"Steven Sees a Ghost" is the first episode of The Haunting of Hill House.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

While investigating a ghost story for his latest novel, a skeptical Steven receives a call from his sister that triggers a chain of fateful events.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Steven Crain, a popular author reads an excerpt from his book, The Haunting of Hull House. In the past — aptly described as the “then” — Steven tries to comfort his younger sister, Nell, who is certain that she has seen a ghost at the foot of her bead, but is dismissed by their father, Hugh Crain, who tells him to go back to be. Hugh tells Nell that they will leave the house as soon as it is presentable and they are able to sell it for a profit. Hugh returns to bed to tell his wife of Nell’s nightmare, and Shirley’s dreams of the woman dancing in the red room.

In the present — referred to as the “now” — Irene Walker describes in detail stories of ghost encounters to Steven Crain. Steven records the story, and asks if he is able to sleep in the room wherein she encountered the experience later that night. Irene agrees, and moments later Steven begins looking around the house. The two talk about Steven’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House, and his experiences as a child there; Steven reveals that he has never seen a ghost despite his extensive novels.

Back in the then, Nell opts to sleep in the lounge in an effort to avoid the Bent-Neck Lady, but finds her efforts futile, and she is still awoken with night terrors and visions of the lady hovering above her bed.

In the present, Shirley returns a call to Nell, who had left her a voicemail citing that she is worried about Luke, who she has not spoken to in a while. Nell doesn’t answer when Shirley calls, which worries Shirley. Shirley calls Steve to discuss Nell’s call, but he is reluctant to cooperate and help her with the situation, which only works to increase the tension between the two.

Back during the house’s renovation, Mr. Dudley hands Shirley a key to what he believes will open the infamous red door. She tries to open the door with the key, and talks with Nell about Mr. Dudley. The key doesn’t work on the door, however, despite being a master-key, which surprises Shirley.

Theo meets with Trish in a bar in the present, and the two go back to her place to have sex. Afterwards, Theo hastily pressures Trish to leave her place. Theo goes to talk with Shirley at the main house, and Shirley questions if Trish will be returning, which Theo denies. Shirley tells Theo about Nell’s call, and Theo remarks that Luke will more than likely show up when he needs funds.

Hugh is woken from his sleep by a phone call from Nell, in which she frantically explains that the Bent-Neck Lady has returned. Hugh is worried by Nell’s revelation, and tells her to drive to Steve’s, and that he will see her the following day. Nonetheless, Nell tells Hugh that she loves him and apologises for waking him. After she ends the call, she finds herself back at Hill House Manor.

Back in the then, Hugh wakes Steve and tells him they must leave immediately; Hugh demands one thing from Steve: that he keeps his eyes closed whilst they leave the house. Hugh drives away with all of his children that night, but doesn’t take Olivia, the children’s mother. When questioned about it, Hugh tells the children that what they have left behind isn’t their mother.

Returning to Hill House, Nell enters the fabled Red Room presumably for the first time since the children left Hill House years prior. Mysteriously, this triggers something which wakes each of the Crain children from their sleep at exactly the same time; Shirley exclaims that “Nellie is in the Red Room” moments later.

Having awoken from his sleep, Steven finds his attention drawn to a leak on the ceiling of the room he is sleeping in; he believes there to be something paranormal about this, but is distracted by a near-car accident out on the street. The following day, Steven tells Irene that there is a leak in the roof, and the noises keeping her up in the night are more than likely car horns.

A flashback to before Steven’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House shows Steven and Shirley arguing over the manuscript for his novel; Shirley believes the novel to be too personal. Despite Shirley’s objections, Steve believes he should publish the book given the amount the publishers are willing to pay. Back in the present, Steven agrees to write Irene’s story.

A further flashback to the “then” shows days after the death of Oliva Crain. Hugh talks with his lawyer about putting Steven on the stand. His lawyer wishes to question Steven, but Hugh argues that his children do not speak at the trial at all. He orders that Hill House remain in the family but empty forever, with only the house keepers residing over it.

A flashback to the childhood of the Crain children shows Steven talking with one of the housekeepers about the previous inhabitants of Hill House. Steven then — on Olivia’s orders — goes to the treehouse to check on Luke, his little brother. Steven is privy to Luke’s numerous drawings of the Crain Family, but his attention is drawn closer to the numerous other figures drawn in the photographs; Steven doesn’t question Luke about these, however.

Back in the “now”, Steven returns home to Los Angeles, where he finds Luke leaving his apartment. Steven realises that Luke is in withdrawal and has stolen his iPad and camera, more than likely to sell for drug money. Steven offers Luke $200 for the iPad, and Luke takes it, handing both the iPad and camera back. Upon entering his apartment, Steven finds Nell waiting for him. Steven questions what Nell finds so important, but the two are interrupted by a call from Hugh. Hugh tells Steven that Nell was lying and was at Hill House; she is now dead. Steven turns to see Nell turn into a ghost and disappear in front of him.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Main Cast[edit | edit source]

Guest Starring[edit | edit source]

Co-Starring[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • The episode is told from the persona of Steven Crain, and is split into two time periods:
    • The "then": flashbacks from the childhood of the Crain family;
    • The "now": the present day lives of the Crain children.
  • It is shown that Steven's novel, The Haunting of Hill House is approximately 80,000 words in length.
  • The episode was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • There is an apparent link between the Crain children explored in the episode. Each child is seemingly aware of Nell's entrance into the Red Room, despite being asleep at the time.

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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