Netflix: The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 3 (Touch) recap

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— Courtesy of Netflix

The second episode of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House focused on Shirley, and this episode (“Touch”) is devoted to Theo. As with the other episodes, we jump back and forth between the Crains as children at Hill House, and as adults. Let’s dig in, shall we?

We open with young Theo sleeping in bed. She feels someone climb into bed with her, and a small arm reaches around to clutch her hand. She thinks Nell has had another nightmare, and asks her not to hold her hand so tightly. When she turns over to face her, there is no one there, and she sits bolt upright. “Whose hand was I holding?” (I will add that this is a chilling scenario and line taken directly from the book).

Adult Theo is talking to a little girl named Kelsey in her office. Kelsey tells her about “Mr. Smiley”, and indicates that he lives in the basement. Afterword, she talks to Kelsey’s foster parents, who have no idea why Kelsey is having difficulties, nor who “Mr. Smiley” may be.

Back in Hill House, Hugh and Theo are going through some of the odds and ends that the prior owners left behind. Hugh says most of it is junk, but she should keep her eyes open for “fancy” items that may be worth money. He hands her a wooden box to throw away, and as Theo touches it, she stops and tells Hugh that it’s fancy. When Hugh opens the box, he finds a bottle of expensive wine.

Later, she walks in on Olivia talking to Mrs. Dudley about a cold spot in the room. When asked to verify the cold spot, Theo (who is wearing a sweater, even though it is summer) responds that “this whole house is cold.”

Adults Theo and Shirley are having lunch in the kitchen, and just chatting, as sisters will. Theo tells Shirley about Kelsey, and is concerned that she is having a hard time getting through to her. She says Kelsey is like a brick wall, and Shirley says not to worry, she will get through to her in time.  “You always do.”

In Hill House, Theo comes up on Nell and Luke trying to figure out what a brass trumpet shaped item coming out of the wall is. She touches it, and says it’s kind of like a telephone, that you can talk through it and someone could hear you somewhere else in the house. She goes upstairs with Luke, and they find an identical trumpet in one of the bedrooms. Luke complains about the smell, but Theo responds that the whole house smells. She touches a pillow and states that this was a sick bed. Luke and Nellie start talking through their antiquated intercom system.

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We see adult Theo in her office again, talking to another young child. She introduces herself and shakes the child’s hand. Despite the fact that we usually see her wearing gloves, she is pointedly not wearing them. After shaking hands, she immediately starts taking notes. Later, she opens a file cabinet drawer and finds a copy of Steven’s Book “The Haunting of Hill House.” She thinks back to Steven telling his siblings about the book, and offering them each 8% of the royalties. Shirley in particular is indignant, and all of the siblings refuse.

We see Theo as a child, dancing to a video of Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted Snake.”  Suddenly, there is banging on the door to the room, and the knob begins to turn furiously back and forth. It sounds like someone kicks the door hard, and Theo thinks it’s Luke.  As she begins to dance again, we cut to adult Theo dancing in a night club, again wearing gloves. She catches the eye of the young woman she took home the night before, but looks away.

Young Luke is playing with the dumb waiter in the Hill House kitchen, and Mrs. Dudley is scolding him, holding onto his arm. Theo walks in and tells Mrs. Dudley to let go of his arm. She apologizes, and tells the children to go away. Luke says, “You don’t have to be so mean”, and as Mrs. Dudley puts her hand on Theo’s shoulder, Theo says, “She’s not mean. She’s scared.” We are starting to understand why this episode is titled “Touch.”

Young Theo goes into the kitchen late at night, to find Luke sitting in the dumb waiter, trying to hide (just in case it’s Mrs. Dudley waking in). Theo tells him the Dudleys never come to the house after dark, and Luke asks her to help him take a ride in the “perfect kid-size elevator.” He can’t do it himself, because the buttons are on the outside, and you have to close the door for it to work. She hesitates, but he talks her into it.

The dumb waiter starts descending, and Luke begins to panic. “Up!  I said up, not down!” Although Theo tries to push the up button, the dumb waiter continues moving down until it stops in a basement no one knew about. He tells her he sees a ladder, so she can come get him. He shines his flashlight around, and sees a ghastly figure crawling towards him, and he starts screaming. Olivia and Hugh run into the kitchen, where Theo is crying and trying desperately to bring the dumb waiter back up. Hugh manages to bring it up, and they embrace the hysterically crying Luke. He tells them there was a monster, and we see that his pajama top is torn. Olivia sternly send Theo to her room, where she lays crying.