Spooky spoilers are ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Covering all your mirrors? Keeping the closet door open at night? Giving all your plants a little extra love today? Then you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve just finished The Haunting of Bly Manor over on Netflix, you are certainly in a grieving state and looking for some closure after the show’s heartbreaking conclusion.
Welcome to the Bly Manor support group. Right there with you and ready to break down each and every ghost that lurked in the shadows and in plain sight for the follow up to 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House. Not every ghost is a ghost, but each of their presence in the show is either profound or incredibly creepy. Let’s get into it:
Dani’s Ex BF Eddie O’Mara
Even before Dani signs on to become the new au pair to the Wingrave children, we catch sight of a man with glowing glasses in the mirror, haunting her through mirrors. Throughout the series, Dani is taunted by the horrifying figure. And in Episode 4, we learn he was her childhood best friend who later became her fiancé. As the flashbacks indicate, Dani was having second thoughts about her marriage to Eddie and timidly broke things off with him in a car seconds before he hurriedly walked out of the car and a truck rams into him.
We learn the glowing glasses are a reflection of the terror about to befall on him. Now Eddie is a bit of an ambiguous ghost. He signifies the guilt Dani feels for accepting her true self as a gay woman and breaking away from the traditional married life she may have had with him. But is he truly haunting her until she gets rid of the weight of his death or is he a hallucination? It's up to interpretation, and that's the beauty of Bly Manor.
Henry Wingrave’s Mr. Hyde
Though I do want to clear up this creepy addition to Bly Manor that feels the least ghosty in the series. In Episode 6 of the show, it turns the focus on Henry Wingrave, the children’s uncle and professional drinker. As we learn of his affair with his brother’s wife, Charlotte, Henry drowns his sorrows in a glass (or bottle) of dark liquor as a tormenting version of himself sits with him. The show treats the Mr. Hyde version of him, if you will, like a ghost, but he’s not dead and he doesn’t have a twin brother. The other Henry is an alter ego that represents him facing his demons. The alter ego is an interesting addition because it makes us question which parts of the series are actually supernatural or figments of one’s psyche.
Dani is the replacement au pair to Rebecca Jessel, which we learn took her own life after falling in an impassioned romance with the Wingrave’s valet, Peter Quint. We are initially led to believe Jessel is the Lady of the Lake since her body was found there, but Bly Manor’s ghost story goes back much further than the recent love affair. Ms. Jessel is a friendly and welcome care-taker to the grief stricken Wingrave children but her increasingly passionate ties with Peter draws her focus away from her job. As the show progresses we learn she was possessed by the ghost of Peter to kill herself to join him among the Bly Manor ghosts.
Within the timeline of Bly Manor, we learn that Pete Quint was living and breathing during his and Ms. Jessel’s love affair and a thief of the Wingrave family's fine jewelry. His verbally abusive ways concerned all around them, but Ms. Jessel was too blindly in love to see the toxicity of their relationship. He convinces her to run away with him to America with his stolen riches, but the night before they are set to leave, Quint is murdered by the real Lady of the Lake and transformed into a ghost. He accidentally touches young Miles Wingrave, thus learning how to possess others to affect change in the real world.
Quint is an actual ghost in the series, but he also represents possession in a relationship. He possesses Rebecca to be with him for eternity and plans to use the Wingrave children to keep his and “Becs” consciousness for longer than the other Bly ghosts.
The most complex ghost story of Bly Manor is undoubtedly Hannah Grose, who lives among the Wingrave family as a ghost for most of the series. You may have caught on to this when Hannah continuously passed on Owen’s delicious cooking and pitch for the pair to move to Paris together. She was in love with Owen, so why say no to such adorable offers? But Hannah Grose is always lighting candles, staying up late and staring into a crack on the walls. She was an in-denial ghost and Bly Manor took us through the process of her realizing what has happened to her.
As the show takes us through, part of being a ghost is passing through one’s memories and looping through the past over and over. We learn Peter possessed Miles to throw Hannah into a well and kill her. At the end of the series, Owen finds her body.
The Lady Of The Lake
Episode 8 of Bly Manor proved to be a particularly important chapter of the series in terms of learning the origins of the show’s most spine-chilling ghosts. It tells the story of the Willoughby family, who once lived in Bly Manor many years ago and provides some more welcome returns from Hill House. The story centers on Kate Seigal’s Viola Lloyd, who marries Arthur and has a daughter with him in the manor. The tale turns sour when Viola is diagnosed with a terminal lung condition (and we’re triggered because 2020) and she must separate herself from her daughter. While she’s on her side of the manor, Arthur and her sister Perdita begin bonding and Viola becomes jealous.
Perdita decides to murder Viola because she’s never heard the saying ‘sisters before misters’ and marries him. Viola becomes a ghost of course and while her face fades over the years, her rage remains within her and she aimlessly drags residents of Bly into the water. This is how Peter dies. At the end of the series, Viola sets her sights somehow on Flora Wingrave and decides to take Flora with her to the lake to become her forever-ghost replacement daughter. But Dani, being the A+ nanny she is, allows Viola to possess her. Dani has a lot of good years away from Bly with her gardener wifey Jamie (who is revealed as the narrator), but returns to finally silence the Lady of the Lake by drowning herself.
Another faceless ghost that certainly creeped us out throughout our binge of Bly Manor was the attic ghost who wears period attire and appears throughout the show. As Episode 8 makes us realize, the attic ghost is in fact Viola’s sister Perdita, who really begins this whole mess when she kills Viola and thus creates the supernatural hold of faceless dread everyone who dies in the manor becomes trapped in. Once Viola becomes a ghost, she of course goes the revenge route and murders Perdita in the attic. After ages as a ghost, not much of Perdita is left in the ‘80s except for being a shell of a corpse.
The Plague Doctor
Another ghost lounging in the background of frames throughout Bly Manor just like the bonus ghosts of Hill House is the Plague Doctor, who started hanging out in the house when Viola was diagnosed with her illness. He’s apparently wearing that huge mask to protect himself from her lung condition. Viola’s ghost murders her doctor when Bly is being used as a quarantine house for the sick. Much like Perdita and Viola, the Plague Doctor has faded away, but his figure still walks the halls of the manor throughout the show.
That Poor Child Ghost
The most innocent yet unsettling ghost of the show is the child ghost that first makes an appearance in Episode 2 of Bly Manor. And he is another victim of Viola’s. The boy ghost was killed off by Viola, who she mistakes for her own daughter at first. He becomes stuck in her “gravity well” like the rest of the ghosts and sticks around until his face fades. When Dani sacrifices her soul to be possessed by Viola the poor ghosty boy and the rest of the Bly Manor ghosts are freed from their prison and theoretically allowed to pass on to the other side of life. So strangely it’s a happy ending?
Did you catch all the ghosts of Bly Manor? There undoubtedly could have been others that did not show themselves too. It’s what makes Mike Flanagan’s second horror show with Netflix extra terrifying. Check out what else is new to Netflix in October with CinemaBlend’s list of new releases.
YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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