‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’: Dani Clayton’s Ending Explained
Many of the ghosts and deaths talked about in the Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor are quite complicated. Here’s what happened to Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) in season 2 of The Haunting franchise.
[SPOILER ALERT: Major spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor.]
‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ is a love story
Yes, The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. But at the core, Bly Manor is really a multitude of love stories.
“Gothic Romance is often misunderstood,” showrunner Mike Flanagan explained in a release about the series. “Something about the word ‘romance’ lends itself to expectations of something tawdry, syrupy. Sappy even.”
In Henry James’s world, romance meant something different entirely. “Romance meant mystery and excitement,” Flanagan said. “Gothic Romance meant horror and ruin.” With The Haunting of Bly Manor, Flanagan wanted to capture the themes Henry James highlighted in his work, including buried secrets, supernatural agony, and encroaching doom. Pedretti’s character, Dani Clayton, touched on each of those themes.
Dani Clayton struggles with her sexuality
Pedretti plays Dani Clayton, a far cry from her role as Nell Crain in The Haunting of Hill House. The teacher turned governess decides to leave the United States to live and work at Bly. At first, it’s unclear why, but as her backstory slowly comes to light, Dani’s dark past is revealed.
In “The Way It Came,” Dani calls off her engagement to her fiancé, Eddie, because she’s not attracted to him. What’s more, she has been keeping her sexuality a buried secret her entire life, lying to herself and others. “I didn’t want to hurt you, or your mom, or you family,” Dani admits to Eddie from the passenger seat of a parked car. “And then it was just what we were doing. I just thought I was being selfish. That I could just stick it out and eventually, I would feel like I was supposed to.”
Aggravated and confused by Dani, Eddie exits the vehicle only to be struck by an oncoming vehicle and killed. From then on, Dani is haunted by the encroaching doom of Eddie’s glasses, which reflect the light of the car that killed him. She leaves for Bly, carrying her guilt with her.
During her time at Bly Manor, Dani Clayton falls in love
Once Dani comes to terms with her past and confronts the ghosts that haunt her, she is freed of her guilt. Jamie (Amelia Eve), the groundskeeper at Bly, helps Dani do that. Over time, Dani allows herself to fall in love with Jamie and leaves Bly with her when the time comes.
Dani Clayton had to die to protect the ones she loves
When Dani left Bly, she didn’t leave alone. Supernatural agony followed her in the form of Viola Willoughby. Her spirit, whom Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) calls “the lady in the lake,” has haunted Bly for centuries, taking the lives of those who cross her path. Now, with her new home inside of Dani, Viola can no longer hurt anyone.
But after years of carrying Viola with her, Dani slowly starts to lose control. Terrified by her image reflected in puddles of water and mirrors, Dani can no longer take it when she wakes up to find her hand around Jamie’s neck. Fearing for Jamie’s safety, Dani decides to return to Bly — for good.
“The beast had lurked indeed, and the beast, at its hour, had sprung,” the unnamed narrator says, continuing:
And she could not risk the most important thing — her most important person. The lady in the lake was different now. The lady in the lake was also Dani. No one would ever be taken again.
Dani’s final act of courage was returning to Bly to die.