Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor
Ep9: “The Beast in the Jungle”
Directed by E.L. Katz
Written by Julia Bicknell
* For a recap & review of “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” click here.
Hannah’s coming to terms with all the death around her, including her own. She tells Owen she’s “slipping away,” and he knows it’s inevitable. She treasures that moment meeting him, the feeling it gave her. She imagines the life they could’ve had together. She loved him and never said it while she was alive. Owen then explains: “You must help all of us out there.” This is only a memory, it’s Hannah’s memory. Can she help the people she cared about in life?
Poor Dani’s in the grip of a faceless Viola, dragging her back towards the house now. She’s helpless. Hannah calls out and then she’s passed right through by the faceless lady. Viola pulls Dani up the stairs, towards the forbidden wing. She reaches the room where her bed was once, and in rushes Flora, taking place of the child Viola once remembered. Faceless Viola goes to Flora and takes her instead, carrying her away while gargling “O Willow Waly” through her mangled mouth.
Flora calls out to Miss Jessel, and Quint-Miles urges Rebecca to save the vessel that’s meant to get her out of Bly Manor. Appropriate time for Uncle Henry to finally show up, noticing his niece being carried away. He rushes after Viola, who pinches him by the throat until he’s unconscious and tosses him aside— just like that, Uncle Henry’s a ghost there, too.
At the same time, Owen and Jamie turn up noticing Henry’s abandoned car. Hannah comes upon them and sends them off to the lake without explanation. Rebecca’s at the lake and offering Flora a way out of the pain of death. The little girl repeats the words: “It‘s you. It‘s me. It‘s us.” Rebecca touches the girl’s face— Flora has a flash of her mother comforting her— and then the transfer’s complete.
Except Dani came rushing into the water, repeating the same words as Flora, not understanding them. This stopped faceless Viola in her tracks. And everything seems to reverse. Miles is returned to himself while Quint becomes a spirit again, and Henry’s death is undone. But Viola’s invited into Dani, and Hannah sadly remains where she died in the well.
Life goes on for those at Bly Manor. Henry already feels closer to his niece and nephew. Then there’s Dani, who can feel Viola somewhere within her. She feels the woman’s rage. She feels like she’s walking through a jungle where there’s an “angry, empty, lonely beast” that’s watching her, waiting for a time to take Dani. At least Dani has Jamie by her side. They’re heading off together, leaving Bly and the Wingraves behind. They say their heartfelt goodbyes and then take off on a path to America.
They take things a day at a time, enjoying what time they have together. A year later, they’re still going strong. Jamie gave Dani a moonflower. She took that moment to express her love. Then another year passes, and more, still. The two women begin building a real life together. Things are beautiful. Until one day when Viola rears her faceless head in Dani’s life. Nevertheless, Dani pushes forward. She sweetly asks Jamie to marry her, even if they can’t “technically get married” in what’s probably the ’90s at this point. They continue taking things one day at a time, yet they also don’t intend on wasting any time, either.
Jamie and Dani go to Owen’s restaurant, A Better Place. They celebrate their new private vows, they also toast their beloved lost friend Hannah. No matter how well things seem to be going, Dani can’t escape seeing Viola’s face wherever she looks. She knows it’s only a matter of a time before the faceless woman destroys her new, happy life. Owen mentions Flora and Miles, that they don’t remember any of what happened at Bly; they don’t even recall Hannah much, sadly. It’s good in a way. They only remember little of the manor and their time there, not “the fear of it all” the grownups worried would scare them.
Though the children have forgot, Dani can never forget, forever forged in one soul now with Viola. She tells Jamie about seeing the faceless woman recently. Her partner says they just have to keep an eye on things. They might have years together before anything actually happens. But then again, they might have little time left.
One day, Jamie came home with the papers for her and Dani’s civil union. She found her partner in the bathroom, staring into the water of an overflowing tub, looking at Viola. Of course Jamie can’t see it. Dani’s continually haunted, incapable of getting away from the terror. She feels herself fading. Will she disappear like Viola and become faceless, too?
Dani can’t handle it. She leaves. This propels Jamie back to Bly Manor again. She walks into the lake and swims down to the bottom, finding Dani’s body there instead of Viola. There are no more people taken by this lady of the lake. This leaves Jamie alone, looking into every reflection, every pool of water to seek the image of Dani. But it never comes, and Dani becomes a faceless woman herself at Bly.
The storyteller finishes her long tale with everybody on the edge of their seats. Someone asks if it’s true, and she says there “no place by that name.” When everyone else leaves the bride at the wedding stays to sit with the storyteller. She critiques the story, calling it not a “ghost story” but a “love story.” The storyteller sees them as the same; after all, those are the roots of the Gothic. The bride confides she’s scared about what’ll happen if her groom dies before her, that it terrifies her to be so close to someone and be worried about what happens later, after their loved one’s gone. The storyteller advises not to think of those things yet, and when the time comes, you’ll find ways to discover comfort. That’s what the storyteller, Jamie, does with her lost love, Dani.
Hopefully that’s what the bride, a grown Flora, will do, too. Jamie enjoys the wedding reception and heads back to her hotel room. She fills the tub, hoping she’ll see Dani again; no such luck. She sees nothing in the sink, either. And she sits in a chair by the door, waiting to see if her love will return. When she falls asleep, Dani’s there with a hand on her shoulder.
“You’re still here”
Although the series, again, strays too far into sentimentality for my taste, Bly Manor is a great series. I wish they could’ve gone a different route because it just feels exactly the same as the first season’s ending, trying to finish off on a sweet note. This one’s actually saccharine compared to the way Hill House finished. Not sure I can take another season of this style, despite loving Flanagan and the others involved. Please don’t use Poe for a season and turn it into sappy Gothic!