The Haunting of Hill House‘s much-anticipated follow-up, The Haunting of Bly Manor, has finally landed on Netflix, and many fans have already devoured all nine episodes. However, the latest in the anthology series hasn’t received quite the acclaim of its predecessor, with NME‘s reviewer suggesting that it “ditches scares for soapy drama”.
Set deep in the English countryside, Bly Manor follows young American Dani (Victoria Pedretti) as she becomes an au pair to orphans Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) at the titular estate. Before long, spectral beings start to appear and Dani’s fragile mental state begins to collapse.
The story takes quite a few twists and turns as it winds its way to the shocking finale, which does resolve a fair few plot threads. Here, we break down that climactic ending – including the much talked-about final shot of a mystery hand on gardener Jamie’s shoulder:
Who is the Lady in the Lake?
One of the biggest mysteries of the series was that of the Lady in the Lake. In the penultimate episode, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, we finally learn the truth in a flashback. In short, Bly Manor was once owned by sisters Viola and Perdita who inherited the estate after their father’s death. However, when Viola married, their relationship soured – especially after Viola became ill and took to treating her sister like dirt. Eventually, Perdita snapped and strangled Viola in a fit of rage. The latter’s spirit, which became stuck in purgatory, stayed behind to seek revenge. And after murdering Perdita some years later, the ghostly being took refuge in the Lake, her grief and rage preventing any hope of passing on to the next life.
The question of why spirits can’t leave Bly Manor was also answered – Viola’s anger creates a ‘Gravity Well’, meaning the spirit of anyone who dies at Bly Manor is trapped in the grounds forever.
Is Hannah Grose actually dead?
A big twist was in store for the final episode, as it was revealed that housekeeper Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller) has been a ghost the whole time, apparently murdered by a possessed Miles just moments before Dani’s arrival in episode one. She suppressed the knowledge in the hope of rejoining the world, but eventually accepted her fate so as to try and save the children from the Lady in the Lake.
Dani’s big sacrifice unpacked
Dani (Victoria Pedretti) makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the series following Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Rebecca Jessel’s (Tahirah Sharif) failed plan to cheat death and possess children Miles and Flora indefinitely. After escaping the clutches of the Lady in the Lake herself, she chases the spectral villain (who is busy carrying Flora away) back to her watery abode. At the last minute, Dani invites Viola (Lake Lady) into her own body by using the key phrase: “It’s you. It’s me. It’s us.” She accepts – and the curse is lifted from Bly Manor, freeing all the other ghosts that have been trapped there over the years
Following her brave sacrifice, we learn that Dani and Jamie (Amelia Eve) leave for America and enjoy many happy years together, as we see in the final episode. However, the threat of Viola looming inside her leads to Dani’s decision that she must leave forever or risk harm to her beloved at the hands of ‘The Beast In The Jungle’ (the title of the final episode). She returns to Bly Manor and becomes the new Lady in the Lake, though we learn that the power of her own love is greater than that of Viola, meaning no other souls are harmed and spirits can still leave the house.
Who is the narrator, played by Carla Gugino?
It is also revealed in the final scene that the narrator (Carla Gugino), whose scenes bookend the series, is actually an older version of Jamie – and the wedding she is attending is that of an older Flora. Owen and Miles are also in attendance.
Whose hand is on Jamie’s shoulder in the final shot?
One of the biggest talking points among fans is the emotional final shot of the series, in which Jamie sits in a hotel room staring at the open door (ajar) in the hope that Dani will return to visit her. As the former gardener slips into sleep, we see a hand appear on her shoulder. Dani, is that you? The hand appears to be more solid than that of a ghost, suggesting that the purest part of Dani – the part Viola couldn’t corrupt – has remained at Jamie’s side all these years, watching over her.