Back in “Hill House,” Episode 6 cemented itself as the series’ best entry with an epic, sweeping one-take-style look at two timelines in the midst of a storm. This time around there aren’t any continuous tracking shots, but Episode 6 does deliver the longest runtime of the season, and with it comes a deep dive into the often absent Henry Wingrave. Let’s get started.
The episode opens with Uncle Henry in his office, locked away in his usual routine – working and drinking. Voiceover from The Storyteller informs us that over the years, Wingrave grew to prefer the confines of his office over his London flat, and we see him drinking his life away. Only… he’s not alone in the office. The silhouette of a man appears and vanishes, but Henry knows he’s there and offers him a choice: “Scotch or bourbon tonight?”
Henry pours himself and the man a glass, at which point it’s revealed that the guest is… also Henry? At this point nothing in this show should be a surprise, to be honest. Is this a metaphor for Henry drinking with himself, or something more sinister like an actual ghost haunting him? As the two share a drink, Henry’s mind fades away to an earlier night.
A car speeds down the driveway of Bly Manor and out rushes Dominic Wingrave. Charlotte has unexpectedly gone into labor early with Flora and Henry is helping usher Dom into the house and brief him on his wife’s status. The memory doesn’t last long, but before it ends Henry gives a wistful look at the soon-to-be parents as he makes his way out of the room.
Back in present day, the beautiful grounds of Bly look as peaceful as every in the morning mist, except something is out of place. A barefoot Flora awakes in the middle of the woods with no explanation. Meanwhile, Dani is up early to bring a cup of coffee to Jamie as somewhat of an apology for her botched hook up at the end of Episode 4. The two chat and Dani brings up concerns over the children – and Ms. Grose – who she says seemingly vanishes at times. Well, yeah.
Eventually, Dani builds up the courage to ask Jamie out for a drink at the local pub, but as much as the gardener seems to like Dani, she also likes her boring life. Persistent as ever, Dani convinces her they can make sure the drink is as boring as she likes, and just when the flirtation seems to peaking, Dani notices Flora out on the grounds. The two rush to her aid, but Flora is clearly disoriented and it only gets worse when the ghost of Miss Jessel taps her on the forehead and sends her off into another memory.
Flora awakes in her bedroom to find a little boy watching her – except the child doesn’t have a face. Instead, it’s the same smooth, featureless face seen on the Lady of the Lake. Justifiably terrified, Flora dashes from her room to get help from her mother, but when she arrives at her mother’s bedroom, Uncle Henry is there, too. Uh oh… busted. The adults come up with a quick excuse to justify him spending the night, but Flora is more concerned with the faceless child in her room. Can’t say I blame her.
By the time they return to the bedroom, the child has vanished and Charlotte does her best to calm her daughter and put her back to bed. But then Flora takes a page out of Ms. Grose’s playbook and acknowledges her reality and asking why she’s “tucked away” again in another memory. Before any answers can be given, Dani shakes Flora awake in real life after her collapse outside. Flora explains that she wants to go back to sleep, but that she wants to dream this time, not relive another memory.
Back in his office, Henry gets word of Flora’s strange behavior but refuses to call and check in on his niece. Then, it appears he has a change of heart and picks up the phone, but it turns out we’re in another memory and he’s actually calling to speak to Charlotte. Instead, he gets Flora and her father on the phone and is forced to come up with another excuse. We return to Henry’s modern day office where he’s drinking the pain away with his doppelgänger once more, who reveals that it’s actually Henry who’s been ghost dialing the Manor.
After a long and strange day, Owen and Ms. Grose step up to take care of the children so Jamie can take Dani out somewhere better than the pub. Instead of sharing a pint, Jamie takes her into the forest to see her most sacred plants: moon flowers. The notoriously difficult plant requires yearlong care for the return of only a single blossom – which Jamie uses to convey her thoughts on relationships.
Time and time again she has exhausted herself with people and has had little to show for all the work, but Dani might be different. Jamie spills her life story, detailing the infidelity of her mother, the loss of her father, her time spent in foster care and even her time in jail. But while serving time, that’s when Jamie fell in love with gardening and learned that people aren’t worth the effort, but plants always return your love and nourishment. But sometimes, like a moon flower, a person is worth the effort – and that person is Dani.
We go from one wholesome, budding relationship to another not as healthy pair – the Wingraves. At long last, Dominic has done the math and realized that Flora’s premature birth wasn’t so premature. Instead, she was right on time, and he confronts Charlotte about her affair with his brother.
But back to the happier times, as Dani and Jamie awaken the morning after their night in the forest. There isn’t much time to relish in their love, though, because once again Flora is outside in the early morning. Dani races to the girl’s side, who is unable to explain how she came to be outside, saying she must have been “tucked away” again.
Years earlier, we see Dominic continue his confrontations. Now, he’s stripping everything away from his brother, emptying out their shared office space and banishing him from the family. Obviously, Henry is aware of his escapades with Charlotte, but what he doesn’t know is that he’s Flora’s real father and Dominic breaks the news. No matter, though, because now Henry is doomed to live with just the evil, grinning monster inside himself, according to Dom. Now that doppelgänger makes more sense.
Speaking of him, Henry’s inner self continues to antagonize him in the present day, forcing him to relive his final moments with Charlotte before her death. It turns out, Charlotte and Dominic were on that fatal trip to India in hopes of salvaging their damaged marriage, and prior to their departure she came to see Henry one final time to officially end things. But the evil side of Henry isn’t done punishing him yet. The memory jumps ahead in time and Henry is forced to once again endure the devastating phone call that broke the news of the Wingraves’ passing. Devastated and vulnerable after first hearing about their death, we see that this moment was when the grinning alter ego first began terrorizing Henry.
At Bly, Dani and Jamie have put Flora to bed, and the two share another sentimental moment. Dani offers to let Jamie stay the night, but the gardener resists, promising there will be other nights. As sweet as it sounds, this can’t be a good sign for our favorite couple. Banking on future plans in a haunted house is never a good sign. Over in London, Henry finally works up the courage to confront his demons and travel to Bly to check in on his family.
Meanwhile, Flora finds herself tucked away again, as she chases the faceless boy up into the attic. There she realizes that he’s not as scary as he looks, and she even pulls the face off of a nearby doll to give him one of his own. However, she soon awakens and her frustration is mounting. Somehow Miss Jessel is connected to her constant dream state, and she’s had enough, demanding Rebecca leave her alone.
Dani hears the commotion and comes to check on Flora, and for the first time sees Miss Jessel in the flesh – er, in the ghost? Anyway, Dani rescues Flora into the hallway, but there they find Peter Quint waiting. Quint and Jessel vanish and Flora sprints off into the attic with Dani following closely behind. Once Dani finds Flora in the attic, though, the little girl apologizes as Miles emerges from the shadows and clubs Dani across the head rendering her unconscious.
Well, we already know Miles is a killer – and he may have just added to his resume.
- First thing’s first, Dani is in trouble. As sweet as she may be, her commitment to helping these children may have finally led to her demise. I mean, most people would probably have packed their bags by now, but not Dani. Now she’s passed out in a haunted attic surrounded by ghosts and evil children.
- Speaking of evil children, are we sure they’re the evil ones? If you watch closely, just before Miss Jessel disappears in the hallway, she places her hand on Flora’s shoulder – a move we’ve seen Quint use previously to possess Miles. If Jessel transferred herself into Flora, that would explain her random sprint into the attic leading Dani into the trap.
- While “Bly Manor” is mainly based on Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” it has plenty of influences from his other works, too. For one, each episode is titled afters a short story, but this one in particular takes it to the next level. “The Jolly Corner” features a man who confronts his grinning doppelgänger, just like Henry Wingrave.
- The lovely romance between Dani and Jamie continues to blossom – just like the moon flowers – but could it be in trouble? Like I mentioned, making plans is never a good idea when you’re trapped in a haunted house, so hopefully these lovers can make it out the other side unharmed.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Charlotte, 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.