Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor
Ep2: “The Pupil”
Directed by Ciarán Foy
Written by James Flanagan
* For a recap & review of “The Great Good Place,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “The Two Faces, Part One,” click here.
Filthy footprints are nothing surprising at Bly Manor. Seems Hannah’s been cleaning them forever. They always go to the “forbidden wing“— where Mr. and Mrs. Wingrave’s room is located— and back out the door again. Dani’s looking for an explanation this morning, asking the children about last night with the closet and muddy footprints. No real explanations. The au pair doesn’t trust the kids. Flora’s more interested in the ghost-like doll under her dresser. He brother grabs it and tosses it down the laundry chute. Dani punishes Miles with cleaning. After that she tries to bring Flora with her to the cellar, though the child doesn’t like it down there. Dani goes down by herself to retrieve the doll instead.
Back upstairs, Ms. Clayton shoos Flora off with her doll and goes looking for young Master Miles. She finds him in the classroom staring out the window. He’s lost in thought, back six months prior at the boarding school where he was sent in the wake of his parents’ deaths. He and his classmates were learning from Father Stack (Jim Piddock). The priest read from Mark 5:11-13 here, ending with a passage about drowning in a lake. Curious, no? Father Stack talked about demonic possession in the Bible via this passage. Spooky. Father Stack said “evil exists,” but we’re not compelled to be evil, rather we’re tasked with resisting it. After class, the priest let Miles know the school was a “safe place for questions,” about religion or otherwise.
At one point, an accident occurred. Miles had been climbing a tree with another boy called Hooper, going much too high. Hooper attempted to call him down, as did Father Stack, but Miles closed his eyes and fell from the branches, luckily only injuring his arm. In the aftermath, Hooper wondered why his friend jumped, in spite of Miles insisting: “I fell.”
This wouldn’t be the end of trouble for Miles. He was found fighting Hooper, choking his friend on the floor when Father Stack came running to break it up. The priest let Miles know he went to bat with the headmaster. He talked about “terrible guilt” being “what distinguishes us in God‘s eyes.” He told Miles no human being is without sin, that creatures such as animals are the only “innocents” among life on Earth. He also tried to explain that death isn’t to be feared. Easy to say at his age. Miles had lost both his parents, and as a boy that’s not easy to reconcile.
Father Stack found a dead bird on the church altar. This was automatically blamed on Miles. Father Stack did his best to understand what was going on in the boy’s mind, and Miles threw the priest’s own words about evil back in his face. The headmaster wanted the child to apologise. Instead, Miles doubled down, apologising for not doing something worse. Hooper would later find a letter to Miles from Flora asking her brother to come home. So it looks like all these events were orchestrated by the boy himself.
Dani’s got the kids kept busy in the garden as punishment while Hannah and Jamie are relaxing. Owen soon joins the ladies to gossip about the au pair, particularly the distinction between them as British and her as American. Later on, Flora’s cleaning the au pair’s room. She’s trying on a pair of glasses from Dani’s luggage, and Dani’s clearly unsettled. Who owns the glasses? They send her into a near panic attack and Jamie stumbles onto her in a mess. Jamie’s a good hand when it comes to plants AND emotions. She then heads off to a fix a crack Hannah told her about, only there’s no crack. We saw it earlier from Hannah’s perspective, so that makes me worried for her, doubly so when remembering she hasn’t been eating, either. And poor Dani continues to have mirror troubles wherever she goes.
“Dead doesn’t mean gone”
Miles apologises to Ms. Clayton for acting like a child— which y’know, he is— about the closet and footprints. Strange little dude. He offers a bouquet of flowers and tells her Flora misses Miss Jessel, so they “play little games” to make her happy. The boy oddly pushes Dani’s hair back over her ear, a gesture slightly too intimate for someone his age. The bouquet sends Jamie into a rage when she discovers her flowers were cut to make it. Dani calms her down and promises to talk to Miles. At least these ladies have each other to keep one another from going over the edge.
That evening, Dani decides to play a game with the kids as a reward for their hard work cleaning. Flora proposes hide and seek before it gets too late and they have to be in their rooms. A bad idea likely, but the au pair goes for it. The children run to hide while their new governess counts. Dani looks around the dark mansion for the brother-sister pair. She finds nothing and hears nobody. She comes upon a picture of the family right before a music box plays “O Willow Waly” somewhere in the distance. She follows the sound into one of the rooms, right to the music box.
In another room, Flora hums the tune, and a horrifying voice is heard behind her. The little girl turns and tells the faceless ghost SHH, so the room goes quiet again except for her humming.
Miles comes flying into the room where Dani’s looking at a photograph with the music box. He grips her around the neck until she’s nearly choking. He takes off again in a flash. Dani goes after him and sees the front door’s open. She closes it, but hears a strange noise. She sees a man’s face through the window— surely Quint— that gradually recedes into shadows. Dani finds a weapon and goes outside, yelling she’ll call the cops. She sees Miles inside and the boy collapses. She also tells Hannah about the man, who again appears in the window, this time to Miles.
A solid follow-up to the initial episode. Things are definitely getting dreadful. I love the deliberate pacing, just like The Haunting of Hill House. I think the build-up here is even more gradual, which I personally enjoy. Because we get snippets of terror along the way, too. That humming ghost really freaked me out! And I loved every second of it.