“The Woman in the House”: What Happened to Anna's Daughter?
Once you get past the ridiculously long title, there’s an underlying sincerity to Netflix’s new dark-comedy thriller, “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window.” Inspired by A.J. Finn’s 2018 novel, “The Woman in the Window,” the dark-comedy series stars Kristen Bell as Anna Fox, a heartbroken mother and wife whose unhealthy coping mechanisms – namely, guzzling bottles of red wine and handfuls of prescription pills – ultimately put her at the centre of a bizarre murder mystery.
Minutes into the first episode, we see Anna rush out of the house in her robe and slippers to drive her daughter, Elizabeth, to elementary school. Seconds later, the camera cuts to Anna, rumpled and dazed, staring at the school in disbelief as fellow parents look on at her with sympathy and sadness. Are all the judgmental stares a product of her rushed fashion decisions and her hair standing on end? Not quite.
Who Is Elizabeth in “The Woman in the House”?
Later in the first episode, Anna walks past Elizabeth’s room and sees her playing on the floor. It’s at this point that Anna’s imaginary version of her daughter candidly reminds her that Elizabeth is dead and has been for some time. “How the f*ck do I keep forgetting that?” Anna asks herself.
Devastated by the loss of her 9-year-old daughter and her subsequent divorce, Anna tiptoes around voicing the circumstances of Elizabeth’s death aloud, but periodically visits her grave to speak to her. “If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever,” Elizabeth’s tombstone reads. It’s here that Anna reflects on her life, sharing her worries with Elizabeth and even bringing her one of her famous chicken casseroles on her birthday.
How Did Elizabeth Die?
The first episode hints at Anna’s sorrow, but it’s not until the second episode that we finally get some answers about what happened to Elizabeth. After Anna contacts the police to tell them she witnessed a murder across the street, she goes to the police station and speaks to Detective Lane, the lead investigator on the case. Despite insisting that she saw her neighbour’s girlfriend, Lisa, murdered, Anna’s all-consuming grief and unhealthy coping mechanisms make her an unreliable witness.
“Elizabeth died that day, but you did not have to die with her.”
As Anna pleads her case, Detective Lane interrupts her to point out that she’s likely hallucinating as a result of her grief, which the detective knows because she was also the lead investigator when Elizabeth was murdered by a man named Massacre Mike. In a flashback, Anna, an artist, reveals that Elizabeth could have stayed at home to paint with her on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Instead, she chooses to go to work with her dad, Douglas, a forensic psychiatrist who specialises in serial killers.
While speaking to one of the inmates at the local prison, Douglas is called out of the padlocked room. Rather than take Elizabeth with him, he leaves her alone with Massacre Mike, a convicted serial killer and cannibal. Before Douglas can get back into the room, Massacre Mike has killed and eaten Elizabeth, a freak incident that ultimately ends his marriage with Anna and leaves each parent struggling to cope after the loss of their daughter.
“Elizabeth died that day, but you did not have to die with her,” Anna’s best friend, Sloan, later reminds her on the phone, inspiring her to paint again. Ultimately, it’s Anna’s love and grief over Elizabeth that puts her in the middle of the chilling situation she’s in, but it’s that same love that pushes her to get to the bottom of Lisa’s murder case before anyone else.