The ending of The Fall of the House of Usher is a rather depressing one. Not only because we have to say goodbye to the wonderful show and Flanagan’s stint with Netflix, but also because the show has a rather bleak ending. We’ve established that Verna is Lady Death herself, but we don’t know what the deal was that the twins struck with her in ‘79. On top of that, why did the kids have to die as a result of it? Auggie has been hearing Madeline in the basement this whole time, but she hasn’t shown up all night, which is very odd. On this one night, Auggie has felt cheated, threatened, and a little bit scared. This episode is titled “The Raven,” which seems like the most literal adaptation in the whole show. The poem is about a raven that visits a student grieving his lost love.
At the end of The Fall of the House of Usher Episode 7, Verna brings Roderick back to life after Madeline tried to “loophole” her by getting Roderick to take his own life. Now Roderick asks Verna what her price is. Ah, the rich. Verna finds it amusing, but she tells him that a Fortunato representative has finally taken the step to bring the whole thing down. Pym always tells the Ushers how to conduct themselves in front of the police or media, but Lenore doesn’t listen and calls out her father in front of the whole world (keep in mind, this is just a little while after his brutal death, which she doesn’t know about just yet).
Justice For Auggie
The big mistake Auggie’s boss made back in the day was thinking that they had slain the dragon when Roderick lost his children and seemingly his company to his own sister. Roderick’s surprise return didn’t hinder Madeline, though; she just thought she had done the math right. Unfortunately for her, death doesn’t care about math. Now, while listening to Roderick, Auggie tells him that he doesn’t know what justice for the Ushers’ wrongdoings is, but he’ll know it when he sees it. Roderick talks about how Tamerlane and Frederick were good kids while they were with Annabel, but the second Roderick thought they were old enough, he showed them the lifestyle that money could buy them, and they picked him. Whatever humanity was in them, Roderick sucked it all out with his money. But somehow, Lenore managed to pick up on her grandmother’s qualities.
Annabel And Roderick
During the funeral that day, young Annabel came to Roderick too. She talked about how he stole their children from her and squeezed their personalities out of them until they became shells of Ushers yearning just for money. She used to tell people that the kids went to Roderick because he was rich, but right now, she sees his poverty very clearly. Roderick and Madeline got everything they wanted, but at the price of becoming completely “poor.” Roderick did love Annabel until he chose to sacrifice that love for Fortunato. Now, along with the deaths of his children, he grieves for that relationship. Annabel had felt alone when the kids left her, and killed herself all those years ago. After that conversation, we’re looped back to the first episode, where Roderick fell to the floor in front of the church, looking up at a raven (fun fact: the name of the first episode is also the first line of the poem).
The finale of the series gives us all the answers. At the New Year’s party back in 1979, Rufus was the person wearing the purple clown costume. After telling the whole team at Fortunato that Roderick was their new hero, he proceeded to go to the basement with Madeline, thinking she had finally yielded to him. Oh, how wrong he was, though. They had drugged the man while offering him a glass of sherry. In the basement, they tied him up. Now comes the scariest(?) part. Rufus was screaming about how this basement would be the new foundation of the Fortunato building. The twins took his words very seriously and put him inside the wall. When Rufus comes to, he thinks they’re joking with him at first, cementing the bricks in place in front of him (references from Poe’s “The Cask Of Amontillado”). The twins could’ve threatened Rufus and let him go, shown him what they were capable of, and then made him confess and resign, but instead, they chose to “bury the truth while it was alive.” This was their plan all along: to get Fortunato, their birthright, right in their own hands. Now that Roderick proved himself, with Rufus not showing up—you know, being in a wall and all—he would easily be the new candidate. This is when they left the party to go make themselves seen elsewhere for an alibi.
At the end of the night, with everyone gone and just Madeline, Roderick, and Verna at the bar, Verna brings out the real deal. She tells the twins that if she offered them a lifetime of luxury and gave them everything they wanted right now, what would they do? Madeline makes a joke out of it, but Verna reminds them of everything they’ve wanted, adding extra sugar to the deal with “no legal consequences” for anything they do. Verna tells them she just wants to see what they would do with all that—no questions asked, but the next generation would bear the brunt of it all. She tells them that they would have the world, but just before Roderick dies, his bloodline will die too (the man was too ambitious). Their avarice taking over, the twins take the deal, thinking the kids would enjoy the best life, living gilded lives with no struggle the way they did. The bar never existed, and soon, the twins forgot about the deal or what happened with Verna that night. Roderick even goes as far as to call it a folie à deux, but it really did happen.
In The Fall of the House of Usher Episode 8, after Frederick’s death, Pym actually finds Verna in the old, ragged house. He tries to kidnap her, but she’s just playing tricks on him. She offers Pym a deal, too, because once the Ushers fall, all his crimes will be out in the open for the world to see. Pym declines the offer, though, because he knows better. Pym doesn’t even have collateral to offer up; he’s seen too many terrible things in the world, and he’s finally ready to pay the price.
Now comes the hardest part, the most bleak moment of the series. Roderick has been talking about how great Lenore is and how she’s the only good one of them. Just a few hours earlier, after the funeral, Lenore had come home with her grandfather to make sure he was alright. She tells him that it might be a good idea to let go of Fortunato now, and he says maybe she will be able to make it a good thing sometime in the future. Lenore promises Roderick she’ll try her best and heads to her room to rest for the night. Verna’s there waiting for her, and she tells her that her mother will be alright in 3 years thanks to Lenore saving her. She will set up a charity in Lenore’s name to help abuse victims, and she’ll save millions of lives in the future. Would this be a kind of poetic justice? Bodies for bodies. We can’t really say, but Lenore is happy to hear it all. Finally, Verna tears up, saying sometimes her job, which she loves very much, becomes hard. This is one of those moments. She lightly touches Lenore’s forehead, killing her in an instant. Ultimately, Roderick finds Lenore dead in her bed, realizing it was his entire bloodline. Now, he makes his way to the old house, calling Auggie to tell him the story. The thing that’s been texting Roderick is the algorithm that Madeline came up with, a fake Lenore. But the thing is stuck on the word Nevermore, just like in “The Raven.” Never again will they cause pain.
Roderick recites Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven as the scene of him finding Lenore’s body plays out. He drives to the company and sees all his dead children and Lenore at the prestigious board table. He blames others for his actions and for wanting more, but Verna shows up, sending him off to the old house after showing him his overwhelmingly large body count. She shows him his real legacy, telling him that their business is “almost done.”
Madeline Is Back
Just before Auggie showed up at the house, Madeline did. She knows about Lenore’s death, and Roderick tells her that Verna has given them some time to talk, so there must be some business they must finish up. Roderick calls the house their tomb, so he’s been spending some time there over the past few days, bringing some things to bury with them. It wouldn’t be Mike Flanagan’s show without a few monologues here and there. Now it’s Madeline’s turn, and she goes from blaming people to talking about bodily autonomy for women and finally finishing up with the desire for consumption. Madeline is eager to tell the world that Roderick and she didn’t do anything wrong except build the life for themselves that they wanted from hardship, pain, and suffering. She tells Roderick that if Death wants her, she has to look her straight in the eyes.
What Happens To Fortunato?
Madeline should’ve been careful with her words. Roderick has spiked her drink, just like they had all those years ago with Rufus. Just like Victorine mutilated her partner’s body, Roderick gets to work on Madeline’s eyes. Verna always called Madeline Cleopatra, so Roderick removed Madeline’s eyes and placed the blue sapphires of Queen Twosret there as a gift. Roderick tells Auggie that he sent her off as a queen and goddess, but Auggie wonders if Madeline has actually died. Roderick tells Auggie that, at the end of the day, they did actually change the world, even if it may not have been ideal. Roderick gives Auggie his confession, saying that he always knew that he would end up killing millions of people to “change the world.” The biggest lie they told was that they could extinguish pain. There’s no way this is possible, really. As a joke, Roderick says if he put those words on a bottle of Ligodone, he could’ve still sold it (of course, you made a deal with death).
Auggie’s fear is answered with a bloody Madeline jumping out of the basement, similar to their mother all those years ago, grabbing for Roderick’s neck. It was almost as if their mother had predicted their end. As they fall together to the floor, so does the foundation of the broken house. Auggie rushes out and watches as the house crashes to the ground, obviously killing the twins together. Auggie sees Verna on top of the wreckage, but in the blink of an eye, she’s a raven. Juno inherited what was left of Fortunato; she dissolved the company and replaced it with the Phoenix Foundation, a rehabilitation facility. Pym was arrested and became the only convicted in the Fortunato case, never uttering a word in his defense.
Auggie gives a satisfying goodbye speech to his “friend” Roderick, telling him to keep his rationale to himself and leaving the recording at his grave. Justice has been served in many ways, and Auggie gets to go back to his family, calling himself the richest man in the world. He retires, and finally, with no regrets, even though his biggest case ended in the blink of an eye, everyone is dead. Verna shows up one last time at the graves of the Ushers, placing each of their misfortunes, or, should we say, mistakes, on top of their stones as a reminder of what they did. On Lenore’s stone, she places a black feather with a white rose on it, a representation of Lenore’s freedom from what could’ve been. And that is how the Usher family fell.