Friday, October 9, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Haunting of Bly Manor' - Dani Interviews with Henry for a Job in the English Countryside in 'The Great Good Place'

Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor - Episode 2.01 "The Great Good Place"

A bright-eyed American au pair hopes to make a difference caring for two orphans in a grand English manor. Yet the feeling of dread is undeniable.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor.

"The Great Good Place" was written by Mike Flanagan and directed by Mike Flanagan

The Narrator has a ghost story to tell. In that opening sequence, she almost presents as a ghost herself. Some people acknowledge her presence as she wanders around this rehearsal dinner. But conversations and interactions are happening around her. When she eventually speaks up, she immediately has the attention of the room. It doesn't matter that this is a ghost story that happened to someone else. It's a captivating story that this crowd would enjoy hearing no matter how long it is. And yes, it's clear that the show goes for an eery mood in this premiere instead of jumping straight into the ghastly horrors and jump scares. Something is amiss at Bly Manor. The characters are inherently suspicious of each other. Henry and Dani know the other is too good to be true as it pertains to this job interview. However, there is also a sense of commonality to it. A collection of individuals are brought together to ensure the well-being of two children. Henry Wingrave wants to take care of his niece and nephew after their parents died. A pattern of death just seems to be emerging. Henry struggles to fill the au pair job because of the notoriety that came from the previous individual dying on this estate. It feels cursed. That isn't a troubling warning sign to Dani though. She has escaped to London for a new sense of adventure. Sure, it's abundantly clear that she is running away from something. She can't seem to get too far away from it either. It's lurking over her shoulder whenever she looks in a mirror. That's why all reflective surfaces must be covered for her. That is just one part of this story though. It's a component that Dani brings into this setting. She holds just as many secrets as the people who already make up life at Bly Manor. She still sees the beauty in the countryside though. She proclaims that she will never grow tired of this view. It's picturesque in her mind. Those who live here don't share the same mentality. They view it as constraining to their lives. It keeps them here instead of spreading their wings to explore what else the world has to offer. Owen went to France to learn how to cook. And now, he is back in his hometown caring for his mother and these children. He laments that while still trying to put on a brave face for the young, impressionable minds. Dani is trying to make a difference in Miles and Flora's lives. She already senses some deep emotional traumas within them. She wants to help them express those feelings and figure out how to continue growing in this world. She has some sense of the tragedies in their pasts. However, Henry was light on the details. Mrs. Grose is the one who shares the traumatic story of what happened to Ms. Jessel. Even then, it's a story about how a woman's ambitious undoing is tied to her love for a man. It's a common tale. It's still tragic though. Miles and Flora personally experienced that. Part of their innocence is lost. They deserve the freedom of being children. And yet, their sheer presence in this story is unnerving because children are inherently creepy in horror stories. It's a part of the genre. Dani is more than capable of caring for them. She gives herself to them in ways that are beneficial. And yet, she is absolutely terrified when locked in a closet. That suggests some deeper darkness lurks within these walls. She is warned against leaving her room at night. She still does that. No real consequences emerge for that action. It simply offers some foreboding moments where she hears noises throughout the dark house. Meanwhile, Flora talks with figures who seemingly aren't there. Dani isn't immediately welcomed into all the secrets that this manor holds. She is a part of this environment now. She goes searching for clues. She sees a man whom everyone else is willing to disregard completely. Instead, she gains new insight into Flora's need to create a talisman in order to protect others. She is compassionate. And yet, she and her brother lurk over Dani in the final shot as she escapes to the outside seemingly following a trail of clues only for it to largely turn up empty. It's a fascinating if slow way to introduce this story and the rhythms of what's going on. It may intensify in the future. It surely has to become more scary to function as the ghost story the Narrator is telling. But enough setup is accomplished to intrigue the audience into learning more about what's happening in this particular world.