'The Haunting of Bly Manor' Episode 5, Explained
Spoiler for episode 5 of The Haunting of Bly Manor, "The Altar of the Dead", below.
"You can't rely on the past," says Owen (Rahul Kohli) at the beginning of the fifth episode of "The Haunting of Bly Manor" about his mother's recent death from dementia. "We think we have it trapped in our memories, but our memories fade or they are wrong. Each of us could die at any moment or we could forget our whole life, which is like dying. We cannot count on our future either. "This speech takes on a much greater meaning at the end of the episode" The Altar of the Dead ". The one-hour non-linear Mindbender illuminates Bly Manor's housekeeper Hannah Grose (T'Nia Miller).
There's a lot going on in this episode, which follows a disoriented Hannah through a series of disjointed scenes spanning several years. These scenes appear to be flashbacks but are soon debunked as memories - and yes, for the purposes of this episode there is a huge difference.
This memory is the anchor of the episode, which repeats itself four or five times in very different ways. This scene takes place in 1984 when Hannah interviewed Owen for his position as Bly Manors cook. It's a real event that took place, and the first time we see it, it's kind of like the way it happened. But as the episode progresses, Hannah relives increasingly distorted versions of this conversation with Owen, and it becomes clear that she is hiding in memory so as not to face a terrible reality.
The second time we see the interview scene, Hannah gets an overwhelming feeling for Deja Vu. "That will sound strange, but haven't we already?" She asks. Owen confirms they did, but they have to do it again. When she asks why, he replies: "You tell me." In other words, Hannah is in control. When they talk about the job again, Owen tries to direct the conversation to Miles, the older of the two Wingrave children who is "not himself" and who has become cruel and misbehaved. Hannah insists that Miles is a good boy, much to Owen's frustration.
Photo credit: Netflix
The next time we see the interview, it takes a dark, strange turn. Owen promises that he will not give up his position after his mother dies because he is stuck in "that city's glue trap". He is referring to a conversation he and Hannah will have two years in the future, about a mouse caught in a glue trap. "This bottomless icy terror that realizes we can be stuck forever," he says. "Does a mouse know when it's already over? Do we know when the water is boiling around us, or do we sit there and say," That's okay, I'll be okay. "Suddenly he yells at Hannah, the rattling is to the word "DENIAL." She runs from the room and tells him this is "pathological." But she denies - not only because of Miles' worrying personality change, but also because of her own fate. She's the mouse who caught in the glue trap and refusing to accept that there is no escape, which is what brings us to ...
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER / NETFLIX
The crack in the wall
Throughout the episode, Hannah sees a prominent crack in various walls several times. It always goes away. At some point she opens a door that should lead to the outside, but finds it blocked - there is a damp, cracked wall on which the outside world should be. And as the episode reaches its devastating climax, Hannah's final rejection subsides and she realizes the truth: she's dead, at the bottom of Bly Manor's well. Miles is the one who pushed her down there, which is why her mind - in the form of Owen at the interview - tried so hard to remind her of the child's cruelty. The crack in the wall is the last thing she ever saw and she hides in her memories so as not to stand in front of it.
OK. That is a lot. To help you solve the devastating puzzle, "The Altar of the Dead", here is a chronological timeline of the events we see in this episode.
Hannah discovers that her husband Sam is leaving her for someone else. She is devastated but insists that he will just "go through one phase" and be back (more disapproval). Charlotte Wingrave, her boss at Bly Manor, offers to turn Hannah's position into a residential position so that Hannah can sell her house and have some stability. The next time we see Hannah she's the housekeeper at Bly, so she clearly accepted Charlotte's offer. It's unclear exactly what year this happens, but based on Miles and Flora performances, it's likely around 1983.
Hannah interviews Owen about his job at Bly Manor. He explains that he recently returned from a two-year stay in Paris and that he needs a job close to his home so that he can take care of his sick mother. Hannah tells him that in addition to the Wingraves, he will cook for two children - Flora, who is five and Miles, who is seven.
Hannah catches the Wingraves valet, Peter Quint, trying to steal jewelry from Charlotte's vanity. He claims he only collects jewelry for his boss Dominic, but Hannah doesn't buy it.
Also sometime this year, Dominic and Charlotte mysteriously die during a trip to India.
Rebecca Jessel is hired as an au pair by Miles and Flora to look after them after the death of their parents. She soon starts an affair with Peter, who wants her to flee to America with him.
Before they can leave, however, Peter is killed by a ghost - the Lady of the Lake. Immediately thereafter, he reappears as a ghost and seems to have no memory of what happened. He soon finds out when he sees the spirit pulling his body into the lake. Peter owns Miles for the first time in this scene and yells at the ghost to let him go.
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER / NETFLIX
No one, except possibly the children, seems to remember what really happened to Peter, and he is considered missing. Rebecca dies of suicide after apparently leaving.
Most of the series takes place this year, and Owen sums it up pretty well in one of the final iterations of the interview: “You are Hannah Grose. It's 1987, you're with Bly. Dominic is dead, Charlotte is dead. Rebecca is dead. Peter is missing, you think? Flora is 8. And Miles ... something is wrong with Miles. "
Miles' behavior is getting worse this year. Everyone thinks it's because of their combined grief for their parents and Rebecca - but in fact, it's because they're obsessed with the vengeful ghost of Peter.
One summer morning, Hannah is furious that Miles is smoking with Peter's lighter. She tells him, but he just laughs at her and then runs away. When she catches up with him at the well and confronts him, Miles dismissively tells her that she is "boring" and "doesn't know when to leave her alone well enough" - this is really Peter, radiating his long smoldering frustration with Hannah.
Peter tells Hannah about Miles that he wishes he could leave Bly, but he can't because he's dead. Just as Hannah realizes the truth, Miles / Peter growls: "It's such a shame you had to look for us. It went so well." Then he pushes her down the well until she dies.
Hannah stands over the fountain and looks down at her own body. She's a ghost now, just like Peter - but before she has time to process what happened. Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) arrives at Bly for her first day at work. What timing! Although she seems confused, Hannah snaps back to her and greets Dani warmly and says, "Sorry, I was miles away!" Nobody has any idea that Hannah is dead, and Hannah's rejection is so powerful she can forget it - at least for a while.
Photo credit: EIKE SCHROTER / NETFLIX
A few days later, Hannah is sitting by the fire with Owen. It's shortly after his mother's funeral. They talk about memory, death and dementia, and Owen invites Hannah to come to Paris with him. We saw this scene in episode 4 and Hannah said no. But when the scene is repeated at the end of episode 5, she finally says yes. However, nothing changes. Owen reacts the same way he did when she said no and goes into the night with Jamie.
Annoyed, Hannah tries to follow Owen, but he disappears into the shadows. She can't go with him because this is a memory. She cannot start a new life with Owen because her life has already ended. And she can never leave the Bly grounds because she's dead.
No, I am not fine.
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