May 27, 2024

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Episode Five

Man, this one did some really cool things.  I mean, this one is based around what is probably Poe’s most famous short story, and they really went out of their way to cover this one.

This is the episode where Victorine dies, and she may be the most deserving so far.  Yes, all the Ushers are fairly awful save young Lenore, with the seemingly trying to be a good dad Frederick slowly going nuts in this episode by insisting on bringing the somehow-still-alive Morella home and even seething a bit with jealousy, not a good thing for a woman with barley any skin left.  Tamerlane breaks up with her husband because he was only supposed to sleep with other women in front of her (turns out he hated that).  And Roderick, well, he goes to the funeral for his three dead illegitimate children and then ignores their three mothers.

So, what did Victorine do that made her the worst?  Well, she needs to hear the beating heart, so whose heart is it?  Well, it takes a while to reveal it, but she’s hearing some kind of beating noise everywhere, and she was working on a heart mesh that may be for her dying father.  Two things make her the worst:  she is willing to try a human trial before the machine is ready (Verna is the disguised patient), and when her girlfriend/business partner/actual surgeon Ali tries to walk out, Victorine in a fit of anger throws a bookend at her and accidentally kills her.

Then she installs the heart mesh in Ali’s chest.  That’s the sound she’s hearing, and Roderick hears it too when he stops by her place with questions.  He’s been contemplating suicide himself while his sister Madeline is really suspicious that a bartender she and Roderick met on New Year’s Day 1980 (or New Year’s Eve 1979) is somehow still alive and hasn’t aged.

Why wouldn’t Verna still be alive?

And who is that barbecued ghost Roderick keeps seeing?

Eh, I’ll find out.

As I see it, Victorine is the worst so far because her actions would probably have gotten another person killed on purpose.  Leo and Camille only really hurt themselves, and one of them was mostly looking to get rid of a cat while the other was just trying to ruin someone else.  Perry did get other people killed, but that was due to carelessness and not malciousness.  Victorine kills her (almost ex) partner and had plans that probably would have gotten someone else killed.  Neither were exactly first degree murder, but both were pretty bad.

Additionally for the episode, there’s a lot of Poe-inspiring creepiness going on here, and this time around, I want to compliment two things. The first is the ghost appearance.  Each episode has had the ghost of the character who died at the end of the episode pop up before Roderick in a moment Dupin can’t see.  Mostly the ghost just appears nearby, but Victorine just slowly replaces Dupin as Roderick looks on in shock.  And, of course, Dupin doesn’t see that.  It’s a nice, creepy moment as Dupin’s shirt appears to start bleeding, a beating heart seems to be coming from his chest, and then he turns into Victorine with the wound she gives herself when she commits suicide.

The other cool thing?  It’s a minor thing, but the heart mesh Victorine put inside the dead Ali can be heard beating away in the closing credits.  For an episode modeled after “The Tell-Tale Heart,” that’s a smart move.

Of course, by this point, Roderick is out of illegitimate children.