‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ Episode 9 Finale Recap: ‘O Willow Waly’
Episode 8 Recap: The Lady of the Lake
We’re finally here: the finale of “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” After eight episodes packed full of ghosts, memories, dreams and murder, we’re finally going to find out the fates of our favorite Bly Manor residents. We’ve been given answers as to most of what’s going on in the haunted house, so there’s not much left to explain. Now, it’s time to watch it all unfold.
We start for one final time with Ms. Grose and Owen at their introductory interview. Hannah comes clean to Owen and reveals she’s always loved him, asking whether she can simply stay in this moment forever, but she knows she has to help the real Owen – not this figment of her imagination.
In the real world, Ms. Grose’s ghost does her best to stand between the Lady of the Lake and the manor, but Viola is able to pass right through her with Dani in tow. Instead, it’s Flora who saves the day by climbing on Viola’s old bed and posing as Isabelle. Without eyes to tell the difference, Viola drops Dani but scoops up Flora as a replacement, transporting her back to the lake for a permanent reunion.
At that moment, Uncle Henry pulls into the driveway and intercepts the Lady on her way back to the water, but he doesn’t stand a chance. Viola uses her deadly grip to strangle him, too, tossing his crumpled body to the side. By this time, Dani has caught her breath enough to join the chase, stumbling after Flora, while Owen and Jamie pull into the driveway, too. Ms. Grose points them in the right direction, and the two take off. Owen stops to perform CPR on Henry while his newly appeared ghost looks on, and Jamie tracks down Dani. At the same time, Flora –desperate to survive – has a final visit from Miss Jessel, who tucks her away one last time, promising to feel all the pain for her.
As Viola and Flora are on the verge of going under, Dani catches up to them and makes one last attempt to save the little girl. It’s the phrase Viola once uttered to her newborn daughter, the phrase repeated by Peter and Rebecca to the children: “It’s you. It’s me. It’s us.” At this, Viola stops and turns, and she and Dani share a connection. A close up on the au pair’s eyes reveal a change of color, and we cut to black.
Across the grounds, the spirits once bound to the property are freed. Henry is revived thanks to Owen’s resuscitation, and Miles is able to once again take control of his body. Jamie races into the lake where she and Dani pull Flora to safety. The Storyteller reveals that Dani invited Viola’s spirit into herself, and that the Lady of the Lake had accepted, breaking her spell. In a heartbreaking moment, Owen learns the truth about Hannah. She’s not coming back, and he helps raise her body from the bottom of the well and give her a proper burial.
With the damned freed from the property, a new sense of calm settles over Bly, but what has already occurred there is enough to drive anyone away. Uncle Henry takes responsibility for the children and they pack their bags for America. Dani and Jamie do, too, but something is clearly not right with Dani. She explains how she feels Viola’s faint presence inside of her, and her fear that one day the spirit will consume her entirely – a beast in the jungle. But Jamie offers to be her company while Dani waits for the beast to attack, and the two set off on a new adventure together.
One day at a time, the couple makes a new life for themselves in Vermont running a flower shop together. The days turn into years and Dani is still around – and so is Jamie, the woman once terrified of commitment is sticking it out with her new partner. One day, though, the peace is interrupted when Dani sees Viola’s faceless reflection in a window. Her time is coming.
Dani reveals her appearance to Jamie, saying that she doesn’t know how much time she has left. What she wants with that time, however, is to spend it with Jamie. Dani essentially proposes to the gardener, expressing that even though the two can’t technically get married, it’s enough for her.
After their engagement, the couple goes back across the pond to visit Owen who has now opened a restaurant called “A Batter Place” – one of his notoriously corny puns that amused Hannah so. Owen mentions that he recently saw Henry and the children when they came to visit, claiming Flora, now 17, is fully smitten with her new boyfriend. The biggest reveal, though, is that the children remember nothing of Bly beyond the fact they spent their holidays there as kids. Luckily for them, all the fear and terror has been erased from their memory. Not for the adults, though, and Viola’s reflection makes another appearance in a pitcher of water.
Then, she reveals herself again in the sink another night as Dani is doing the dishes. Even the most mundane tasks now brings horror. The unknown is clearly starting to get to Dani, and one night Jamie comes home to find her staring into an overflowing bath tub, completely engrossed in the idea of her own impending demise. That night, Dani wakes from a dream in which she was dragging Jamie to the bottom of a lake and finds herself closing in around her partner’s throat in real life. Jamie never awakens, but Dani knows this was too close a call. In the morning, Dani’s gone and a note is in her place. The beast had attacked.
One last time Jamie returns to Bly Manor where she wades her way into the lake, knowing what she’ll find there, but needing to see it nonetheless. Instead of a trunk filled with riches or a faceless woman, Dani’s body sits beneath the water. No matter how loudly Jamie screams “You, me, us,” nothing works, because the Lady in the Lake is different now. She is Dani, and she’ll never haunt another soul again.
The Storyteller shares how Jamie would spend the rest of her days gazing into reflections, desperate to see her own Lady in the Lake, and if you hadn’t realized yet, it’s because Jamie is the one telling the story. Now, Carla Gugino’s wistful woman staring into the bathtub in Episode 1 makes perfect sense.
Now we’re transported back to California, where Jamie continues recounting the love story to the wedding guests. Suddenly, more pieces begin to come together through a lingering hand on the shoulder and a silent nod. This is Flora’s wedding, and Jamie is surrounded by Owen, Henry and Miles. Despite all the details from their own childhood, Flora and Miles are unable to realize this is their story.
After the wedding, Jamie returns to her hotel room, where she once again fills the bath tub and sink, leaving the door cracked before bed in hopes of a visit from her lost love. Just as she drifts off to sleep and the screen fades to black, the camera pans out to reveal a hand on Jamie’s shoulder.
- As the adult Flora points out to Jamie, her tale isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story. That’s more than true for “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” Under the guise of ghosts and jump scares, Mike Flanagan has crafted a deeply emotional and compelling romance with multiple couples, but Jamie and Dani’s love story is the most profound. After each of their troubled pasts, they finally found each other – Dani’s eager and kind heart the perfect balance to Jamie’s rough exterior. The tragedy that their time together was cut short, and often overshadowed by the tick of Viola’s clock is heartbreaking, no matter how resolved Jamie may seem at the show’s end.
- While the finale does a nice job wrapping everything together, there is one question that must be raised: How did the adult versions of Flora and Miles not realize this was their story? Sure, the children had forgotten their past at Bly, but like… the main characters’ names are Miles and Flora, plus there’s an Owen and an Uncle Henry. These people are still in their lives today, so let’s put two and two together, kids.
- “The Haunting of Hill House” set an impossibly high bar as a near perfect series. Now, “Bly Manor” has come and nearly matched it, it really just depends on your preference. “Hill House” certainly had more frights, if you ask me, but while both explored relationships and loss, “Bly Manor” definitely delivered more on the romance side of things. But why do we need to pick one over the other? Why not just appreciate both!
Zach Goins View All
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.
Great recaps, Zach, I enjoyed reading your commentary after each episode, as some of the parts were so confusing, I sometimes didn’t know what was going on.
To your -“While the finale does a nice job wrapping everything together, there is one question that must be raised: How did the adult versions of Flora and Miles not realize this was their story?” – question. The adult versions of Flora and Miles didn’t realize it was “their story” because adult Jamie never mentions any of the characters’ names. She refers to them as “gardener”, “the cook”, “the au pair” – so maybe they thought Jamie was being cheeky, using their names as the main characters in the story. Adult Flora says so much to Jamie near the end. She says, “You know at first you were making up the story because my middle name is Flora.”
Mika, I would add that she also implies that Bly is not the actual name of the manor. When one guest asks, “Is it true? Can I fly to England, visit Bly Manor, and see the Lady of the Lake?”, the storyteller replies, “You won’t find any manor in England by that name, but if you do find the manor you just might see the Lady.”
Hi Monala, yes, another great point!