A hand. Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor — a series obsessed with far spookier images like ghostly footprints and creepy dolls — ends with, of all things, the shot of an unseen woman’s hand in the dark. Traditionally, such an image would suggest the living character in the frame, in this case Bly Manor gardener Jamie (Carla Gugino for this 2007 section of Bly), has one final terror to face, even after Bly Manor fades to black. That is an especially brutal idea, since Jamie is already mourning the loss of her dead wife, Bly heroine Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti).
Yet, it is far more likely this closing scene of the finale, “The Beast in the Jungle,” is actually the happiest frame in all of Bly Manor. Because it means Dani and Jamie have found their way back to each other, afterlife be damned. Jamie just may not know it yet.
“Season 2 is a love story. But a dark gothic one,” Haunting of Bly Manor creator Mike Flanagan told reporters during a January visit to the horror series’ Vancouver set. Bly actors Amelia Eve and T’Nia Miller echoed their boss’ assessment later during a lively conversation. Eve, who plays Jamie during the series’ central 80s timeline, added, “It really is [a love story]. It’s so much about love.”
“Beast” reveals why Eve was so emphatic. The episode hinges on the romance between her character and Dani, who flirt throughout Bly’s nine episodes. In the finale, Dani is brought to the very brink of her humanity in order to save her charge, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith). In an effort to stop Bly’s mindlessly malevolent central ghost Viola (Kate Siegel) from drowning Flora, Dani offers to share her body with Viola. This agreement leaves Dani a ticking time bomb — she knows the “beastly” spirit of Viola will eventually possess her in full. One of Dani’s eyes has already changed color like previously possessed Bly characters, confirming her body is no longer solely her own. Dani, recognizing the imminent threat of oblivion, decides to commit herself fully to a happy life with Jamie, for as long as she can keep hold of it.
Despite the grim fog that initially hangs over the relationship, Dani and Jamie create a wonderful world together in Vermont. They buy a flower shop, decorate a cute apartment, and fail miserably at cooking together for a decade. Then Dani begins seeing Viola’s featureless face in reflections. Once Dani nearly kills Jamie in her sleep, she leaves Vermont for Bly to serve as Viola’s final drowning victim in the manor’s pond. Jamie finds Dani’s corpse, creating one of Bly’s most upsetting scenes.
Yet, the closing act of the finale suggests neither Jamie nor Dan has actually given up on the other person over the last 10 years (Dani died somewhere around 1997). “For the rest of her days, the gardener would gaze into reflections hoping to see [Dani’s] face. Her own Lady in the Lake,” 2007 Jamie says in voiceover. “She’d leave the door open at night — just a crack. Should [Dani] ever come back. Waiting for her lover to return.”
Jamie isn’t spinning flowery words, she is describing her nightly routine.
In the last scene of the show, we watch Jamie fill the tub with water and stare into it, desperate to see Dani. She does the same with the bathroom sink. Then she settles into a chair in front of her open hotel door to await Dani’s return. If this scene feels familiar, that’s because Bly Manor opens with a nearly identical sequence. In premiere “A Great Good Place,” 2007 Jamie awakes from a nightmare about a featureless woman creeping out of a lake. After nine episodes of staring at Dani, it is clear that ghostly woman is Dani, not Viola. For this introductory scene, Jamie is sitting in front of the open hotel door; the sink and the bathtub are filled with water. We know this isn’t a flashforward from the finale ending because Jamie is wearing a necklace here — and she isn't wearing one when she goes to bed after the wedding in “Beast.”
This is simply how Jamie lives every single day of her life without Dani. However, the hand in the final shot suggests some piece of Dani has returned to Jamie to watch over her. Her body might reside in Bly, and even the main chunk of her soul (as Jamie theorizes earlier, Dani is cursed to “walk the grounds of Bly” forever), but some piece of Dani is still standing beside Jamie as she sleeps. She has “come back” for Jamie, as she asked. As we can see from the shot, Dani’s hand looks more human than lake ghost, hinting the purest part of Dani — the one Viola couldn't corrupt — has silently stayed with Jamie all these years (maybe due to her connection to their rings). When Jamie dies, it’s possible she will see that Dani never really left her at all.
As Amelia Eve said on Bly Manor's set, the takeaway from her character is, “that humans aren’t so bad after all, I guess. That sometimes [love] is worth it. They are good eggs sometimes.” Dani still feels the same way about Jamie, even from beyond the grave.