"Open Casket" is the second episode of The Haunting of Hill House.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

A devastating family tragedy stirs memories of traumatic losses, reminding Shirley of her first brush with death -- and awakening long-dormant fears.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Shirley holds a session for a young boy who tells her that on numerous occasions, he has been seeing his deceased grandmother. Shirley tries to convince the young boy that he is simply dreaming visions of his grandmother, rather than seeing a physical manifestation of her as a ghost. Shirley explains the process of preparing a body for an open-casket funeral.

Back in the “then”, Shirley interrupts her mother whilst she is drawing a blueprint for their “forever house”. Olivia explains the logistics of the house, explaining that they will be building the “forever house” once Hill House is fixed and ready to be sold. Nellie interrupts the two, asking if Olivia will have a tea party with her, however she refuses, citing that she must work. Instead, Olivia allows them to play outside, but instils the rule that they must return home when the porch light is flashed twice.

Outside on the lawn, Shirley sees Luke playing. She tells him to remember the rule: two flashes of the porch lights and it is time to come home. Just as Shirley leaves, Luke catches a glimpse of a young girl in the distance of Hill House but receives no response when he waves. Meanwhile, also on the lawn, Hugh questions Mr. Dudley about the master key, asking if he has anything that is able to open the red door, but he remarks that he doesn’t.

Shirley is distracted sounds coming from an outhouse off the grounds of Hill House. She goes to investigate and finds numerous young kittens alone without a mother. Behind, she is startled by a wasp nest, causing her to shriek. Mr. Dudley and Hugh hear the shriek and come to investigate, assuring Shirley that the object she has found is harmless. Shirley questions what they should do with the kittens, warning her father that they may become prey to the dogs they have been hearing on the grounds. Confused, Mr. Dudley tells Hugh that neither he nor his wife have ever seen any dogs on the grounds of Hill House.

In the “then”, Shirley talks with her partner at the funeral parlour, Kevin. Kevin tells her that their profits are slipping due to Shirley offering funeral services at cost, or below cost on more than half of occasions for last quarter. Shirley tells Kevin that she is trying her best to help families in need who sometimes cannot afford expensive funerals, however Kevin assures her that they will be heading into financial difficulties if she continues. The two are interrupted, however, when a customer enters the parlour with a box containing photographs and keepsakes of his mother.

A flashback to six years prior shows Shirley and Steven at a rehabilitation centre where they are writing a cheque to cover Luke’s rehab. Both are unsettled by the price of $6,000 a month, but Shirley assures that Luke will take the first month, and they will return in a couple of weeks to see what else can be done. The Crain children bid goodbye to Luke as he leaves to give a urine analysis and start his first month at rehab.

Back in the “now”, Shirley looks through Kevin’s briefcase at documents pertaining to the funeral parlour. Inside, she finds a cheque book belonging to someone she doesn’t recognise. She talks with her friend about the revelation, who tells her that her best option is to ask him about it.

A flashback to the childhood of the Crain children shows Theo waking Shirley from her sleep to ask why she is banging on the wall. Shirley tells her that it is not her, and she doesn’t know what she means, but alerts her to the dogs barking again. The two are interrupted, however, when the bangings on the wall continue; this causes sheer panic for the two who scream out for help. Their father arrives moments later but tells the two that he couldn’t hear the banging despite the volume at which they believe it to have occurred. Shirley wakes moments later by the ringing of her phone, and it is revealed that she was reliving the moment in her dream.

Shirley answers the phone to a distraught Steven who tells her that Nell killed herself moments earlier. Shirley is reluctant to believe Steven and asks how he knows, implying that their father, Hugh, is lying and couldn’t possibly know. As the truth sinks in, Shirley becomes increasingly angry at the fact that she had told Steven to find Nell as she was in trouble. Shirley hangs up the phone and leaves to the outhouse to comfort Theo.

Distraught over the news of her deceased sister, Shirley has a flashback to the summer in which she took in the numerous kittens from the outhouse and the morning she found one of them dead. Back in the present, she tells Andi to pick up Nell’s body and bring her back to the funeral parlour where they can begin the proceedings. Despite Theo and Kevin’s remarks that Shirley should let another branch handle the funeral, Shirley is adamant that she will be hosting the funeral. Shirley is caught up in a flashback to the day of her mother’s funeral in which she found it difficult to see her in the open casket.

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Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

Episodes of The Haunting of Hill House
"Steven Sees a Ghost" • "Open Casket" • "Touch" • "The Twin Thing" • "The Bent-Neck Lady" • "Two Storms" • "Eulogy" • "Witness Marks" • "Screaming Meemies" • "Silence Lay Steadily"
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