Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor
Ep3: “The Two Faces, Part One”
Directed by Ciarán Foy
Written by Diane Ademu-John
* For a recap & review of “The Pupil,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “The Way It Came,” click here.
Miles has come to after passing out briefly. He sees the face of Quint in the window. We skip back a year ago to a tailor shop where Peter Quint was getting decked out. He later picked up top shelf liquor. Perfect use of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” Quint showed up at Lord Henry Wingrave’s office with “hair of the dog” to get his pal going. This is when Miss Rebecca Jessel turned up for an interview. The meeting with Henry went similar to the one we’ve seen Dani have, though Rebecca stood her ground very well. She had quite the C.V. Quint wondered why she’d look for a “nanny job” with such qualifications. Rebecca clearly genuinely loved children.
The photograph Dani found during the night was one of Rebecca and Peter. She reports seeing him around the house. The cops know him considering he stole nearly £200,000 from the Wingraves and ran, which is what precipitated Rebecca’s death. The cop only tells the women at the house to lock the windows and doors. Not very soothing for Hannah or Dani, so Hannah decides to call Jamie and Owen while Dani goes looking around the property herself.
Another memory of the past. Quint was driving Rebecca in to Bly Manor, just as we’ve seen Owen drive Dani there, too. They had a chat about Peter’s place in the household. He did a bunch of jobs, trying to help Henry out after the tragedy. He spoke of the kids, referring to Miles as the “dark horse” of the family. Flora and Miles were glad to meet their “very own Mary Poppins,” as were the other staff. There was undoubtedly an immediate connection between Rebecca and Quint.
In the woods, Dani and Jamie run into one another, the latter toting a gun in case they come upon trouble. They find nothing and end up back at the house. That night, they all talk about Quint. There’s been supposed “prank calls” lately that Owen thinks could be Quint. He speculates what the man’s motives for coming back could be, positing it’s got to do with Miss Jessel, whom Peter doesn’t know is dead.
Another look back shows Rebecca playing dolls with Flora. The little girl said she’d make a doll of her governess to add to the collection. Quint showed up with a bouquet of flowers for Flora. They’re really for the governess, he’s just sly. He and Miles had a moment alone together. He told the boy life is about “keys” because every person is like a “locked room“— this explains the boy mentioning keys at boarding school to Hooper and Father Stack. What’s obvious here is Quint had begun to have an influence over the boy. One that still exists.
That night, Quint had time alone with Rebecca. They talked of her experience at Bly Manor so far. He was trying to get to know her beneath the surface she displayed in a professional setting. “Tell me what you want,” he asked frankly. Rebecca wanted to be a barrister. She needed a pupilage, but loathed the “sea of old men” trying to get her in bed while she’d have to fight to prove she was smart. Partly why she applied for a position with Lord Wingrave. Quint also talked more with Rebecca about not being “part of the fucking club” because he wasn’t born into the bourgeois class. The sexual tension between the two was steak knife thick.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is Gothic in the most perfect sense because it’s tangled up in dark romance. Quint and Rebecca’s story begins beautifully, though it ended in terrible tragedy. Dani stares at the photograph, wondering what went wrong. She agrees with Jamie that “love and ownership” are two opposing things, but knows people often confuse the two. Side note: is there potentially something between Dani and Jamie, maybe some desire? Either way, the crew of adults put the children to bed for the night among thoughts of Peter somewhere out there, “stalking a dead woman.” The night gets scarier for Dani when she lays in bed and sees a bloody hand reaching up over the edge at her.
We see Rebecca by the lake with Flora, as Peter and Miles tossed a ball around. Cut to when Dani finds Flora standing at the edge of the water staring. She pulls the screaming girl away. Across the lake is an apparition of Miss Jessel, silent, staring back. A doctor comes to check out the children, telling Hannah and Dani they’re both just fine. The women talk about how Henry won’t come back to the house, despite his niece and nephew having a rough time. What is it that keeps him away from Bly Manor?
Quint was really making himself at home when having an extended stay at Bly Manor. He was taking good wine from the cellar, surprising Hannah and Owen. He and Rebecca were using the place less as one of employment, more as one for the setting of their budding romance. It’s obvious that early on Quint was scheming to steal from the Wingrave estate and his so-called friend Henry. He’d broken out an expensive fur coat to give Rebecca. There’s also the earlier moment where we see Peter’s controlling nature as he snatched hold of Rebecca by the arm, refusing to let her leave the bed. Brief yet unsettling foreshadowing. The lovers were interrupted dry humping in the forbidden wing by Hannah. She had words with Peter while Rebecca rushed off to the children.
This really kick-started the manipulative side of Mr. Quint. He packed up his things to go back to London, acting nasty with Rebecca, jealous like she did something wrong by tasting the batter Owen was preparing. The misogynist in Peter was fully erupting, accusing Rebecca of being a whore for enjoying a little batter just like everyone else in the room. Very ugly.
Miles and Flora are prepared for “story time.” They stand at the top of the stairs, dressed and makeup on their faces, and they get the performance going like two tiny Shakespearean stage actors. Some good cat puns from Flora, too. Miles does his part about puppets and it gets kind of creepy, descending into a diatribe about the “stupid puppets.” The performance is interrupted by a phone call letting Owen know his mother’s passed away, so he heads home devastated, not before Hannah whispers something to him and offers a warm hug. We finally see that Dani and Jamie do, indeed, feel desire for one another. They don’t quite act it out, it is 1987, after all. However, Jamie now knows how Dani feels. Even if it’s just one small touch of the hand, it says so much.
Now, if only Dani could stop seeing those bright-eyed shadow figures.
I personally loved this episode because I enjoy when Gothic horror doesn’t lose the romance of the early Gothic works between the late 1700s to late 1900s. That essence survives here. It was present in Hill House, but Bly Manor seems to really be leaning into that original Gothic aspect of dark romance more, which is of course big in the work of Henry James.