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 realise 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 apologises, 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 realise 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 a lot 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 grey 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 traumatise 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 realises 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 centre 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 apologise 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 apologise 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, realising the kids might be where they shouldn’t be. “O Willow Waly” starts playing out of a jewellery 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 harmonising with her. Dani finds a Polaroid in the jewellery 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 grey 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 favourite 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 realise 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 enamoured 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 jewellery 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 favourite 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 realising 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 realises 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 eulogises 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 honours 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 paralysed 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 apologises 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 centre. 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 realise it.
Hannah, like Peter, is trapped on the property, but unlike him, her body remains. We realise 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?