WARNING: Major spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor ahead
Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor ends happily for the Wingraves and bittersweetly for Jamie, but the series leaves some big unanswered questions. Netflix dropped the highly-anticipated follow up to The Haunting of Hill House just in time for Halloween. Henry James’ novella Turn of the Screw inspired the second installment of the horror anthology series created by Mike Flanagan, and episode 8’s origin story of Viola Lloyd (nee Willoughby), aka “The Lady in the Lake”, mirrors of the plot of James’ short story, “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes”.
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Flanagan’s heroine is a young au pair, Dani Clayton, hired by a morose businessman Henry Wingrave to look after his young orphaned niece and nephew, Flora and Miles. The siblings live in the family’s summer estate in rural England. Dani’s predecessor Rebecca Jessel died tragically, drowning in a small lake on the property after being betrayed by her lover Peter Quint. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Bly Manor’s small staff and includes the housekeeper, Hannah Grose, the gardener, Jamie, and the cook, Owen Sharma. The linear narrative gives way to flashbacks interlaced with dreams causing the viewers to question what’s real, including whether the characters are alive or dead. Dani, the children, and the other Bly Manor residents find themselves part of a centuries-old ghost story causing them to reflect on their personal grief — each has suffered a loss — and what it means to love someone in both life and death.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is set in the late 1980s, but stays true to James’ gothic storytelling. The misfortunes that befall the residents of Bly Manor are due to the malignant spirit of Viola, who centuries earlier rejected the pull of a peaceful afterlife, choosing to create her own purgatory that traps anyone who dies on the property. Dani makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Flora by inviting Viola to enter her body, freeing all of her victims to move on and for Flora, Miles, and Henry to start a new life. Dani finds happiness with Jamie despite the inevitability that Viola will take over her mind, body, and soul. Tragically, Viola begins to emerge, leaving Dani no choice but to return to Bly Manor and take her own life, guaranteeing Viola will never again rise and unleash her rage on those unfortunate enough to cross her path. Dani lives on through Jamie, whose recollection of the events leaves a few lingering questions.
What Exactly Happened To Flora And Miles’ Parents?
Flora and Miles’ parents, Charlotte and Dominic, die in an “accident” while traveling to India. When Henry considers visiting Bly Manor to see his niece and nephew, his evil alter ego tells Henry he isn’t welcome there, and would be less so if Flora and Miles knew how their parents died and why they were in India in the first place. Henry’s dark half — one of The Haunting of Bly Manor’s scarier presences — insinuates some sinister component to the Wingrave’s deaths. Possibly, deep in the recesses of Henry’s subconscious, he suspects his brother killed his wife and then himself. The lack of bodies leaves too many questions unanswered, and any sense of closure impossible to achieve.
What kind of accident leaves enough remains to confirm the victims’ identities but not enough to bury more than empty coffins? If their names were on a passenger manifest, why use a word as vague as an accident instead of stating they died in some sort of crash? It’s a way to shield the children from the gorier details, but as they grew older, how could they not be curious enough to try and unravel the mystery? Perhaps, the cause of their deaths is so horrific, it simply amplifies Henry’s guilt, and Flora and Miles’ knowledge of their gruesome fate would forever be entwined with the presence of their uncle. By the time it would occur to them that there’s more to the story, the how doesn’t appear to matter at all: only that Charlotte and Dominic are gone.
Why Don’t Flora And Miles Remember Bly Manor?
When Jamie and Dani visit Owen in Paris, he tells them that neither Flora nor Miles remember the events transpired at Bly House. They do recall the happy memories of the time spent there with Charlotte and Dominic before their deaths, and they know Hannah — whose death is the season’s biggest mid-season twist — worked for her parents, but the ghosts all the supernatural occurrences are erased from their minds. The surviving adults remember everything, and even though Miles and Flora were young children at the time, the extraordinary circumstances they lived through would be difficult for even a child to forget.
They don’t know Dani or Rebecca, and it appears even Jamie a stranger to them. The affection Miles and Flora have for Owen is due to the ongoing friendship he has with Henry. Owen says their memories have faded and, with it, their fears. Maybe all that dream hopping and time lost is the most obvious explanation. The intrusion of Rebecca and Peter altered their minds. It would make sense that they would repress all of the trauma, but not why they would choose to forget people they truly loved. The reason could be magical, psychological, or a testament to youthful resilience: the ability to move forward in life when those who are older and burdened with more regrets can’t let go. This acts as further evidence that Bly Manor is a more optimistic and less terrifying second outing for the anthology.
Is Jamie Dead Or Dreaming At The End?
After attending Flora’s wedding, Jamie returns to her hotel room, fills the tub, and leaves the door cracked; open invitations for Dani to return. Viewers see the back of Jamie’s head after she’s apparently dozed off, and presumably, Dani’s hand is on her shoulder. Jamie’s hair is no longer grey, but brown as it was in her youth. Is she dreaming? Is Jamie aware that Dani is standing beside her? Does Jamie die in her sleep, regressing to her younger self as she reunites with her lost love? Is such a reunion even possible with Dani now doomed to haunt the halls of Bly Manor?
It’s up to the viewer to interpret the ending of The Haunting of Bly Manor as sad, hopeful, or both. It appears as if Dani is watching over Jamie, which is the most optimistic way to look at what happens when death parts devoted lovers. In an otherwise tidy finale. Jamie’s unexpected supernatural visitor provides a nice twist.
How Exactly Does Body And Memory Hopping Work?
When Viola’s daughter Isabel is born, she says, “It’s you. It’s me. It’s us.” Viola is confirming the unbreakable bond between family, particularly mother and child, as each lets the other into their hearts. Somehow, in a way that is never explicitly addressed, Peter learns of Viola’s intimate moment with her newborn daughter and discovers these words hold a deeper meaning: one that provides him and Rebecca with a way to escape Bly Manor. Viola’s words became a literal invitation from whoever speaks them to allow the deceased to eventually enter their body, and basically banish them to the tiniest corner of their minds. The audience is supposed to accept that Peter is as remarkably resourceful in death as he was in life.
How does he teach Flora and Miles to sift through their memories and choose to revisit the ones they like most? Does he believe residing in these memories will be their fate, instead of erasing them from existence? Do the other ghosts of Bly Manor escape use memory as well to escape their prison? Those who get tucked away find themselves in bad memories and good ones, and they retain enough consciousness to comprehend what they’re experiencing isn’t real. They can alter them and engage anyone else in conversations about the present. Whatever happiness a memory brings is eventually overshadowed by that realization.
Peter is convinced he can suppress Flora and Miles for a lifetime, but Rebecca reclaims herself just in time to witness Peter’s betrayal. What would stop Flora and Miles from resurfacing to discover how Peter twisted their familial connection into something perverse? Why is Dani able to prevent Viola from harming others upon her death when she’s convinced she can’t control her when she’s alive? Is it Dani’s choice to return to Bly Manor, or does Viola’s hold over her force her to go back? The series contradicts itself when it comes to Viola’s power over Dani, sometimes making it out to be an iron grip, leaving Dani no free will. In other instances, Dani is the stronger of the two.
What Did Peter Do To His Father & Does He End Up In His Personal Hell?
One place Peter gets tucked away is in his London apartment during an unexpected visit from his mother. The woman has just been released from a psychiatric hospital, and she tells Peter his father would kill Peter if he could for what Peter did to him. It’s revealed that Peter suffered abuse at the hands of his father. Although Peter never explicitly says that it was sexual, it’s impossible to misconstrue that Peter’s father was a pedophile. Peter left home, but not before doing something to his father that causes him to harbor a grudge that can only be erased by Peter’s death — maybe not even then.
On The Haunting of Bly Manor, Peter continually revisits this memory of his mother, unable to escape his parents’ hold on his psyche. For Peter, being trapped with his mother is hell, so after the spell is broken, is this where he winds up? He seems convinced it’s his fate unless he finds a loophole. Once he’s free from Bly, is his worst fear confirmed? These questions likely will not get concrete answers unless details are revealed by the cast or crew, as The Haunting series is an anthology, and season 3 will likely adapt a new ghost story.
NEXT: Every Hidden Ghost You Missed In The Haunting Of Bly Manor
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