Episode 7 of The Haunting of Hill House, entitled Eulogy, has a tough act to follow. As its title implies, Eulogy follows the Crain family reunion as father and siblings bid their formal farewell to Nell. This episode is Hugh-centric and bookended by his interrogation on the morning following Olivia’s death. Will we get some answers about what happened on the Crain’s last night in Hill House?
The Past – Hugh Fixes Things
Following the aftermath of the storm from Two Storms, Hugh and Mr. Dudley inspect the damage. Much to his dismay, Hugh finds an inexplicable amount of water damage and mould in Hill House’s walls. Hugh surmises that the source of all the moisture has to be the room with the Red Door. When Mr. Dudley isn’t forthcoming with a key, Hugh tries unsuccessfully to force his way into the room.
As the episode’s synopsis promised, we learn a little more about Hill House’s caretaker, Mr. Dudley. Not only did his mother work at the house for the Hill Family, Mr. Dudley was born in the house. He warns Hugh that Olivia may need to take some time away from the house. According to Mr. Dudley, his wife worked tirelessly in Hill House, becoming more confused and scattered with each passing day. They tried to have a child, but it was stillborn. Months later, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley were convinced they could hear their baby crying in Hill House. Since that day, the Dudley’s will not stay in the house after dark.
Hugh is initially dismissive of Mr. Dudley’s advice, but regrets it pretty quickly. H wakes up in the middle of the night and finds a disoriented Olivia standing above him with a screwdriver pressed to his throat. Not surprisingly, Hugh is more open to Mr. Dudley’s advice now, and convinces Olivia to go visit Aunt Janet.
Down in the basement of Hill House, Hugh finally breaks through a brick where he thought he could hear rats scratching. Instead of rats and cracked pipes, Hugh finds the decayed skeletal remains of Mr. Hill. The Sheriff tells Hugh that Mr. Hill had been missing for years. In another disturbing detail, the Sheriff points out the Mr. Hill likely sealed himself in behind the wall since all the tools were with him.
The Present – Hugh Can’t Fix His Family
It’s the morning after the Crain family reunion. Much of the present timeline follows Hugh’s efforts to connect with his adult children. On an interesting side note, it seems like Hugh sees and communicates with Olivia’s ghost on a pretty regular basis. This explains some of the Hugh’s awkward mumbling.
Hugh notices that Kevin stayed over night in the same motel. Obviously things didn’t get sorted out with Shirley. When he shows up at the Harris Family Funeral Home, Hugh gets turned away by an irritated Shirley. He has a little more luck with Theo who admits that she ‘fucked up’ badly even by “Crain standards”. It’s as close to a reconciliation as we’ve had in Hill House so far.
Though Shirley and Luke both deliver touching eulogies, the funeral is as awkward as you’d imagine. Steven’s estranged wife, Leigh, shows ups, but she doesn’t want much to do with him. Theo’s ‘booty call’ shows up, too, but Theo isn’t very impressed. In another interesting side note, Hugh confides in Luke that both he and Olivia suspected that Theo was gay when she was 8-years-old. We also finally meet Aunt Janet. Though the Crain children are happy to see her it’s a more frosty reunion with Hugh.
The Present – Big Boys Know the Difference Between What’s Real and What’s Not
At the graveyard, Luke sees his dead sister, now The Bent-Neck Lady. He’s also nearly pulled into Nell’s grave by a ghastly vision of his mother. Steven drags him away and, in true Steven fashion, dismisses Luke as ‘crazy’ like his mother and sister. Back at the funeral home, Hugh tries to bond with Luke by assuring him that he sees his mother’s spirit. However, Luke reminds Hugh of something he once told him: “Big boys know the difference between what’s real and what’s not.” Ouch.
Back at the funeral home, Luke takes off with Shirley’s credit card and Theo’s car. As the Crain family scrambles, Hugh and Theo notice a trail of muddy tracks. They follow the footprints into the funeral home office where they’re confronted by the same ghostly vision of Olivia that Luke saw earlier.
The Bookends – Hugh’s Interrogation
The start and ending of Eulogy revolve around the younger Hugh’s interrogation in the Sheriff’s Office. At the heart of Eulogy’s story is Hugh’s persistent urge to want to fix things. Of course, across both its timelines, Hugh progressively learns that there are many things he cannot fix. The Sheriff offers him constant reminders to his inability to fix things. Covered with blood and stuck with a three-hour gap between discovering his wife and calling the police, the Sheriff repeatedly asks Hugh to help him ‘fix it’.
A Few Closing Thoughts
Eulogy marks another emotionally resonant episode for The Haunting of Hill House. Though it doesn’t impress as much as Two Storms, it’s another illustration of Mike Flanagan’s meticulous plotting in the series. Now we know what was making the crying noise at the outset of Episode 1. We also have a few more ideas about the identities of at least a few of Hill House’s ghostly inhabitants. Unfortunately, this is also where Hill House might be setting itself up for disappointment. There’s still an awful lot we do not know, and there are only three episodes remaining. But there’s no denying the emotional weight of the series. And finally, Tim Daly was given a chance to shine in a sad and restrained performance.