The Fall of the House of Usher episode 4: The Black Cat, explained

The Fall of the House of Usher season 1
Photo: Netflix

When it comes to The Fall of the House of Usher on Netflix, one thing should be pretty darn clear: Not everything is as it seems. We know that these characters often imagine various horrors, whereas some others are manipulated by Verna.

Today, what we have to discuss is something that was not obvious when we first watched episode 4, titled “The Black Cat” and based on the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name. In this installment, Roderick Usher’s son Napoleon falls to his death after obsessively chasing a new cat he adopted to replacing the former one, who he supposedly killed. This was all a metaphor on the guilt that Leo felt over him killing the original cat Pluto, and also the madness that comes with being a part of this family and the selfishness that creates.

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At the end of the episode, you see a cat walking over the body of Leo Usher, and it is easy to conclude that this cat (with the Pluto collar) is Verna leaving the scene of the crime. However, executive producer Mike Flanagan himself has actually noted that this was the real Pluto, and that the original cat never died. He confirmed as much in a post on Twitter:

Okay. So… “The Black Cat” was written by Edgar Allan Poe. In HIS version, a cat is killed. In MY version … the killing of the cat is revealed to be a hallucination. In MY version, the cat is alive and well. So who hates cats? :)

It is possible that some came to this interpretation after watching the episode, but for most this wasn’t clear on the show – to the point that Flanagan had to actually come out after the fact to explain what he was trying to show in the series. A part of what makes it so murky is that the original story features a cat actually being killed, so we’re led to believe something similar happens here.

In the end, the function of the story works the same, and the death of Leo was destined from the moment Roderick and Madeline first took the deal from Verna. The only real mystery was how awful said death was going to be.

Related Read more on the ending of The Fall of the House of Usher

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This article was written by Jessica BunBun.

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