The whole series has an interlocking structure -- it's almost like the architecture of the house, in a way.
Yeah. This was a crazy, crazy structure. In the writers' room, we had whiteboards surrounding us, kind of on each wall, and I remember before we put it on the page, when we were just working on the basic structure of the series, our basic episode arcs, it looked like madness. It was just all these lines drawn between story points across episodes, and it kind of looked like those scenes in the movies where someone's tracking a serial killer or a conspiracy theory, and it's all red string and push-pins.
And that was one of the more exciting things about this whole thing, to be able to play with a structure like that. We thought very much about the binge-watching experience, and how people tend to do two or three episodes at a time, so that was kind of neat, because then each little chunk was like a movie. So yeah, this was designed for binging. And we didn't have to worry about losing our momentum by spacing out the episodes or dealing with commercial interruptions, which would have killed the show.
Seeding clues was some of the most fun we had. The big ones we knew before we wrote even the pilot, like the Red Room twist and the Bent Neck Lady twist, which was one of the biggest hooks for the pitch for the show. We figured we had three big reveals to parse out, and the midpoint made the most sense for the Bent Neck Lady, because it gave us enough runway to kind of create assumptions, and it gave us a lot to look back on and recontextualize. Throughout those first five episodes, we're trying our best to leave little breadcrumbs for what episodes nine and ten will be. And that's really tough to do in a structure this large. Ten hours is a long time. We all kind of twisted ourselves into knots!
So how did Hill House get haunted in the first place?
We had a whole history of Hill House that we were going to shoot. We were going to open several episodes of the show with this kind of history, split out over the whole season, which would show you the construction of Hill House, the history of the Hill family, who everybody was. And we really wanted to shoot it. We wrote it all up, and it was scheduled to shoot. And it was just one of those things where we were running out of time and resources, and something had to go. That's the one thing I wish we had gotten to do, kind of visually watch Hill House come to life and learn more about the ghosts. Learn who they were before we encountered them as ghosts. But there's also something nice, at the end of the day, about not knowing. That there's some ambiguity there, too.