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The Fall of the House of Usher: Goldbug

"I reached through time and ripped the eyes out of a goddess with my pocketbook and some patience. Does that make me a god?"

What I got most from this episode is that I really should rewatch Oculus.

The concept of mirrors, doppelgängers, and doubles of all kinds is a really fun one to explore in a horror context. No one wants to be replaceable. No one wants to be so indistinguishable from someone else that your loved ones wouldn't even notice if you weren't there. Also just physical mirrors and the idea of your reflection not matching you is terrifying, even beyond just the narrative use of mirrors and foils.

The opening sequence was incredibly disorienting and very well done. It blurred reality and dreams and fantasy in a way that, yes, reminded me of Oculus (which Mike Flanagan also wrote and directed), but also realistic to how sleep deprivation can affect someone. It immediately had me on edge, and I wish that that kind of tension had continued.

The last scene between Tamerlane and Bill was close to it. There was something about it that made everything feel pained and almost grieving. Without a doubt, Bill loved her. Or loves her, I suppose, because even as he put himself first those kinds of emotions don't go away. If Tamerlane had managed to say something in time, he would have stayed. At the very least, he would have showed up to the launch. But she was silent for too long, and she didn't notice when he left, either. It was the first and only moment that I felt bad for her.

Out of all of the Usher children, Tamerlane was the one that I found the least watchable. That isn't a knock on Samantha Sloyan. She did fabulously. I just didn't care about Tamerlane at all. I like Frederick less, especially in this episode, but at least I'm looking forward to his inevitable and painful death. This was just putting Tamerlane out of her misery. And mine too.

The Goldbug product launch was absolutely painful, and not in a way that was even slightly enjoyable. I was so viscerally embarrassed that I had to skip through it. I just couldn't handle it. Anything that involves people embarrassing themselves on a public stage, especially in a way that makes them look like they're absolutely insane even if the audience knows that they're reacting to something real, is one of my least favorite kind of scenes. I cringed the entire time, and it only kept getting worse and worse like something out of a nightmare. I guess that means that it was highly effective, and I know that I'm far more sensitive to them than most people, but I just hated it.

The one good part that came out of it was Madeline's reaction to her niece's complete and total breakdown. She immediately knew that something was happening and began to look for Verna. I love it when smart characters do smart things. Okay, there were two good parts. The conversation between Madeline and Tamerlane before they went out on stage was also lovely. Last episode, Vic had compared the two women and I didn't see it. I got the comparison this time.

Tamerlane only ever wanted to be successful, and she was willing to sacrifice everything in order to achieve that. She exercised such a precise control over every aspect of her life that not only did she handpick her husband through headhunting, but she then outsourced any and all actual intimacy to prostitutes who looked and acted like her. Despite her focus on wellness, though, she had zero self-care. That would be conceding defeat.

Her color was probably one of the most obvious ones, even before we got to her episode: green. Envy and jealousy became something of a hallmark for her, especially with the fear that 'Candy' was stealing her life, and green's connection with nature and vitality in turn ties into her wellness company. Alas, envy isn't necessarily meant to be Tamerlane's sin. It's been confirmed that the Ushers are not meant to represent the Seven Deadly Sins, although even if they were, I'd give envy to Frederick.

He's turned into a sadistic psychopath over the course of the series, which is very disconcerting given his generally ineffective manner and demeanor. He's dollar store Roderick most of the time, but when he's alone with his wife, he's absolutely terrifying. I did like that the nightshade that he's paralyzing Morella with was brought up earlier in the series. That was very nice foreshadowing.

Something that I appreciate in the show is that the Ushers are not just passively accepting the fact that they are dying one by one. Well, Roderick kind of is, but he's also dealing with other issues at the moment and refuses to believe that there is anything weird going on. And why should he? He watched Vic kill herself in front of him. He knows that no one else stabbed her. Madeline is smart, though. She's always been smart. Smarter than her brother. It's very satisfying that she continues to task Pym with finding Verna.

We finally also got more Pym backstory! I was curious to see how they would incorporate his source material (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Poe's only novel that he ended on a massive cliffhanger). It may have provided an answer as to what exactly Verna is, too. Is she from Ultima Thule, one of the beings that live inside the hollow Earth? That would be a very fun answer. More fun than her just being Death, I think. More unique, at least.

Random Thoughts

This was the first time that the titular short story really didn't factor in at all. Poe's "The Gold-Bug" is about buried treasure and helped to popularize cryptography.

Roderick casually talking to his dead children while wearing a still bloody shirt was striking.

We knew that Juno was hooked on the pills, but I didn't realize just how many she took. Wow.

It was very, very sweet that she tried to support Tamerlane at the launch, though, despite their strained relationship.

An interesting detail about Madeline: she brought up a first husband, which implies that there was a second one, if not more. No children, though.

Madeline also keeps talking about how she wants to live forever. There's no way that ends well.

Tamerlane had a twin that she ate in the womb? What?

Alright, one kid left to go and for once, I'm so excited to see how he dies.
An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.


  1. The reveal about being a parasitic twin was, for some reason, absolutely hilarious for me.

    Like you, I thought the onstage meltdown was difficult to watch. I took refuge in my cross-stitch.

    I like Juno so much; she seems really goodhearted, albeit misguided and out of her depth. I recently watched the same actress portray a very different type of character in Netflix's Bodies. I'm also interested in how she looks--or her styling makes her look--a bit like Carla Gugino.

    I have never slept underneath a mirror, and now I never will.

    1. I too will never sleep beneath a mirror. Her whole story was more sad than anything.

  2. Nope, I was wrong. The actress who plays Juno is not the actress from Bodies. They could be cast as sisters, though.


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