Sunday, October 11, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Haunting of Bly Manor' - Henry Wingrave Remains Constantly Haunted by the Past in 'The Jolly Corner'

Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor - Episode 2.06 "The Jolly Corner"

In denial and embroiled in his work, Henry Wingrave must reckon with himself. Dani reaches out to Jamie while Flora gets lost in the past.

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 next episode of Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor.

"The Jolly Corner" was written by Rebecca Leigh Klingel and directed by Yolanda Ramke & Ben Howling

So much of the narrative snapped into place with the revelation that Hannah is dead and Peter's ghost has been possessing Miles. It took awhile for the show to get to the point of fully embracing the supernatural elements of a typical ghost story. It justified that time spent by investing in the core characters at Bly Manor. It wanted to ensure that the audience cared about them before all of these insane things started happening. Yes, that has created pacing problems. And yes, an obvious flaw comes up in this hour as it pertains to Henry Wingrave. It's easy to engage with the characters who have been at Bly Manor this entire time. Meanwhile, certain characters have been designed as a mystery. Hannah had this big dramatic reveal to her in the previous episode. And yet, that was earned because it was unexpected while still feeling like a natural progression of what has happened so far. In contrast, Peter and Rebecca exist less as characters and more as figures who loom over the proceedings. They are the ghosts always lurking over Dani's shoulder. Miles and Flora have to carefully manage them. That is a huge burden for them. They understand the mechanics of this world and the mysteries that have plagued them for years. Henry has been distant from this environment for a long time. It felt as if he wasn't actually invested in the development of his niece and nephew. In reality, he is trying to honor the order to stay banished from this place. He feels a sense of responsibility for Charlotte and Dominic's deaths. It's still vague as to what actually happened to them. More clues are filled in here. They left to recreate their honeymoon after Dominic realized that Flora was actually Henry's daughter. Charlotte and Henry had been having an affair for years. After being caught, Charlotte wants to make her marriage work. They go to India when tragedy happens. Henry doesn't believe it at first. But he has to grapple with that reality every single day. Now, the narrative pertaining to him gets a little confusing throughout this hour. It's clear that he is haunted by the past. He copes with it by drinking. As such, he was susceptible to people taking advantage of him. He brought Peter into this world. That meant Peter was given the access to steal from this wealthy family. No one would have questioned it either. He had an exit strategy that he never was able to implement. Now, he is forever trapped in the manor. He haunts it alongside Rebecca. She too died by walking into the lake. That may have actually been a sign of her wanting to reunite with Peter. She terrorizes Flora just as much as Peter does for Miles. In fact, Flora is quite annoyed whenever she realizes that she is living out a memory. She recognizes it as such because the math doesn't add up regarding how old she should be in this situation. The memories are certainly informative. They help paint in the broad strokes of Flora's life always being haunted by the mysteries of Bly Manor. She was young when she encountered her first ghost. She needed to give him a story. She felt that purpose because Henry helped guide her through it. He clearly loves her. And yet, it pains him to have to stay away. He goes running towards the manor after being overwhelmed by the constant pleas from Dani about something being wrong. And yes, he may arrive to save the day after Dani is attacked by Peter and Rebecca. She wants to embrace a simple life with Jamie. That becomes more of a reasonable reality here. It's so hauntingly beautiful to see Jamie dictate her life story. It's full of pain. She accepts that humanity is completely exhausting. It may not be worth all the hard work put in to maintain relationships. She hopes for the best with Dani. This moment works insanely well to reveal new sides of her while encouraging this bond to grow deeper. But it also comes at a time when Dani's life is in jeopardy. Flora is desperate for clarity from Rebecca. Dani tries her best to be loving and nurturing. That may not be enough because of the extraordinary circumstances taking place here. She is at a loss. She isn't powerless entirely. It's just unclear what the addition of Henry to all of this will actually mean because he remains such an unknown. The added focus on him here mostly makes even more of a narrative mess. He only sometimes has the right instincts and best intentions. His presence will force even more secrets to the forefront. That is probably beneficial to some. It comes as the entire narrative is intensifying. But the poetic and longing nature of relationships needs to remain at the forefront as well. That adds the necessary texture to make all of this worth it. Otherwise, it's just a typical ghost story that aims to unnerve the viewer.