The heartwarming yet heartbreaking love story of Jamie and Dani from The Haunting of Bly Manor
Warning: this post contains spoilers.
“It’s not a ghost story, it’s a love story.” One of the last lines spoken in The Haunting of Bly Manor holds a significant truth when it comes to the love story between Dani and Jamie.
Bly Manor is Netflix’s follow up series to the hit The Haunting of Hill House and shares similar complex character studies, moving drama, frightful moments, and a large spooky manor. Even though both series’ have related characteristics, Bly Manor gave us a very special relationship that weaved a beautiful yet heart wrenching course through its nine-episode run.
We follow Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) as she makes her way from America to London. She takes a job from the wealthy Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) to become an au pair to his orphaned niece and nephew, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), at the dreary Bly Manor. Dani navigates the erratic and bizarre behavior of the children with the assistance of the distant housekeeper Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller), sweet and witty chef, Owen (Rahul Kohli), and the hardened yet enticing gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve).
Although the heart of the story is centered around the mysterious death of the former au pair, Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif), who got mixed up with the chauffeur Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a different storyline propelled its way to the forefront of people’s attention.
Throughout the series, we watch as Dani and Jamie’s relationship blossoms much like the flowers Jamie tends. Dani overcomes her guilt over the death of her fiancé that followed her with every passing reflection and accepts the reality of her sexuality, which presents itself in the form of a loving relationship with the gardener. Their tender connection is interrupted by the horrific events surrounding Bly Manor, ushered in by the relentless Lady in the Lake. Dani selflessly sacrifices herself to the Lady to save Flora. While mostly everyone is able to walk away from the grounds of Bly, the Lady still lives deep in Dani’s body and starts a countdown on the impending reality that one day Dani will be taken by the monster inside. This does not drive the lovers away, but closer together, as they live out their days in peace and harmony. Their tranquil existence soon comes to an end when Dani realizes her time has come. Within their short time, they cherished, fiercely loved, and protected each other through life and even death. Plus, we never got tired of hearing the word “Poppins”. Here are some moving details of the couple’s beautiful relationship.
Dani was Jamie’s moonflower
In a beautiful monologue, Jamie describes how her devastating past results in her defensive nature. She has been hurt by many people and finds it hard to trust those around her. Jamie shows Dani a moonflower that she grew on the grounds. Moonflowers are rare flowers that take effort to grow and only bloom for a short period of me. “Everyone is exhaustive,” she says, “even the best ones. But sometimes, once in a blue goddammed moon, someone, like this moonflower, just might be worth an effort”. Jamie obviously parallels the moonflower to Dani, as the love she has for her is worth the effort.
Dani’s love for Jamie is what ultimately causes her to stop seeing her dead fiancé
When we first meet Dani, she is running from a shadowy figure that appears in every reflection. We learn that the ghostly figure with glowing eyes was her fiancé that died immediately after Dani broke off their marriage. Dani knew that marrying Edmund would be a lie to others, her husband, and ultimately herself, because of her attraction to women. Edmund’s ghost is a tangible reminder of the guilt that Dani feels over his death which explains why she is initially hesitant to begin a relationship with Jamie. Finally accepting that her love for Jamie is strong and real, she burns her fiancés glasses and leaves his ghost, along with the guilt, behind.
Dani and Jamie live at least 10 years together before Dani dies
The two women leave Bly mostly unscathed, except for the monstrous demon that resides within Dani. The finale’s last 40 minutes depicts their time together in the most extraordinary and gut-wrenching way, showing us that they open a flower shop in Vermont and eventually get married. When they visit Owen’s restaurant in Paris, he talks of a 17-year-old Flora that is now head over heels for her new boyfriend. With Flora 8 at the time of the beginning of the show, we know it has been 9 years since the events at Bly. The show then progresses, and we can assume that at least a couple more years pass. While we would rather see them together forever, they were in each other’s arms for a substantial amount of time. “The peace held for years, which is more than some of us ever get.”
Dani is wearing a dress when Jamie finds her dead in the lake so that Jamie could see her in something beautiful one last time
After Dani wakes up one night and finds herself about to kill Jamie per the Lady in the Lake’s influence, she realizes she must leave. Jamie wakes up and finds Dani gone. Assuming she has returned to Bly, Jamie travels to the old manor and swims to the center of the lake, eventually discovering that Dani lies at the bottom. The scene is nothing short from depressing, as Jamie reconciles with the fact that her lover is gone. In the murky waters of the pond, Dani wears a stunning dress, presumably because she knows Jamie will find her there and wanted her wife to see her in something beautiful.
Love Vs. Possession
A reoccurring theme in Bly Manor is the idea of love vs. possession. This idea is first illustrated by Rebecca and Peter’s relationship. Rebecca mistakes Peter’s constant need to control her with love, made apparent by Peter’s selfish choice to kill Rebecca so they could be together forever. In contrast, when Jamie finds Dani in the lake, she screams for Dani to take her, as she would rather die than be without her soulmate. “Take me. Drag me down like you did to others.’ But the lady in the lake was different now. The lady in the lake was also Dani. And Dani wouldn’t. Dani would never.” Dani refuses to take Jamie out of love and respect, showing their true devotion to each other.
While Dani spent the whole season avoiding mirrors, Jamie constantly looks in them in hopes to see her lover again
The symbolism of mirrors and reflections comes full circle in the series. At the beginning of Bly Manor, Dani covers every mirror she passes as to not be reminded of Edmund. When Jamie losses her wife, she finds herself constantly gazing into reflections, the narrator says, “For the rest of her days, the gardener would gaze into reflections, hoping to see her face. Her own Lady in the Lake.”
Jamie tells Dani’s story so that no one forgets her and so she can continue to live on in the memories of others
The finale reveals that the woman narrating the story of Bly is an older version of Jamie and that the wedding she is attending is that of a grown-up Flora, accompanied by older versions of Owen, Henry, and Miles. By telling her lovers story, Jamie ensures that Dani will never fade in her memory or the memories of others. The Lady in the Lake and other ghosts at Bly lost their faces because others forgot them. Jamie makes sure this will never happen to Dani by spreading her story. After Jamie finishes her account, Owen and Henry give her reassuring smiles and nods, silently communicating that they remember Dani and her selfless sacrifice.
Dani returns to Jamie in the final touching scene
Ever since Dani was taken from Jamie, the gardener leaves a crack open in the door in hopes her lover will return. We watch as Jamie gets ready for bed, opening the hotel door and turning a chair to face the cracked door. In the final moments, we see a hand resting on Jamie’s shoulder as she sleeps, dawning the same wedding ring worn by Dani. The ending is up for interruption and full of questions. It is unclear how long Dani has been visiting Jamie and if Jamie realizes Dani is there at all. Show creator Mike Flanagan shared his thoughts on the final scene, “I think Dani’s absolutely with her. I think that’s the thing for me about a great love story is that even if you can’t see that person anymore, even if they’re gone, any kind of love, romantic love, familial love, deep friendship, even if you can’t see them anymore. The idea that you’re looking for them puts them with you, whether you can feel it or not.” I believe wholeheartedly that Dani is with Jamie and that, in the end, the au pair and gardener will be reunited once again.
Regardless of the tear-jerking finale, the honest and healthy portrayal of two people in love was the sentimental centerpiece of Bly Manor that meant a great deal to many, especially to members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a love story that deserves to live through the ages, just as Dani lives on in Jamie’s heart.