‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’: This Episode Was Actually Supposed To Be in ‘Hill House’
One of the biggest differences between Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor is the ghosts. While each season is filled to the brim with chilling spirits, Hill House doesn’t dive as deeply into the backstories of these ghosts, leaving many questions left unanswered at the end of the season.
The same can’t be said for Mike Flanagan’s 2020 follow-up to the 2018 series. Where The Haunting of Hill House doesn’t have time to explain every ghost, The Haunting of Bly Manor spends an entire episode providing an origin story to the ghost that started it all.
[Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor].
‘The Haunting of Hill House’ was supposed to have a ghost origin story episode
According to Collider, Flanagan wanted to do a deep dive into the Hill House ghosts, but the show simply ran out of money, leaving them unable to make an origin story episode in Season 1.
There were brief explanations about the ghosts of Hill House, but they weren’t nearly as detailed as fans wanted. To be fair, the show had seven different plot lines to tie up—one for each member of the Crain family—by the end of the season, so it’s understandable that the show just couldn’t make space for a vacuum episode like Bly Manor‘s.
But Flanagan and the Bly Manor writers were determined to change that. And thus, their Season 1 goal was finally accomplished in Season 2’s “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes.”
The Hill family in ‘Hill House’ didn’t get an origin story like Viola Willoughby in ‘Bly Manor’
Flanagan told Collider that not only did they want to have a ghost origin story episode in Hill House, but it was already written and cast. It was cut in order to keep the series on budget.
“In Hill House, we had intended to do a full history of the Hill family and of the residents of Hill House prior to the Crains moving in,” the show runner revealed. “We didn’t get to do it. We had written it, we had cast it, we had scheduled it, it got excised before we could shoot it as we struggled to try to get the season done on time and on budget.”
Their inability to tell the Hill family’s story in Hill House, according to the show creator, directly inspired the Bly Manor period piece.
“That was the thing that we sacrificed on the altar of our good behavior,” he said. “But the idea for this that we could actually go back and tell the story of The Haunting itself and of the ghosts so that they weren’t so hard to kind of connect to our protagonists. That was really exciting. It was like this time, we can actually go back, we can do a proper period piece. We have this beautiful piece of material. It seemed like such a great opportunity for Cate (Catherine Parker) and for Katie [Siegel], both of whom we couldn’t find kind of an overarching series regular role for in the story as it was structured.”
And thank goodness they did, because the episode turned out to be one of the season’s best. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s also Flanagan’s favorite episode.
“That episode is my favorite this season,” he said. “The short story The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, other than having I think the best title of any short ghost story I’ve ever heard, in it I thought were the seeds of so many things that have become embedded in contemporary horror.”
The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Haunting of Hill House are now streaming on Netflix.