Dani and Jamie’s story in The Haunting of Bly Manor may take another twist after the show ends. Following 2018’s immensely popular The Haunting of Hill House, Mike Flanagan invited Netflix’s spook enthusiasts to the quaint English locale of Bly Manor for Halloween 2020, where the awful attempts at English accents were even scarier than the spirits. While Hill House fans might’ve been expecting another full-on ghost story, The Haunting of Bly Manor is more accurately a romance masquerading as a horror. That’s not necessarily a criticism, however, as the story of Dani Clayton and Jamie the gardener has enchanted audiences more than they perhaps expected from a supernatural scare-fest.
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Love begins to blossom when Dani is hired as Bly Manor’s nanny. Despite committing various crimes against British tea, Dani befriends the existing staff at Bly, and sets sparks flying with the manor’s resident gardener. Perfectly matched, Jamie helps Dani overcome the ghost of her ex-boyfriend, while Dani encourages Jamie to lower her emotional defenses, but the course of true love never did run smooth, especially with a faceless, vengeful ghost on the prowl. Dani is left with no choice but to accept the spirit of Viola into her body, effectively becoming a ticking paranormal time bomb.
Dani and Jamie are afforded many happy years together, starting a business, settling down and becoming civil partners, but Viola’s ghost eventually surfaces, and Dani’s final resting place becomes the lake of Bly Manor. Years later, an older Jamie still hopes beyond hope that her love will return, and The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s final shot depicts a mysterious hand resting gently on Jamie’s shoulder. The image is deliberately open to interpretation, but if you too refuse to accept anything less than the happiest ending for 2020’s best TV couple, here’s how the phantom hand could lead to a future reunion for Dani and Jamie.
Viola’s Gravity Well Explained
The paranormal activity of Bly Manor begins and ends with the ghost of Viola Willoughby, who lived on after death through sheer will. Viola had already defied nature by surviving many years after contracting a fatal illness, and was ultimately finished off by her own sister. Through her stubbornness, Viola’s soul became intertwined with her chest of treasured possessions, and when the box was dumped into Bly’s lake, the vengeful Viola was unleashed upon the manor’s subsequent inhabitants. The Haunting of Bly Manor describes the Viola phenomenon as a “gravity well” centered around her former home. Any who died on the grounds, whether by Viola’s hand or otherwise, would find themselves a disembodied spirit after death, left to wander the halls of Bly in Viola’s orbit.
The gravity well allowed Bly residents to cheat death, but also posed two considerable drawbacks. Any spirit who was caught in Viola’s gravity, even the originator herself, would lose themselves over time. All memories and sense of self, as well as the spirit’s face, would eventually fade. Secondly, as Peter Quint discovered, these trapped souls were confined within Bly’s grounds. Even hijacking a ride in a living body, Peter was unable to pass into the wider world, making Bly his “forever house.”
Viola’s gravity well comes to an end in 1987 courtesy of Dani, who uses the “it’s you, it’s me, it’s us” incantation to draw Viola into herself when the ghost is threatening to kill Flora. Upon merging with the American nanny, Viola’s curse over Bly appears to lift entirely, permitting the trapped ghosts to move on. Without the gravity well, Viola is able to inhabit Dani beyond the gates of Bly Manor, but when the time eventually comes and Dani Clayton is made the new lady of the lake, the narrator reveals there have been no further problems for the good people of Bly.
Dani Creates Her Own Gravity Well Around Jamie
The ghosts of Bly Manor are bound by certain rules and limitations, but Viola’s story sets a precedent. The Haunting of Bly Manor establishes that an especially stubborn soul can cling onto the mortal realm via something physical – in Viola’s case, the chest of treasured belongings and the manor itself, which she fought so hard to keep. If Viola could manage this supernatural feat, Dani might’ve done the same, and the most treasured thing in her life would, of course, be Jamie. Just as Viola remained attached to the mortal world via Bly, Dani’s ghost could be stubbornly fixed to Jamie, or if the idea of using another human as an anchor seems strange, Jamie’s engagement ring.
This would explain the mystery hand comforting Jamie in The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s final moments. The ambiguous scene can be viewed in a variety of ways. Perhaps it’s nothing more than Jamie’s imagination, or a metaphor for the couple’s enduring love. Taking the scene at face value, however, Dani’s ghost appears to be watching over Jamie in secret. The only way this would be possible within The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s rules is if Dani’s soul was connected to Jamie. And more than just hinting at Dani’s presence, the hand also alludes towards a posthumous reunion. If the ghost of Dani lived on, she could create a gravity well around Jamie (or the engagement ring), and the only soul that would be caught would be Jamie’s. Therefore, once Jamie dies, her soul will become trapped within Dani’s gravity well and the couple can finally be together again in corporeal form.
Eventually, Dani’s ghost would transform into the faceless, forgotten husk that many other ghosts became, but The Haunting of Bly Manor doesn’t reveal how long this process took. Peter seems to believe it’s happening to him after only a year, but Viola died centuries before the main story and her transition seems to take far longer, perhaps because she’s the center of the gravity well. Dani would only have to wait another 40 or 50 years to be reunited with Jamie, which may be short enough to avoid losing herself. After finding each other in the afterlife, Dani and Jamie could then move on together, meaning neither of them would suffer the indignity of becoming a faceless denizen. Based on how she ends her story, Jamie certainly believes that Dani will forget her, lose herself and wander Bly as a ghost, but the hand on her shoulder in the final scene flies in the face of this, suggesting Jamie is incorrectly assuming the worst.
Some might also question why the spectral Dani wouldn’t show herself to Jamie, if the hand was indeed hers. The Haunting of Bly Manor tacitly provides an explanation for this. Should the ghost of Dani appear to the still-living Jamie, the gardener would do exactly what she attempted to do during her final trip to Bly manor. Instead, Dani would want her soulmate to live her natural life, which is why she only emerges when Jamie is asleep.
Dani Succeeds Where Peter Failed
The Haunting of Bly Manor tells two starkly different love stories – the dangerous tryst between Rebecca and Peter, and the wholesome romance between Dani and Jamie. There are parallels between the two couples throughout their time at Bly, and Dani and Jamie’s posthumous reunion would continue the thematic mirroring of these relationships. In his own, twisted way, Peter loved Rebecca, and his overarching goal in the afterlife was to ensure they could be together forever. Peter would stop at nothing to make this happen, even forcing Rebecca to commit suicide and then suggesting they both possess young children to continue their relationship. Since Peter’s was the wrong kind of love, his plan failed, and he departed Bly filled with remorse.
Dani and Jamie’s romance is the antithesis of Peter and Rebecca’s – the kind of loving and supporting bond people should aspire towards. It’s only natural that where Peter failed, Dani would succeed. Peter’s plan to reunite with Rebecca was rife with manipulation, lying and possession, but by waiting patiently for Jamie to meet her in the afterlife, Dani is taking the more ethical path to achieve the same goal. Like Darth Vader seeking greater power, when it’s the Jedi who can cheat death by becoming ghosts. Dani and Jamie’s reunion would complete the symmetry between the two Bly Manor couples, proving that good can prevail where evil never does, and serving to highlight how misguided Peter was.
The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s ending is heartbreakingly effective, even without any kind of epilogue, but while the final scene is ambiguous, there’s certainly a hint of a future for Dani and Jamie beyond the veil. The final 2007 scene clearly shows that Jamie hasn’t moved on. There’s no hint of another woman, and she still waits for Dani to come home every night. This is highly unusual for a love story. Most fictional widows are shown to have met other people and carried on with their lives, even if they never completely forgot their former loves (see Rose in Titanic). But Jamie still lives in the past, and Dani is still secretly by her side. The only resolution for the couple is surely a spiritual reunion when both have passed away. At least, that’s the theory stopping us reaching for the Kleenex.
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