Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor
Ep5: “The Altar of the Dead”
Directed by Liam Gavin
Written by Angela LaManna
* For a recap & review of “The Way It Came,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “The Jolly Corner,” click here.
Hannah and Owen sit by the fire, talking about the past and the future. He thinks there’s no counting on either the past or future. She knows that’s not true. She’s seen plenty while being the housekeeper at Bly Manor. Owen admits to being somewhat relieved his mother’s gone. That’s a natural though, particularly because we never want to see our loved ones in prolonged pain. But it was also holding back Owen’s life. He was in Paris before she got terribly sick. He wants to go back, and he says Hannah should go with him. She laughs, yet he’s serious.
Flashback to when Hannah first met Owen at the mansion. She was the one interviewing him for his position. She wondered why someone who studied in Paris would want to work in Wessex. The series is showing, time after time, everybody who goes to Bly Manor to work is really doing it for some other purpose, whether running from something, or trying to find something. Owen was open with Hannah about his mother’s increasing dementia being part of why he wanted the job. He mentions Thomas Merton and the idea that past “everything occupying our brains” we can find transcendence, relating it to the eroding consciousness of a person with dementia, how he’s learning things despite his mother’s illness being tragic. Soon, the Wingraves arrived along with Quint. Charlotte Wingrave (Alex Essoe) found Hannah outside, screaming into the night. She tried to comfort her, asking the housekeeper to stay the night: “Forever, if you need to.”Gardener and handywoman Jamie gets very angry with Miles, who shakes her ladder while she works. Bit overboard— “I will fucking end you“— though to be fair she could’ve fallen off that ladder and hurt herself badly, potentially anyway. Hannah arrives in the middle of it, though flashes back to sitting around the fire with Owen talking deeply about life. Skip back to a time before at Bly Manor when Rebecca was still around. Hannah heard Rebecca and Quint arguing about their last argument over the batter. Of course ole Peter said the typical things that manipulative abusers say, like ‘I don’t know that guy’ and ‘I promise it won’t happen again.’ Then they kissed and made up, and Peter saw Hannah spying on them.
We continue jumping around Hannah’s time at the mansion. She caught Peter taking jewellery from Charlotte’s vanity. He tried to act like it was simply picking up stuff for Henry, not fleecing the family estate for as much money as possible. The necklace he’s taking is “over 400 years old” according to what Charlotte once told the housekeeper. Hannah was wise to Mr. Quint’s sketchy business around the property. And that was probably not a good thing for her, judging by his unsettling dark side. He tried to make it out like he and Hannah were on the same side, both considered as “the help“— lot of balls on him to use those words to a Black woman. After that he jumps to threatening her job. Typical white male horse shit. I’m more interested in the cracks Hannah kept seeing around the house; the ones she still sees. Not only that, she sees Rebecca outside in the shadows.
Hannah’s memories are cycling, as if the house is drawing them out of her so she can re-experience them. Back to the interview she did with Owen. She told him about Miles being altered by losing his parents. Owen wonders if the boy is cruel, and Hannah seems to taken offence, yet she almost suggests in her response there’s something to worry about with the child. An eerie transition takes us to Hannah scolding Miles for smoking a cigarette. She warned him of a “horrible choking death,” but the little brat just laughs and runs off. She lost Miles and wound up at the church house, where Charlotte was sitting in a pew. Charlotte wanted Hannah to become a live-in housekeeper. Hannah was hug up on her husband Sam, who seemed to have been stepping out on her with somebody. Charlotte related the concept of having “blind faith” in a husband to having the same faith in God. Jump to Hannah sitting in the pew with Rebecca, talking about the latter’s relationship with Quint. She urged that the man had a bad influence on her. It just drove Rebecca away. Hannah tried going after her, opening the church doors to a stone wall. Suddenly, Miles appears with Quint’s lighter, and then, gone again.
Hannah’s now in the kitchen watching Owen cook, as Rebecca tasted some food. Quint interrupted, pulling his lover out of there. The housekeeper related a story of mice and traps to the cook, about seeing a mouse leg left in a glue trap because the mouse had chewed itself out of there. She says Quint “is a glue trap” and he won’t leave Rebecca whole when he’s done with her, either. Back to the interview, Hannah hears Owen talk about glue traps. We’re crossing over time and space here, as they each recall the conversation they haven’t yet had in linear history. He gets fairly creepy about death and denial, freaking Hannah out.
She tries to leave and walks right into the shadows. She sees Rebecca and Peter in bed together having a tender moment. He was laying it on thick about class struggle in England. He was revealing his plan to get them out of there with money to start a future in America. Though only bits and pieces. Otherwise, Rebecca was left in the dark. When Quint left, Rebecca talks to Hannah, again the meta-dream sequence happening as they’re all aware of the crossover.
When Hannah steps into the hall, she finds Peter going about his business of stealing what he could get his hands on. A terrifying ghost woman appears out of nowhere, grabbing Quint by the neck and pulling him headlong into the darkness of the hall. Just as quickly, Peter walks out of there like nothing ever happened. He tries to hold Flora’s ghost doll and drops it, like something’s controlling his body. The little girl talks of the ghosts on the property, and warns that the lady from the lake is returning. So does the lady, still pulling Quint, who yells at her. Peter touches Miles and then Miles appears to become Peter.
The Lady goes on dragging Quint until they reach the water.
Then they disappear below the surface. And Hanna sees a dead Rebecca.
So why all the repetition?
Hannah can’t figure out the cycling of her memories. Ole Owen’s busy reciting some Hamlet. After a bit they start digging into things deeper. Owen’s sure of only one thing: Miles is a fucked up little dude. That’s why Hannah’s keeping an extra eye on him now, following the boy into the woods. She discovers Miles meeting Quint at a well. She threatens to call the cops. Miles takes on the qualities of Quint again. The man’s dead and his spirit is locked away in the boy’s body.
Unfortunately, now Hannah gets pushed down a well.
She lays there, broken in half, and notices cracks in the wall. Miles is behind her coming out of a nightmare. This is actually the first moment when Hannah and Miles meet the new au pair, Dani. What a trip! And no wonder Hannah’s always talking of being “miles away.” Skip ahead to Hannah by the fire, agreeing to go to Paris with Owen before he and Jamie leave for the night. She doesn’t want to be alone, so she runs after them but loses her friends in the darkness. Or, maybe she’s lost in time.
A surreal episode I wasn’t sure worked up until the last few minutes. Very good stuff. Super creepy, too. The lady in the lake is a terror, I love it. Hopefully more of her coming ASAP. I hope that Flanagan & Co. don’t stray too far into the sentimentality. I did love Hill House, but ultimately I think I was let down by the end going too sentimental instead of sticking with the great horror and terror that was built up earlier in the season.
Let’s cross our fingers for Bly Manor.