As the name suggests, Mike Flanagan’s ‘The Fall of The House of Usher‘ follows the Usher family’s descent into ruin after a mysterious force named Verna returns to twins Roderick and Madeline’s lives. As such, each episode follows the unraveling of the family’s secret past while the Usher heirs continue to die in uncanny circumstances in the present day. In episode 4, titled ‘The Black Cat,’ the narrative brings the focus to Napoleon “Leo” Usher, one of the younger heirs to the Usher name. In Leo’s journey toward his ultimate demise, his house cat Pluto, who belongs to Leo’s boyfriend, Julius, plays an instrumental and even supernatural role. Therefore, if the episode has left you with some questions about Pluto and her mortality, here is everything you need to know about it! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Does Leo Kill Pluto?
The narrative doesn’t shy away from the fact that its protagonists, the Ushers, are terrible people with their unique set of complications and nuances. As such, Leo’s introduction establishes the character’s selfishness, which only becomes more highlighted as his storyline develops. Still, Leo manages to come across as the only empathic Usher among his bunch since he’s the only one with a relatively normal, grieving reaction to his siblings Perry and Camille’s rapid, gruesome deaths.
Leo is infamously the fast-paced junkie sibling with a drug stash to raid. Therefore, given his regular dependency on various hardcore drugs, his need for them is only heightened after the initial news of Perry’s death. Consequently, he throws a party to numb his pain and spends the night wasted, waking up to an empty house with no recollection of the night before. Yet, the fresh blood on his hands speaks for itself.
Once Leo realizes the same and follows the trail of blood in his apartment, he realizes that in last night’s drug-laced debauchery, he has murdered Pluto, the black cat. Although Pluto lived with Leo, the man never thought of her as his own cat, referring to her as Julius’ cat most of the time. Furthermore, given his Usher blood, he’s used to getting away with things without facing repercussions.
Thus, Leo’s sole concern over Pluto’s death remains in hiding it from Julius. Although Leo manages to get away with claiming the cat likely ran away, he needs a more long-term fix. As a result, Leo arrives at an animal shelter to find a replacement for Pluto.
After Camille’s death, Leo is next on Verna’s roster. Therefore, when Leo goes looking for a way to hide Pluto’s death from his boyfriend, Julius, he predictably crosses paths with Verna. At the shelter, Leo finds the perfect black cat who looks like an exact replica of Pluto. Although Verna tries to veer Leo off the cat, perhaps offering him a chance to fix his wrongdoings instead of hiding them, Leo insists on taking the black cat home with him.
However, once he returns to his apartment with the cat, she starts wreaking havoc in his life. From scratching Leo to leaving dead animals in his bed, Pluto’s replacement cat continues to haunt Leo from the shadows. Interestingly, despite Leo’s attempts to make Julius notice the cat, Julius never actually sees the cat himself. Instead, Leo is the only one who can see the black cat and is driven to madness by her.
Eventually, Leo calls Verna to return the cat after he finds a huge stack of dead animals around the house. Nevertheless, the cat eludes him until Verna tells him the feline is in the house’s walls. Soon, the cat jumps out and attacks Leo. In retaliation, the man gouges her eye before she escapes from his hold. As such, behind Leo’s psychotic battle with the cat. Taking a hammer to his home, Leo tears down walls and ceilings to search for the cat.
By the time Julius returns home, he finds the entire place wrecked, with Leo running around like a madman searching for some cat that Julius can’t see. The black cat only exists for Leo, surviving as his guilt over Pluto’s death and haunting him as revenge for the innocent being’s cold murder. Therefore, the possibility remains that Verna brought back Pluto’s ghost to haunt Leo and deliver him to his destiny. Ultimately, Leo falls to his own demise in chasing the black cat, which remains an embodiment of Pluto’s death.