April 18, 2024

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher “The Masque Of The Red Death”

Episode Two

Oh hey, there’s an iZombie reunion of sorts on this show as Flanagan regular Rahul Kohli is joined by his costar from that show Malcolm Goodwin.  Or they would be if it wasn’t that Goodwin is just playing a younger version of the Dupin character and the two do not share screentime.

Meanwhile, I am getting a better idea of how this family works amidst the tragic (?) downfall of Prospero “Perry” Usher, the youngest child of Roderick Usher and some unknown woman because he’s one of the bastard children.  Granted, he’s also the other kind of bastard, but that’s immaterial.  As for how tragic his death is, I suppose it’s always sad when someone wins a Darwin Award given he was the youngest and the first, from the looks of things, to have his business venture shot down by his father because it wasn’t ambitious enough or something.  The episode is mostly dedicated to following Perry around because this one is how he died, and since the title comes from a famous Edgar Allen Poe story involving rich people quarantining themselves away from, oh, everything while a plague ravages the countryside, it does seem as if the mini-series found a way to recreate that scenario in its own way.

But Perry is not the sort of person that I think we can bring ourselves to feel sorry for.  Granted, that could probably describe most of the Ushers so far.  Roderick, in flashback, seems to have invented the opioid epidemic while his sister Madeline was inventing new ways to do algorithms, and you know she’s evil because she suggests that maybe it would be OK for algorithms to write TV shows.  But the other Ushers on display are, well, odd if nothing else.  One seems to be writing porn scenarios for her husband to act out in front of her with another woman, but that’s just unusual.  Another is having a threesome with her two investigative assistants, one of each gender, but this Usher sister is also digging up dirt on everybody to find the informant while speaking as poorly about them as she can.  Another brother is basically supplying drugs for Perry’s big bash, since he somehow thinks the way to change his father’s mind is to use an abandoned Fortunato facility to prove he had a good idea, and everyone is doing something to someone for something.

So far, the only decent adult Usher seems to be Frederick, the oldest son who looks like he’s a good father to his daughter Lenore.  Sure, he’s heir to the company so he’s probably got something crooked going on, but the only thing on display here is he tells off Perry for nearly getting the company in legal trouble.  For that, Perry will serendipitously invite Frederick’s wife Morella to the party he’s throwing because he’s not just throwing a giant orgy masquerade party:  he’s setting all his high-powered guests up for blackmail from the looks of things.  He only invited Morella to rub it in Frederick’s face.

But then walks a woman in a death’s head mask, all in red, and hey, its that Verna woman Roderick is so afraid of.  See, Perry wants to spray the dance floor with water at midnight as a signal for the orgy to commence.  Verna says he maybe shouldn’t.  Perry doesn’t listen, so instead, she goes out and tells the hired help and Morella (presumably because she’s an innocent person compared to everyone else there) to get out before that happens because Perry, dumbass that he is, didn’t realize the water tanks were actually filled with deadly acid, leaving all the party guests as a melted-together pile of dead and dying flesh.

Now, Roderick believes this is all his fault, but it’s hard to see how since Perry was the dummy who set the whole thing up without checking to make sure the water in the condemned factory was actually water.  Part of the point may be that Roderick is haunted by something, and he is still seeing ghosts.  Perry, however, is the sort of character that it is really hard to feel pity for.  But that could describe all the Ushers at this point from the looks of things.  I mean, Roderick’s second wife Juno can’t even tell the story of how she met Roderick to granddaughter Lenore.

Plus that creepy house lawyer, Arthur Pym, might as well be a member of the family, but I always knew Mark Hamill had that in him.

Once again, I am loving a Mike Flanagan production.