Haunting of Bly Manor hinted at key information about Dani Clayton with a clever nod to Mike Flanagan’s first outing, The Haunting of Hill House.
Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Bly Manor makes several nods to its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, but one of the more subtle connections is a hint at Dani’s sexuality, one of the first major twists in the Netflix series.
Though Bly Manor and Hill House are not connected – and Bly Manor isn’t a sequel – they share many themes. Both taken from different gothic ghost stories, Bly Manor is more of a love story where Hill House is an exploration of familial woes, inherited grief and trauma, and how childhood bonds can carry into adulthood. Hill House is a coming of age tale in some ways, as the Crain children are raised in tragedy and must grow up living with it; it colors their entire lives and perspectives. As such, Theo Crain’s (Kate Siegel) story as a lesbian with intimacy issues due to her powers, which are touch-related, is a heartbreaking tale of someone who wants to be loved, but fears the execution of it. In that manner, Dani Clayton’s (Victoria Pedretti) coming out story is also steeped in tragedy, where she loses the man she loves after finally working up the courage to be honest with herself – and him – about who she is.
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In The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 4, “The Way It Came”, Dani’s mirror ghost is revealed to be that of her ex-fiancee, Edmund, who was killed after being struck head-on by an oncoming vehicle after they had a fight. Prior to his death, a scene where Dani is being fitted for her wedding dress hints that she might have deeper, stronger feelings – and ones of a romantic nature – toward the young woman who is helping her with her dress. This echoes an iconic line and scene from Hill House, where Theo is discovered to be sleeping with Nell’s maid-of-honor at her wedding. It’s a shock to her siblings because, not only did they overhear their sister having sex, it was this event which essentially forced Theo out of the closet — she humorously came out to her siblings as a lesbian. Theo’s line about being into “bridesmaids” in episode 3, “Touch” – instead of finishing the obvious sentence about her being into “women” shares a common bond with the scene where Bly Manor‘s audience realized Dani’s truth.
The first three episodes of Bly Manor subtly teased a romantic interest between Dani and Jamie (Amelia Eve), who served as the gardener at Bly. However, episode 4’s big reveal about Dani’s sexuality ultimately came about just as suddenly as the moment with Theo, where the truth came out in a rather unexpected circumstance. The flashback sequence, where Dani and Edmund were children – which later turned into them being childhood sweethearts who became engaged as young adults – was a clever sleight of hand for audience members who might have caught on to the sparks flying between Dani and Jamie. However, the same flashback sequence resolved any question about Dani’s sexuality and the mystery of her mirror ghost. Dani and Theo both struggle with self-love and acceptance, so the connections between the two can enjoy even more parallels being drawn, on a character level rather than just a specific scene.
Theo might have gotten more of a happy ending than Dani, who sacrificed herself to save Flora’s life and also freed the ghosts of Bly Manor from Viola’s clutches as a result. Dani’s relationship with Jamie ended up being a happy one for as long as it could, thought their days were always numbered. No matter how Dani was able to truly find herself through loving Jamie, her choice to allow Viola to possess her put the final nail in the coffin of their love story. It’s a bittersweet ending to The Haunting of Bly Manor, though both it and The Haunting of Hill House boldly include well-rounded, relatable LGBTQ+ characters in a time when representation matters — the connection between them is just confetti.
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