It’s about the "kind of love that feeds you as opposed to takes from you."
Spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us. In the end of The Haunting of Bly Manor, Viola’s gravity proves too strong to break. Though Dani is able to release the ghosts from Bly by inviting Viola into herself, after five happy years with Jamie, she’s eventually pulled back to the lake. Years later, Jamie tells their story at Flora’s wedding, and she and Owen raise a glass to the loved ones they’ve lost. The final moments of the show deliver one last gut punch: Jamie always sleeps facing an open door, hoping that one day Dani will walk back through it.
For Bly Manor star Victoria Pedretti (Dani), Dani and Jamie’s relationship felt like an extension of Arthur and Nell’s love story from Haunting‘s first season, The Haunting of Hill House. "I feel like that’s something [Haunting creator Mike Flanagan] wants to talk about — that kind of love that feeds you as opposed to takes from you," she says. In the same way that Arthur’s accommodating nature helps Nell to keep the Bent Neck Lady at bay — at least for a little while — Jamie’s love for Dani gives her the strength to stave off Viola. In turn, she makes the ultimate sacrifice: returning to the lake before Viola can overpower her and kill Jamie.
"It’s very sad and tragic that Dani feels this need to take on the burden of the Lady of the Lake. But she really made that impulsive decision," Pedretti says of Dani’s last-minute attempt to save Flora by letting Viola possess her. "She takes responsibility for that by returning herself to the lake."
It’s a significant shift from Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw, the novel that The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on. In the original story, the governess is also a young woman who is not fully equipped to take care of two children, much less deal with the supernatural. Like Dani, James’ governess is impulsive, and her actions have a dire consequence for the children. In the last paragraph of the book, Miles suddenly and mysteriously dies, possibly by Peter’s hands. It’s never clarified how, but it’s implied that Miles wouldn’t have died if Dani had kept him and Flora away from Peter’s ghost entirely.
In The Haunting of Bly Manor, Dani does what James’ governess cannot. She subverts her own desires and takes on the responsibility of stopping the ghost, allowing her loved ones to live. It’s heartbreaking, and in the final shot of the show, we see a hand rest on Jamie’s shoulder. It’s like a whisper of a memory: a reminder that even in death a thousand miles away, Dani is always thinking of Jamie, too.
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