The Fall of the House of Usher is horror auteur Mike Flanagan’s latest spooky series and, like The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, it pulls from the works of yet one more famed gothic storyteller: Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” serves because the series’ narrative framework — the first story stringing the episodic installments together, each of which adapts a distinct classic Poe tale with a Twenty first-century spin; “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” “The Black Cat,” and more all feature within the eight-episode miniseries.
The series follows Roderick Usher, the greedy and morally bankrupt head of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, who faces the results of catalyzing the opioid epidemic when his children begin spontaneously dying one after the following. The series, via each bloody massacre of yet one more Usher, each didactic monologue from the consequence-bearing Verna (Carla Gugino), and every foreboding raven is just not subtle about its anti-capitalistic message. Unbridled ambition: bad. Generational wealth: not earned, but seized by trampling on innocents as you ascend a ladder covered in blood. Thus, there aren’t many characters here which can be easy to like, but there are just a few worthy of appreciation — whether via their morally superior fortitude or their gloriously deviant disposition. Others…well, they’re just terrible throughout. So, listed below are our favourite and least favorite characters from The Fall of the House of Usher.
Spoiler Warning for The Fall of the House of Usher
Favorite: Lenore Usher (Kyliegh Curran)
Lenore is one in all the show’s only empathetic and morally driven characters. She is one in all, if not the one Usher-by-blood who’s uncomfortable with the terrible sacrifices this family has made for Fortunato Pharmaceuticals. She would quite leave a lifetime of opulence behind for a lifetime of purpose and connection. It’s hard not to like Lenore, as we watch her sit by her scorched mother’s bedside, waiting patiently for her to return to health. Lenore is a brilliant force in a pool of soulless money-hungry leaches, all suckling from the teet of an organization chargeable for tens of millions of deaths.
Least Favorite: Mr. Longfellow (Robert Longstreet)
Though Mr. Longfellow is simply present in The Fall of the House of Usher for just a few early episodes, he manages enough screen time to garner our disdain. He has an affair with Roderick and Madeline’s mother, Eliza, and is their biological father, yet he refuses to acknowledge their existence. When their mother gets sick, he refuses to assist persuade her to hunt medical care. He desired to sleep along with her, but when the results got here pouring down, he wanted nothing to do with the Ushers. Cheating in your wife comes at a price, and eventually, karma will find its approach to you. So, though we don’t advocate murder here, let’s just say when Eliza involves take his life…he had it comin’.
He desired to get his rocks off after which walk back to his mansion, pretending like he had not destroyed a whole family in the method. Pretending like he didn’t have a rightful heir to his company in Roderick. He is a sorry excuse for a person. He is a deplorable, self-serving ogre of a human. And who knows, possibly if he was an actual father, Madeline and Roderick would have had a distinct story to inform…
Favorite: Verna (Carla Gugino)
Verna. She is consequence. She is the girl whose appearance spells payment. With shoulders back and a piercing regular gaze, she takes out her prey — one after the other. Yet, before each kill — each cinematically spellbinding interpretation of Poe’s famous fatalities (the swinging pendulum, the thumping heart within the wall) — she narrates her purpose. She reminds her culprits of the sins they’ve committed before seizing their last breath. She is just not without reason. And she, though arguably this show’s tackle the infamous Beelzebub, is removed from cruel.
She made a cope with the Usher siblings: a lifetime of opulence without legal consequence in return for his or her future deaths — in addition to the simultaneous deaths of all their descendants (of which Roderick has many). When she takes Lenore’s life, it becomes clear that she is just not and not using a heart. She is just not without compassion. She puts Lenore to rest painlessly, first informing her of all the wonderful life-saving work her mother will do when she recovers.
Verna doesn’t push Arthur Pym into arranging a deal. When he chooses to just accept his fate in prison, she resigns from her negotiation. If you’ve gotten a fortified will — an ethical compass strong enough to withstand temptation — she is going to accept defeat. She will nod and move on to the following needy, susceptible-to-seduction human. She is a merciful negotiator. She collects her dues, but only takes satisfaction in collecting payment from those that have earned their repercussions.
Importantly, her name is an anagram for Raven, which in Edgar Allen Poe’s story represents the narrator’s unending grief over the lack of his Lenore. Such a reputation ties her to the Ushers — not as some external satanic force, but as an extension of their very own actions, their self-inflicted turmoil. Thus, she is just not the “bad guy” here, but quite a just force working to level a playing field her participants have already agreed to.
Gugino gives a nuanced performance that shifts seamlessly from detached objectivity and omnipotence to an all-knowing soft-spoken demeanor depending on who she’s working with. She effortlessly garners sympathy and approval against all odds.
Least Favorite: Frederick Usher (Henry Thomas)
A life-long mission to garner Daddy’s approval doesn’t permit such heinousness nor excuse such deplorable actions. What sort of man can watch the so-called love of his life die in a hospital bed — and feel powerful within the face of her defenselessness? Smile with maniacal satisfaction as she moans for sympathy. When he takes those pliers and pulls a tooth from his wife’s mouth, we will’t help but cheer for Verna’s arrival. She can’t come fast enough to take the lifetime of this despicable disgrace. He keeps her drugged up, unable to speak — torturing a girl who has already been nearly burned alive, and for what?
He doesn’t even allow her to talk — to tell him of what happened that fateful night. He jumps to his own conclusions and acts on them mercilessly. What sort of man, what sort of husband, what sort of father lacks a single shred of decency? He is weak. He fuels his ego on the back of his father’s name, never coming into his own — nor establishing himself as greater than a puppeteer of the powerful Roderick Usher. And, when his time finally comes, when he’s within the captain’s chair as his siblings fade into oblivion, he becomes a cocaine-addled mess with a perverted penchant for torture. This is what you turn out to be while you’re handed power? Verna, pick up the phone! We’re calling!
Favorite: Madeline Usher (Mary McDonnell)
Madeline is in no way making the “favorite” list because of this of a benevolent nature or morally upstanding disposition. Rather, the precise opposite. She is so scrumptiously scheming and superior that we will’t help but love her. She is a girl who takes her rightful place on this world. She will seize power — counting on intellect, cunning, and ruthlessness— to outsmart and outmaneuver the mediocre men who’ve risen to the highest on the backs of their testosterone levels alone. You need to see real balls. Call Madeline.
She so nonchalantly suggests death when a traitor could also be among the many Ushers. She can also be unabashed with regards to trampling over others on her approach to glory. She walks the road between madness and genius, and he or she doesn’t care who she sacrifices on her approach to success — innocent lives are merely a way to an end for her. They aren’t the bad guys for creating an addictive substance and marketing it as harmless. Rather, a feeble-minded society, a broken structure already in place is responsible. She justifies her actions every which way, for she refuses to see herself as anything lower than the heroine of her tale. You should love her, if nothing greater than for her unending devotion to such an excellent delusion (fueled by dastardly behavior and unchecked narcissism).
Least Favorite: Victorine LaFourcade (T’Nia Miller)
We draw the road at animal torture. There isn’t any redemption for the girl pumping chimpanzees stuffed with adrenaline to make it appear as if her recent cardiac device works and is prepared for human trials. You can’t ignore the irony here — a heartless woman working on a heart-saving device. Flanagan is virtually hitting us over the top with not-so-subtle messaging concerning Victorine LaFourcade, whose name (probably intentionally) bears a striking linguistic resemblance to Victor Frankenstein. Considering she turns her partner right into a zombie (with not more than a pumping heart and a dead brain) before meeting her own demise, the comparison is just not that much of a stretch. Victorine is a killer with no qualms with regards to torture or illicit activity. She will do what she must do to succeed in the highest and make Daddy proud…irrespective of who or what she kills along the way in which. It’s all about achievement — at the fee of her humanity.