced to clean up this same dirty path from the door to the forbidden wing and back again. It seems the culprit may not be coming from inside the house. The kids swear the door got stuck and it’s just a little mud, nothing to worry about. Dani is willing to forgive, but she can’t forget.
It’s clear this all has something to do with the doll, which Miles throws down the laundry chute. Dani uses this as a teachable moment. He ran through Mrs. Grose’s just- mopped floor and now she wants him to finish the job. “It’s just a bit of mud,” she says, throwing his words back at him. Dani and Flora are now left to go get the doll from the cellar, another spot that the little girl doesn’t like going. “It’s perfectly dreadful,” she says before repeating the same phrase again. She’d rather stay with Owen, who she is obsessed with. It’s kind of cute, but also a little concerning?
As is the fact that the cellar lightswitch doesn’t work and Dani still goes down there. Seriously, Dani what are you doing to us? When she does find a light she finds the doll sitting perfectly upright in the center of the room, as if it had propped itself up. She grabs it and we see that this cellar is full of dolls that look like a creepy choir all propped up together. Creepier still is Flora’s response to the question of what her doll’s name is. “She can’t remember.” Her powers of protection also don’t seem to work, which is why Flora has been hiding her away.
Miles also hides away in the classroom. When Dani finds him he seems catatonic. He’s thinking back six months ago when he was at his boarding school. He learned about Jesus casting out the demons of men and putting them in pigs who jump into a lake and die. Another deadly lake story that makes you wonder how this particular story from the Gospel connects to Rebecca’s death. Miles’ teacher, Father Stack, is more interested in the different accounts of this story. There are slight variations depending on which Bible you read because man is fallible, Stack says, but the fact that the story, at its core, stays the same with each retelling should make anyone a believer.
Miles is more interested in whether the demons need permission to enter the pigs. They did, Father Stack says. But what about the man, Miles asks, did the demon need permission to enter him? Man is free to make his own choices, he tells the young boy, which is why the demon did need his permission. “Evil exists and we are tempted,” Father Stack says. “But we are not compelled.” That’s a lot for a little boy to take in, but Father Stack has a reading suggestion for Miles, John 16:22, a Bible passage about death and the sorrow that comes with it. It’s not all doom and gloom, the passage also states that there will be joy again, as hard as that might be to believe in the moment.
Unfortunately, Miles took the Bible’s words to mean he didn’t have to wait to feel the joy of reuniting with those he’s lost, he could join them right now. He climbs up a tree and
falls jumps off. He only breaks his arm, but it’s clear his intentions were far more bleak. “I was just looking for the right key,” he mutters under his breath.
Like James’ 1891 short story “The Pupil,” which the episode is loosely based on, Miles is surrounded by people who want to help, but he isn’t ready to take it. He attacks his friend, but Father Stack shows empathy for his situation. He lets him know we all do bad things sometimes, but it’s that remorse, “that’s what distinguishes us in God’s eyes.” The only innocents are animals and the unborn, the rest of us are not blameless. With that reasoning, Miles questions whether what Jesus did to those pigs was really fair. “Maybe not,” Father Stack says. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” A cliché but a true one. Also true, he says, death is something to mourn and not something to fear.
Miles knows his parents aren’t coming back and while Father Stack tells him they’re in a better place, he has a hard time understanding why the bad ones get to come back. Father Stack doesn’t question what he means. Who are the bad ones who have returned? Is he talking of the demons of the Gospel or has seen these demons himself? Worse, does he feel possessed? That question might seem silly until Miles kills Father Stacks’ bird.
The priest doesn’t want to see Miles get suspended for what he did, but he also doesn’t think an apology will quite do the trick. It’s just the first step “towards some kind of absolution towards grace,” he tells the boy. He wants him to know that he can be forgiven. He doesn’t believe Miles is a bad kid because of this. Flora said something similar. That he is good, but sometimes does bad things like throwing her doll down the laundry chute.
However, the headmaster needs him to apologize for killing the bird. “Dead doesn’t mean gone,” Miles says before giving the most #sorrynotsorry apology. “I’m sorry I didn’t do worse. Cut off his head, spread out the insides, or burn it.” It’s that which leads to his expulsion. He does apologize to Father Stack, telling him he did it to find his key, but it’s too late. It was hard to explain why Miles had done this, the narrator says, but a letter from Flora did offer a clue. Her message was “come home” alongside drawings of her, her brother, and a figure with its face blacked out.
The story returns to 1987 where Flora is playing with her dolls, specifically a little baby doll in yellow. Miles’ room is spic and span thanks to his boarding school years and Mrs. Grose is staring at a crack in the kitchen tile. Bly Manor’s staff is pleased that Dani put the kids to work — a first it seems. Mrs. Grose doesn’t like to see them punished, even if they did lock Dani in a closet. “You can’t give them a pass forever,” Jamie says before sipping the gin and tonic Owen made her. Mrs. Grose passes, “Gin is a sad drink.” But it is a good drink for gossiping, and these three are happy to talk about whether Dani is too pretty for this job. Jamie specifically wants Owen to talk about how pretty Dani is. “Romances don’t end well at Bly,” Mrs. Grose says. Already, we know one romance that ended in a lost life.
After tidying the garden, Flora cleans up Dani’s room going so far to try on a pair of glasses in her suitcase. One glass is cracked, but Flora says they were like that when she found them. Dani gently removes them and puts them on her dresser. She looks freaked out by the eyewear. Jamie finds Dani outside panicking and tries to calm her down, admitting she finds herself crying multiple times per day. It’s how she waters the plants. She’s also handy with tile which is why Mrs. Grose asked her to check out the crack in the kitchen. When she gets there though it’s gone. However, Dani’s shadowy figure with the glowing eyes is back.
If you thought that would be the weirdest thing that happens in this episode, think again. It’s Miles making a move on Dani. He brings her flowers as a mea culpa, leaning in close to whisper in Dani’s ear before tucking a loose hair behind it. It’s a flirty move that feels way too advanced for such a young boy. Jamie’s response to him cutting her flowers also feels out of the ordinary. But Dani understands her frustrations and believes Miles needs to be taught a lesson. She also has set up a surprise for the kiddos that she asks Mrs. Grose to take part in. Just like the G&T and the dinners, the housekeeper passes. She seems a little jittery, disoriented, but says it’s just lack of sleep.
Dani uses her time to play a game with the kids, a reward for clean-up duty. Flora is worried the game will keep them from getting to bed on time. She looks at the doll under the dresser. They decide to play hide-and-seek and like, are you kidding me? In this gigantic haunted house?
Without turning a single light on, the kids run off. Flora goes to the old wing. Dani ends up in the classroom, but as she searches we see someone wandering the halls behind her. She keeps searching, realizing the kids might be where they shouldn’t be. “O Willow Waly” starts playing out of a jewelry box and Dani follows the music to the old wing. Flora is once again singing the song, she seems possessed. Soon we hear another, reedier voice harmonizing with her. Dani finds a Polaroid in the jewelry box and we see a woman and a man in a white shirt (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), the same one she saw earlier.
We again hear the strangled singing. Flora turns and shushes a woman who is laying on the floor behind her. The little girl keeps on humming like she’s in a trance. Dani keeps staring at the photo until Miles scares the bejeezus out of her. He puts his forearm around her throat and tells her to run and hide. She urges him to “ease up” on her neck, but he keeps tightening his grip before running off. Dani begins to worry about Flora, but also starts to notice the wind whipping through the house and the creaking. She turns to see a smiling man in the window, the same guy in the photo and on the parapet, staring at her before he disappears. She grabs one of the fire pokers and runs outside. She threatens to call the police, but before she can Miles appears in the window to tell her he’s not feeling well.
He collapses and Mrs. Grose suddenly appears. Dani tells her that he was the same man from before. Miles awakens to see the man in the window staring back at him. There’s nothing more frightening than a cheshire grin.
Episode 3: “The Two Faces: Part One”
Miles is awake and that guy is still in the window smiling at him. This episode, based on James’ 1900 book The Two Faces about social unease, starts with the mystery man looking at a fine gray suit in the window of Kensington Tailors. Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” is playing so we know it’s still the ‘80s. He’s there to pick up a blue and white striped oxford that looks very Gordon Gekko. He’s also buying expensive liquor and driving around in a Rolls Royce. It’s a safe bet that this is Rebecca’s scammer boyfriend.
We quickly learn he works for Henry, who is fighting a pretty bad hangover this morning in which he’s scheduled to meet with Miss. Jessel about the au pair job. His assistant Peter Quint (Jackson-Cohen) meets her first. He notices a stain on her shirt, which she covers with her long braid. He warns that Henry will notice, but she seems unfazed and he seems a bit smitten already.
Henry does notice the stain, but she’s quick, just as Dani was, to call him out. How will worrying about stained blouses help her care for these two little kids? Henry is about style, while Rebecca is about substance. Right now, Henry’s interview style is sloppy so Peter takes charge asking why a woman who is interested in law is taking a job like this. She doesn’t see it as a step back, but a chance to do something she’s good at. She’s always been good with kids. What Henry notices is Peter’s use of the word “nanny” instead of au pair. Moments before, he has corrected Henry for the same slip. A mistake, Peter says, but his boss makes it clear he doesn’t make mistakes. This was a calculated misspeak. He was looking to belittle her.
In 1987, Dani is telling the cops that the man she saw was in fact the man from the picture. It was Peter Quint, who the cops are well acquainted with after he ran off with Henry’s money. “Over 200,000 pounds,” Hannah says. The man is gone now, which means the cops are leaving too. Dani wants them to do more, but the officer makes it clear that he did a sweep and found nothing. Peter isn’t much of a threat, just a thief, he tells Dani. Funnily enough, the cop changes his tune once Mrs. Grose raises the idea of calling Henry. It seems he expects a lot from them. Clearly, a deal was made, but we’re not privy to what that means yet.
Flashback to Rebecca, who like Dani, was driven to the country. Her driver is Peter, who is a real renaissance man it turns out. The dynamic between these two is similar to Dani and Owen. It’s flirtatious and revealing. Rebecca believes that he had the final say in her hiring. “You said you work for Mr. Wingrave, but it certainly felt like your interview.” He lets her know that Henry is a good guy who is going through a hard time and needs help with children who are clever “but a bit strange.” He says that Flora talks to the wallpaper, while Miles is a dark horse.
Rebecca is more interested in how they’re doing emotionally, but Peter kind of brushes it off. Their parents didn’t come home, that’s it, that’s all they understand, which sounds rather flippant. When they arrive, Flora is excited to meet her and Miles is rather precocious. We hear Rebecca say Flora’s favorite phrase “perfectly splendid.” Is Flora mimicking her late au pair or is she her late au pair? We meet Owen, Jamie, and Hannah. We finally see the statue garden and like Dani, Rebecca is taken by the beauty of the manor. She loved it so much she never wanted to leave. Unfortunately, “she never would,” the narrator reminds us.
It’s still a question of whether Dani will make it out of here alive. It’s clear she’s brave, maybe stupidly so. She decides to do her own sweep of the property and finds nothing but a gun-toting Jamie. The coast is clear but the staff decides it is best if they stay together in the house. Even though none of them quite understand why Peter would return to the house. Owen has a theory that Peter is the one calling the house looking to speak with Rebecca, who he still thinks is alive. He doesn’t know she’s dead after all, he made off with the cash before her tragic death.
Back in happier times, Flora promises to make a doll for Rebecca. Is hers the doll that Flora keeps hiding under the dresser? And Peter stops by with flowers for Flora. The flowers are from Jamie’s garden, just like the ones Miles picked for Dani. Back then Miles was way more concerned about messing up Jamie’s garden. These flowers are one of Peter’s “keys,” the word that Miles used with Father Stack in episode 2. “People are like locked rooms,” Peter tells the boy. “They’ve all got different locks and you’ve got to guess the shape of their key.”
Knowing the right key helps you open someone up to you. For women, Peter believes the key is flowers. He used them to gauge Rebecca’s reaction. When he gave them to Flora, he saw how she wished they were for her. She put the lone single rose Flora gave her from the bunch in its own vase, a sign of how much she coveted that flower from him. But, a key might also leave someone vulnerable. Henry’s key, money and flattery, led him to be the victim of theft.
Still, the flowers worked. It opened the door for the two of them to have a night together.
While she fixes tea she talks about how much she loves the kids, who have been leaving muddy footprints around the house. Twice they snuck out in the middle of the night, she says. Peter is more interested in how it feels to live in a mansion. He thinks it’s all ridiculous, but Rebecca seems to find it all rather quaint. It upsets him that she doesn’t think her life should be more than cleaning vomit off a rich boy’s sweater. He also says what might have already been clear, the Lord is quickly drinking himself into a coma.
Peter is resentful of the Wingraves, upset that Rebecca is working for them when he thinks he should be working for her. He asks her what she wants in her life as if he’s a genie who can grant it for her. She wants to be a barrister, a lawyer, like Mr. Wingrave, but has watched as women her age have been driven out of the job by creepy old men. She decided to take a different route. She hopes taking care of Wingrave’s nephew and niece will offer her another way to legal success. Peter seems charmed by her decision to buck the traditional system. He is also someone who is trying to get ahead. He works for Henry because he is looking to leap into a higher economic class. He isn’t part of the rich boys club, but hopes Henry will help him get there.
He senses a kinship with Rebecca. She makes him feel “hopeful,” a feeling he doesn’t feel often. And with that he leaves, which is really quite a tease. It’s also interesting that no ghosts appear to be wandering the house at this point. Is it Rebecca’s death that really changed things in Bly Manor?
Currently, things are far less romantic at Bly even if Hannah falling asleep on Owen’s shoulder is quite cute. Jamie seems hellbent on hooking Owen up with Dani, telling her he’s Bly’s finest bachelor, though he doesn’t realize it. Rebecca also didn’t know what would come of her relationship with Peter. In the Polaroid, Dani says they look like Bonnie and Clyde. “If Clyde fucked Bonnie over,” Jamie corrects. Dani doesn’t quite buy this idea that he’s come back for her after leaving her, but Jamie does. The wrong kind of love makes you do awful things, like running off with someone else’s money. Jamie believes Rebecca and Peter were the wrong kind of love and she sounds like she knows this from experience.
Peter burrowed himself into Rebecca, taking her over. Jamie believes he didn’t know the difference between love and possession and now she’s trapped inside him. She means this quite literally. “I hope she haunts that fucker forever,” she says. It feels like everyone at Bly Manor is being possessed by Rebecca. They are all trapped in her memory.
Dani thinks Jamie has a point about love and possession, but believes those two things are complete opposites. Before she can elaborate, Hannah suggests they put the kids to bed. When they wake up Miles to walk him upstairs, he tells Hannah he had a bad dream in which he hurt her. She doesn’t believe this could be true, but I’m not so sure. Dani also seems consumed by a spirit. The glasses Flora tried on are still on her bedside table and she seems unable to even look at them. When she turns away from them we see a bloody hand creeping along her bedsheets. Dani begins to panic. We are getting closer to understanding what it is she’s running from.
For now, though, we are back with Rebecca and Peter who, surprise, is staying at the manor for a few days. Peter seems to be trying on the role of father figure, revealing to Miles that he lost his own father, too. The only piece of him he kept was a lighter we saw him using earlier. He offers it to Miles as a gift. This gesture feels like another key that leaves Rebecca even more enamored with him.
Throughout the episode, we see the parallels between Dani and Rebecca, who stayed in the same room a year apart. On a rainy day, not unlike the one Dani is dealing with, we see Rebecca in bed. She hears the floorboards creak and gets up to see what is outside her door. It’s Peter who couldn’t sleep and finally, these two decide to take it to the bone zone. It’s all very G-rated; she pulls him in close, they kiss, and they lock the door.
When the door opens the next morning, it’s Dani we see. Jamie is asleep on the couch and Hannah is once again lighting candles. She notices another crack, a deeper one in the wall of the chapel. Owen comes in to say he’s happy to stay another day. There is a spark between him and Hannah. She thanks him for saving her and he thanks her for always saving him. He leaves and the crack is now gone. Did the affection shared between the two mend the crack in this foundation?
The more you see Miles, the more it seems he’s doing a Peter Quint impression. And the more you see Flora, the more concerned you should be about her singing “O Willow Whaly.” The time jumps back again to see Flora finishing the doll she made of Rebecca. She also tells her au pair how Peter has a thing for her, but it seems like Flora has a thing for him. The two seem to exchange a knowing glance as if they’re up to something.
In present day, Flora is looking rather unhinged. When Dani finds her she’s clutching the doll she made for Rebecca and staring at the pond. When Dani grabs her, we get another glimpse of the water and see Rebecca staring back at us. She is dressed in a black dress just like the doll.
This outburst isn’t unusual Hannah tells Dani, but the traveling doctor says they can tell Henry they’re all right. At least physically, he can’t speak to their mental health. I am also not a doctor, but like Dani, I’m concerned by what I’m seeing here. I’m also confused about why Henry wouldn’t come back to check on them. Hannah alludes that it isn’t the kids keeping him away, it’s the house itself.
The episode then flashes back to Rebecca the morning after she gets it on with Peter, who is pleading with her to stay in bed. When she doesn’t listen, he gets aggressive, grabbing her arm and pulling her back. “Patience,” she tells him. The next time we see Peter, who seemed a bit shocked by his own bedside manner, he’s whistling “O Willow Waly” and talking up the “very specific Bordeaux” he took from the wine cellar. Hannah doesn’t like that he’s been in there. He seems to be making himself at home. He even takes Rebecca to the old wing where the muddy footprints have returned.
Peter keeps telling everyone that he’s gotten Henry’s blessing to take things, but we never see him on the phone. His surprise this time is a floor length fur coat that he found in the wing while doing inventory for Henry. She isn’t sure she wants the coat of a dead woman, but Peter swears the lady of the house never wore it. He also swears that there’s nothing like a fur coat against your bare skin. She unbuttons her blouse and removes her bra as the jewelry box plays that song again. This is the night the Polaroid was taken.
It’s also the night in which Hannah caught the two of them getting intimate in the forbidden wing. Rebecca is embarrassed, but Peter is quick to threaten Mrs. Grose. He could have her fired, but she doesn’t seem too scared. Instead, she is there to protect Lady Charlotte’s memory. She even threatens to throw him into the lake. It’s an interesting detail. Does Hannah have something to do with Rebecca’s death?
After this chat, Peter seems hostile. As Owen and the kids bake a cake, he chain smokes, keeping his gaze locked on Rebecca. He seems angry over the fun they’re all having, standing in the corner with his arms crossed. He’s not one of the family, he’s an outsider once again. It’s why he’s going back to London and not sure when he’s coming back. He seems jealous of Rebecca tasting Owen’s cake batter. It’s not a euphemism, but Peter is convinced it’s a sign of something more. Clearly, he hasn’t noticed that Owen has a thing for Hannah. In reality, Peter sounds mad and controlling. He belittles Rebecca, accuses her of being a hypocrite, of using her sex to get ahead. He leaves her wondering what she did wrong.
That photo doesn’t tell the story of that night, which took a quick turn from romantic to abusive. As Dani stares at it, looking for clues, the phone rings again. Dani picks it up, no one speaks. “Peter?” she says. The person hangs up. No time to worry, it’s storytime and the kids are all dressed up for it. Dani is right, these kids are resilient. This day included an intruder scare and a doctor’s visit, and they’re right as rain. Well, maybe not all right. Owen sees storytime as a kind of therapy for the kids, which means the story they tell reveals a little something about their current mindset.
Right now, Flora is a cat named Tales who was orphaned as a kitten. She spent her time following the smell of apples in hopes of finding her mom. In the forest, she found a giant sweater and she pulled a piece of yarn until she could wrap herself up in it. As for Miles, he’s Poppet the puppet. His maker Claude had 20 puppets, but all of them were too much or not enough. Claude left one day, leaving his puppets to forget what they do. Claude eventually came back but the puppets had forgotten him, too. This is when the story gets a little more ominous. Miles says the puppets laughed at him, which made Claude sad. They kept laughing so Claude cut their strings. The end.
But it’s not the end of the episode. We learn that Owen’s mom died while he was away. Before he drives off, Hannah whispers something in his ear. She goes to light a candle, but we stay with Dani and Jamie, whose flame is just igniting. If you were surprised to see Dani make a move on Jamie, don’t worry so was Jamie. “Who knew?” she says.
What we did know is Dani has been seeing a man with glowing eyes. Finally, we get to see the figure up close. It looks as if those eyes are glowing behind glasses, not unlike the ones sitting on her bedside table. He continues staring until he is pulled into the house to mingle with the other ghosts.
Episode 4: “The Way It Came”
“So you have to wear them forever now? Until you die?” It’s the question a little Dani asks a little boy with gold framed glasses. His mom said it made him look “extinguished.” She corrects him. The glasses make him look “distinguished” and she wants to try them on. We quickly learn that Dani and her mom have a problematic relationship, which is why she spends a lot of time with this boy. So much time that his mom jokingly wishes she could swap them. As she pushes up his glasses, we flash forward to a teenage Dani doing the same thing. Cue Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through The Night.” The two are on their way to their engagement party, which they’re doing to get “them” off their backs. “Until it ends, there is no end,” Lauper sings as we close up on a poster for Danielle and Edmund: “From childhood sweethearts to happily ever after.”
As Edmund (Roby Attal) gives a sweet speech about proposing to her when they were 10, only to have her turn him down, Dani looks glum. He talks about being too young to get married then, but it feels as if Dani might think they’re still too young now. While everyone is dancing, she seems beat. She says it’s because of school. She has a couple of kids that “just need a little extra help.” Edmund’s mom admits that’s something she loves about Dani, she can spot the ones that need a little extra. But she pushes her to put herself first sometimes — something her fiancé also tells her.
This Dani is one of conviction, she always knew her mind, according to Edmund’s mom. It’s why she tells Dani that she should feel free to tell her the truth about how she feels. She doesn’t mean about the engagement, but about her wedding dress, which she’s giving her as an engagement gift. Dani looks flabbergasted by the gift, but before we can see what happens next we’re at Bly Manor.
Dani is wearing a black dress when Jamie comes in to check on her. They are supposed to head to Owen’s mom’s funeral, but Dani is struggling to find something to wear. She tells Jamie that she went to a funeral not so long ago. We can guess it was Edmund’s and that he is the dark figure with the glowing eyes, who pops up again in the mirror. Not going to the funeral means Dani is home alone in the manor. Well, alone with all these ghosts.
Flora seems to be alone with them too. Again she is humming “O Willow Waly,” this time she’s lurking in the cemetery behind the chapel. She’s working on some grave rubbings and tells Dani about her own parents’ funerals. “They were far away when they died” so they buried empty boxes. They only pretended they were there. Dani says that they’re all around her still, but Flora says this isn’t true. She’s looked and looked but has never found them.
Hannah is back lighting candles in the chapel. She didn’t go to the funeral either, which seems odd. We haven’t seen her leave, nor have we seen her eat or drink. Is she a ghost? She says she didn’t go because she doesn’t like going to the town’s church. That is where she was married, which might account for that extra candle she’s been lighting. Funerals are for the living, she says, “It’s up to the living to decide what they can and cannot bear.”
For Dani, it seems like life is pretty hard to bear right now. Alone in the chapel, she lights a candle that the narrator says is “to atone for the moments she didn’t remember” those she lost. Before she leaves, she picks up Flora’s artwork to reveal the name Viola Lloyd. She thinks nothing of it, but it’s hard to believe this isn’t the missing piece that could put this puzzle together.
When Jamie returns from the funeral she echoes something Hannah said earlier about Owen feeling relieved after the death of his mom. She suffered from dementia and was a shell of who she used to be. He spent his time living in his mother’s memories and now he can live for the future. Jamie remarks she would want to be put down before becoming a burden on those she loved. When Jamie looks she sees Dani staring blankly at her. The two keep stealing glances, but Dani seems put off by Jamie’s staring. At the sink she feels someone put their hands around her waist. It’s Edmund again. His visits are now getting more frequent.
When Dani leaves, she also spots Peter outside the window looking in. She follows him as he walks around the perimeter of the manor, but when she opens the door, fire poker in hand, it’s Owen. He got in his car and ended up there. Almost as if he was possessed, which has me wondering, is it possible he is being possessed? Hannah seemed to know he would be back, going so far to make his favorite meal for dinner.
A freaked out Dani is now thinking back to her wedding. She’s wearing Edmund’s mom’s dress as Belinda Carlisle’s “Mad About You” plays. For the first time we meet Dani’s mom, who is going on about burning her own dress to rid herself of a bad marriage. As they talk about how lucky Dani is to not have her mother’s taste in men, we watch the seamstress flirt with the bride-to-be. Present day Dani seems saddened by the memory. We don’t yet know how this ties back to Edmund’s death but it’s clear her attraction to Jamie has brought her back to this time and this feeling.
During dinner, Flora tries to play matchmaker, letting Owen know that Mrs. Grose likes him. She alludes to a conversation they had, but before we can learn more the young girl abruptly tells Owen he’s not dying. The comment catches the other adults off guard. She explains that after her parents died she felt like she was going to die, too, but then she wondered, “What if I’m already dead but nobody else knew?” To be honest, I have the same question about Hannah who doesn’t seem able to leave the house. Is this a Sixth Sense situation? Are these people dead but do not know yet.
But Flora points out that she only felt like death because she was alive and struggling to deal with the loss. It connects back to what the English man said earlier in his speech, that the worst part of loving someone is knowing you will one day lose them. Again, is Owen that speech-giving man who is echoing what Flora once told him?
The secret to getting her joy back, Flora tells Owen, was realizing that “dead doesn’t mean gone.” We heard Miles say this to Father Stack after hurting his bird. Apparently, it’s a family motto. The sweet moment is broken up by Miles requesting a glass of wine. Peter used to let him have some and thinks Dani should, too. When she says no, the little boy shouts that he wants an “actual bloody drink.” The outburst seems rather adult and once again I wonder if this little boy is being possessed by someone older. Is this a Freaky Friday situation in which Peter is occupying Miles’ body?
Dani isn’t having his attitude and sends him off to bed. The ominous music kicking in certainly makes this feel as if it’s a futile gesture on the au pair’s part. Especially since the next shot we get is Flora’s dollhouse opening up all on its own. Dani looks inside to see a blonde doll (her? Flora?) laying in bed as a well-coiffed man (Peter Quint?) watches over her. Dani grabs the male doll only to have Flora politely ask her not to touch her dollhouse. It’s a stern request and one that is likely for Dani’s own good since the doll she grabbed was Peter.
Dani asks Flora whether she has seen Peter around and maybe let him in the house. She says she hasn’t, “That’s not how it works.” She looks over Dani’s shoulder as if she’s consulting with someone. She does this a lot, but why? Flora just smiles and denies it’s happening, but we know what we’ve seen.
Miles seems as if he doesn’t remember his dinner table outburst. Before I, like Dani, assumed they were lying, but now I’m not so sure. It seems possible that the boy actually doesn’t know what happened. That their resiliency is actually more sinister. They don’t actually know what they’ve done because they’re not actually doing it. Dani doesn’t question his aloofness, but talks to him about feeling parentless. She also lost her dad young and her mom wasn’t really there so she had to be her own parent in a lot of ways. It’s not ideal, but Dani thinks it made her special. She got to pick the adults in her life, but this also meant she often acted more grown up then she was. Just like Miles wanting his wine downs.
After their bonding sesh, Dani has a fireside chat with the manor staff. Hannah seems preoccupied, staring off into the darkness. She says she’s been “drifting lately. Quite a bit, I’m afraid.” Dani is also drifting, remembering back to a dinner with Edmund before the wedding. She tells him she isn’t sure they should get married. She admits she should have said no from the beginning, but she didn’t want to let him or his mom down. She hoped she would eventually feel happy about getting married, but she realizes that’s not going to happen. She loves him, but she can’t do it. He doesn’t take it well. He questions why she’s doing this to him. He gets out of the car and as he does, a truck drives by and hits him. Before he is hit, the headlights reflect off his glasses. His eyes are glowing. It’s this final image of him that haunts her. She blames herself for his tragic death. That hand we see crawl across her bed last episode is his as he laid dying on the pavement.
Back at the bonfire, Jamie is talking about how tossing offerings into the blaze would help drive away evil spirits. In fact, in old English, bonfire meant “bone fire,” people would toss in bones of the deceased. “Build a pile of lone bones and burn away the shadows.” The hope being it could bring peace or at least some solace for a little while. Hannah eulogizes Rebecca, who died almost a year ago, remarking that they’ve been so focused on Peter they’ve forgotten about her. “I don’t know why brilliant young women are always punished,” Hannah says.
Jamie honors Lord and Lady Wingrave, who were kind people gone too soon. She also believes Dani can help their kids find their way back to themselves. I’m more focused on Hannah drinking. It’s the first time we’ve seen her drink anything, but does anyone else think she is pretending to drink out of an empty bottle? Just me?
Dani chooses not to speak, but Owen offers a few words about his mom who had forgotten who she was. She also didn’t remember him so he spent a lot of time pretending to be whoever she needed him to be: his father, his brother. This feels like a running theme. The Bly Manor staff have submitted themselves to making things better for others. They are Band-Aids covering up the hard parts of life and in turn, erasing the good with it. The bad is what makes the good so much sweeter, something people tend to forget — often willingly. Owen’s mom was gone long before she died and in some ways he feels the smoothing over of her dementia does a disservice to her memory. It allows people to forget who she really was, which was still true long after the disease took her. “She was my anchor,” Owen says, but also his burden and in sickness and in death that is often how it can feel.
That is how Dani felt about Edmund. He was her love, but to love him wasn’t easy because he expected her to submit herself to his needs. Owen’s speech is about letting go and how hard that is. Dani can relate to this pain of forgetting someone who meant so much. However, Dani’s problem is she can’t seem to forget Edmund, flashing back to the moment in the hospital when she was told he was gone. It’s the first time she sees the ghostly version of him in the mirror. The episode is based on James’ 1896 short story “The Way It Came,” about two friends who become bonded in ghostly presence. Here, that ghostly presence isn’t bringing them closer, but ripping her apart. She sees him again at the funeral, his arms grabbing her shoulders. She seems paralyzed by fear as she stares in the mirror, seeing glimpses of him as mourners offer their condolences. When the fear becomes too great she runs to get a coat to cover the mirror as the funeral guests look on.
She’s been carrying the weight of his death for so long but with Jamie she seems able to let go. She tells Jamie that Peter Quint isn’t the first apparition she’s seen. That Edmund has been following her since his death. It’s the first time she’s told anyone that. She also shares for the first time that the two were breaking up in the moments before he died. While Dani questions if she’s crazy, Jamie doesn’t, she just consoles her. She shows empathy for what she’s been through and allows her to see that she doesn’t have to be strong all the time. She will care for her. It’s a sweet moment that is interrupted by Edmund who reappears just as Jamie and Dani get intimate.
Safe to say, this ruins the moon. Jamie apologizes for pushing her too hard, but it’s clear Dani was hoping for more. She was hoping Jamie could help her move past this. The fact that Jamie so quickly walks away is disappointing though entirely understandable. Who among us wouldn’t hit the brakes on a haunted makeout session? That doesn’t make it any less sad to see Dani’s progress once again thwarted by Edmund’s ghost.
In a flashback, we see Edmund’s mom come to check on her. In that visit, his mom brings Edmund’s glasses. It’s less of a gift and more of a burden. His mom can’t live with them but can’t throw them away so she asks Dani to live with the burden instead. Dani’s inability to say no, to let someone she loves down, leaves her saddled with this talisman of the man she lost. More telling, is the glasses arrived right before she left for London. Instead of leaving them behind, she brought them with her.
When Dani and Jamie get back to the bonfire, Owen is trying to get Hannah to run off to Paris with him. Before she can answer, Jamie pushes Owen to leave, upset by what just happened. This leaves Dani alone with those glasses still sitting on her night table. She decides to get rid of them and the moment she leaves her room, Flora notices a disturbance in the dollhouse. Dani’s doll is gone and Rebecca’s doll is also wandering about.
A wine-drunk Dani walks the halls with Miles and Flora in tow. They are stalling to keep Dani safe with a story about a monster under Flora’s bed. All the while, Flora is on the lookout for someone who eventually does arrive. A woman in a long white dress is spotted behind Dani walking towards the door. The kids look concerned, but manage to keep Dani occupied with a story about their mom showing up in Flora’s nightmare. Flora says she needs a few minutes more before going to bed, a clue that this ghost has a schedule. To stay safe, they just have to wait it out.
As Dani gets Flora a glass of milk, Miles goes to the door, which is now open. The ghost has walked out and Miles shuts the door behind her. Back to bed the children go and back are the muddy footprints. Dani follows them out the door to the bonfire where she throws Edmund’s glasses. As they melt away, Edmund reappears. “It’s just you and me then,” she says, taking another swig of wine. Edmund might not be going anywhere anytime soon.
Episode 5: “The Altar Of The Dead”
Finally, we get the Hannah episode. Fitting that her episode is named for and inspired by a 1895 Henry James short story that is all about unselfish love. The housekeeper is an enigma and Gugino’s narrator adds to the mystique by explaining that Hannah has a routine that helps get things back on track when they go off the rails, which they are wont to do at Bly Manor. But, sitting around the bonfire, Owen drunkenly points out that things don’t always stay the same. We can’t keep reliving the past because our memories fade. He knows it all too well after caring for his late mother.
This was the conversation Owen was having with Hannah before they were interrupted. He tells her about how they have to live in the now. Not doing so is like dying. He also thinks Hannah needs to stop worrying about everyone else and take care of herself for a change. For him, not worrying about caring for his mom has been a relief. It offers him a chance to leave Bly and go back to Paris. Hannah sounds sad to hear he might move. Maybe Owen hears that sadness too because he invites her to run off with him.
Before she can answer, they’re interrupted. So is her train of thought which flashes back to when she and Owen first met. She’s interviewing him in the kitchen of the manor for the cook job. Flora and Miles’ mom is busy but Hannah’s frightened pause as she says this is a sign that Charlotte Wingrave’s whereabouts are concerning. This is the third job interview we’ve been privy to. Like Peter questioning Rebecca’s intentions, Hannah also wonders why Owen wants to give up a cooking job in Paris for this English manor. He sees it as a learning experience just as Rebecca did. Hannah lets him know this is her home and she takes pride in it, she wants to hire someone who is there for the long haul. He admits the job is to keep him busy while caring for his mother, but assures her he won’t go running off. “That’s not who I am,” he says. It was the kind of guy Peter Quint was.
This job interview soon feels more like a first date. The two start talking about Thomas Merton, a monk who wrote about finding transcendence. Hannah is smitten and soon finds herself transcending time and space herself. She’s still in the house, but after walking through one door she has entered not only a different room, but a different day. It’s summer and the Wingraves are back at their vacation. We see Henry for the first time at the house and Peter, who is their driver. Hannah seems put off by Peter, who lights a smoke rather than bring in the family’s bags.
When Hannah enters the house, there is another jump in time. She is trapped on the property and in her memories. She is standing outfront screaming her head off. Her partner Sam just left her and in doing so has left her without a ride home. Charlotte extends an invitation to stay the night, which Hannah turns down. Time jumps again and she’s now watching Miles try to knock Jamie off a ladder. It’s a cruel act from a boy who is supposed to be good.
Hannah is then brought back to the moment at the bonfire when Owen talks of his future. But she already knows hers, it is her past. She is trapped in it and she’s still hopping around trying to find her center. With her next jump, she finds Peter and Rebecca together. It’s the day after he accused her of cheating on him. He swears he doesn’t remember this happening. “I don’t even know who that was,” he tells her and it’s unclear if he’s lying or really doesn’t know. Is it possible he’s also being possessed by a ghost? Is he a vessel for Dominic Wingrave? As he leaves the room, he tells Hannah to live a little but she’s too focused on the crack in the wall to do that right now. This crack seems bigger than the ones she’s spotted before. Touching that crack finds her on the move again, this time she stumbles upon Peter going through Charlotte’s vanity.
He’s grabbed a necklace that is over 400 years old and worth thousands. While Peter swears Henry told him to get it, Hannah knows he is straight up pilfering things. He seems confused as to why Hannah would defend this family so much. After all she’s not one of them and she never will be. “There’s them and there’s us,” he tells her. “We’re the help.” He is just taking what he believes he is owed. He also believes Hannah should be careful since he’s higher up on the food chain then her. He could have her fired. Again, Hannah sees a crack in the foundation.
Leaving that room, she follows the muddy footprints outside to where she sees Rebecca, but before she can speak to her she’s back in that interview with Owen. She’s been here before and even Owen knows it, which is interesting. He asks a few new questions this time like is Miles ever cruel? Is she afraid Miles will hurt her? We know that Miles has said he’s dreamed of hurting her, but Hannah didn’t believe it. Time jumps again to Hannah going after Miles for trying to hurt Jamie. He’s smoking and talking like Peter, but before we can get to the bottom of that Hannah is now in the chapel where Charlotte has lit a candle for her. Well, it’s for Sam, who is still alive, but is gone. Charlotte offers Hannah a live-in position, but she believes Sam will be back.
Charlotte clearly doesn’t. She tells Hannah that marriage is like religion, you have to have blind faith. She doesn’t seem to have much faith in her own husband, hinting that he leaves her alone for long stretches of time. To believe in nothing is a terrible alternative though, Hannah points out. In a blink of an eye, Hannah is still in the chapel but talking to Rebecca, who is head over heels about Peter. She believes he loves her and believes in her in ways no one ever has before. Hannah admits she’s scared of him, but Rebecca makes excuses for him. He scares her too, but in the best way. He makes her feel good. It’s the “difference between feeling good and feeling alive,” Hannah says, a sign that she already thought Peter would be the death of her. Their tense conversation ends with Rebecca running off, but Hannah can’t follow. There is a wall blocking her from getting out. We hear the clicking of Peter’s lighter and see Miles there waiting.
Before he can do anything, Hannah is sitting in the kitchen with Owen and Rebecca. He offers the au pair a taste of his stew and she declines, perhaps afraid that Peter will freak out again. And speak of the devil, he’s back to whisk Rebecca off. Hannah goes into monologue mode about a glue trap that ripped a poor little mouse’s leg off. “That man is a glue trap,” she says, and Rebecca is stuck. Specifically stuck in denial. Hannah is stuck back in that first meeting with Owen, who is responding to that conversation about the glue trap, which, in reality, happened long after this moment. “Does the mouse know when it’s already over? Do we?” he asks.
Hannah doesn’t know much of anything right now. She pops up in Rebecca’s bedroom on the night Peter leaves her. This is not her memory, she wasn’t there, but she watches as Peter explains his get rich quick plan. “We’re always going to be the help,” he tells Rebecca. The Wingraves are the haves and they are the have nots. He doesn’t admit he stole any money, but he tells Rebecca that he wants her to run away with him to America where they can be whoever they want to be. England is too focused on class and they’ll never be able to change their birth, but in America all they need is money. He tells her to pack and be ready to go the next day.
When he leaves, he doesn’t notice Hannah standing there, but Rebecca does. The au pair also seems trapped in this house, admitting she rarely revisits this moment “before he went bad.” She even cautions Hannah from leaving. She doesn’t listen and when she walks out of Rebecca’s bedroom she finds Peter in conversation with Miles. The little boy says that the dollhouse was acting weird and he heard strange noises. Peter tells him to go to bed and goes back to the old wing and grabs that necklace again. The one Hannah made him put back. This was his big plan.
When he walks back he finds Miles and Flora still out of bed. He once again urges them to go back to sleep, but before they can he’s taken by a ghost. The woman in a long white gown who we’ve seen before. This time we get a better look at her. Her facial features are gone so it’s hard to say who she was. Charlotte maybe? She drags him down the hall to the old wing. Seconds later, Peter walks out and once again asks the kids to go back to bed. “What did she do to you?” Miles asks. Peter seems confused by the question. He also seems nervous about Flora’s doll, which she says is modeled after the lady from the lake. She also says that the others have told her to stay away from this woman who has left wet footprints on the floor.
Peter seems anxious by this notion and his fears only get worse as he, the kids, and Hannah watch the woman drag Peter’s body down the stairs. Peter isn’t Peter anymore, he’s a ghost and when he touches Miles’ shoulder, the little boy becomes his host. Miles’ cruelty suddenly makes sense. He hasn’t been himself for a while now, he’s been Peter. Hannah follows the lady to the lake where she dumps Peter’s body. Hannah hasn’t seen this memory before which is why she’s shocked to see a zombie Rebecca out there too.
She’s back again at that kitchen table talking to Owen. “I’m having somebody else’s dreams,” she tells him. Owen begins quoting Shakespeare: “To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…” Those words are part of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy in which he’s visited by the ghost of his dead father who reveals his brother Claudius killed him. Hamlet has a chance to avenge his father’s death, but he worries this ghost is a demon testing him. He doesn’t kill Claudius, but waits to see what happens. It results in his own death.
Hannah has also been waiting to see how this all plays out. She now knows that Miles has been possessed by Peter, but she doesn’t stop him. Instead, she keeps reliving the same memories, forgetting little details as she goes along. Her timeline is all mixed up so Owen tries to help her: It’s 1987. The Wingraves are dead. So is Rebecca. Peter is missing and something is wrong with Miles.
Time jumps forward again, but not to the present day, the one following the bonfire. Instead, she finds Miles and Peter hanging out by a well. Peter is miserable in his current state of purgatory and because of this uses Owen to do his bidding. Hannah has always been a problem for Peter, so in this moment, the Peter-possessed Miles takes care of it. He pushes Hannah down the well. She sees that crack again. We now know it’s the last thing she saw before she died. It was a placeholder for what’s to come, but Hannah was unable to realize it.
Hannah, like Peter, is trapped on the property, but unlike him, her body remains. We realize that push happened the same day Dani arrived. Hannah’s fogginess when Dani came to greet her was due to the fact that she just watched herself die. Peter is also seen watching them and we know he continues to do that. He seems to set his eyes on Dani, is she is next victim?
“We can’t count on the past.” Owen says again. Hannah is back at the bonfire, aware of what has happened to her. “We think we have it trapped in our memories, but they fade. We can fade at any time,” he repeats. Since the last time he said this, Hannah has a new understanding of this. She has been slowly fading since that day she was pushed into the well. This time, when he asks about Paris, she excitedly says she will go with him, but he doesn’t hear her. He fades away into the fog. Her memories are also starting to fade. The episode ends with her repeating what she knows. She’s Hannah Grose — but for how much longer?
Episode 6: “The Jolly Corner”
Excuse me, but I still need a second to come down from the last episode. Maybe it’s good that this one starts a little more low key. Henry is sipping from a tea cup, rifling through his mail. He stops at a letter with his brother’s name on it. He doesn’t open it, just sets it aside.
We learn that Henry has been spending a lot of time in his office, not unlike the man in the 1908 short story from James that inspired this episode. The narrator’s use of “entombed” feels like a morbid reminder that Henry seems to be drinking himself to death. In between sips of brandy, which is what is in that teacup, his secretary tells him Dani called about the children. She’s concerned. She wants to get on the phone so she can elaborate, but he’s happier not knowing how the kids are doing.
On the other hand, I would like to know what’s up with that dark figure lurking in Henry’s office. It’s unclear if he knows he’s there, despite seeming as if he’s taking his drink order. When Henry sits down with his Scotch and his brother’s letter we see that there is another person sitting with him. It seems Henry’s being haunted by well, Henry. Seriously, what is with that huge ass grin? When ghost Henry puts down his glass, real Henry lifts his.
Then we are taken back to the night Charlotte gave birth to Flora. Henry is at the house waiting for his brother to arrive. Dominic is late and Charlotte is going into labor early. Henry is clearly in awe of his brother and the life he has built. But that glance he shares with Charlotte shows he is hiding something from his big bro.
Back in 1987, a pjs-wearing Flora awakens in the grass, unsure how she got there. Jamie is also unsure why Dani has come out to the greenhouse so early. Dani seems different, happier, more confident after burning those glasses. Still not good at making hot beverages though. She’s worried that the kids are acting strange. She notes that Owen and Jamie have been gone, and she’s seeing less and less of Hannah, who seems to disappear suddenly. The family unit they once had is breaking apart. But Dani is more worried about the way she and Jamie left things. After some proper flirting, Dani asks Jamie out to the pub, away from the house. It doesn’t hurt that Jamie lives right above that establishment. Dani, you saucy little minx.
As they make plans, Dani sees Flora walking towards the lake. She says she doesn’t feel well, which might have something to do with being outside with no socks or shoes on. Or, it might be that Rebecca’s ghost is the one leading her to water. With a touch of her hand, Rebecca casts a spell on Flora, who sees a little faceless boy in her closet. This is the past, back when her mom was alive and having an affair with uncle Henry, who is getting dressed in Charlotte’s room. Is it possible that Flora is really his child?
The adults appease Flora by inspecting her room. They find nothing, but Charlotte suggests Flora make friends with this little boy. Flora believes there’s something wrong with him and to be fair, it doesn’t seem right that the little boy would have no mouth. But Henry urges her to make a story for this boy who can’t speak. That’s what he did with the soldier friend that lived in the house. The assumption is the soldier was an imaginary friend, but what if he wasn’t? Have ghosts been lurking around this place since Henry as a kid?
What we do know is Flora is also spiraling through time. This very moment, she was younger, only five when it happened, but we’re seeing her now when she’s eight. This is happening more and more she says, getting tucked into memories that end when she wakes up, but it’s getting harder for her to know when she’s awake. She’s lost and trying to find her way just like Henry is.
There was a time when he was willing to call the manor. Back when Charlotte was still alive. On this particular call, he gets Flora on the phone. He wondered if she’d seen that little boy again. She hadn’t and didn’t plan to since her dad said it was just a “fig mint” of her imagination. Her dad is finally home and that means Henry can no longer play house with his brother’s family. Like Peter, he is not one of them, not really. He’s an outsider, too. Now he’s alone with his alter ego who is reaming him out for losing all that money to Peter, which was Miles’s inheritance.
His alter ego, who has some serious PQE (Peter Quint Energy), does reveal that it’s Henry who has been calling and hanging up. He’s looking to hear Flora’s voice again. He also isn’t looking to tell people about his brother’s death. Hence, the mail. He would prefer to live in a world where Dominic is still alive and not sending out a death notice allows him to do this. Going to Bly Manor would also make the death a reality.
Hannah returns by Charlotte’s bedside, though we don’t know for how long, to admit that since Dominic and Charlotte’s death, Henry hasn’t been the same. In some ways, that trip was the last time she saw any of them. (I love that detail of having Hannah look around before exiting the room, concerned where she’ll end up.) What we see is the little faceless boy sitting by the dollhouse. Luckily, Dani doesn’t see him or she might not go out on her date with Jamie to a secret spot in the garden. Jamie has grown a moon flower, which only blooms two months a year and only at night. “These flowers will be dead by morning,” Jamie says. I worry that might be true of everyone in this house. For Jamie, this flower is a metaphor for relationships. You put in a lot of work and often have little to show for it.
That might be why Jamie decides to “skip to the end,” laying out her life story in a brisk five minutes or so. We learn that her mom was very young when she had her, a child herself. Her dad worked in a coal mine where no plants grew. Her mom cheated on her dad while he was away and had a baby with another man. Her dad became a cuckold, her mom was called a whore. Eventually, her mom left and Jamie was tasked with taking care of her young siblings. Eventually, they were split up and put in foster care. Jamie ended up in jail for a bit, which is where she learned to garden. In some ways, her love of plants is a response to her dad’s life, which was filled with darkness and death down there in the mines. Plants aren’t easier than humans, but you know where you stand with a plant. If you love and nourish it, it will likely grow, that’s not always true with people. Yet, despite all this, Jamie still wants to try and make things work with Dani.
With all Jamie has been through with her family, she understands Dani’s guilt over Edmund, but she wants her to know she can’t live in guilt. Death is a part of life. It’s “natural” and “beautiful,” she says. It’s part of the process, which is why she takes the time to plant that moon flower. “Beauty lies in the mortality of the thing,” she says.
Apparently, this speech worked. When Dani kisses Jamie she doesn’t see Edmund.
What we see next is Henry sharing a kiss with Charlotte. It appears to be the first one and they both seem confused by it. Next we flash ahead just a little bit to Flora’s fifth birthday. We learn that Henry is the one who bought Flora the dollhouse modeled after Bly Manor. We also see that Henry and Charlotte’s affair is still going on, right under his brother’s nose. But after all this time, Dominic has done the math and realized he is not Flora’s real father. He asks if she loves Henry. She doesn’t respond, she just cries. He cries, too.
Dani’s night went better: she wakes up next to Jamie, but notices a scar on her shoulder. She also sees Flora outside again. Rebecca is there too, she touches Flora’s head and Flora seems more adult, more like Miss Jessup. Like Peter with Miles, Rebecca seems to be spending some of her time possessing Flora. This warrants another call to Henry, who declines a visit only to realize it is time he went back there. But when he opens the door, he’s transported back in time.
After realizing that Henry was Flora’s biological father, his brother packs up their office and leaves. But not before letting his brother know that Flora will never really be his child. He is her real father in all the ways that matter. This season is a lot about love and possession and Dominic sets his claim over the family that Henry wants. He banishes him from Bly and from ever seeing his family again. He sentences him to a lonely life in which he is trapped with the worst version of himself. The one who betrayed his brother and continues to haunt him long after Dominic is gone.
Flora is also spiraling through time. Right now, she is tucked in a memory of her mom telling her about the talisman. Charlotte used to make them when she was young, but Flora is older now. “The math doesn’t work,” Flora says, echoing her dad after finding out he wasn’t her dad. It seems that the talisman also didn’t work to keep her mom safe, which is heartbreaking to realize. It’s hard to watch Henry call and hang up again hoping he’ll hear Flora’s voice. Instead, he is met with the memory of a visit from Charlotte right before she left for India. The Wingraves are retracing their honeymoon, trying to live in the past because it was so much better than where they are now. Charlotte admits she doesn’t love her husband, but she has to fix things. “There is a lot more to do it then love,” she tells Henry.
He is left alone again with his demon self, trapped in the office where some of the worst moments of his life took place like the night he met his alter ego. It was the same night he learned that his brother and Charlotte had died. When the demon takes him back there, he doesn’t want to answer the phone, but he has to. He has to continue getting that bad news and meeting his worst self. But the worst was having to call Bly and hear the little girl say, “Flora’s residence.” We hear her say that phrase as Dani closes the door, she seems to be trapped in that same horrible memory. Henry tries to call Bly again but the phone is disconnected. He decides he needs to go there to check on them. He has a bad feeling, similar to the one he had that night Charlotte and Dominic died.
Flora awakens to see the faceless boy playing with the dollhouse. He runs off again, but Flora follows him into a room full of dolls. All of them are faceless like him. All except one baby doll whose face she removes to give to the boy. This is some real Buffalo Bill shit. But this is also a memory from when she was five.
Flora believes it’s Miss Jessel that keeps bringing her back here, but she’s still not sure why. When she wakes up again she’s able to talk to Rebecca, who looks perfectly splendid. This Rebecca is also concerned about Miles, but before the two can figure anything out Dani walks in. She sees Rebecca, too, who looks more evil than she did before. When Dani gets into the hallway she is also met with Peter, who looks ready to strike. The two suddenly disappear and Flora runs off leading Dani to the room with the dolls. “I’m sorry,” Flora says before Miles knocks her out.
Episode 7: “The Two Faces, Part Two”
Four episodes later, we get part two of “The Two Faces,” based on James’ novel of the same name. The first face was Peter Quint, and naturally, we should assume that this episode will show us Rebecca Jessel. However, it starts in the moments after Dani was knocked out. The two kids are discussing what just happened. Both seem uncomfortable by this game they’ve been asked to play. “People don’t bleed in games,” Flora says as Dani comes to. The kids aren’t just talking to each other though, there are others in the room with them. They are pleading with them not to hurt Dani, but she can’t hear their responses. Miles thinks it would be better if they just told her themselves. Out walk Peter and Rebecca, but Miles is still unsure about this plan. “Life is a bit funny in that way,” Peter says. “Sometimes, right can seem wrong and wrong can seem right.”
Peter is using this boy to do his bidding. He’s using the trust Miles had in him to convince him the bad things he is doing aren’t so bad. Like that bird: killing it brought him home to Flora, so it was actually a good thing. And keeping Dani quiet by tying her up isn’t nearly as bad as murdering a bird, right? So in fact it’s good. Nothing for Dani to be scared of. Peter is making quite a leap in logic here, a sign of his desperation.
While he gives the worst pep talk ever, Rebecca says nothing. She doesn’t seem onboard with this plan, yet she isn’t stopping it. Flora wants them to tuck Dani in a memory until she feels better. But she’s never time-hopped before and it’s harder than it looks, Peter says. For instance, Rebecca seems to be stuck in multiple timelines at the moment. As she tries to give us the Cliff’s Notes of time-hopping, she can’t ignore Hannah, who is talking about the stolen heirlooms. She’s “slipping” and wanders away from Peter to go find Hannah.
Peter doesn’t have the control over Rebecca that he wants. Honestly, no one seems to have total control over their time hopping. Yet you can understand the appeal of being tucked away in memories for anyone who is grieving. In theory, time jumping allows them to pick and choose what memories they keep revisiting so they never fade away. They’ll never lose that person they loved. On the flip side, they’ll also never be able to move on from their grief. They’ll just be trapped in it. Peter once again mentions the keys which allow him to open certain doors, certain memories. He is trying to control the narrative and get back what he lost. When Hannah knocks on the door, he tells Miles to stick to the script. The problem is, Miles doesn’t hear the knocking. Peter is also slipping.
When he opens the door, it’s not Hannah. It’s his mother who has been released from the hospital. She’s there looking for help, but he’s not interested in giving it. She pleads that without money she’ll end up on the street, or worse, back with his father. He resists again and she threatens to go to Henry. She talks about his juvenile records, hinting he has a past he’d rather forget. She’s extorting him, while also belittling his economic status. That is certainly one of Peter’s keys.
Rebecca is left to clean up Peter’s mess, which stems from the shame he feels over his station in life. He stole to get ahead. She’s tucked away in the memory of Hannah reporting Peter’s theft. Rebecca tells the authorities he talked to her about money and told her to pack a bag so they could run off to America. Rebecca is accused of being an accomplice and then worse, a patsy. The notion upsets Rebecca who wakes up at the same table, this time with Miles who is trying to explain what really happened to Peter. He didn’t run off, he was taken by a monster, but he’s still in the house so she shouldn’t worry.
Miles walks off and Rebecca follows only to end up in a different memory. It’s of Owen and Hannah baking together, talking about gluten molecules and chemistry. “It sure is,” Jamie says. They try to get Rebecca to stay and hang out, but she walks off to the lake. She has that butterfly hair comb in her hands. Jamie comes to talk, “to gloat,” Rebecca says. It seems that Jamie is always there to console the au pairs. She urges Rebecca to forget about Peter and get back on track. She encourages her to talk to Henry about the internship and offers her help, should she need it.
Later that night, Rebecca finds Peter in her room, hiding in the darkness. He appears shortly after she puts down the butterfly comb, though it’s unclear the connection. What is clear is Rebecca isn’t interested in protecting Peter after he stole from the Wingraves. He turned her into a criminal and then left her behind. But he didn’t really leave. He’s been there the whole time, but she couldn’t see him. She isn’t buying it, but he finds a way to convince her. He asks her to hold out her hand and lowers his over hers only to have it go right through. It proves he didn’t leave without her, he was taken from her.
It’s a hard thing to process and it’s why Rebecca seems to be spiraling. Hannah is the one who finds her sitting in the classroom in the dark. She’s worried about the teacher who is currently studying fractions. Hannah’s friend once compared fractions to breakups. “The math of it,” she says. Math has been a running theme throughout the series with both Flora and Dominic mentioning the math not working out right. But Hannah says there is a mathematical solution to getting over a breakup. Take the length of the relationship and half it. That’s how long it takes to get over it. Luckily, Hannah says, Rebecca’s relationship wasn’t all that long. This notion that everything has a “half-life” upsets Rebecca, who felt she should have gotten a full life with Peter.
After that conversation, Rebecca goes to the old wing to find him. She wants to continue with their plan to go to America. She’d rather be seen as a “batty old witch” then live without him. The problem is, he can’t leave Bly. When he tries, he’s brought back to the moment in which he was taken. You understand Rebecca’s dilemma. He is there, but he isn’t. It is the way it feels when someone dies. You have the past memories and their things, but you can never really have them back. There is no future with them. “It’s not fair,” Rebecca screams and Peter seems worried about how loud she’s being. He pushes her and the music box begins to play once again. A woman calls her name and Rebecca runs to a mirror. She pulls off the sheet to reveal her reflection. She keeps grabbing at her face, a sign that she doesn’t see what we see. She was pulled into a memory, but neither her nor Peter knows why. There is a knock at the door, but only Peter can hear it. It’s his mom again. He doesn’t understand how he got here, but he needs to go back to Bly.
Rebecca is still there. On her way out the door, she’s stopped by Jamie who wants to know what Henry said about the job. Rebecca has been bouncing through time so she doesn’t remember that this is the last conversation she had with her. She makes up a story about calling Henry and him saying he’d think about giving her a job before running off. She is checking to see if she can leave Bly. She runs to the entrance, but is stopped by an invisible wall.
After Peter time jumped back to that day with his mother, it took him a week to come back. Rebecca thought he had left her, but in actuality he was exploring Bly’s history. He says he has a plan that will let them be together again. It concerns those jumps in time and in memory, “blips” as he calls them. It comes down to Rebecca inviting him in, letting him stay in her memory forever. He offers an equation for doing this. “I think it’s just you and me becoming us,” he says. That all sounds like a bit of mumbo jumbo to me, but Rebecca is on board. But if she does this, if she decides to make them an “us,” they need to be equals. It sounds like she’s reciting a wedding vow. She’s asking him to promise her he will stay with her through sickness and health, til death do us part. In this case, purgatory is where they will be together forever and ever. “I promise,” Peter says.
The two then stick out their hands like they did before, but this time when Rebecca lowers her hand she is able to hold his. It is then that, to quote the Spice Girls, these two become one. But it seems to do something to Rebecca, who seems off, angry. That moment between them sends them back to the night when he gave her the fur coat. Rebecca only realizes she is in the memory after they kiss. They are together like Peter promised, but stuck in the past. There is no future for them, which is not what she wanted. They are still destined to be alone only coming together in these moments, which Peter seems to choose for her. That is why she decides to take her own life, she doesn’t want to live in this inbetween space where she isn’t really dead, but isn’t really alive either.
We now arrive at the day in which Rebecca walked to the middle of the lake. As she’s sinking she sees Peter’s body at the bottom where the lady in the lake left him. She regrets what she has done and tries to swim up, but she can’t. Again, we see the fur coat memory. It’s torture for Rebecca to keep reliving this moment, but Peter keeps bringing her here. He has hidden away since the day she died. She can’t find him. She only sees him in this memory. He agreed to keep her safe, but instead he disappeared once she was gone. Peter continues to take her photo just as he did all the other times before. This time the image is corrupt. Their eyes are gone, they are shells of who they once were. They are already starting to fade.
She trusted him, but he tricked her. He got her to agree to die so they could live together, but this isn’t what she signed up for. He keeps telling her she’ll understand why he did it soon, but keeps getting interrupted by a knock on the door. He manages to drown it out long enough to tell her she will understand once she sees “the others.” The knocking continues as he explains there is a way out. She proved that. He will show her, but the incessant knocking keeps ruining his train of thought.
Again, the door opens and it is his mom. Each time he opens that door he gets angrier and angrier. He notices that Rebecca and the kids get to revisit happy memories, but he keeps getting sent back here. “It’s like I’m in hell.” For a while, he thought it would be worse to be trapped in a memory of his dad, who abused him as a child. But the reason this one is worse is because his mom never protected him. Instead, she downplayed the severity of the situation, gaslit him to think he was overreacting. “But I was innocent, wasn’t I?” he asks his mom. “I didn’t know any better.” Now he does know and he has realized that this moment in his life was what really killed him. It turned him into the possessive angry person.
Peter is able to time jump, but not back to that moment in which he was explaining his plan to Rebecca. Instead he’s back with the kids and Dani, who has been untied. He hops into Miles’ body to scold her before hopping out again. Peter usually warns Miles before hopping in and it makes sense why the boy was so interested in those demon pigs. He’s worried that letting Peter in makes him a bad person when in actuality he’s an innocent. As innocent as the bird Peter made him kill, as innocent as Peter was when his mom let his father do bad things to him. Now, Peter is no better than his mother. He is taking advantage of this little boy who doesn’t fully understand what is happening. He just understands that Peter is his friend so he wants to help. All Peter understands is getting back to Rebecca, who has also returned from her journey through time.
They are running out of time, Peter says. They need to get the kids to finish up their “Forever House” plan. He tells them it’s a present they’re giving to Miss Jessel and him and they’ll all be best friends forever. It’s a lie and he knows it, which is why he can’t hold back his tears. Rebecca wants to wait, but the reason they can’t is because they’ll fade away. That faceless boy, those creepy dolls, well, they all died at Bly and have started to fade into memories. The woman Peter pulls from the shadows is dressed in a Victorian gown, someone we haven’t met yet, but has been milling about this whole time. It’s why they have to finish the game they started. The kids have to think as hard as they can about “you, and me, and us,” like Rebecca did. The kids will then be tucked away in their memories. They’ll be able to be with their parents forever, which is a pretty manipulative way to convince these kids to give up their futures. He promises Flora that she will be with her parents forever and that Miles will feel no more sadness. Let’s not forget though that he also promised Rebecca that they would be together. The truth is, he doesn’t really know what will happen, but he knows that he can’t keep going back to that memory of his mom. He can’t risk fading away and truly dying. Miles agrees to the plan, saying the word “us” and collapsing to the ground. Flora does the same and Dani, still tied up and gagged, is left helpless.
Peter is now Miles and Flora is now Rebecca, which is creepy and strange. Peter’s plan was for them to grow up as this brother and sister and what, get married? The fact that Dani knows what happened means she is a liability, but before Peter-Miles can kill her he needs to take care of Hannah. He takes her outside and starts commending her for keeping up with appearances, pretending things are normal. See, he knows Hannah is time jumping, too. He thought her commitment to changing her clothes and doing her chores was just a sign of her stubbornness but he’s since realized from the others that they’re all on their own time.
Peter-Miles starts talking to her about Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff only to keep on going. That’s what Hannah’s been doing. Carrying on allowed her to stay alive in some way. Looking down was what stopped Wile E. Coyote in his tracks, forced him to see the reality of his situation. “You just need to look down, Hannah,” Peter-Miles says. Their long walk ends at the well, where he hopes looking down will cause her to fade away once and for all. Hannah is afraid to look, afraid she will disappear, but she does. She sees herself down there and is again transported to that kitchen meeting with Owen. It starts with the same beats as before: Owen used to be a sous-chef in Paris. Hannah talks about the children, but this time she amends what she said about Miles. He’s a picky eater, sure, but he might also be gone. Flora is, too. She’s coming to terms with the fact that she is dead. When she does admit this to herself, Owen disappears and she’s left alone in the kitchen. Possibly, forever.
Miles is really gone, but Flora isn’t. The two were playing their own game in which Flora only pretended to be Rebecca. She didn’t want Flora to give up her life for her like she did for Peter. That is not love, that is abuse. She wants Dani to take Flora away forever, but the problem is, Flora doesn’t want to leave. She doesn’t understand what happened to Miles and she wants to find him. That outburst cost them time and maybe Dani’s life. The lady from the lake is back and dragging Dani off. Let’s guess she’s taking her to the water…
Episode 8: “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes”
If you’re a fan of Nicole Kidman’s The Others, this one’s for you! The penultimate episode introduces us to the first one who died at Bly, the lady in the lake who is currently dragging Dani away. We have to go all the way back to the 17th century to get her story, which begins with the death of a widowed nameless gentleman, according to Gugino’s narrator. She was one of this man’s daughters. This is Viola (Kate Siegel), the name in the chapel that we all knew would come back eventually. Even more familiar if you read Henry James’ 1868 short story, which the episode is named for, about rival sisters.
After their father’s death, she and her younger sister Perdita (Katie Parker) were left on their own and because of the century, they were forced to get married quickly if they wanted to keep their home. Viola was wise to the fact that these men were vultures looking to pick apart her fortune, so she came up with a plan to keep the home in the family. She reached out to a distant cousin Arthur Lloyd (Martin McCreadie) who seemed honest and intelligent enough not to screw things up. She left Perdita to entertain him when he arrived so she could get a sense of him, and when she felt as if she could trust him, she swooped in and grabbed him. The whole thing was a setup to let the man know it is she that runs this house. This was a business arrangement for Viola, which is why she left the “and obey” out of her vows. This lady was not interested in being told what to do.
The marriage led to restlessness, sleepless nights where she paced the halls of the manor. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, it was that she did, which caught her off guard. She had a daughter, Isabel, who would be the heir to Bly. “It is you, it is me, it is us,” she whispered to her little girl, who seemed to take Perdita’s place in her heart. Her younger sister was left alone, but she wasn’t lonely thanks to Viola’s husband. Love seems doesn’t last at Bly.
Life is also short here. It isn’t long before Viola is sick with tuberculosis and forced to quarantine from the rest of her family. Even her daughter who can’t sleep without her. (In 2020, this part of the story definitely hits differently.) When Viola gets too sick, they send a vicar to say the last rites. He needs her to repeat what he says so that her soul will be free, but like her wedding vows she refuses to obey. She keeps on living, though it’s more of a living dead kind of thing. She keeps hanging on while Perdita plays surrogate mother to her daughter and becomes a little too cozy to her husband.
What we witness is a ghostly Viola imposing her will on her sister, who will always be a servant to her. She is the help, not unlike how Mrs. Grose worked for Charlotte. But her sickness isolates her from the manor’s occupants. She has lost her place and is therefore losing herself. She is fading away, but still she walks the house. Now she sings “O Willow Waly” as she does so. She was the woman singing along with Flora all those episodes ago.
Viola spends six years in living death, but realizes, thanks to her sister, that this is not the memory she wants her daughter to have of her. She knows she must go soon, but she wants to make sure her clothes and jewels will be kept for her daughter. She asks they be kept under lock and key and her husband promises he will do that. It’s the last promise he will make since Viola dies shortly after. Not due to the disease, but because of her sister. While Viola’s husband is away, Perdita decides to take “mercy” on her sis by suffocating her. At least, she thought it was mercy she was taking. In actuality, Perdita had had enough of her sister slapping her around. As the narrator says, the word Perdita was really thinking of all this time wasn’t mercy, it was “enough.”
A running theme this season is that relief one has when someone is gone. Owen felt it after his mother passed and in some ways Dani felt it after Edmund was gone. They had a need to move on, to start over and live for themselves for a change. In Viola’s husband’s case, he kept his promise, hiding the key for their daughter and remarrying Perdita, who reminded him of his late wife. Perdita’s endgame in marrying her late sister’s husband is sort of a mystery. She got the house and a portrait of her own, but she also became jealous of what her sister had. Money troubles meant she wasn’t as great a Lady as her sister and she began to covet those silk dresses Viola had hidden away for her daughter.
She begs Arthur to sell them so they can get on better footing. She blames him for running their estate into the ground. She says that Viola’s wish was to keep Bly in the family, but it’s hard to tell whether Perdita is sincere in making this all about her late sister. Arthur argues this was the promise, the oath he made to a dying woman and he can’t back out of it. Perdita sees it as choosing Viola over her, choosing cruelty to not help save the manor for his daughter. From beyond, Viola still runs the house, which understandably is frustrating for the woman who still lives in it.
Perdita’s frustration leads her to take the key and open the trunk of clothes herself. Big mistake, huge. When she finally opens it she is overwhelmed by the beauty of the gowns. She goes to lift it out and is quickly killed by her sister. When Arthur finds her, the rigor mortis has caused her shock to be eternal.
What we soon realize is Viola didn’t die that night Perdita took her breath away, time just jumped for the first time. Not saying her last rites meant her soul had nowhere to go but back into those memories. When she awakens, in a room full of her jewels and clothes, she looks like her younger self again. But this also means she is stuck back in those restless days when she paced the halls. Except now she’s stuck in that trunk, unable to leave until someone lets her out. Over time, her reflection starts to decompose, just as she would in death, and like Dani, she is left to cover up the mirrors to hide what she doesn’t want to see. Sleeping, waking, waking, it’s all she does for years on end until she finally admits to herself that she is dead. Still, she waits in that trunk knowing one day her daughter would come for her dresses. When the trunk was finally opened it was Perdita coming for her things. This sent Viola into a rage, like her sister this killing wasn’t about mercy, it was her saying, “Enough already.”
Viola is certainly a patient person who waits and waits assuming that her daughter will one day come looking for her things. When her husband and daughter decide to leave Bly for a smaller life, she believes she will come with them. She will be with them forever even if they don’t know it. But after seeing what happened to Perdita, he doesn’t trust the trunk so he throws it in the lake. That’s how she became the lady of it. She was abandoned and in turn willed herself to stick around the manor, changing it forever.
She continued to sleep, wake, and walk back to her house, leaving her wet muddy footprints behind in hopes she would find her family there once again. But with each walk she had forgotten that her family wasn’t there. Eventually, she forgot what it was she was looking for, her memories of her daughter fading with each sleep. When others started entering the house, she started killing them off. Strangely, her victims would then become trapped in the house. The narrator says it was like she had her own strange force of gravity that held her there and unfortunately, these others would be pulled in to her depressing orbit.
As time went on she began to forget more and more. As her memories started to disappear, so did her face. Yet, she still walked to the house looking for her daughter even if she could no longer see. She was the one who took that little boy, assuming that was who she came for. “Her fate was a nightmare,” the narrator says. She was filled with loneliness and rage. Cross her path, and she would take you down with her. Peter knows this firsthand and unfortunately, Dani might soon realize it, too.
Episode 9: “The Beast In The Jungle”
Hannah is back in the kitchen, telling us what she knows. It is 1987. Dominic is dead. Charlotte is dead. Rebecca and Peter are dead. “I’m dead,” she tells Owen, who already knows all of this. She wants to help them, but she can’t, she’s slipping away. Before she does, though, she tells Owen how she liked him from the moment they met. She found him charming, so much so, she almost forgot about herself. She wanted to go explore the world with him. “I loved you, Owen,” she says, admitting she should have said it long before this. They don’t have a future together, but she hopes she can stay in this memory with him forever. This tragedy is similar to that of the 1903 Henry James novella of the same name, on which this episode is based. In it, a man’s own fatalistic view of the world keeps him from ever experiencing true love.
Owen needs Hannah to help him, to tell him what she knows. To do so, she has to leave this memory and there is a chance she’ll never be able to come back. To help him and the others, she risks losing all that she knows. “Be brave in death, Hannah,” he says.
Lord knows Dani really needs Hannah right now. She’s still being dragged by Viola, who is on her nightly walk to the house. Hannah comes out to try and help, but Viola goes right through her. She just continues on her way, up the stairs, past her portrait, down the hall to the old wing. Before she does, you see a door move in the foreground, a sign Viola isn’t alone here. Still, she walks hoping to find her little girl. Flora instead runs to sit on the bed, begging her to let Dani go.
It works, but Viola also leaves with Flora singing “O Willow Waly” once again. Well, trying to, since singing is kind of hard without a mouth. As the lady walks, we see Rebecca and Miles watching. The little boy, who is now Peter, knows that they did not switch and he is mad to see Rebecca wasting her shot. Henry also arrives to stop the lady from taking Flora, but by walking in her path he becomes her latest choking victim. When she throws him aside, we see Henry watching his limp body. It appears he will also be confined to Bly, the place he was once banished from.
Dani chases after the lady just as Owen and Jamie arrive. They both had dreams about the house and ended up driving back. The housekeeper is able to send them to the lake, but she disappears moments after. With Rebecca in tow, Viola continues marching to Flora’s death. Rebecca doesn’t try to stop her, she just tells Flora it will be quick and painless. Rebecca will feel the pain for her, just as she did when the little girl was alive. She asks Flora to let her in so she can tuck her into a dream. Fitting, that it is one of her mom tucking her into bed.
Before Flora goes eternal dream hopping, Dani tries to stop the lady in the lake from taking her by saying those words we’ve heard before: “It’s you, it’s me, it’s us.” The lady turns around and despite having no eyes seems to lock them with Dani. She invited Viola into herself and the spirit obliged, breaking the spell. The spirits she had in her gravity were released. Henry who was on the verge of death awakens just after Hannah tells him to tell Owen she’s sorry. He is the one who finds her in the well, just as she knew he would. Miles awakens, not as Peter but as himself. And after an apology, Peter disappears too. Finally, Henry is able to reunite with Flora and Miles and perhaps, start over.
But Owen, poor Owen is left to light a candle for the woman he lost and still loves. And Dani is getting distracted, a sign that the spirit inside her is still restless. Dani says she feels Viola inside of her. “And it’s not peaceful,” she tells Jamie. She describes it as being stuck in a dense jungle with only one way out. It sounds like how someone might describe grief. That sad, trapped feeling you have after losing someone you love. But Dani believes she is literally being watched by the lady in the lake, who is waiting to get her. “At some point, she’s going to take me,” she says. Death comes for us all, but we don’t have to endure life alone. Jamie asks if she can keep Dani company while she waits for her “beast in the jungle.” Gotta love it when a show says the title of the episode in the episode!
America is where Dani and Jamie are headed, but it’s only the first stop on their adventure. Henry also thinks America is where he and the kids will head next. Before Dani goes, Flora gives her her doll. She also gets a thank you from Henry, who feels lucky to be back with the kids. “Where would we be, we wretched people, without the generosity of our betters?” he says. “And luck.” That’s quite an interesting goodbye, since “our betters” is a reference to someone who is more important or in a higher social class. Dani also seems put off by this exchange. Is he letting her know that Viola, a woman of such good standing, will end up overtaking her one day? What I couldn’t help noticing was Dani’s eyes. As they drive off she seems to have one blue and one brown one.
When we meet back up with the couple again they’re thinking about going to Vermont for Christmas, but Dani is hitting the brakes. She’s “realistic” and clearly scared that the woman will come for her. Dani takes more of a “one day at time” approach. They don’t know how long they’ll have, but she doesn’t want to spend it worrying. She seems right not to worry, the two end up falling in love and finding peace in the home (and garden store) they’ve built together.
Those who have read James’ The Beast In the Jungle know that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. And this one takes a turn, too. After years without disturbance, Dani catches her own reflection and sees Viola’s faceless mask. But instead of giving up on love, like the man in The Beast In the Jungle, she decides that however long she has, she wants to be with Jamie. Kudos to her hiding the ring in the plant; very good job.
Owen is also living the good life as the owner of his own restaurant in Paris where Dani again sees her faceless reflection. He saw Henry, Miles and Flora recently and they talked about Bly. What was weird was that the kids, who are now in their late teens, don’t remember anything that happened there. They don’t remember Hannah or the fear of it all. Owen thinks this is for the best. It allows them to live their lives and not be trapped in the past. Dani seems unsure whether she agrees. Maybe because she has been burdened with those memories and she doesn’t want to go it alone. She’s seeing the lady more, not just in mirrors, but in the standing water in the kitchen sink.
You can’t blame Dani for fearing the worst, but Jamie doesn’t panic. She believes they could have so many more years together. She treats Dani’s terrors as if they were any illness, she will stand by her, caring for her until the very end. Unfortunately, the end seems to be creeping closer. The next day when Jamie comes home with their civil union papers she finds a flooded hallway and Dani, her face inches away from the overflowing tub, just staring. She no longer sees her own reflection, but the lady’s. She feels as if she’s fading away each day, turning more and more into her. She’s not even afraid of Viola anymore, she knows it’s only a matter of time where Dani is gone and only the faceless woman remains. She talks of going away, but Jamie pleads with her to stay just a little longer. But it’s true, Dani is basically no more. She’s having dreams about drowning Jamie only to wake up and find herself with her hands about to grab her lover’s neck. Those dreams are creeping into her reality. She can barely tell the difference between the two. The beast has arrived and there is no going back.
It’s why she leaves Jamie in the middle of the note. It’s her way of protecting her. Instead of letting her go, Jamie goes to Bly, to the lake to find her. When she swims down there she finds Dani at the bottom and she says what Dani had said all those years before. “You, me, us.” But Dani is the lady in the lake 2.0, she doesn’t drag people down with her. By taking her own life, she stopped the curse forever. But hasn’t stopped Jamie from filling up sinks and bathtubs with water in hopes Dani will come back to her again.
Eight episodes later, we realize that our narrator is Jamie. She keeps Dani alive by telling this story, which isn’t hers, but unfortunately, she’s the only one left who can tell it. It’s the only way Dani won’t fade away like the others from Bly. It’s funny that after telling that long tragic story, one wedding guest is more interested in knowing whether she can book a vacation there, as if Jamie is some kind of travel agent. Apparently, Bly Manor is no longer Bly Manor now so it would be hard to find. Probably for the best; Dani deserves some rest.
The story does spark something in the young girl who, yes, is marrying The Room’s Greg Sestero. She thinks Jamie set the story up all wrong. It isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story. “Same thing really,” Jamie says. The lovers of our past all become ghosts in our memories. Some fade away, while others stick around sometimes longer than we hope. But that fear of losing someone shouldn’t keep us from trying to love them. Those memories, Jamie tells Flora, are the pieces we hold on to long after they’re gone. The pieces that keep them with us forever. But we don’t have to hold on to everything, we can choose to forget. As the bride-to-be walks off, she remarks on the coincidence of the story. Her middle name is Flora. In those years since, she has been able to build a new life, one of less fear and more love.
Jamie has also been able to keep living without Dani, but she hasn’t forgotten her. At the end, we watch her fill the sink and bathtub with water in hopes of seeing her again. She falls asleep in a chair facing the door, which she opened slightly, in case Dani wants to come in. But as she falls asleep we see that Dani is there with her. Her hand, still wearing her ring, gently rests on Jamie’s shoulder, offering her peace as she rests. The internet might have a lot of fun fighting over what this final shot of Dani’s hand, not the lady in the lake’s, means. Has Dani been there all along watching over her lover? Is this hand on her shoulder a sign that Jamie died that night? That she found closure in seeing everyone at that wedding and Dani came to get her so they could be together again. Personally, I prefer the former, but in either case, The Haunting Of Bly Manor is neither a ghost story or a love story. It’s both.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
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