Within just hours of The Haunting of Bly Manor arriving on Netflix, horror fans have inhaled all nine episodes, watching the fate of an innocent au pair as she looks after two children, holed up at a haunted house. The Haunting of Hill House put its own spin on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name, and the follow-up does similar to Henry James’ classic spooky novella The Turn of the Screw.
However, The Haunting of Bly Manor is very, very different from the one of James' book. Showrunner Mike Flanagan had confirmed Bly Manor would adapt multiple James novels, but the extent to which it diverges from Turn of the Screw is extremely substantial. Below, we go into all that as we dissect all the scares and shocks that you didn't see coming. But first...
Spoiler warning! If you have not finishing watched up to The Haunting of Bly Manor ending on Netflix then turn away now – we're going deep into spoilers.
Not spooked by all that? Then you’ll know that The Haunting of Bly Manor is the 1987-set story of an American au pair who takes a job looking after a pair of orphaned kids at the titular house. Already haunted by her past, it’s not long before Dani Clayton is digging into the mysterious story of her predecessor, avoiding all mirrors, and realising there’s plenty going bump in the night.
As you’d expect from returning showrunner Mike Flanagan, there’s plenty of twists and turns along the way. So if you were left with questions about the Haunting of Bly Manor ending, read on – answers lie below…
Who’s the ghost with the round glowing eyes?
At the beginning of The Haunting of Bly Manor, the male ghost with round glowing eyes seems to be the main spiritual presence in the story. His only connection with Bly Manor, however, is au pair Dani Clayton.
In life, the spirit was Edmund (Eddie), Dani’s childhood sweetheart and fiancé. When Dani ends the relationship, he steps out of the car in a mix of shock and anger, and is hit by a truck. The characteristic glowing eyes are the truck’s headlights reflected in his round glasses.
After Eddie’s death, Dani is racked by guilt, and tortured by visions of his face in mirrors. She clearly thinks she’ll get some closure when she puts his specs in the fire, but the ghost lingers: “It’s just you and me, then. Hmm?”
Why are mirrors so important?
While some of the ghosts in The Haunting of Bly Manor can manifest themselves in the physical world, they’re more frequently sighted in reflective surfaces. Mirrors seem to show you what’s really there, whether it’s your actual decomposing body (Viola Lloyd), or a spook lurking behind you. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why Dani covers every mirror in her room.
Showrunner/writer/director Mike Flanagan previously explored the horror potential of mirrors in his 2013 movie Oculus.
What happened to Miles and Flora’s parents?
The Haunting of Bly Manor may be a ghost story, but there’s one pivotal event that (seemingly, at least) takes place without any supernatural interference. Charlotte and Dominic Wingrave died in an unspecified accident while on a second honeymoon in India, leaving the orphaned children in the custody of Dominic’s brother, Henry. In Henry James' book, it's implied the parents are abusive to the children, though there's nothing of that sort here.
Why is Henry Wingrave so distant?
Again, there’s nothing supernatural about this. Henry is simply stricken with grief and guilt. He was also having a long-term affair with Charlotte and is – it turns out – Flora’s father (another divergence from the book). When Dominic eventually works this out (he “does the math” and realises Flora wasn’t born prematurely, as had always been assumed), he tells his brother that he’ll no longer be part of Flora’s life. Charlotte also tells him the relationship is over.
When Charlotte and Dominic die on their trip and Henry assumes responsibility for the children, he can’t face Miles and Flora. Instead, he opts to “live” in his office and drink, leaving the care of the kids to the staff at Bly Manor.
What about the *other* Henry?
This is cunning sleight-of-hand on the part of the show’s writers. While ghosts are real in The Haunting of Bly Manor and do talk to the living, the “demon” doppelganger who torments Henry is actually a figment of his imagination – a clever narrative device to illustrate Henry’s inner torment.
The demon forcing Henry to relive the darkest moments of his past has clever echoes of the “dream hopping” instigated by ghosts elsewhere in the story, but the mechanic for its existence is completely different. There’s similar symmetry in the way Henry is “trapped” in his office, much like the ghosts at Bly Manor – though his imprisonment is entirely by his own making.
What happened to Peter Quint?
As well as being the main villain of the piece, Quint is also the only present-day victim of Bly Manor’s resident ghost, Viola Lloyd. Once he’s embezzled Henry Wingrave’s money and tried to tempt Rebecca Jessel to run away with him to America, everyone thinks he’s done a runner – it’s certainly in keeping with his character.
As it turns out, however, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the ghostly Viola went on one of her murderous strolls around the house. She killed him and dumped his body at the bottom of the lake.
What happened to Rebecca Jessel?
After Quint died, he was able to appear to Rebecca as a ghost. After he’d worked out how to temporarily possess a human body, Quint took advantage of the fact she was in love with him, and tricked her into giving him complete control, while claiming they’d be sharing her body. While her consciousness was trapped in happy memories of the couple, he grew tired of being alone, and committed “suicide” by walking into the lake. As the water entered Miss Jessel’s lungs, Quint’s ghost departed, leaving her to drown.
What’s being “tucked away”?
When a ghost possesses a human, the host’s consciousness is “tucked away” into a corner of the mind – re-experiencing old memories while surrendering control of the body. “Dream hopping” is jumping between memories while a ghost has taken control.
Rebecca and Quint possess Flora and Miles, respectively, allowing them to re-live happy times with their late parents. The kids do come to realise when things aren’t real, however – Flora can spot that she should be much younger in moments with her mum. Repeatedly being “tucked away” explains why Flora keeps waking up in random places with no recollection of how she got there.
What’s Quint’s plan for the children?
Quint persuades Miles and Flora to permanently surrender control to him and Rebecca. The temptation of spending eternity with their parents is too much for them to turn down, and they agree to go along with the plan, using the words, “It’s you, it’s me, it’s us”, to let them in.
How does Flora escape?
While Miles allows Quint to possess him permanently, Flora gets away because Rebecca decides she doesn’t want to go through with the plan. They hatch a plan to make Quint believe she’s entered Flora’s mind and then – when Quint/Miles goes to find Hannah – free Dani so they can escape together.
What’s the supernatural relevance of the dolls?
This is another clever decoy from the writing team. While they’re clearly important to Flora – and the way she moves them around her very elaborate dollhouse seems to influence the plot – they’re just ordinary dolls. A faceless, ghostly child playing with the toys does allow for some great scares, though.
Was Hannah Grose a ghost all along?
There’s strong echoes of The Sixth Sense and The Others in the way housekeeper Hannah Grose goes through most of the story not realising she’s dead. While the passage of time can’t always be trusted in The Haunting of Bly Manor, it seems that Hannah died just before Dani arrived, when Miles (under Quint’s control) pushed her down the well.
Her strong faith, ties to Bly Manor and love for Owen keep her more strongly anchored to existence than other ghosts, though the gaps in her memory – and flashbacks to Owen’s job interview – are big clues that something’s not right. It’s not until Miles/Quint takes her to her dead body at the bottom of the well that she realises what’s actually happened.
Are all the other people Dani meets at Bly Manor alive?
Yes, aside from Hannah Grose, everyone Dani encounters who appears to be human (Miles, Flora, Owen, Jamie, Henry, the policeman) is alive.
Why are there so many ghosts at Bly Manor?
It’s all because of one spirit – Viola Lloyd. The 17th-century owner of Bly Manor, she was taken ill with a terminal lung condition. A priest read her last rites, yet she still managed to live another six years – and it wasn’t the illness that killed her. It was her younger sister, Perdita, who murdered her out of revenge for years of slaps and barbs.
Viola continued to live at Bly Manor as a ghost, and took brutal revenge on Perdita when her sister tried to open the trunk of clothes and jewels she’d bequeathed to her daughter. When the family left the estate, Viola remained, gradually losing memory of who she was. The other ghosts are people killed by Viola during her regular wanders around the house.
Why can’t the ghosts leave Bly Manor?
It’s not entirely clear why – perhaps it’s her strong will – but Viola creates a kind of gravitational field around the house and its grounds, preventing other ghosts from leaving. When they try to cross the gate, they’re thrown back to the place they died.
Why do some of the ghosts have no faces?
The longer you’re a ghost, the weaker your memories of your past life become. You start to forget who you were, and who you knew – to the point that your facial features fade away. This is why the plague doctor, the child and other older ghosts are faceless.
Why is the lake so important?
Viola’s essence is tied to the trunk containing the clothes and jewellery she bequeathed to her daughter. After her death, the death of her sister Perdita, and the family’s financial ruin, Viola’s husband and daughter threw the trunk into the water – anchoring her ghost to the lake. The fact that she’s always damp explains the muddy footprints that appear throughout The Haunting of Bly Manor – they had nothing to do with the kids, after all.
What happened to Dani?
The hero of the story, Dani effectively sacrifices herself to save Flora from Viola. As Viola carries the child towards a watery grave in the lake, Dani has the presence to call out, “It’s you, it’s me, it’s us,” as Miles had earlier. Flora is safe, all of Bly’s ghosts are released, and Viola is “tucked away” in Dani’s mind.
Despite being scared of Viola’s return, Dani goes on to live happily with Jamie – for a few years, at least. Eventually, Viola starts to appear in reflections, and when Dani wakes up to find she’s nearly killed Jamie, she decides it’s time to leave. Jamie finds her at the bottom of the lake at Bly Manor – presumably, Dani allowed herself to be dragged to the bottom to keep Jamie safe. There’s an extra legacy to her sacrifice, however – this lady of the lake won’t allow anyone else to be harmed.
Victoria Pedretti, who played Dani, has since spoken about The Haunting of Bly Manor ending, likening it to Arthur and Nell's story from The Haunting of Hill House. "I feel like that's something [Haunting creator Mike Flanagan] wants to talk about – that kind of love that feeds you as opposed to takes from you," she said. The comparison is apt: Hill House saw Arthur help Nell keep the Bent-Neck Lady at bay, while Bly Manor sees Jamie helps Dani keep Viola under control.
"It's very sad and tragic that Dani feels this need to take on the burden of the Lady of the Lake. But she really made that impulsive decision," Pedretti said. "She takes responsibility for that by returning herself to the lake."
Who is the narrator?
The accent was something of a giveaway – only one character in the whole story has a northern English twang – so it’s not a massive surprise when the Haunting of Bly Manor ending reveals that the story is being recounted by an older version of Jamie, with Carla Gugino taking over the role from Amelia Eve.
It’s worth going back and rewatching the first episode armed with this knowledge. Now we understand the relevance of older Jamie filling the sink and bath in her hotel room – she’s looking for Dani’s reflection – and why the man we now know to be Owen says, “Why not?” when she offers to tell her very long ghost story.
Whose wedding is taking place in the Haunting of Bly Manor ending?
The older Jamie has come to Northern California for Flora’s wedding rehearsal dinner, some 20 years after the spooky events at Bly Manor. Back at Owen’s restaurant, A Batter Place, he told Dani and Jamie that the kids don’t remember what happened, so it makes sense that Flora didn’t recognise Jamie – though Jamie clearly knows who she is. Since she moved to the US, she’s obviously no longer going by the name of Flora – though she says it’s her middle name. As well as Owen, older versions of Miles and Henry are also in attendance.
And that's pretty much everything you need to know about The Haunting of Bly Manor ending. Have any questions? Leave them in the comments. And if you're clamouring for more to watch, then check out the best Netflix shows.