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S02.E05: The Altar of the Dead

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She's seen it all. The memories come flooding back for housekeeper Hannah Grose as she reflects on the living and dead trapped at Bly Manor.

Airdate 10.09.20

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This was great. I figured Hannah was already dead considering she never ate anything, but I didn't expect her to be moving between life "chapters" or "markers" whenever she zoned out. I suspected Peter was dead too after the way he moved around the house unseen by anyone but Dani (and Miles), but it didn't even occur to me that he could be possessing Miles whenever the boy was acting "off" and too adult. It makes perfect sense, though.

I enjoyed the first four episodes, even though they were slower and more of a drama/less of a ghost story than I expected, but it was nice to finally see the kids' parents, learn more about a couple of key deaths, and fully see the Lady in the Lake, who is just as creepy as her doll led me to expect. Hope it all ramps up from here.

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I thought Hannah was dead since she never ate, although her seeming to drink gave me pause. I’ve got a bad feeling about Owen now. And my love of Ravi from iZombie has carried over to him, so I need him alive. Sigh.

It’s so tragic that she died right before Dani got there. I didn’t see that aspect of it coming. If she’d been 5 minutes earlier...

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This episode would have been more surprising If they hadn’t hit us over the head with her never eating!  Not sure why she was able to drink around the campfire. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

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33 minutes ago, non sequitur said:

Hannah also tastes some of the cake batter, and says it tastes perfect the way it is. 

 

That was in the past, though, before she died.

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1 hour ago, Brn2bwild said:

That was in the past, though, before she died.

That's what I get for half watching, half scrolling.  Such a huge difference compared to watching the first season, sadly.

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That slip of the tongue from “You are Hannah Grose” to “You were” was just upsetting.

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5 hours ago, Blue Plastic said:

Not sure why she was able to drink around the campfire. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

The best I could guess was that she can still engage in the act of eating or drinking, but it actually does nothing for her.  I think there was a point while she was drinking when she kind of looks at the bottle like the wine might be broken. 

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17 hours ago, Blue Plastic said:

This episode would have been more surprising If they hadn’t hit us over the head with her never eating! 

Yeah, that really was a -- well, a dead giveaway. (Sorry, not sorry.) Not surprising at all.

Still my favourite episode so far, because Hannah and Owen are the only characters I actually seem to care about.

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18 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

The best I could guess was that she can still engage in the act of eating or drinking, but it actually does nothing for her.  I think there was a point while she was drinking when she kind of looks at the bottle like the wine might be broken. 

I think she was faking it. She picks ups the bottle and puts it to her lips, same Dani’s tea, but doesn’t really drink.

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I have liked this season a lot due to its creepy subtle atmosphere, but this is the episode that I feel like is really kicking things into high gear. Probably my favorite of the season so far. This episode gives us a lot of context about what has been happening, especially with Hannah and why she reactions to some things in certain ways, and of course everything with Peter and Miles. I am pretty proud to say that I called Hannah and Peter both being dead, and that Peter was influencing or possessing Miles, he just seemed to switch between being a kind of eerie but nice kid to acting like a creepy and pissed off adult, so this certainly explains that. The lady in the lake is just as creepy as her creepy doll would make me expect. 

So Hannah isn't just dead as many already guessed, but is also stuck in some kind of...time loop? The houses chapters? Memories? The talk she and Owen had about memory and losing memory means losing yourself makes me think that maybe the house traps you in memories? Especially when your a ghost, considering it seems like Rebecca is stuck in a memory loop as well. So was Owen also in the loop, or was he just the Owen in Hannah's memory? I am pretty positive that Owen is alive in the most recent time, but I am very concerned about him staying alive, especially with him planning to go off to Paris with Hannah. He was also talking in the car with Dani on the way in about how people get stuck in their town, so was that just thematic foreshadowing? So did Rebecca really kill herself, or was she killed by one of the ghosts? 

If only Dani had gotten there a few minutes earlier...

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Was Peter really killed by the lady in the lake? A strange way to die! At first I thought the lady in the lake was Rebecca, but I guess they're different people. I'm still trying to figure out the dolls and if they actually have any power, of if they're just part of Flora's imagination. 

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2 hours ago, pezgirl7 said:

Was Peter really killed by the lady in the lake? A strange way to die! At first I thought the lady in the lake was Rebecca, but I guess they're different people. I'm still trying to figure out the dolls and if they actually have any power, of if they're just part of Flora's imagination. 

I really thought Rebecca was the Lady in the Lake, too. Surprised that it wasn't. I did figure that Miles was being possessed by Peter, and that Hannah was already dead, but I loved how they put this together. Hannah needing to constantly say where she is in order to stay in the present was an interesting touch. 

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Wow this episode was kinda bananas—in a good way. I must be totally oblivious because I never suspected that she was a ghost and never noticed her not eating. So that part was pretty shocking to me. Very sad, too, as I’ve grown very fond of her and had been shipping her and Owen. 

So when she said to Miles—before he pushed her in the well—“you’re dead” she was really talking to/about Peter, right?? Or are Miles (and Flora?) ghosts as well? 

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27 minutes ago, Duke2801 said:

So when she said to Miles—before he pushed her in the well—“you’re dead” she was really talking to/about Peter, right?? Or are Miles (and Flora?) ghosts as well? 

I'm still wrapping my brain around this episode, but I think she was speaking to Peter. I think Flora and Miles are still alive, and that Miles isn't really aware of what Peter is using him to say and do. Miles had a "dream" in a previous ep where he thought he had hurt Hannah, and it made him sad.

I was also so rooting for Owen and Hannah...damn.

If Hannah was potentially able to interact with people because she didn't realize she was dead...what now? Same with Peter not being able to grasp the doll for a moment after seeing his death. Heartbreaking at the end with her repeating her name and the year to stay grounded.

The themes for this episode with memories, transcendence, dementia...such a layered show. 

Also, Owen yelling into the camera freaked me out big time. Not quite as much as the Nell car scene last year, but pretty damn close.

I've never seen T'Nia Miller before but I'll be looking her up...she was incredible. Such powerful expressions in her scenes.

(I'm still cracking up at her cleaning in those clothes...*I* do not look like that cleaning my house, lol. She and Jamie are pretty damn good taking care of that house and grounds all by themselves.)

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9 hours ago, CrazyDog said:

I'm still wrapping my brain around this episode, but I think she was speaking to Peter. I think Flora and Miles are still alive, and that Miles isn't really aware of what Peter is using him to say and do. Miles had a "dream" in a previous ep where he thought he had hurt Hannah, and it made him sad.

I was also so rooting for Owen and Hannah...damn.

If Hannah was potentially able to interact with people because she didn't realize she was dead...what now? Same with Peter not being able to grasp the doll for a moment after seeing his death. Heartbreaking at the end with her repeating her name and the year to stay grounded.

The themes for this episode with memories, transcendence, dementia...such a layered show. 

Also, Owen yelling into the camera freaked me out big time. Not quite as much as the Nell car scene last year, but pretty damn close.

I've never seen T'Nia Miller before but I'll be looking her up...she was incredible. Such powerful expressions in her scenes.

(I'm still cracking up at her cleaning in those clothes...*I* do not look like that cleaning my house, lol. She and Jamie are pretty damn good taking care of that house and grounds all by themselves.)

Yes T’Nia Miller is fantastic! I recommend the mini series “Years and Years” for more of her. 

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Poor Hannah. That scene where she tries to call Owen back after their talk around the fire is crushing.

This was the best of the episodes I watched. I think it would've hit even harder if it hadn't reminded me of a similarly structured episode of Castle Rock.

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I was really confused by this episode but some of your comments have helped a bit. So has Hannah been a ghost the entire time that Dani has been there, as a result of Miles pushing her into the well just before Dani arrived? If so, how can Dani, Owen, and Jamie talk to her? I could understand the kids being able to see her and talk to her, since they see other ghosts, but it doesn't make sense to me that the adults can interact with her, unless they are all "sensitives" and think she is alive. Or are all the interactions that we see Hannah have with the other adults after her death actually all in her ghost's imagination?  

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This reminded me of an episode from the first season of Castle Rock. One centered around Sissy Spacek's character. 

I walked into the kitchen, and didn't know that Hannah died, although I did wonder how she got out of wherever she'd been pushed. I thought she might be a ghost, because she didn't leave the property, and I figured out early on, that the little boy was possessed. It reminds me of another movie, too, but I don't know if the possession is for the same reason given in that movie. 

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On 10/16/2020 at 3:20 PM, machinist said:

Is it just me that I find the little girl named Flora kinda ugly?

She's a child so I'm not exactly paying attention to her looks at all.

I haven't seen this brought up but what happened in this episode is actually more reminiscent of hill house than anything else. It was this timeframe in the season of hill house where the most sympathetic character took center stage, her issues are fully explained and both end with a huge gotcha moment (regardless of you getting it beforehand or not). Midpoint of the season.

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16 hours ago, Racj82 said:

She's a child so I'm not exactly paying attention to her looks at all.

I haven't seen this brought up but what happened in this episode is actually more reminiscent of hill house than anything else. It was this timeframe in the season of hill house where the most sympathetic character took center stage, her issues are fully explained and both end with a huge gotcha moment (regardless of you getting it beforehand or not). Midpoint of the season.

In the other show

Sissy Spacek was moving between time/memories, she dealt with dementia.

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Aww... this episode was more sad than scary. Poor Mrs. Grose.

It was a really well done episode. In addition to the time-shifting Castle Rock episode mentioned by others above, it also reminded me a bit of the "Bent Neck Lady" episode from last season's Hill House in terms of emotional payoff at the end.

Colour me shocked that the lady in the lake was NOT Rebecca. Didn't see that one coming and it was one shivery looking  ghoul.

I already knew the dynamic between Peter and Miles from reading the novel and seeing the movie The Innocents, but I was kinda hoping that Mrs Grose being a ghost was a fake-out, because I like the character and wanted her to be alive. Terrific performance by T'Nia Miller.

I'm now thoroughly confused about the living or dead status about the rest of the cast. I'm fairly confident Miles & Flora are alive, but I'm less certain about Owen. It seemed in the time loop scenes that he was encouraging Mrs. Grose to play along and repeat their "dialogue". He also had the monologue about being stuck like the mouse in a glue trap. Does this mean he's also a ghost trapped at Bly? What about Jamie? I'm very confused about the many scenes where they're all conversing together in in the kitchen, so is everyone dead?

The lady in the lake was creepy as hell, so I hope we get to see more spooks in the upcoming episodes. I want to know what that moaning thing in the attic with Flora was.

 

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On 10/19/2020 at 8:41 PM, Cheezwiz said:

I'm now thoroughly confused about the living or dead status about the rest of the cast.

Totally! This was a great episode, but I was totally confused when it was over. How is Dani interacting with these "people" if they are dead? Is a ghost making dinner for them every night? If Owen is dead, how did he pick her up in the car and drive her to the Manor? How did the creepy lake lady kill Peter? Who is she? The Viola from the grave in the Chapel maybe that Flora was etching? Why does Ghost Rebecca sometimes look normal and sometimes have glowing zombie eyes? I am confused, but I suppose that is what they are going for. I'll just see how this unfolds. Or maybe someone here can clear some of this up.......

I have a new appreciation for the kid playing Miles. I loved when he said "Oh Hannah, honestly..." and walked away. Just like Peter. My only question with him is whether he was possessed by Peter when he was acting out at school, or did he attack that kid and kill that bird on his own?

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5 hours ago, Ilovepie said:

My only question with him is whether he was possessed by Peter when he was acting out at school, or did he attack that kid and kill that bird on his own?

I do think Peter was acting on Miles at times when he was at school. The impression I got from that episode was that Miles was deliberately trying to get himself expelled from school so he could return home and be with Flora. She had drawn a picture and sent it to him which made it seem like she was being threatened by something at home.

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2 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

I do think Peter was acting on Miles at times when he was at school. The impression I got from that episode was that Miles was deliberately trying to get himself expelled from school so he could return home and be with Flora. She had drawn a picture and sent it to him which made it seem like she was being threatened by something at home.

I agree he was trying to get expelled, but that makes it seem like something Miles would care about, not Peter. Still, it’s pretty dark.....

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The actor playing Miles is doing such a superb job. He's got all the mannerisms down so well.

I missed the "You are/You Were" transition because I was still too transfixed by everything going on this episode.

So The Lady of The Lake is like a train you don't want to get in the way of? 

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Hmm. I have such mixed feelings about this season so far. I was overall not a fan of HHH, even though there was lots I enjoyed, because I didn't feel like the internal logic added up, and I hated that Flanagan took a story rife with horror and actually stripped all the horror OUT by over-explaining what was happening and fitting it into clearly-defined rules (that didn't always make sense). I'm definitely feeling the same way about this season. Flanagan seems to like taking books that are famous for their masterful ambiguity, and adapting them by stripping out all the ambiguity and explaining exactly what is happening and why and how, which I find endlessly frustrating because it runs counter to the very concept of horror (and what made the books great in the first place)!

Supernatural horror typically depends upon Freud's concept of "The Uncanny," which refers to the disconnect between what your senses perceive and what your brain understands to be possible. Miles acting so much like Peter is disconcerting because you DON'T know if he is being possessed, or if Peter is influencing him somehow, or if he is just a boy struggling with trauma who needs help. Your brain understands what is possible (Miles is a normal boy behaving for psychological reasons), but the persistent indications that something supernatural is influencing him makes you feel deeply unsettled and uncertain. Knowing that Peter is dead, and is literally possessing him, feels like a huge de-escalation of the horror. Imagine if we had seen Miles kill Hannah AND WE DIDN'T KNOW WHY! That's where the horror lives! The Lady from the Lake was creepy AF because the kids were so scared of Dani crossing paths with her. It was freaky because we didn't know what she would do to Dani or why the kids were so scared... now we know: she would kill Dani, but only if Dani is directly in her path, otherwise she would just wander past on her usual route without noticing. Knowing this (what she does and how to avoid her) makes her LESS scary! Like a trap to avoid in a video game. The tension comes from not understanding! Flanagan should get this, because his movie Occulus, which put him on the map, was ENTIRELY an experience of not knowing what was real! Of course, answers have to come at some time, but they don't have to be so definitive, and they don't have to come with four hours of story still to cover.

As for the story, so far, everyone's backstories seem very expected and cliched. Many people called Mrs. Grose being dead from the beginning since it was SO emphasized that she never ate, but I was really hoping it was going a different direction than the expected (evil violent man kills saintly helpless woman because he is a straight-up misogynist). My theory up until now was that Mrs. Grose had killed Peter Quint, and her "drifting off," hallucinating the crack (which would have been the from the impact of his head where he died), and lighting the extra candle, was because she was struggling with her guilt over having killed him or caused his death, and being the only one who knew he was actually dead while everyone else was fearful of his return. It wouldn't have been a better explanation than what actually happened, but at least it would have subverted the expected in some little way. (By the way, her manner of death really recontextualizes Owen's "battered woman" joke from the last ep! The writing here does, on occasion, delight.) While this episode was very artful in what it accomplished, I just found the story direction predictable and disappointing. The time-jumping seemed like a rehash of The Bent-Neck Lady (though it made more sense here and was more artfully done), and it had the effect of clarifying exactly what was going on and why, which undermines the sense of the uncanny and seems to wind DOWN the tension of the season, instead of continuing to ramp it UP towards the finale.

I sound really frustrated, but I think I actually do like this season better than HHH. The performances are outstanding in any case. I just wish it would commit to what it is. It could be an intense psychological drama, OR an effective horror series, but putting literal ghosts (like Hannah, Peter, LftL, etc) and metaphorical ghosts (Dani's reflected fiancé) side by side in the same story without actually unifying them in a meaningful way only serves to muddy the storytelling and keep it from being great in either genre. 

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On 10/19/2020 at 11:41 PM, Cheezwiz said:

I'm now thoroughly confused about the living or dead status about the rest of the cast. I'm fairly confident Miles & Flora are alive, but I'm less certain about Owen. It seemed in the time loop scenes that he was encouraging Mrs. Grose to play along and repeat their "dialogue". He also had the monologue about being stuck like the mouse in a glue trap

Those scenes were all part of Hannah’s memories in her time loop. That version of Owen where he knows they are stuck in the loop only exists in her mind. That’s not the real live Owen.

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Yes. The last time Hannah and Owen replay their scene, "Owen" says point blank that he's her.

Hannah's subconscious was having "Owen" say certain things in order to help her consciously realize that she's dead.

This journey through her mind and memories and other ghosts' memories was triggered by (the real) Owen asking Hannah to go to Paris with him. That's not possible for her, but she didn't know it because she hadn't accepted that she's dead. Up until that moment, she could carry on just fine not knowing this, because there's nothing about her existence at Bly that requires her knowledge of being dead. But then Owen asked her to go to Paris, and she loves him and would at least consider agreeing. So her subconscious knew it was time to make her aware that she's dead.

I think her subconscious picked Owen for two reasons: Again, she loves him. Second, he's a man who has thought and also experienced a lot about how minds and memories work; he told her about Thomas Merton's writings.

Poor Hannah. I suspected she was dead, on account of her not eating, but was hoping it was a red herring since she and Owen are so cute together. And while Hannah always seemed okay with the idea of Bly being her home forever, Owen clearly wants to leave the area. I don't think he'd be very happy if he died and had his ghost trapped at Bly, even with Hannah.

Rebecca insisted that there are times when Peter's "himself" and when he's not, and Peter didn't seem to remember speaking to Rebecca nastily the previous time she'd seen him. That's certainly very much like Miles's possession, now isn't it? I think Peter, like Miles, was inhabited by an older ghost who's the really nasty one, and when Peter died, that ghost switched to Miles. And Miles also has Peter's ghost hanging around...

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10 hours ago, Slovenly Muse said:

The Lady from the Lake was creepy AF because the kids were so scared of Dani crossing paths with her. It was freaky because we didn't know what she would do to Dani or why the kids were so scared... now we know: she would kill Dani, but only if Dani is directly in her path, otherwise she would just wander past on her usual route without noticing. Knowing this (what she does and how to avoid her) makes her LESS scary! Like a trap to avoid in a video game.

This rests on the assumption that the kids have perfect knowledge and understanding of what's happening in the house. But the scenario you posit above is likely completely wrong.

The Lady killed Peter Quint not because he was in her path, but because he took the necklace. We learned from Hannah in this episode that the necklace is quite old; it's probably the Lady's necklace from the time she lived in the house. Peter removed it from its place, and that's why he died. If the necklace had nothing to do with it, why did the show spend time on the necklace at all? Why show Peter going to get the necklace? It could easily have been written that the kids saw him in the hallway after he left Rebecca's room, as he was about to leave the house. Why otherwise did the Lady first drag Peter's body back into that room, instead of straight down the stairs? Because she wanted to return the necklace to its proper place.

But what would that have looked like from the kids' perspectives? Up until the Lady killed Peter, they obviously didn't know that she could kill (Miles yells "What are you doing to him?" and such). And critically, they didn't know that Peter took that necklace. So to small children, of course it would seem that Peter died for the reason you said, because he happened to be in the path of the Lady. But we viewers have more knowledge. The Lady didn't kill Dani previously because the kids kept Dani out of her path, but because Dani hasn't done anything to draw her ire.

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1 hour ago, Black Knight said:

But what would that have looked like from the kids' perspectives? Up until the Lady killed Peter, they obviously didn't know that she could kill (Miles yells "What are you doing to him?" and such). And critically, they didn't know that Peter took that necklace. So to small children, of course it would seem that Peter died for the reason you said, because he happened to be in the path of the Lady. But we viewers have more knowledge. The Lady didn't kill Dani previously because the kids kept Dani out of her path, but because Dani hasn't done anything to draw her ire.

Ok, maybe things are clarified later in the series, but I don't think I agree with you here based on what we've seen so far. In the flashbacks, we know that the muddy footprints were a constant, and they always took the same path - up the stairs and to the parents' wing. This was happening even before Peter took the necklace. The Lady from the Lake made regular night time visits, and Flora seems to be aware of them the way she's aware of the other ghosts in the house. She saw in her dollhouse that Peter was out of bed, about to enter the path of the LftL and summoned Miles to help distract Peter the way they later successfully distracted Dani, but it didn't work, and the LftL killed him when she encountered him. She didn't seem to look at him or target him specifically, and she didn't seem to deviate from her set route to get him (if she had, that would have been way more interesting!). It seemed to me like she's very focused on getting where she's going, and doesn't take notice of what's not right in front of her. Maybe she DID kill him because of the necklace, but if so, I would have loved to see this episode at least hint at some different circumstances to this visit, or see her actively engage in killing Peter on purpose, and not simply respond indifferently to something that was directly in her path. And if the kids didn't know she was dangerous before she killed Peter, why were they so panicked about keeping Peter away from her? I'm sure we'll get more information later about the LftL and what her deal is, but even if we DON'T know everything, or things aren't exactly what they seem, the way this episode presented the situation, mirroring Dani's near-miss with Peter's fatal encounter, felt like ANSWERS rather than an escalation of uncertainty. I'm not saying there's not more to learn, as I've now finished the next ep as well and am already feeling a bit better about what it's doing, but what THIS ep presented (and the way it was done) is not a satisfying way to build tension in a ghost story, IMO.

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On 10/25/2020 at 1:32 AM, Slovenly Muse said:

I hated that Flanagan took a story rife with horror and actually stripped all the horror OUT by over-explaining what was happening and fitting it into clearly-defined rules (that didn't always make sense). I'm definitely feeling the same way about this season. Flanagan seems to like taking books that are famous for their masterful ambiguity, and adapting them by stripping out all the ambiguity and explaining exactly what is happening and why and how, which I find endlessly frustrating because it runs counter to the very concept of horror (and what made the books great in the first place)!

You pinned down what bothered me about both series. Flanagan took all that was spooky about the books and shined a big old flashlight on them making them far less spooky. It's like a magician showing you how the trick is done. 

Turn of the Screw, the book, is haunting because you never really figure out just what happened. Mike pointed out with arrows and a diagram and spotlight making it all less interesting. 

I think the fact that Hannah's memory loop ep was my favorite, because I didn't know what was going on (and Hannah is hands down my favorite character, and one of the very, very few I even liked this season) shows that the more he explained, the less interesting his story became. 

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