We Need to Talk About the Ending of 'The Haunting of Bly Manor'

Jenny Hollander
·4 mins read
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix

From Marie Claire

Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor ahead, obviously. If you're anything like me, you spent the last episode of Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor, the follow-up to its 2018 hit The Haunting of Hill House, slack-jawed and trying to put the pieces together. The ending of Bly Manor is both terrifying and heartrending, but it does finally provide clarity: We learn who's haunting Bly Manor and the ultimate fate of all the season's main characters, from Hannah Grose and Dani Clayton to Flora, Miles and Owen. And, um, some fates are happier than others.

If you're still reeling from the ending (and possibly sobbing as well), I get it. Here's everything we learned in the final episode of Bly Manor.

Who is the Lady of the Lake?

The Lady of the Lake, e.g. the faceless, sparkly woman who emerges from the lake with chilling regularity to make her rounds of the house, is Viola, also known as Kate Siegel.

Viola, you'll remember from the previous episode, was smothered by her own sister, Perdita, who went on to marry Viola's husband and mother Viola's child. Viola, a woman so strong-willed she kept herself alive while terminally ill for years, then took up residence in the locked chest full of the precious belongings she'd saved for her daughter. Eventually, a greedy Perdita opens the chest, and Viola strangles her.

Viola's husband and daughter flee the house, tossing the chest and all it represents into the lake, and thus a very heartbroken and angry Viola becomes the Lady of the Lake. "Viola would not go," the narrator says. "The pull of the next world ignored, she made her own gravity—gravity of will."

Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix

Every night, Viola emerges from the lake and tours the house and its grounds, killing the people she comes across. Over time, her face is worn down so that her features are indistinguishable; she also loses all her memories. Her own "gravity" of will, as well as the loss of face and memories, applies to the people she's killed, too, which comes to include Perdita, a vicar, a child, Quint, and more. (Anyone who dies on the grounds of Bly Manor, even if Viola isn't the one to kill them, eventually becomes one of those faceless, memory-less beings.)

That is, until Viola tries to take Flora. Which brings me to...

What happens to Dani Clayton, the American nanny?

At the beginning of the last episode, Viola starts to carry Flora into the lake to take her into her underworld. Dani, who loves Flora, chases after them and yells the line that Viola once spoke with love that has come to hold a lot of weight for everyone in Bly's underworld: "It's you, it's me, it's us!"

Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX - Netflix

This act changes everything for Dani, Viola, and Flora, as well as everybody who's in the underworld (it's not called the underworld, to be clear, it's a sort of plane of gravity, but for clarity's sake). Every dead person who's been hanging out there disappears into the next life, including Miss Jessel and Hannah—who, it emerges, has been dead in the well for a couple of days now—because Dani "had invited Viola into herself, and the invitation had been accepted...The spell that Viola had cast on Bly was broken."

Which is a happy ending for Flora and Miles and the rest of the residents of Bly Manor who are still alive—but not so much for Dani herself. Dani has absorbed the weight of the Lady of the Lake, and she sees her everywhere. She knows, in her bones, that the Lady of the Lake is going to subsume her, eventually. She and Jamie, the groundskeeper she's now dating, try and make a clean break from Bly, but to no avail. Though they get married and move far away and Jamie tries to convince herself they'll live happily ever after, this doesn't happen—which Dani knows all along. Eventually, Dani disappears from their life, returning to Bly to become the new Lady of the Lake.

"No one would ever be taken again," the narrator says. "And no one has been, to this day."

Photo credit: Eike Schroter/Netflix - Netflix
Photo credit: Eike Schroter/Netflix - Netflix

What happens to Flora, Miles, Henry, Owen, and Jamie?

Like I said, it's a pretty happy ending for everyone else (well, except for Jamie, who is obviously devastated after Dani dies). It turns out that the woman narrating the story is Jamie herself, played in her older years by Carla Gugino, who you'll remember from season one.

Flora and Miles go on to live normal lives and forget all about the drama of Bly. Owen opens his own restaurant in honor of Hannah, the woman he was in love with all along. Henry gets sober and becomes a loving guardian to Flora and Miles. The first and final scenes turn out to be Flora's wedding; she's marrying a man she's crazy about. Owen is there, and Henry, and Miles, and everyone who has basically lived happily ever after.

But Jamie always leaves the door open at night, "just a crack"—in case one day Dani is able to come back to her.

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