Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Haunting of Hill House.
After nine hours, it’s not easy to pull off a satisfying ending, especially in the horror genre. However, The Haunting of Hill House did just that, with a twist, in its tenth and final episode.
When the entire family returned to the house one last time (for now), viewers finally got the answers they’d been seeking: What happened when Hugh returned to Hill House to get Liv? Why didn’t he give his kids any answers about their mother’s death? Who was Luke’s “imaginary friend” Abigail? Who survived? What in the world is in the red room?
First thing’s first. When Hugh returned to Hill House after Olivia jumped, he found her dead body and cradled it until the Dudley’s arrived – looking for their daughter. Abigail was not imaginary, but in fact, the Dudley’s daughter who had left in the middle of the night without telling them and slept over at Luke’s house. Just moments after they found out that Liv poisoned and killed their daughter, a very alive Abigail appeared and they realized that she’ll live in that house forever, with all the other spirits who have died there (a la American Horror Story: Murder House). Hugh also realized this when he saw his wife walking out of the room after her death.
Hugh wanted to burn the house down, but the Dudleys made him a deal: they wouldn’t go to the police about Liv or tell anyone what she did in order for the kids to remember her in a positive light, if he would leave the house be so that they could still have their daughter around. He agreed and never told the kids.
As for the red room, Steve, Theo, Luke and Shirley found themselves locked inside the room and hallucinating, with each of them seeing something different. Steve imaged he was writing a sequel to his book when his pregnant wife dies; Theo allowed herself to get close to Trish but nearly died with dead hands wrapping around her; Luke reunited with Joey at a hotel and she urged him to use again; and Shirley was forced to relive the affair she had when at a mortician’s conference. In each hallucination, they’re rescued by their sister, Nell, urging them each to wake up. When they did, they found Luke had a needle in his arm, filled with the rat poison his mother had left in the room.
Nell then appeared to the group and revealed that the red room was like the “stomach” of the house, comparing the house itself to a lonely human who consumes those inside it. The biggest surprise was that viewers – and all of the kids — had actually already been in the red room. It was Theo’s dance studio, Steve’s game room, Luke’s tree house, Shirley’s family room, Nelli’s toy room and Liv’s reading room.
While the kids tried to get out to get Luke to a hospital, Hugh attempted to open the door to the room from the outside, but Hugh knew only Liv could open it. After reuniting with his wife(‘s spirit), he begged her to open it. She was convinced he would take the kids away and hurt them, since that’s what the ghosts inside the house had told her, and wanted them all to remain in the house with her.
“If you open that door right now, I will make a promise to you that I will keep forever,” he told her. So, she did. She let them all out, allowing Luke to get to a hospital. Her action also left Steve as the family caretaker; the promise Hugh made to Liv was that he would never leave her. While inside the house, he overdosed on pills and reunited, as a young man, with his wife and Nell.
That’s not the only reunion. In a flash forward, while Steve is reading a passage from Shirley Jackson’s novel that the series is based on, Luke is celebrating two years sober, Steve and his wife have reconnected, Shirley has told her husband about her affair and he forgave her, and Theo has thrown out her gloves and let in Trish.
At Hill House, Hugh, Liv and Nell were happy and a very old Mr. Dudley carried his dying wife into the living room. There, she died and reunited with Abigail and their unborn child.
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