The Haunting of Hill House Review: Mr. Smiley & The Floating Man

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It's a wonder these children ever slept growing up.  

With bent-kneck ladies, mysterious knocking and larger than life floating men roaming the halls, I don't know how anyone was ever able to close their eyes. For Luke and Nell, they at least had one another to feel less alone. But the older children were not as lucky. 

The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 3 and The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 4 further shaded in two more Crain children and gave us further insight into the happenings at the house. It also introduces us to new creatures ready to also keep us up at night. 

Theo At Work - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 3

Through the first two hours, it was easy to pigeonhole each sibling into a role, just based on what little information we got. Steven is the rich outcast, who chose money over everything. Shirley is the straightlaced, do-gooder. Luke is the addict. And Nelly is the baby. 

But who is Theo?

Theo seems cold and distant, but beyond that, it was hard to get an idea of where she lay within the makeup of the family. Well, it appears that of all the siblings, Theo is the one most like her mother. 

These will help with the cold. And the other thing.

Olivia [to Theo]

Theo's wearing of gloves is less of an OCD thing or fashion statement and more an act of survival. Theo's ability to sense things simply by touch could be seen as an extraordinary gift. Or a tremendous burden. 

For her job, the gift is amazing and could allow her knowledge that no one else possesses. But in the case of Kelsey, the little girl had suppressed her memories and experiences so much that Theo's touch showed nothing. 

Theo Explores - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 3

The brain is scary in that way. You can compartmentalize so deeply to the point where you fabricate a monster that feels completely real.

Mr. Smiley may end up being the most frightening creature we ever see on this show. 

Related: The Haunting of Hill House Review - The Bent-Neck Lady Returns?

I have to wonder who else Theo has been unable to read over the years. She picked up on a lot of things as a child by touching Hugh on the last night at Hill House, but was she able to see anything else from him in the subsequent years that passed? 

Touching Nell clearly brought Theo a lot of pain and anguish. And couple that with Luke's assertion that Nell did not die by suicide and we've got another mystery placed before us. 

The House - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 4

I felt strongly felt and still do that Nell did not commit suicide, and Luke's proclamation pretty much confirmed that. So who killed Nell? And for that matter Olivia?

It appears we still have some time to wait for those reveals, but that's okay because in the meantime we are getting to experience a delightfully unnerving piece of storytelling. 

The decision to spend the first part of the series exploring each sibling and overlapping the days leading up to Nell's murder and beyond is paying off in spades. 

Related: The Haunting of Hill House Review - Terrifying Tale of Love and Loss

Watching from Steven's hour and Shirley's as well, we get an idea of Luke that couldn't be further from the truth. Is he an addict? Yes. But the Luke we get to spend time with is not the Luke that we've heard about. 

With 90-days sober and someone to care about, Luke is trying to change his narrative. And the memories of his past are slowly trying to bring everything down. 

Concerned Luke - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 4

The bond between Luke and Joey was less about romantic love and more familiar. In Joey, Luke saw so much of Nell, who always protected him and believed in him until we can assume it became too hard to do so. Joey was Luke's biggest supporter and the only person he felt connected to. 

Was it the smartest idea for his recovery to go after her? That's open for debate. But would Luke be able to look at himself in the mirror every day knowing he didn't do everything he possibly could for the person who had done so much for him?

Related: Get HBO via Prime Video Channels for Addictive Dramas, Hilarious Comedies & Hit Movies

It seemed like we were headed towards Joey betraying him and it was heartbreaking to see Luke realize that more than her burning him, he was utterly alone. And the floating man with the bowler hat was getting closer and closer. 

What a visual image that was of young Luke hiding under the bed, holding his breath in and trying to remain as still as a child his age can remain. This show is doing an impressive job of creating a world in which these creatures don't need to pop out behind doors to be horrifying. 

A Drawing - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 4

Luke was so wrapped up in thinking that Nelly's message was to save Joey that he wasn't fully aware of what his body was telling him. 

Steven: Nelly's dead.
Luke: How?
Steven: It was suicide.
Luke: No, it wasn't.

Of all the Crain children thus far, Luke and Nell seem the most bruised. Their connection, even as children, was something no one else understood. And even in death, Luke is still feeling the twin connection that has informed so many aspects of his life. 

Stray Observations

  • What are Theo and Kevin hiding from Shirley? For Theo to suggest that a mistress is a better cover for Kevin than the truth, means whatever that private checking account represents must be something that would devastate Shirley. 
  • Hugh seems to have a lot of flaws, but none greater than his continuous dismissal of his children's fears. If four out of your five children are petrified day in and day out, you need to be taking that seriously. 
  • The time jumps and memories can be a bit jarring at times. When Luke was standing at Steven's door and then the scene flashbacked to the dinner with Joey and Leigh, I thought it was like a hallucination at first. 
  • The Dudley's have to serve a greater purpose, but they haven't been properly colored in yet. Mrs. Dudley, in particular, seems like she will end up being an important part of the story. 

Okay fanatics, what did you guys make of the Theo and Luke hours? What do you think happened to Nell? What do you want to see more often? Or less?

We seem to be marching towards a return to Hill House but in the interim, let's enjoy every ounce of the story on the way!

Don't forget you can watch The Haunting of Hill House online via TVFanatic, so you're caught up on the hottest new show of the season!

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Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

Theo: It's kids like us who've been through more than other kids. We're tougher than other kids. We're really good builders. We make ourselves really safe. And no one ever gets in.
Kelsey: Mr. Smiley does.

Shirley: My kids are going to ask me how she died.
Theo: And you'll tell them.
Shirley: Tell them what? She killed herself? Aunty Nelly killed herself.
Theo: Yes. That's better than lying.