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The Fall of the House of Usher: The Raven

"To the House of Usher. Whose time has come."

And to think, Roderick and Madeline did all of that before meeting Verna.

This series was always going to be a little bittersweet for me. I still can't believe that this is the last Flanagan series that we'll get on Netflix. It's not just a series finale, it's the finale of a whole mini universe, in a sense. Luckily, it stuck the landing.

There were a number of things that needed to be wrapped up. Most importantly, the House of Usher needed to fall. Both literally and figuratively. I was prepared to be very annoyed if the house didn't actually crumble like it did in the original story. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There are still multiple deaths to talk about.

I expected that Madeline and Roderick had made the deal with Verna for control of the company, and while I was kind of right, it really didn't tell the whole story. Roderick told Dupin that he had committed a murder, and he wasn't just talking about his family. The House of Usher was quite literally built on Griswold's bones.

I'm so glad that we got a pretty literal adaptation of "The Cask of Amontillado," complete with the fool's outfit and the poor victim growing quiet as the brick wall went up. At least Griswold died from cyanide as opposed to starving for a week. That was one, small mercy, and it let me enjoy the scene a lot more in hindsight.

It's just fun! I couldn't tear my eyes away from Madeline as she casually bantered with and needled Griswold as she and her brother placed brick after brick. This was the culmination of everything that she had planned (and it was her plan), and you got the sense that she definitely enjoyed it. Just the fact that she wrote "You are so small" on a brick was ice cold. I loved it.

To think, Roderick and Madeline did all of that before ever meeting Verna. Their deal only ensured that they got away with everything that they already did, and that it wouldn't be for nothing. Wealth, power, and complete immunity from any consequence. The only thing that it cost was the death of your entire bloodline right before Roderick was about to naturally die.

It was a very cruel deal. You could talk yourself into it. Like Verna said, would it be kinder to give someone everything that they could ever ask for, knowing that they would die sooner, or kinder to let them suffer and live longer? You could talk yourself into believing the first one. Except that it isn't just your children. It's the entire bloodline. Your siblings. Your grandchildren. Everyone.

What intrigued me most was Madeline's face. She was saying one thing, talking out the logic, the benefits of the deal, but her face told a completely different story. If it was just her, I'm not sure if she would have taken Verna's offer. Right until the end, she kept pushing and prodding, separating herself from Roderick by the use of 'he' instead of 'we.' Children were 'his thing,' not hers.

Only a few minutes before, she had declared that she never wanted any decisions to be made by a man or in service of a man, and yet I finished that scene with the distinct impression that Roderick had pushed her into the most important decision of her entire life.

If you knew anything about Poe, you knew that Lenore was going to die. It's fated. But for a moment there, I was really hopeful. Maybe Frederick was right to be a little paranoid about Morella. Maybe Lenore wasn't really his daughter. After all, the Ushers were dying youngest to oldest, and we not only saw Lenore at the funeral, but she had been texting her grandfather all night. Of course, she was alive. She had to be.

But Madeline talked so much about AI and about living forever that it had to come up somehow. I'm not sure if the Lenore Bot is something of a cop-out for that idea, or if it's just heartbreakingly sad. More evidence that the Ushers could have made something great if only they never took Verna's deal. Instead, all she was able to make was a broken chatbot that kept saying 'Nevermore.'

Lenore's death was easily the saddest moment. By far. But it was also one of the most beautiful. She got to know, for a fact, that she contributed something truly good to the world. Something that changed millions of lives for the better. I had tears in my eyes by the time Verna touched her forehead. It was a quiet and peaceful death, just like the one she offered Camille.

I was wrong earlier. Verna never offered the Ushers a way out or a way to avoid their deaths. She only offered a kinder way. They were doomed from the moment that they were born.

Of course, the Ushers only turned out the way that they did because they already started out rotten. Like Verna said, they could have done anything with the money. They could have done something good. They could have helped so many people. Instead, they killed thousands, if not millions. The CGI of the bodies tumbling through the sky was a little rough and definitely took me out of the moment, but I appreciate what it was trying to do. It acted as a very stark contrast to what Lenore was able to do with just one choice.

It also cemented that Roderick was never a good person. Yes, we knew that already with how he betrayed Dupin, but murder is something very different. No wonder Annabel couldn't recognize him. The man that she loved, the man that Dupin thought he was, didn't exist. Not really. Annabel broke my heart during the funeral, but there was also something almost beautiful about it. As heartbreaking as it was, she still was able to grieve her children and be there. I was very glad that we got to see her and that she was able to voice what Roderick did. After Roderick took everything from her, she was still able to have the last word.

There was a degree of dignity to it. Despite Roderick's best efforts, he never managed to take her dignity from her. Or from Juno. She was only in the episode for a few seconds, but I was very pleased to hear that she managed to get clean and managed to move on. I still don't really know why she was a character in general, though. Over all, she was incredibly superfluous and could have been cut.

Pym also ended the show with dignity. I was hoping that he would get a chance to actually meet Verna, and their conversation did not disappoint. I loved that it confirmed that Verna was one of the beings from Ultima Thule. I loved that we got to see just how efficient and scary Pym could be as opposed to it only happening offscreen and in the past. I loved the almost gentleness that seeped into the scene once they sat down. I loved how she saw him into court. I loved all of it.

While we didn't have the blatant light show, our remaining Ushers all have colors as well. You only really got to see Lenore's at the end in the room that she died in: black. The color of death and ravens. Madeline and Roderick's were hidden throughout, and as fitting for the twins, they have twin colors: purple and gold. Royalty and wealth. Roderick's phone background was purple, and you could see both purple and gold in the wallpaper in the Usher childhood home.

Finally, let's talk about the ending. The actual falling of the house was a little cheesy, unfortunately. Roderick killing Madeline and making sure that she left the world as a queen and goddess should was somehow both sweet and incredibly disturbing (and a nice parallel to her praising him during the failed suicide attempt.) I really enjoyed that. I even enjoyed that they called back the fact that their mother didn't quite die like they thought she did. But Madeline's screaming there actually made me laugh, and that isn't quite the reaction that you want. It just felt goofy. That's alright. It's a very minor complaint compared to just how good the rest of the episode was.

Random Thoughts

Verna is an anagram of Raven, which is a fun touch.

Also loved that they mentioned crossroad demons.

Also, also loved the items that Verna placed on each grave.

Remember how Jules mentioned that Leo had an almost magical resistance to drugs? I wonder if that was a side effect of the deal, and as the deal started to expire so did his protection.

The series opened up with "Another Brick in the Wall" playing, which we heard again in this episode. Such a fun, subtle bit of foreshadowing.

And so we come to the end. This show really was custom made for me, and it absolutely was everything that I hoped that it would be. I think compared to all of the Flanagan shows on Netflix, I would rank it third, behind The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass, but that really just shows how strong the other shows are. This show was the most fun, in the same way that horror movie that delights in the kills and eagerly invites you to delight in them as well is fun. It's something I'll rewatch for sure.
An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.


  1. Fangirl, congratulations on finishing the series. I'm not a horror aficionado so this show is probably not for me, but I know Edgar Allan Poe and your reviews have been interesting reading.

  2. I've not kept up with this 100%, but I saw 'Ultima Thule' which was a key part of FF14's Endwalker expansion, which caught my eye here. I've not heard the term before playing that game, and this reference makes it all the more appropriate a name in the game as well, and is a solid fit for Poe, who I need to read again as it's been a long time since I have.

  3. I really loved this, and I'm so happy your reviews pushed me to watch this series. (And to keep watching Flanagan's stuff, which I'm now really attached to.)

    I will always, always associate "The Cast of Amontillado" with my eighth-grade English teacher.

    You did an excellent job of writing about Lenore's death here.

    I loved Madeline's speech.

    Thank you, once again, for getting me into the...Flanaverse? Is that what it's called?

    Are we Flans? Fanagans?

    1. I'm so glad that you loved this, Josie! And that it encouraged you to check out his other stuff! I'm also incredibly attached to it all. It's just lovely. He's the one director I watch basically everything he makes.

      Netflix calls it the Flanaverse, I think, although the man himself is on the record for not loving the name. I'm not sure what we are!

  4. Do you know the name of the bust in this picture?


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