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The Haunting of Bly Manor: Who is Hiding a Deadly Secret?

Published on October 29th, 2020 | Updated on October 29th, 2020 | By FanFest

Recap: Episode Six, The Jolly Corner

Image: Netflix

Unlike it’s more thrill-seeking predecessor (Mike Flanagan’s 2018 hit The Haunting of Hill House), the tale of Bly Manor has unfolded in a more controlled method; revealing information in a slow yet steady stream, even if at times frustratingly so. The Haunting of Bly Manor, narrated by an unnamed storyteller (Carla Gugino), has relied heavily on backstory, a general sense of unease, and a few mysterious occurrences sprinkled in as opposed to timely jump scares and all out horror.

Episode Six, ‘The Jolly Corner’, is no exception to this rule; employing the familiar tactic, however, this time turning the attention to the much absent and troubled Uncle Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), who it seems, is dealing with some ghosts from the past himself.

Viewers who have yet to watch ‘The Jolly Corner’ should be aware that the remainder of this recap will contain spoilers.

Image: Netflix

The Man in the Mirror

In yet another flashback, we learn what Uncle Henry Wingrave was up to prior to the death of his brother and sister-in-law. It’s almost astonishing how stark the contrast is of the Uncle Henry character from the current timeline when compared to the Uncle Henry character of the flashback. It appears that the cold and uncaring man we have known thus far has not always been so, leading us to imagine that there was a definitive moment when the proverbial  flip was switched.

Admittedly, there were times when the previous Uncle Henry seemed so much more jovial and meek, not at all like his 1987 self, that I began to wonder if the current Uncle Henry was Uncle Henry at all. By episode’s end we will learn this is simply not the case, in fact, Uncle Henry is not cold and uncaring at all, but rather, so stricken by the loss of his family members that the grief and guilt has held him at a stalemate.

There is much to unpack about the adult Wingraves: first, it is established that Henry and his brother’s wife, Charlotte Wingrave (Alex Essoe), have cultivated a physically romantic relationship.  Dominic Wingrave (Matthew Holness), husband to Charlotte and brother to Henry, begins to piece together the affair and a timeline that irrefutably proves that Flora is actually Henry’s biological child, not Dominic’s.

Charlotte decides to call things off with Henry in order to keep her family in tact. Dominic forbids Henry any further interaction with his family before leaving on a trip with Charlotte in an effort to rekindle their relationship. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes while the couple is away on their trip, ultimately resulting in their sudden death.

Henry is tortured by the knowledge that if it were not for the infidelity, Dominic and Charlotte would never have been on the trip to begin with. He quickly descends into what appears to be a psychotic break by literally breaking off into two versions of himself: one being the actual Henry, the other a representation of his dark inner self.

On a personal note, I found these scenes of inner turmoil to be the more weaker aspects of the season. With much respect to Henry Thomas, it was difficult to accept the dialogue and interactions between Henry Wingrave the man, and Henry Wingrave the dark inner soul. It felt like a departure from the rest of the season, as if it were a standalone episode of The Twilight Zoneand not part of the continuing story of Bly Manor.

While it’s true that these scenes provide much needed backstory for three of the mostly absent adult characters, Henry’s interactions with himself seem to defy the logic that has been setup by the five previous episodes, where the ghosts are real, and not merely the embodiment of past regret. Overall, it’s not a deal breaker, but it did break my immersion in an otherwise well told story.

We do pick up on some important details: first, we learn why Henry never leaves the office, and that he is constantly drinking, during which, he relives the moments leading up to his brother and sister-in-law’s death. This explains how the current Henry has come to be so bitter and angry. He is a man held hostage by a past that no longer exists, and is unable to find the acceptance in his present circumstances that he needs in order to move on.

Henry often calls Bly Manor, in hopes that he will hear Flora’s voice on the other end; however, when the call is picked up by Bly staff, he quickly hangs up the receiver. This gives context to all of the phone calls coming into Bly that were once attributed to be Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) looking for Rebecca Jessel (Tahira Sharif).

One night, Henry calls the manor repeatedly, but his calls go unanswered. He deduces that something is truly wrong and realizes that he must go to Bly Manor to check on the children. With newfound duty calling, Henry finally breaks free from the grasp of his dark inner self.


Image: Netflix

New Friends, Old Enemies

Here’s what everyone at Bly Manor has been up to: Dani (Victoria Pedretti) is concerned over Flora who has begun sleepwalking and losing large chunks of time from her memory. We learn that this is because she is being possessed by the ghost of Rebecca Jessel and that when Rebecca takes control of Flora’s body, Flora retreats into her mind reliving past memories; some good, some not so good.

Upon awakening, Flora confronts Rebecca about the possessions and expresses that she is tired of not being in control of her own body. It’s during this confrontation that Dani happens upon the two, and for the first time, is able to see Rebecca. Frightened by the appearance of a stranger in the manor she attempts to flee with Flora but is blocked by Peter Quint’s ghost in the hallway. The episode ends when Miles Wingrave approaches Dani from behind and knocks her unconscious.

The stakes have never been higher for Dani and the children seem far too trusting of the ghosts of Peter Quint and Rebecca Jessel. With only three episodes left, it certainly feels like things are beginning to ramp up for what one hopes would be a climactic and satisfying finale.

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