Recapping the Series Finale of 'The Fall of the House of Usher': A Remarkable End with Verna
And my spirit will never again be raised from the shadow that is floating on the ground! — "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe
Not just because the conclusion is hinted at in the title, but there was never much doubt as to how The Fall of the House of Usher would conclude. The programme has always been heavy on fatalism; its terror and sadness stem from the idea that Roderick and Madeline made a contract decades before the show even started, sealing the destinies of individuals who didn't even exist yet.
We finally learn the truth about how that devil's pact turned out in the series finale. Verna makes Roderick and Madeline an offer when they are sitting in the bar on that fateful New Year's Eve. If they accept, they may enjoy all the wealth and power they have ever desired for the rest of their life without worrying about facing legal repercussions. The only catch is that if they pass away, the Usher queue will also pass away.
Naturally, we were aware of that; after all, we had watched Roderick's children suffer a series of gory but amusing deaths over the course of the previous seven episodes. (Madeline logically acquired an IUD.) But I hadn't quite comprehended the allegorical field that The Fall of the House of Usher is playing on until Verna explicitly defined the phrases. She says, "Let the next generation pay for it." They accept with joy, and that's when Roderick and Madeline take on the role of a generation that hoarded wealth, ruined the environment and the world's politics, and left the following generation to bear the repercussions. Ultimately, the underlying strategy of House of Usher is to take a shot at the Boomers, a move that your millennial recapper found to be mostly pleasing.
It's interesting that this scene occurs after Roderick and Madeline have already pulled off their big plays: screwing over Dupin initially, then stealing the show's thunder with a power grab that was very clearly telegraphed: chaining Rufus Griswold to a building site and erecting a brick wall over him in a nod to my personal favourite Poe tale, "The Cask of Amontillado."
It raises the question, "Did Verna do anything?" Long before Madeline came towards Roderick, the way was prepared for their victory. Though Verna does reveal that she made a deal with another such person, promising that he could even shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue without it costing him a thing, history is full of tales of powerful and wealthy people wriggling out of legal consequences without the assistance of a magic raven.
Bills do come due, regardless of the actual details of her involvement. For Roderick and Verna, the episode's sorrow rests in the fact that the arrangement also pertains to the exceptional and radiant young woman whom the angels called Lenore. Verna is remarkably compassionate and polite as she arrives to claim her most recent victim. She even informs Lenore that her mother would continue to aid millions through a charity established in her memory, which is a clear criticism of Roderick's life, which claimed millions of lives. She then gives her a little knock on the forehead to kill her.
And with that, we return to the present, where Roderick and Dupin act out the conclusion of a drama that has been developing for decades. Roderick discloses that the frequent texts he received from "Lenore" were simply variations of the word "nevermore" spewed out by Madeline's artificial intelligence model. In the basement, Madeline is also alive, albeit it's probably not what she would want given that Roderick sedated her, removed her eyes, and replaced them with sapphires. (A fitting funeral for a queen is only considerate when the queen is, well, dead.) She dashes up the stairs and kills Roderick by strangulation, completing a task their mother began fifty years before, just before the Usher family's real home crumbles in the storm, permanently destroying the family.
Roderick was informed earlier in the episode by Dupin that he would know what constituted a just punishment for Roderick's transgressions when he saw it. How can the crime of causing so much suffering and death in the world be justified by any one consequence? I don't think House of Usher provides a satisfactory response to that query; Madeline, for example, dies with no regrets at all, and Roderick suffers terrible losses, but they pale in comparison to the harm he inflicted upon the world.
Perhaps living well is ultimately the finest kind of retaliation. As House of Usher comes to an end, Dupin is bidding the Ushers a final farewell. Fortunato has been dissolved, its unfathomable coffers being emptied to serve people instead of hurt them. His gravestone reads, "I'm going home to my husband, my kids, and their kids." "You know that I'm the richest man on the planet?" With him, who could argue?
Bumps in the Night: Although we never get to see them together, and to be honest, I can't recall if they ever said a single word on screen, it's important to note that the recuperation durations for both Morrie and Juno were set at precisely three years. I think it's great that these two ladies are finally getting together and celebrating that they both made it through their awful Usher guys.
• The lack of a stand-alone Arthur Pym story disappoints me a little bit; at the very least, I would have preferred a more cogent explanation for why he was so completely devoted to Roderick, but I suppose that's the purpose of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
• There's also a persistent unanswered question that, if Verna's bar was a hoax, then who else attended that New Year's Eve party?
As if to indicate that Madeline's defences were weakened by Annabel's criticism, she appropriates Annbel's final comment, "You are so small," for Rufus's tomb.
• Roderick claims that he is most similar to Tamerlane because he outsources intimacy, which gives the impression that he is aware of all of her particular vices in bed. Strange family.
• Given that Roderick already has two children, it's quite chilly that he consents to the end of his lineage.
• The show playfully critiques its own existence in its moral quandaries: Verna claims that if we stopped making films and TV shows for a single year and used the proceeds to fight hunger, poverty, and sickness, then all of those issues would be solved.
• Verna left a variety of items on each Usher's grave, including a mask for Prospero, a smartphone for Camille, Napoleon's missing Gucci cat collar, a prototype heart device for Victorine, a Goldbug pin for Tamerlane, drugs for Frederick, sapphires for Madeline, a cognac glass for Roderick, and — most notably — a raven feather for Lenore. This is the only instance in which Verna makes a self-served bequest.
• The Pentagon does, in fact, spend roughly $84 million on Viagra annually.
The phrase "Ah-mohn-tihl-ah-do" Yes, Rufus was due for his outcome.
Verna wrapped up this tale with a last reading of Poe's "Spirits of the Dead," so I'll follow suit.
• The Fall of the House of Usher is now complete, as is Mike Flanagan's run of eerie limited series on Netflix since he left for Amazon almost a year ago. To all my other fans of Flana: How does House of Usher compare to Hill House, Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, and the sadly-gone Midnight Club? Comment down below with your thoughts.