May 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher “The Raven”

Final Episode

Apparently, the poems and works of Edgar Allen Poe are a thing in the setting for this show as multiple characters recite his poems here.

Did they notice where their names came from?

OK, answers, and I know why things went the way they did.  Verna is not a demon and doesn’t traffic in souls, even claiming there are no such things, but she is a being of balance who made a deal with Roderick and Madeline that she would allow them to get away with a literal murder (“Cask of Amontillado” style) and have money and power, but when the time came, their bloodlines would die before they do and they would die together.  Both had to agree.  Both did.

Now, I can see why this might be OK for Madeline.  She has no children and never does.  But at the time of the deal in 1979, Roderick already had two kids with four more on the way, and as it turns out, grandkids count so poor Lenore isn’t making it out of this mini-series alive either.  The selling point is while Roderick’s children will die relatively young, they also will never want for money and have anything and everything they could possibly desire.  It’s the sort of thing that may sound tempting but is still selfish in its own way, and quite frankly, this episode is the most nakedly political of the bunch, with Verna making a reference to another person who made a deal with her in a way that sounds an awful lot like a recent American president.

The point is, Roderick made the deal and apparently believed that being richer than Croesus makes up for whatever it is that his children are unknowingly given up, and that includes Lenore, the only good Usher who takes after the grandmother she never knew.  Roderick here gets a visit from, among others, his first wife’s ghost where she basically points out that the more time his legitimate children spent with him, the less they were themselves and maybe the kids died long before they actually did.  Roderick’s money, and his pharmaceuticals, were killing people, and here’s where the story takes its most political turn as Verna and Madeline both have speeches where they point out the flaws in capitalism, with Verna saying they could solve homelessness if no one produced any new movies or TV shows for a year while Madeline cynically points out that dumbing down the education system and pushing more for viagra instead of cancer cures and taking away certain reproductive rights is all there to create disposable factory workers instead of actually improving the quality of life.

Even Roderick gets in on it when he says something about how he took away pain with his opiates because that was what people wanted, and in what may be the weakest special effect in the entire mini-series, Verna shows his victims as human shapes falling in the rain outside his office window.  Flanagan’s finale is hitting hard at the sort of socio-political system that would produce a Roderick Usher in the first place.

Meanwhile, Flanagan’s not condemning money as the episode does reveal that two of the survivors–Juno and Morella, Ushers by marriage only–will take the money they inherit and use it for worthy causes, both of them doing so to reverse damage done by Roderick and his sick and twisted family, all finished with Dupin telling Roderick’s grave that he, Dupin, is the richest man he knows because he has a husband, children, and grandchildren to go home to now that he’s retired.   Heck, Arthur Pym is offered a similar deal by Verna, and while the episode does reveal that not only has Verna had an eye on him for a while, but that Pym has been doing some murder and body disposal along the line, meaning he will be going to prison for the rest of his life if he doesn’t take the deal.

That Pym listens to the conditions and then declines, in part because he has no loved ones to trade in, says quite a bit about Pym and maybe saying he’s a much smarter man than his employer.  He may not live his life out as a free man, but given his age and what happened to Roderick, he knows the deal is a bad one.  As a character, I can respect Pym’s decision in that moment, and there’s a part of me that thinks that Verna’s statement that she couldn’t wait to meet Pym was a reference to the fact it was Mark Hamill in the role.

But in the end, the Ushers fall as the title suggested, and with them, Flanagan’s time at Netflix comes to a close.  Overall, I liked what the man produced for the service (at least the adult stuff if not the YA stuff), and I hope he proves just as fruitful over at Amazon with his Dark Tower adaptation.  Flanagan did direct a Doctor Sleep movie I really liked, and his Dark Tower can’t be any worse than the Idris Elba movie.  The Fall of the House of Usher was some top-notch horror television, and Flanagan’s attention to detail, including a bust of Pallas for Verna to land on in her raven form, showed the guy can respect the classics and tell a good story at the same time.  Amazon is lucky to have his services.

9.5 out of 10 glowing-eyed ghosts.

OK, now what for Fridays?  Well…there was that South Korean apocalyptic monster show I liked that came back for a second season.

Time to go check on that Sweet Home again.