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"Touch" is the third episode of The Haunting of Hill House.


Keenly perceptive Theo sees shades of herself in a troubled young patient, a girl who's haunted by the menacing grin of "Mr. Smiley."


In the “then”, Theo is awakened by someone sneaking into her room and into her bed. She questions if it is Nellie, but receives no reply. When she remarks that Nell is squeezing her too hard, she turns to look, but finds she is alone in the bed; she is severely confused as to whose hand she was holding moments earlier.

In the “now”, Theo holds a therapy session with a young girl, Kelsey, who claims to have been seeing a tall man she has nicknamed “Mr. Smiley”; she describes the man as always smiling but never happy. When pressed about where the man lives, Kelsey remarks that he lives under the house in the basement, and Theo draws similarities to the things she was afraid of as a child. Theo tells Kelsey to imagine herself building a metaphorical wall around herself to protect herself when she is scared. She talks with the foster parents of the child following the session, both who believe that it is a part of the adjustment period, but Theo doesn’t seem sure.

A flashback to Theo’s childhood the night after the encounter in her bed, Theo talks with her mother, Liv and the groundskeeper, Ms. Dudley, about the cold spots in the house. Both Olivia and Theo remark that some aspects of the house are colder than others in random spots, but Ms. Dudley does not seem to believe her and has trouble feeling the spots herself.

Theo and Shirley joke about the situation regarding lunch in the office. Shirley asks about Theo’s day at work, and Theo remarks that it was a difficult day, given she found it hard to get through to the little girl; Shirley remarks that she knows the type.

After returning to work, Theo stumbles across a copy of Steven’s book, The Haunting of Hill House. This triggers a flashback to a moment in which the family discussed the manuscript. After Shirley rebukes Steve for writing the book, he offers each of the siblings 8% of the profits in an attempt to get their approval for the publishing. Shirley and the others refuse the money, however, with Shirley remarking that it is blood money obtained from the capitalisation on their mother’s death and their horrific childhood.

At the club, Theo runs into Trish, the woman from a couple of nights prior. The two do not speak, however. Upon returning home, Theo begins to fill out the paperwork for the little girl, but finds herself distracted as she begins to draw a smiley face, similar to the one described by the little girl. Theo decides to call it a night and turns of the light, only to glance at Trish’s phone number on her bedside table.

As kids, Theo wanders to the kitchen one night to get a drink from the fridge. She finds Luke in the dumbwaiter despite having been warned earlier in the day by Ms. Dudley to keep away. Luke begs Theo to help him ride in the elevator just once, and she reluctantly agrees as long as he promises to keep the ordeal a secret. Luke begins panicking, however, when he begins descending, despite Theo pressing the ascend button. He soon reaches the lower levels of the house where he instantly begins to shriek when he believes he is seeing a disfigured, zombie-like figure diving at him. The shriek wakes the house and Hugh and Liv immediately rush to the kitchen, raising Luke from the lower levels and ordering that Theo go to her room.

Theo wakes moments later after remembering the ordeal, feeling her blanket slowly being pulled toward the foot of her bed. She glances down only to she a figure at the bottom of her bed. The figure is none other than Mr. Smiley. She awakes with a start, realizing that Mr. Smiley was only a vision. She jokingly remarks to herself that Kelsey got into her head. Moments later, Shirley knocks at the door and apologizes for disturbing her but remarks that there is something amiss with Nell.

A flashback to Nell’s wedding shows Nell and Steven looking for an absentee bridesmaid, Stacey. They find her having sexual intercourse with none other than their sister, Theo, much to their surprise. The tension between the three grows as Nell remarks that she wasn’t aware that Theo was gay. They later embrace, the siblings accepting Theo for who she is.

Back in the present, Shirley talks with Theo over Nell’s death, questioning why Nell would return to the house. Shirley is worried about what she will tell her children, and Theo remarks that it is best to tell the children that Nell committed suicide. Theo expresses her anger towards Nell about returning to the house despite knowing the danger it entailed.

A flashback to the then shows the days following Luke’s experiences in the dumbwaiter. Luke tells Theo that their parents don’t believe him despite what he had seen being real; they’re convinced that the basement doesn’t actually exist, and is more than likely an abandoned crawl space. Nonetheless, Theo knows her brother to be telling the truth and goes to investigate. She finds the crawl space and manages to find a door, opening it quietly.

Theo visits Kelsey’s foster parents' house to investigate Kelsey’s reports. In the basement, she begins to touch the familyś belongings, using her sensitive abilities to find the source of Kelsey's trauma. Theo touches the sofa, and catches the infused emotion within it. She lies on the sofa and, looking at the wood above, notices the wood patterns shaped in a smile like the one described by Kelsey. When she gets upstairs, she shakes hands with Kelsey’s foster father and, having touched his hand, confirms her suspicion. Heading back to the car, she calls social services and the authorities, explaining that the father is responsible for Kelsey’s state; she watches as the man is taken into police custody.

Young Theo talks with her mother about the crawl space she found, and her mother explains that it was a place that the previous owners hid alcohol when it was illegal to do so at home. Further talks and Olivia reveals that she has noticed her children get “signals”, which may of aided Theo to find the wine and the crawl space; Liv mentions that she too gets those signals and if she ever wants to talk they can.



  • Though the paperwork says that Kelsey is 7, Theo later claims that she's nine.



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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"