The Haunting Of Bly Manor – Episode 1 Recap & Review

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Perfectly Splendid

We begin episode 1 of Haunting of Bly Manor in Northern California, 2007. A wedding rehearsal dinner sees an impassioned speech about growing old (and watching each other die) lend itself nicely into a ghost story that evening told from the perspective of our impassioned narrator.

That tale sees us jump back to London in 1987 as Lord Henry requests an au-pair to look after his niece and nephew. She’s an American girl called Dani and after an awkward interview, is surprised to learn she’s got the job.

On the back of this, Dani starts drinking with Henry and asks him what the catch is. It turns out no one wants the job and the last person who took it was a woman named Rebecca last summer. She died on the grounds which, apparently, was her choice.

Dani is granted a trial period at the manor but as she leaves, this strange shadow we’ve seen glimpses of continues to flash across Dani’s peripheral vision.

Dani makes it to the Manor but the gorgeous countryside prompts her to go out for a walk. As she does, she meets the delightfully quaint Flora. She puts down a strange wooden figurine and leads Dani up to the house. On the way, she meets Miles and Hannah Grose.

After a tour of the Manor (with Flora excitedly calling everything splendid), Dani starts getting settled in. Miles shows up while she’s getting changed though and hands over a butterfly brooch.

That evening Owen makes them all dinner. Only, Hannah and Owen aren’t in the mood to eat and soon leave. Alone, Dani gives Flora a bath and she notices the butterfly clip. This actually belonged to Rebecca Jessel, the previous au pair.

Things are tense, to say the least, and Flora keeps looking over her shoulder at someone or something behind Dani.

Dani helps the girl out the bath and lets Flora play with her dolls. One looks very similar to Dani, while numerous other weird figures seem to foreshadow strange beings living within these walls.

Just before putting Flora to bed, the girl implores Dani to stay in her room that night no matter what.

Dani’s restless though and doesn’t heed the warning, heading out and creeping down to the kitchen. After making herself some tea, a strange figure wearing a plague doctor’s outfit seems to be watching from afar.

In the morning, Flora knows that Dani’s been out of her room. Flora warns that the Lady in the Lake is watching. Heading back inside, Dani meets the new gardener called Jamie. Sitting down to eat, Dani tells the others that she’s seen a man up on the parapet near the Old Wing. Hannah brushes this off as imagining things but once again she’s not eating, which Dani picks up on.

Searching around the Manor, Dani finds several different dolls dotted around. Needing answers, she speaks to Hannah and learns more about the past. “The lady in the lake” appears to hint toward it being Rebecca Jessel. It turns out Flora found her dead body too, face-down in the lake in the past.

On the back of this harrowing story, Dani puts the kids to bed but Miles starts talking about playing games. As Dani walks away, she accidentally kicks one of the dolls – the one supposed to stay under the dresser – and the kids lock her in the closet.

There, Dani sees the strange shadow in the mirror again and she pleads with the kids to let her out.

Eventually they do and Dani breathes a sigh of relief, scrambling out into the hallway. However, she finds footprints leading all the way outside. Looking back on the house, she finds both kids watching her ominously.

The Episode Review

With a narrator, this story loses some of the effectiveness it would have with a cold opener instead. It does take away some of the tension and uneasiness with the horror elements. However, the shadow creature in the mirror and car window is a nice touch and the kids are definitely hiding something.

Flora looking over Dani’s shoulder in the bathroom was really well shot. The camera angles perfectly captured the tense nature of this scene and it’s arguably the finest moment in the season so far.

This is quite the slow burn though so let’s hope this one evolves into a chilling story to come.


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