One of the main differences of The Haunting of Bly Manor to its source material, the 1898 novel Turn of the Screw, is the addition of new characters living in the house. The fast fan favorite of these seems to be Owen, the mustachioed chef who loves to cook up a pun. But is his fate more complicated than it seems?
Warning! Major spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor ahead!
At the end of Bly Manor, many characters are dead. Of course, Viola and Perdita from the flashback episode are dead, as are Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, and Hannah Grose falls down a well before the series even begins (though we don't learn that 'til later.)
In the final scene of the Netflix series, all the remaining characters gather for a wedding reception, and while there are many missing, the children Miles and Flora don't realize it, as they've repressed the traumatic memories of Bly. But while Owen appears in that scene, could he really have been dead this entire time?
Owen's life is one surrounded by losses that reveal themselves in phases of the series. First, he loses his mother's mind to dementia, and then she dies. Then, he loses Hannah Grose when she has an accident and falls down the well, but he doesn't realize it for a while due to Bly Manor's "gravity" that keeps her mortal form seemingly alive for a long time.
It seems of all the characters living in Bly — Owen, Jamie, Miles and Flora — are the only ones who actually survive to the end. But could Owen actually be dead the whole time?
By the end of the series, Owen is shown running a restaurant named A Better Place in honor of Hannah Grose. This morbid name may be a reference to Owen's love of puns and one-liners, but it could be more symbolic than that. Could Owen be in a better place of his own, and actually be a ghost?
It doesn't seem to be purposefully implied by the show itself, as Owen drinks wine with Dani and Jamie in the last episode — but doesn't eat. When Hannah was still visible but a ghost, she was unable to eat, but drank wine and tea throughout.
This means Owen could have died some time after the events of Bly Manor, but just like Viola the ghost of Bly Manor, his love for others gave him the "gravity" to stay on this plane for Miles and Flora. They may not remember the ghostly events but they still are loved by Owen like family.
So, is Owen dead? It doesn't seem to be the story's final implication, but there's no evidence showing he isn't. Interpreting that Owen is a ghost in the show's epilogue is heartbreaking, as it shows that even with the repressed memories of the children, loss still surrounds them.
Whether it's an absent loss like Dani or the possible loss of Owen, they're doomed to feel it.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is now streaming on Netflix.