Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House S1:E2 (Open Casket) recap

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— Courtesy of Netflix

Adult Shirley has decided to take care of Nell’s body and funeral arrangements, which just seems like a bad idea. But, Shirley (my personal least favorite Crain family member) is insistent. Theo and Shirley argue about allowing enough time for Luke (who has apparently snuck out of rehab) to get there for the funeral, and Shirley retorts that he missed Nell’s wedding, so he probably won’t make it to her funeral either.

It is now time for the funeral for Alex’s grandmother, and he is still refusing to see her in her casket. Shirley tells him that he will later regret it if he doesn’t view her now, and offers to walk up with him. We then go back to Olivia’s service, when Shirley did not want to see her mother in the casket. The funeral director offers to walk up with her, just as she will later do with Alex, and she agrees. It seems this may be what inspired Shirley’s current career, as she comments that he “fixed” Olivia.

Nell is delivered to the funeral home, and Shirley begins to somewhat graphically prepare her body. As she does this, she is talking to Steven on the phone, and insisting that he come as soon as possible, and get Luke and Hugh there as well.

Image courtesy of Netflix

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Back at Hill House, Shirley and Nell prepare to feed the kittens, and find that they are all dead except for one. It opens its eyes, which are large and white (and terrifying), and Shirley screams. Later, Olivia tells her that “kittens shouldn’t be without their Mommy”, and that the remaining kitten was taken to a new home. Shirley yells at her, and Olivia begins to yell back, crying — she has a headache.

When Hugh talks to Olivia about her headache (which he refers to as a “color storm”), Olivia says there was no color this time, just darkness. We find out that they killed the kitten, believing it to be diseased.

When adult Shirley’s children try to sneak into the embalming room, Shirley stops them. She tells them that she has to fix up Aunt Nell, and they should each pick out a favorite picture to display at the funeral. The kids leave, and Shirley refers to a wedding picture of Nell as she somberly applies makeup to her corpse.

In the past, Shirley applied Nell’s wedding day makeup, and saw Luke arriving outside. Before Nell could see him, Shirley ran outside and told him to leave. She gave him cash, and he dejectedly left. Although Nell has said Luke’s absence is the only thing that marred her wedding, Shirley never told her that he actually showed up, which probably caused her a fair amount of guilt.

As Shirley is preparing Nell’s body, a bug crawls out of her mouth, which is even more gross than when the same bug crawled out of the kitten’s mouth, and Shirley breaks down. After she calms down, she turns off the light, and then sees another body in the room. It’s Olivia, who sits up and holds a box out to Shirley – the same box she gave her for the dead kitten.

When Shirley turns on the light, Olivia is gone. When she goes back to her office, she puts the photo of Nell in a folder, and turns off the light. As she leaves the office, the porch light on her model Forever House flashes off and on, which harkens back to Hill House, when Olivia told the children it would be time to come home when she flashed the porch light.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Thus ends episode two, and I am well and truly hooked. Once again, there were several Easter Eggs for fans of Shirley Jackson’s novel, and the Crain family dynamics were riveting. I also have to give props to the cast, who are doing a bang-up job. Carla Gugino, who up to this point has just been beautiful, calm, and ethereal, showed a different side of her character when Olivia snapped back at Shirley. And Lulu Wilson, as young Shirley, was a stand out in this episode.

Hill House itself may be the best character of all. I mean, you can just FEEL the atmosphere in that house every time they show it, inside or out. I read today that the film makers have “hidden” many ghosts in the interior Hill House scenes, have you found them yet? And, what do you think of the series so far?

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