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What Haunting Of Hill House Fans Didn't Notice About Nell's Necklace

Contains spoilers for The Haunting of Hill House

Nell Crain (Victoria Pedretti), youngest of the Crain children in The Haunting of Hill House is a story told front to back and then back to front again. Like the entirety of Mike Flanagan's loose adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House is never a straightforward tale.

Here is one thing we know: Nell Crain dies in the first episode. Suicide. She climbs a spindly, spiral staircase, ties a noose around her neck, and then she falls.

As a child, Nell Crain has paralyzing night terrors in which she envisions a Bent Neck Lady. Nell first sees her in Hill House, but the visions of the Bent Neck Lady continue all through her life — when she's alone, when she sees her husband die, even when her twin brother Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) gets his last heroin fix before entering rehab; the Bent Neck Lady is always there — because the Bent Neck Lady and Nell are one and the same.

At the moment of Nell's death she becomes the Bent Neck Lady, and then careens backwards through the moments in her own life when the voice could be loud enough to hear — the voice that made her jump in the first place. The creators of The Haunting of Hill House planned this turn out meticulously, and even included subtle hints in Nell's costumes to foreshadow what is to come and why.

Nell's necklace and the weight of time

Costumes are incredibly important in The Haunting of Hill House. Nell's mother Olivia (Carla Gugino) wears the same gown in episode 1 that Nell winds up wearing when she returns to Hill House that final time to take her own life. Seeing both these women wear the same dressing gown across time is a reminder that Olivia passed her mental illness down to Nell, as well as the rest of her children in different ways.

One of Nell's most popular costumes comes not from a sad moment, but one of joy — Nell's wedding. In it, she wears a beautiful bohemian wedding dress from Anthropologie's BHLDN bridal line. It's not the dress, rather, but the necklace she accessorizes with that contains the hidden meaning.

While there are times when Nell wears her mother's necklace, in this scene she is wearing a timepiece. Time is seemingly always working against Nell. "I thought for so long that time was like a line, that our moments were laid out like dominoes, and that they fell, one into another and on it went, just days tipping, one into the next, into the next, in a long line between the beginning and the end," Nell's ghost reveals in the final episode of The Haunting of Hill House. Of course we know that time does not work that way — not in Hill House. The symbolism of Nell's necklace goes far deeper than how time keeps on slipping ever further into the future. "Our moments fall around us like rain. Or snow. Or confetti," she says — and she's right.

A ghost is a wish haunting the halls of Hill House

The Bent Neck Lady doesn't just haunt Nell, she haunts every member of the Crain family. When Nell dies, it creates a wound in time that stretches in every direction. It touches every fight Nell and Theo ever had, all the phone calls Shirley never took — all the times Luke should've been the older brother.

"A ghost can be a lot of things," says Steven in the opening episode. "A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they're just what we want to see. Most times a ghost is a wish."

The Haunting of Hill House is about the stages of grief, with each sibling taking a stage and living it, but none of them knows how to accept that Nell is gone until Luke lies dying in Hill House and Nell visits him one more time. "You have to live," she says to Luke, although she's really speaking to all of them. How can any of us live when someone we love, when someone we've failed, is gone? "It wouldn't have changed anything," says Nell. "I need you to know that. Forgiveness is warm, like a tear on a cheek."

Nell was weighed down by time, as are we all. For her time was just too heavy — she literally wears it around her neck until her neck is bent by it. A ghost is a wish, and the Crain children wish they could know that Nell is free of that weight. And then she's there, and she is. "I loved you completely. And you loved me the same," she says. "That's all."

A ghost is a wish, the rest is confetti.