Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor
Ep6: “The Jolly Corner”
Directed by Yolanda Ramke & Ben Howling
Written by Rebecca Leigh Klingel
* For a recap & review of “The Altar of the Dead,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “The Two Faces, Part Two,” click here.
A double dose of Henry James here. This episode’s title comes from a 1908 short story named “The Jolly Corner” by James. We begin with Henry at his office receiving a letter for his brother Dominic Wingrave (Matthew Holness). It’s clearly not something he’s excited about seeing, either. He spends many days and night by himself at the office. It’s easier to avoid the rest of life apart from business that way. He gets reports from Dani at Bly Manor, and generally tries to ignore what he can about his niece and nephew, despite making sure they’re financially sound. When everyone’s gone for the day, Henry receives a silent, shadowy visitor. It’s himself, but a much darker looking version.
Cut back to when Charlotte was going into labour early. Henry was already at the house when Dominic rushed home in a panic. The doctor made a house call rather than them driving a couple hours to the hospital. Henry left the couple alone with the doctor during the rest of the birthing. Was the odd look from Charlotte something to notice? Or just the discomfort of a pregnant woman in labour not wanting her brother-in-law around? Hmm.
Little Flora wakes up in the yard, barefoot and confused. Elsewhere, Dani brings coffee out for Jamie in the morning, trying to offer a gesture to ease the awkwardness between them. She mentions things have “been a bit strange” around the property, from the children to the adults. Dani obviously purposefully got up early to talk to Jamie about how things were left during their previous intimate moment. Jamie doesn’t want any drama, and it’s obvious that Dani’s still figuring out her own queerness, particularly in the wake of what happened with Eddie. The au pair offers a night out at the pub, so the two can get away from the manor for an evening. Their chat’s stopped abruptly when they notice Flora walking absentminded towards the lake. The girl says she isn’t well. And she’s also seeing the ghost of Rebecca.
Suddenly, Flora comes to back in her room. She sees someone drop down behind the edge of her bed. She looks to see who it is, then she sees a little kid standing back on in her doorway. She introduces herself but when she turns the stranger around the child has no face. Flora runs off calling for her mother, rushing to her parents’ bedroom. Charlotte figures it’s Miles playing tricks. This is the moment we see there was DEFINITELY something going on between Charlotte and Henry, as the latter can be seen putting his clothes back on, which Flora clearly sees. Oh, my. Other than that, Henry talks about being young at Bly Manor years ago. He had “a friend” there, too; a soldier. He said the soldier stopped scaring him after he offered a story, so Flora thinks that may work for her, as well. There’s more of the house bending space and time here with Flora realising she’s “tucked away again” in a memory. When Flora wakes up she finds a worried Dani over her with Jamie in tow.
Cut back to when Henry got news of Flora sleepwalking. He picked up the phone to call Flora directly, asking her if she found a story for the child. She told him her father was home and suggested the boy was a “fig–mint” of her imagination. Henry wasn’t really happy to hear his brother washome. He awkwardly made up an excuse for calling, though Dominic may have been figuring the affair out.
More of Henry divided against himself. He’s wrestling with the darker side of his persona. This dark Henry picks away at the regular Henry’s confidence and mental state in general. He calls to mind things that the regular Henry doesn’t want to think about too much, like the death of his brother, the state of his financial affairs post-Quin, and everything he obviously would rather push to the corners of his mind.
At Bly Manor, Dani finds Owen and Hannah in the kitchen chatting, and before she can start making more of her terrible tea Jamie arrives to whisk her away. The two women go for a walk in the forest, to where Jamie planted a moonflower; it only blooms twice a year at night, and each bud “only once.” She sees people as plants. She tells Dani everything about her tough life, from a cheating mother and a working class father who became the town laughingstock for being cuckolded, to the family being split apart by social services and the kids getting spread out into foster care.
Henry’s the one who bought Flora the dollhouse replica of Bly Manor. It’s then when Dominic was truly beginning to see what was going on with his brother and his wife. The father and husband was thinking back to the night Flora was born, a “strange night.” He was thinking of how early his daughter came into the world. That length of time was making him think back to when Flora was conceived. Dominic knew it didn’t add up, realising Flora was conceived while he was in Russia six years prior. All the pieces were fitting together.
Poor Flora is totally out of it. She can’t stop getting folded back into her memories. And we also see the prank calls aren’t prank calls at all, nor are they Peter Quint— it’s Henry, trying to call but unable to actually say anything. The Wingrave patriarch is busy having more visions. We go back to a memory of Charlotte stopping in to see her brother-in-law/lover. A brief bit of memory to torture him. The dark part of Henry wants more of the torture. He pushes Henry to go back to the night the two selves finally met, when Henry got a call about his brother and sister-in-law’s death. The dark Henry first appeared then to revel in the news, as he does now still.
Dani’s starting to believe a doctor is in order for Flora. She gets advice from Jamie, that the girl needs a psychologist like she had once upon a time. She tries to get Jamie to come back again later, though the latter’s trying to take things slow between them. At the office, Henry has a bad feeling that something’s going to happen at Bly, and though his dark self taunts him he heads out. Back at the mansion, Flora goes on a chase after the faceless ghost child until she finds the boy hiding among old dolls in the attic. She takes a face off one of the broken dolls and gives it to the boy. She decides it’s time to “come up with a story” for him.
But then she’s back in bed. Rebecca is there, too. Then the old governess is gone, and Flora’s angry, confused, tired; all of it! Dani shows up and she sees the ghost of Rebecca standing in the darkness, terrified of the apparition. She calls Flora to her, then turns to see Quint in the hallway. They’re surrounded. Out of nowhere, they’re alone again. Flora runs away and goes upstairs with the dolls again. Dani follows, and out of the shadows comes Miles, whacking the au pair over her head.
Good episode. Wearing a bit thin on the over-sentimentality. Hill House went too overboard with it past the middle of the first season, and Bly Manor feels like it’s going the same route. I don’t hate it. However, these stories are very scary. The original novels/novellas these series’ are based on are truly frightening to me. There’s scary stuff in both these seasons, but I feel all the most chilling qualities of The Turn of the Screw are being softened, and some left out entirely. Crossing my fingers that the final few episodes will lean deeper into the horror and terror, rather than the healing of trauma. Just traumatise me more! It’s all I’m asking for here.