Most people want to stay independent as long as possible, but Tom Parfitt is so eager to enter assisted living that he packs a suitcase and then stages a fall. But Tom may just want company. He lives alone, has no family to speak of, and he doesn’t even visit the doctor. His only human interaction is with his kindly neighbor Roshana and her son Akil. They are the ones who find him, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, with a small seashell next to him.
It seems that Roshana looked out for Tom in his old age, not that he’s senile or hobbled; he’s quite spry for being “eighty-odd.” When a social worker shows up with the paramedics to offer Tom a spot at a nursing home, Roshana objects to the move. She wants to at least visit Tom, but he says he never wants to see her. Despite her compassion, he childishly dismisses her as a “Paki” in his boorish way during a later conversation with the social worker.
Before leading Tom away, that social worker scans his flat for mementos to bring with to the home and add a personal touch to his new room. Tom has turned all his framed photographs face-down. The social worker picks up a black-and-white one showing a little boy clutching a teddy bear, but Tom swiftly swats her hand away. She quietly stows it in her bag as they leave.
Despite his age, Tom approaches the world with the simplistic delight of a child. He sticks his head out of the car window, beaming, like a dog. He tells the social worker this is the best day of his life. As Hannah, one of the home’s nurses, settles him into his new room, he laughs as if at a joke when she opens his suitcase to find nothing inside.
Tom has insisted on permanent instead of interim housing. He makes a friend in Hannah, and one female resident does seem to recognize him, but the pair doesn’t talk.
Left alone in his room, Tom soon uses the alert system to call for a nurse. The social worker who brought him to the home goes, bringing along the photo from his flat. The other nurse on duty takes a smoke break, leaving Hannah alone at the nurse station. Suddenly there are loud thuds as if on the roof. The lights flicker. There’s a crash, and the social worker lies dead on the pavement, the window from Tom’s room shattered beneath her.
Hannah rushes to Tom’s room to find a chaotic scene: the wheelchair overturned, the entire window frame gone, water dripping from the sill, and Tom cowering against a wall, photo clutched in his hand. When the police ask to question the horrified Tom, Hannah shoos them away – wait until he’s in a better state. Tom asks her to return his suitcase and the photo to his flat.
Rob, the police officer in charge of the investigation, is in the doldrums. He was up for a promotion to sergeant – a boon he could have gotten years ago – but was too lacking in self-confidence to even finish the interview. His boss, who had recommended him for the position, is disgusted and reassigns him to an outdated office in an outbuilding.
Rob meets Hannah at her home that evening to take a statement. He’s already been told by the nurse who was on a smoke break that it was as if a veil had blocked the social worker’s death from view. Hannah doesn’t have anything to add. After Rob leaves, she’s startled to find that Tom’s suitcase has moved apparently of its own will. Her younger brother didn’t touch it, and her mom is so devastated by the loss of her husband that she’s barely present; Hannah runs the household.
Hannah brings Tom’s stuff to his flat, where both the electricity and water seem to have been shut off for some time. Amongst the antique furnishings – Edison wax cylinders, a crab in a paperweight – she spies sheet music for “Scarborough Fair” on the piano. She sits down to play it but is interrupted by Roshana, who thought someone was robbing Tom. Increasingly spooked by the house and its ghastly creaking, Hannah stuffs some clothes for Tom into a bag. Drawn back to the piano, she looks in the bench to find hundreds of different copies of “Scarborough Fair.” It’s the only song Tom has.
Hannah gives Tom his clothes at the hospital and starts to lull him to sleep by singing “Scarborough Fair.” Tom startles and roars at her that she shouldn’t have “brought” it out of the house; now she can never put it back. Spooked, Hannah calls Rob to add a detail to her statement: that Tom was holding the teddy bear photo when she found him.
Back at Tom’s flat, Roshana’s sons Akil and his older brother break in to search for valuable trinkets. They find a toy-filled attic lit by a fireplace and candles. As Akil searches through a chest in the center of the room, discovering a photo of an Indian woman that looks to be ripped from the teddy bear photo, the house begins to protest at the intrusion. The candles and fire go out, the sink overflows, the boards groan, and a hazy Indian woman seems to appear. Other places are affected: the corpse of the dead social worker sheds a tear, the alert for Tom’s room at the home goes off. Akil and his brother flee. At the hospital, Tom dresses and then sneaks out.
After receiving a scolding from her mother for being out so late – not that Hannah didn’t try to tell her where she was – Hannah goes to bed and encounters the Indian woman herself, in a dream mirroring one shown to us at the outset of the episode. The woman lies on a coast, washed by waves and wrapped in a sari. She slowly rises, her face concealed, her finger pointing. Then she’s in Hannah’s room, menacingly leaning towards her. Hannah awakes, terrified.