Up until this point, “Bly Manor” has kept things pretty simple. Sure, there are mysterious – and possibly living – dolls in the attic, a high probability of ghosts lurking around, and plenty of other abnormalities throughout the Manor, but nothing yet has really pushed the limits of our understanding.
Well, after Episode 5 consider your boundaries pushed. If you thought “Tenet” was filled with mind-boggling time jumps, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Let’s dive in.
Once again, we’re back around the bonfire. Wait, haven’t we already seen this? Yes, but now we’re experiencing it through the eyes of the lovely Hannah Grose. While Dani and Jamie were off having a bit of alone time, Ms. Grose and Owen were left by the fire, which meant we only caught the tail end of their conversation – an invitation from Owen for the two to pack up and head to Paris together. Now it’s time to find out how exactly that topic came up. It’s been fairly evident that there’s chemistry between the two, and while Hannah comforts Owen in the wake of his mother’s passing, it only becomes more obvious. Owen contemplates his past and future, and it’s clear he wants Ms. Grose to be a part of the latter.
Turns out Owen and Hannah have had chemistry from the start, as we flash back to their very first meeting when she interviewed him for the vacant chef position at Bly. Hannah seems out of it, though, as if her mind was a million miles away pondering another topic entirely. Hannah warns him of the job, saying that cooking for two picky children is not as glamorous as his experiences in France, but Owen insists, mainly because of his mother’s recent diagnosis. Before the interview wraps up, Hannah is summoned by a voice offscreen, but it doesn’t appear that Owen can hear it. Hannah follows the voice through a doorway, and suddenly she’s in the Wingrave’s bedroom sporting a totally different outfit.
It’s a new day and a new memory of Hannah’s, and this time the whole Wingrave family is arriving at Bly for the summer holiday. There’s a significantly younger Flora and Miles, a noticeably alive Charlotte (Alex Essoe) and Dominic Wingrave (Matthew Holness), plus Uncle Henry and Peter Quint. However, don’t spend much time here, because a new doorway leads to another memory. As confusing as all this time jumping may be for audiences, Hannah seems just as baffled by what’s happening.
Outside the manor one night Hannah unleashes a painful wail, which is honestly relatable as we try and keep all these timelines straight. We learn after a discussion with Charlotte that the true reason for the guttural moan is because Ms. Grose’s husband has been unfaithful. Charlotte invites a pre-live-in Hannah to stay the night, but before we go any further, it’s a new day. Hannah is on the manor grounds in a memory that appears to be far more recent, considering Miles is being his usually creepy self and simultaneously terrorizing and flirting with Jamie. Again, though, this flash doesn’t last long. Grose appears to feel a pain in her head as she strains her neck before it snaps and we’re back around the bonfire.
Owen is giving his same campfire spiel, but this time something new stands out – a message about having no past or future, but instead being trapped in a cycle. Sounds about right, considering everything Hannah has been through this episode.
Another flash and suddenly Hannah is back inside the house about a year earlier. In fact, it’s shortly after the flashbacks from Episode 3, because Peter Quint is back at Bly and seeking forgiveness from Miss Jessel after his batter-inspired outburst. Hannah pauses her vacuuming as voices rise, and she peeks through the doorway to see the two arguing over his sudden departure. Quint charms Rebecca and quickly works his way back into her good graces, and as the two begin to kiss they spot Hannah creeping in the doorway.
The next memory finds Hannah spying on Quint again, only this time she’s busting him in the midst of an attempted robbery. With Charlotte and Dominic’s bedroom left untouched, Peter is helping himself to their priceless goods, and Ms. Grose has caught him red handed with a valuable necklace in his pocket. Quint reluctantly hands the jewelry over, but warns Hannah of the difference between the Wingraves and people like her and him. According to Quint, no matter how much Hannah does to help, the Wingrave’s will never see her as family – she’ll never be more than just the help.
If things haven’t gotten strange enough, here’s where they really take it to the next level. For the second time, Hannah is back interviewing Owen for the open chef’s position. We’re not the only ones who feel like we’re reliving this, though. Hannah asks Owen, “Haven’t we already done this?” to which he replies, “Yes, but we have to do it again.” What?! Whatever time loop this is, Hannah is just as confused as we are. But this interview takes a twist, and instead of talking about France and cooking, Owen steers the discussion towards Miles and his peculiar behavior. Ms. Grose stands by him, despite his all around shitheadedness, saying he’s a good boy and would never do anything to hurt her, or anyone else. A bird at his boarding school would beg to differ.
The next flash sees Miles up to no good – surprise, surprise. After catching the boy smoking a cigarette, Hannah tries to reason with him. This comes after Peter’s disappearance and it’s clear Miles misses him, using his old lighter and even some of his signature phrases. As the boy runs off, Hannah chases him into the chapel only for the scene to change.
Charlotte and Hannah sit together in the pews and Lady Wingrave offers to make her position as house keeper live-in. Before long, the memory shifts to another inside the chapel as Charlotte disappear and Miss Jessel takes her place. Rebecca recounts her tumultuous relationship with her father and how that taught her to love even those who exhibit dangerous behavior. Despite admitting Peter’s actions scare her, too, Rebecca explains that being with Quint makes her feel more alive than ever before. Hannah’s judgment causes the conversation to take a turn, and soon after Rebecca storms out.
Back in the kitchen, it’s interview time once more, but again Owen goes off script. This time he references a discussion about mice and glue traps that he and Hannah previously had and at the same time have yet to have, but the point remains the same – everyone is stuck in some sort of endless despair. Owen raises his voice going on about the loop and whether or not people realize they’re trapped, but Hannah has had enough.
Her exit through the kitchen door leads the way into another memory – but this time she’s in Miss Jessel’s room as Rebecca and Peter lay in bed. Um, are we sure this is Hannah’s memory? The two lovers don’t seem to notice her presence, so maybe it’s some sort of dream? Peter expresses his love to Rebecca, and while doing so, he explains his elaborate plot to hustle the Wingraves for everything they’re worth and flee to America. The plan is simple: Peter has everything covered, Rebecca just needs to have a bag packed for their escape when he returns tomorrow night.
Quint leaves the room, walking right past a seemingly nonexistent Hannah, but then Miss Jessel turns her attention to the woman. “This is one of my favorites,” she says, but she points out that she’s never seen Hannah here before. It seems as if Ms. Grose has intruded on one of Rebecca’s own dreams or memories, whatever you want to call them. As Hannah begins to leave, Rebecca issues a warning: this is when “it” happened. Ms. Grose ignores her pleas and enters the hallway, where Quint, Flora and Miles are all awake.
Miles says the children heard a noise downstairs and saw movement in Flora’s doll house, but Quint dismisses the worries on his way to retrieve the prized necklace from the Wingraves’ bedroom. On his way back, though, the children are still on alert – and for good reason. Out of the darkness comes a dripping wet, faceless woman who grabs Quint by the throat and drags him down the hall. Pretty much immediately after the two round the corner, an unharmed and oddly nicer version of Quint makes his way back to the children, but then the woman follows suit still dragging Peter’s corpse. As Peter watches his own body be dragged from the house, he grabs Miles by the shoulder and now it seems like not only are ghosts on the table, but possession is too. Quint inadvertently infiltrates the young boy’s body, shouting at the Lady of the Lake to release him, but to no avail. Hannah then watches as the faceless woman returns to the lake with Peter’s corpse in tow.
Andddddd we’re back in the kitchen for another interview between Hannah and Owen. The formalities don’t last long this time because Ms. Grose – like us – is about to snap. What the hell is happening? We need answers! To help calm her frustrations, Owen reinforces the basic facts to Hannah. The year is 1987, the Wingrave parents are dead and Rebecca is too, Quint is missing, and something is dangerously wrong with Miles.
With that knowledge in mind, Miss Grose finds Miles smoking another cigarette outside and follows him into the woods to scold him. When she finally catches up to the boy, he’s not alone – Miles and Peter are talking by the well. As Hannah approaches, Peter begins to chastise her before placing his hands on Miles’ shoulders and letting him take over. But with the possession of Miles comes the ability to interact with real-world objects, and Peter takes advantage of that, pushing Hannah backwards to her death at the bottom of the well.
Immediately, Hannah’s ghost, spirit, or whatever term you want to use, reappears at the top looking down on her crumpled body. Peter exits Miles’ body, leaving the boy bewildered and without any idea of what he’s just done, and it turns out, all this happened moments before Dani’s arrival in the first episode. No wonder Ms. Grose was seemed so caught off guard at the time – the woman had just been killed!
Back by the bonfire, Owen spills his desires to Hannah, who we now know to be a ghost bound to Bly Manor. He dreams of the two traveling to Paris, drinking their way through the city and eating croissants, living while they still can. By the time Hannah decides she wants to accept his invitation, it’s too late. She’s stuck at Bly Manor forever, and Owen has headed off into the night.
Entering this episode, there were a million questions about what exactly was going on at Bly Manor. Now, while we may have gotten a few answers thanks to a trip through Hannah’s memory, there are a million more questions begging to be answered.
- Obviously, the most earth-shattering revelation from this episode is the fact that Hannah Grose is dead. She has been as long as we’ve known her, but what does that mean exactly? By the way Peter makes it sound, those who die at Bly are doomed to roam the grounds forever. It seems like a real “American Horror Story: Murder House” sort of set up, where the ghosts are able to appear and disappear at will, only these ones can’t physically interact with the living unless they possess a live host. That explains a lot, considering we’ve seen Quint, Jessel and Grose quite frequently through five episodes.
- Another huge reveal came in the soaking wet form of the Lady of the Lake. Flora’s creepy talisman has come to life, and she’s the one responsible for Peter’s disturbing death, as well as the muddy footprints every night. Who is she and what does she want? We’ll have to keep watching to find out.
- Speaking of the Lady, though, she did look oddly familiar, beyond just being the woman on the show’s promotional poster. Back in Episode 2, Flora shushed the groaning “Doll Face Ghost” in the attic who had the same featureless expression. Could there be a connection here?
- Whether it was by the bonfire or in the kitchen, Owen dropped a number of enlightening nuggets throughout the episode. It turns out he’s been giving hints from the start. After all, he told Dani during the car ride to Bly that people often get trapped and never leave. He may not have meant that to be taken quite as literally as we now know it to be, but the point remains.
- This was the most revealing episode yet when it comes to major plot developments, but it was also a ton of information to process. The erratic timeline was a bit overwhelming and at times confusing, but thank god we had T’Nia Miller’s incredible Hannah Grose to guide us through it. With the exception of Victoria Pedretti’s Dani, Miller’s performance as the house keeper has become the heart and soul of this series, so it was nice to finally see an episode dedicated to her.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.