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The ending of The Haunting of Bly Manor explained

The Haunting of Hill House was terrifying, but The Haunting of Bly Manor doubles down on the spooky with creepy children, faceless spirits, and a series of jump scares that won't let you catch your breath. The second installation of the Haunting series is loosely based, like its predecessor, on Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel. But this time, the story's set in England in 1987, focused on an American named Dani (played by Hill House's Victoria Pedretti), who moves to England to escape her past and becomes an au pair for two orphaned children named Flora and Miles.

But while Bly Manor is intensely scary, the story takes a surprising turn. Rather than ending on a harrowing, gut-wrenching note, the most shocking part of it all is that Bly Manor ends with a touching love story. There's a major twist in the finale, so here's what you need to know about what actually happened. This is the ending of The Haunting of Bly Manor explained. Spoilers ahead!

Let's take it back to the penultimate episode

In the second to last episode of The Haunting of Bly Manor, we're introduced to the story behind the Lady of the Lake.

Toward the middle of the 17th century, a widower named Mr. Willoughby lived in Bly Manor with his two daughters, Perdita and Viola. But after his death, the daughters were at risk of losing the estate and their financial inheritance. "Women in that time had nothing, no present nor future without it being tied to a man," explains the narrator, played by Hill House star Carla Gugino. The women have to pick a suitor, but they decide that Bly Manor must stay in the family, so Viola invites a distant cousin named Arthur to the estate. Since Viola isn't around when he arrives, Perdita takes it upon herself to make him feel welcome — and falls in love with him.

But once Viola arrives, everything changes. She decides that Arthur will be hers, and they'll marry to save the estate. Perdita, knowing what's at stake, accepts this, keeping her love for Arthur a secret. Viola and Arthur have a daughter named Isabel, but Viola falls ill with something referred to as "the lung" shortly after giving birth. When she's on her deathbed, a vicar visits to give a prayer that'll ease her journey into the afterlife. He asks her to repeat the prayer, but Viola refuses.

Why the Lady of the Lake seeks revenge

After Viola's death, Perdita marries Arthur, but they find themselves in a difficult financial situation, which puts a strain in their marriage. Viola left her finest gowns and jewels to Isabel, and Perdita desperately needs a way to keep the family financially afloat. She decides to go behind her husband's back and opens the chest holding Viola's gowns. When Perdita opens the chest, Viola's spirit kills her. It's then revealed that after Viola's death, her spirit was trapped in the room filled with her belongings. She hoped to be reunited with Isabel, but lashed out — fatally — when she felt deeply betrayed by her sister's decision to sell her valuables.

As Arthur and Isabel are leaving the manor, he decides to throw the chest in the lake on the grounds so his daughter won't suffer the same fate as Perdita. Viola is heartbroken. At night, Viola leaves the lake and walks to the manor, visiting her old home. The manor is eventually used to quarantine those with the plague, leaving many potential victims at Viola's disposal. Anyone who dies on the manor's grounds is left in purgatory. Over time, Viola and her victims' memories begin to fade — and so do their faces. 

One day, Viola finds a faceless boy in the manor. He's the doll we see the children interact with during The Haunting of Bly Manor. Perdita is also trapped in the attic, with no memory of who she was or how she died.

The Lady of the Lake's connection to Dani

The Lady of the Lake, who we now know is Viola, attempts to drag Dani into the lake and kill her. Hannah, the housekeeper — who is a spirit — urges Viola to let Dani go, to no avail. But once Viola finds Flora, she experiences faint memories of her daughter Isabel. Flora pleads with her to let Dani go — and Viola takes Flora instead, falsely believing she's Isabel. 

Owen, the manor's cook, and Jamie, the gardener (who is dating Dani) arrive, too, after dreaming that the inhabitants of Bly Manor are in danger. The children's uncle, Henry, arrives at the manor and distracts Viola for a bit, sacrificing himself as her victim and is briefly presumed to be dead before he receives CPR from Owen and survives. But Henry's attempt is not enough to stop Viola from dragging Flora to the lake. 

Rebecca, the children's former au pair who died at Viola's hands, has Flora recite "it's you, it's me, it's us," which will allow her to use Flora's body as a vessel for her spirit. It doesn't work, however, because at that moment, Dani decides to say the same phrase in an attempt to save Flora. Dani's gambit works, and Viola's curse on Bly Manor is lifted. Rebecca and Peter, her lover who also was killed by Viola, are no longer in limbo. Neither are the rest of the spirits — including Hannah. However, now part of Viola is trapped inside Dani. It's expected that one day, Viola will have Dani become the new Lady of the Lake.

Dani and Jamie's love story

After the children move out of the manor with their uncle and find a new home in the United States, Dani and Jamie leave the manor, too. While preparing to move out, Dani tells Jamie that she can feel Viola watching her; she predicts that one day, Viola will take her. But Jamie decides to take an optimistic approach, telling Dani that she'll stick with her until the fate she fears eventually comes to pass.

The couple moves in together, spending years blissfully in love and opening their own flower shop. But over time, Dani begins seeing Viola's reflection. At first, she keeps it hidden from Jamie, but knowing that she only has a little time left, she decides to give her a promise ring. At this point in the story it's the '90s, so they can't legally marry; instead, the ring symbolizes that Dani is ready to spend the rest of her life with Jamie — no matter how soon that life may end.

The children don't remember Bly Manor

When Dani and Jamie visit Owen's restaurant years after their departure from the manor, he tells them that he recently spent time with Henry, Flora, and Miles, and notes that the children's memories have seemingly been wiped. They don't remember anything about Bly Manor, except vague recollections of having spent their summers there. That means that they get to live normal lives without being traumatized by Hannah, Rebecca, and Peter's deaths, not to mention their experiences with all the other terrifying spirits who lived in the manor. The reasons they can't remember anything are kept vague, but it could be tied to the Bly Manor curse and how those who were trapped there long enough lost their memories. Since both of the children lived there for most of their childhoods, it's a plausible explanation. Owen also says that the children vaguely recognize the former staff of Bly Manor but seem to have forgotten who they are, so Flora doesn't remember Dani sacrificing herself to save her.

The Lady in the Lake finally comes for Dani

After seeing Viola's reflection in a pitcher of water and then once more while washing dishes at home, Dani finally tells Jamie that she feels her time to become the Lady of the Lake is coming. At one point, Viola's presence becomes even stronger, with Dani feeling possessed by her to the point where she almost kills Jamie by pulling Viola's signature move and strangling her. Knowing Jamie's life is now at risk, Dani travels to Bly Manor, where she allows herself to become the new Lady of the Lake.

When Jamie realizes what's happening, she tries to stop Dani, but it's too late. The phrase "it's you, it's me, it's us" doesn't work this time, because now Dani is officially the Lady of the Lake, and she doesn't want Jamie to sacrifice herself for her — nor does she want to claim any new victims. Though Jamie is unable to reunite with Dani, she keeps an optimistic outlook, always trying to catch Dani's reflection in water whenever she leaves the sink or bath running... to no avail.

The big twist

Of course, it's not a Haunting story without a big twist — but this time, it's a very sweet one. Bly Manor begins with the narrator telling the story of Bly Manor to a couple and the attendees of their wedding rehearsal dinner. The narrator seems to be a friend of the bride-to-be's father or father figure, and by the end of her ghost story, she gets very emotional and hints that she's speaking from personal experience, despite telling the story in third person. After the narrator finishes, the bride-to-be approaches her, saying that she thought the story was made up because it was too much of a coincidence that her own middle name happens to be Flora.

At the wedding reception the next day, it's finally revealed that the narrator is actually Jamie. She looks at Henry and Flora dancing and imagines them as their younger selves. She also spots Miles and Owen together and raises her glass at them.

Once she's back in her hotel room, she follows her routine of drawing a bath and leaving water in the sink, hoping that Dani's reflection will appear. She also leaves her hotel room door ajar in case her past love returns. As she falls asleep in front of the door, Dani's hand is shown on Jamie's shoulder. It's never explained how she's able to return without Jamie being at the manor. Perhaps love just finds its way.

Why Flora recognizes Owen but not Jamie

It's evident that Flora, who is the bride to whom Jamie is telling the Bly Manor story, doesn't recognize Jamie but knows who Owen is. That's because Owen remained friends with Henry and spent time with the family, visiting them in America. In the first episode of Bly Manor, Owen gives a toast to the bride during the rehearsal dinner, hinting that they have a close bond. As previously mentioned, Owen spent time with the children years after leaving Bly Manor, so even if they didn't remember him initially, they likely grew close to him. 

However, one final mystery about Flora remains: her name. it's not explained why Flora tells Jamie that Flora is actually her middle name. Perhaps she preferred going by Flora as a child, but changed her mind and used her first name as she grew up.