Episode 1 is a teaser and a good teaser. There’s history to explore and the series opens up the potential for plenty of depth.
This recap of Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 1, “The Great Good Place” contains significant spoilers.
We recapped the whole series — check out the archive.
A woman wakes up dazed and sorts out her bath that’s still full of water. Episode 1 then heads to Northern California. There is a rehearsal dinner. A man jokingly talks about the pain and love of a long-lasting relationship. The bride and groom and the guests talk about the apparent ghost stories of the manor. The woman from the start of the episode is there and she wants to tell a story — the guests are poised. She begins her story.
From here, she is the narrator…
Dani arrives in London
A woman named Dani Clayton arrives in London responding to an advertisement by Henry Wingrave — she attends a job interview with Henry who marks she has no previous experience as an au pair. Dani argues that she has got the same experience as a teacher for certain aspects of the job. The scene is atypical of a polite discussion about the job with Henry marking the rules and briefing her on the children (Miles and Flora).
From the first introduction of Dani, you sense that she’s running away and this job is escapism.
What is the catch?
Episode 1 shows Dani’s determination to land this job that she’s travelled all the way to London to win.
Henry asks Dani “What’s the catch?” because she’s 30 and young. She mentions how the advertisement has been up for six months for a position that should be easy to fill — she smartly reverses the question on Henry. Later, at a bar, Dani catches Henry and tells him that it was the worst job interview she’s ever been to and they both drink.
Henry talks about why the role hasn’t been fulfilled — he talks about how the last woman was qualified but she died on the property, so there’s a stigma with the position. That’s “the catch” — superstition and imagination.
Dani explains that her “Catch” was that she did not want to be at home anymore. She believes she can make a difference for both children. Dani presumes that there has been a death in the family due to the “live-in” criteria, which Henry calmly acknowledges.
The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 1 is carefully warming up the audience — giving slithers of information but nowhere near enough to produce conclusions. It’s a tentative, almost chilling start.
Dani gets the job
It turns out drinks with Henry has changed Dani’s fortunes — she rings her mother from back at home who is clearly not satisfied that Dani is taking this job. As she makes her way to the countryside, she is blown away by the peacefulness and scenery and leaves her taxi early to go the rest of the way.
Introductions and tour
On her walk, she bumps into Flora who was singing. They get to know each other. As they carry on walking, Flora leaves a self-made doll behind — this doll is noticeably creepy. She then meets Miles and the housekeeper Hannah Grose. It’s like an awkward first day at work with all the politeness.
Flora leads the tour. There’s also a classroom. Overall, it’s a typical looking manor. Dani is excited to see her room and as she gets changed, Miles sneaks in which was extremely creepy and invasive. He gives her a gift — a butterfly hair clip.
The Haunting of Bly Manor ensures that the children keep the viewer on edge, despite early introductions.
First dinner, bath, and bed
Episode 1, “The Great Good Place” couldn’t help make a dig that she’s an American — she makes terrible cups of tea for the table. Interestingly, Hannah Grose doesn’t want to finish her dinner — she seems dazed. Dani then helps Flora have a bath later and she keeps looking behind her. She gets angry that Dani has the butterfly clip as it doesn’t belong to her — it belonged to the previous au pair Miss Jessel. Dani is already feeling the eeriness and she sees a figure behind her in the mirror. That was the first jump scare.
While putting Miles to bed, Dani tells him that he can talk to her about anything. He asks why she isn’t wearing the butterfly. In Flora’s room, Dani checks out her dollhouse that has many creepy figures. When she picks up one of the dolls from under the drawers, Flora firmly tells Dani to put it back. Flora tells Dani to stay in her room all night and not leave until the morning — she asks her to promise.
Let’s all confirm that we would have all left the manor for good that night and never returned.
Time to explore
Dani was restless during the night — the narrator says that she felt a great expansion and emptiness. The au pair explores the house in the middle of the night to make herself a drink. As the kettle boils, she hears creaking but then the kettle whistles. A cloaked figure was watching her.
It’s embarrassing when they don’t wave back
The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 1 gives us the sense of what’s to come for Dani and the other characters as her experiences start to get stranger.
The next day, Flora tells Dani that she’s cross with her for leaving her room — she tells her that she needs to stay in the room so the lady from the lake doesn’t see her. Miles shows Dani a spider on his hand to try and scare her but it doesn’t work. Dani tells Miles about the problems he has had at school and that his uncle speaks about them a lot. Miles seems upset which pains Dani. As she walks back to the manor, she sees a man looking at her so she waves — the man doesn’t wave back.
Learning more about Miss Jessel
Dani has now seen a man unknown to everyone and she also learns about the previous au pair — more warning signs that she should depart the manor immediately and never return.
At breakfast, the gardener Jamie doesn’t even introduce herself to Dani. The gardener teases the children — Dani tells the table that she saw a man on the parapet on the way in but no-one knows anything about it. Once again, Hannah Grose does not eat which is unsettling for the viewer at this point. Dani checks out the same place she saw the man and looks out to the extensive garden. She finds a self-made doll.
Dani then walks to the little church opposite the manor. Hannah is inside and Dani shows her the creepy doll. She tells Dani that she cannot judge the children as their parents have died. Hannah then talks about Rebecca Jessel — how she was a “bright young thing” and ambitious. She talks about how a man broke her and made her empty — “She was gone long before she waded into that lake”. Hannah describes how Flora was stone-still looking at the Rebecca Jessel in the lake when the au pair died.
Episode 1 gives you the sense that although there are hauntings in the manor, something else is also inflicting Dani — she’s haunted personally that she has not yet revealed to the audience.
Dani does her duty and puts the children to bed. She tells Flora that she loves her imagination and how it keeps them safe. Dani tells her not to walk to the parapet. Dani accidentally kicks one of the dolls and Flora gets up and looks slightly upset but then Miles asks for an electric fan. She heads into a cupboard room and the children cruelly lock her in. Miles claims that he cannot open it and that it’s stuck. Dani gets increasingly stressed the longer she’s in the small room and starts hyperventilating and screaming. In one of the mirrors, she sees a figure and she starts crying.
Eventually, the children let her out and she tells them to get to bed immediately. They are apologetic (we’d have all pimp-slapped them both immediately). Dani heads outside and sees the fog — it’s so gloomy at the manor. As she looks up, both children are looking at her from the window. Again, leave the manor Dani — do not return.
The Haunting of Bly Manor episode 1 is a teaser and a good teaser. There’s history to explore and the series opens up the potential for plenty of depth.