If you’ve already finished The Haunting of Bly Manor there’s a good chance your heart has been broken by Carla Gugino. The revelation of this mysterious woman’s identity and why she’s attending a wedding alone is one of the saddest finales of the year. But for all the tears and gasps Gugino has caused, there’s something we need to address: she is an absolutely terrible wedding guest. Major spoilers ahead.
Much like its source material, The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Bly Manor begins with a stranger telling a ghost story. Yet by the season’s end it’s clear that this woman is anything but a stranger. Carla Gugino plays an older version of Jamie, Bly Manor’s gardener who slowly falls in love with Dani (Victoria Pedretti), the estate’s governess. As we get to know Jamie and Dani more the context of this stranger telling her tale changes. Over time the series morphs from someone randomly telling a creepy ghost tale to one woman mourning the love of her life through story. This evolution is one of the sweetest, most heartbreaking odes to gothic romance ever brought to screen. The problem is, Jamie’s storytelling only resonates if you know the whole saga.
By the time it’s revealed who the mysterious woman is, we already know Jamie. We know how guarded she used to be and how she devoted her life to be with the cursed woman she loves. We know that Dani loves her too, and that they would do anything to stay together, if it were not for the ghostly Lady in the Lake. But that’s not the version of this story anyone else gets to experience.
Think about Jamie’s entrance from almost anyone else’s point of view. Here’s this woman who waltzes into a wedding rehearsal dinner. She doesn’t introduce herself. She doesn’t speak. Instead she silently sulks in a corner, watching everyone around her. The night starts to get late and everyone, running on excitement and booze, naturally stays up for longer than they planned. It’s only then that Jamie chimes in from her corner, not with a congratulations or a toast. Nope. The woman busts out a nine-hour long ghost story.
OK, so maybe Jamie’s retelling of Bly Manor isn’t exactly nine hours, but we saw the moonflower episode. You even hear Jamie’s narration throughout the season. She’s a long-winded storyteller. This wasn’t a quick, “I’ve also seen a ghost” anecdote. This is a multi-hour monologue. People are standing, Jamie.
Also, let’s remember what prompted this grand yarn. It wasn’t as if these people were swapping ghost stories like they were in The Turn of the Screw. No, a single wedding guest idly made a single comment about the hotel being haunted. For love-lost Jamie that’s all the excuse she needs to start monologuing for hours on end.
And it’s not like adult Flora (Christie Burke) knows who Jamie is and can excuse her ramblings as those from her crazy aunt. Several times in Bly Manor‘s final episode it’s mentioned that Flora and Miles don’t remember anything from their summer home. For all the bride and groom know a crazy stranger Flora’s uncle invited walked in on the eve of their happiest day and launched into an endless saga about possessed children, governesses who kill themselves, and lost mothers who drown kids. That’s objectively horrifying; and also quite rude.
As an ode to her lost love, Jamie’s account of what happened at Bly is heartbreaking and lovely. But if you were at that rehearsal dinner? You would never stop talking about this insane guest.