‘The Fall of The House of Usher‘ revolves around an influential family who stares down an uncertain future when ominous death starts to prey on its members one after the other. As such, when Usher heirs start unexpectedly kicking the bucket, the heads of the Usher house, twins Roderick and Madeline, have to face a dark truth from their past before they can face their own unmovable destinies. Through it all, Verna, a woman containing multitudes, becomes the executioner of the Ushers’ fate.
The show follows a multiple-pronged timeline as Roderick sits with Attorney Dupin and confesses to his life’s crimes and sins. During the same, Roderick divulges stories of his past, before the Usher family came into power, in pieces, wherein his wife, Annabel, plays an instrumental role. However, in Roderick’s recitation of his near-past, after the Ushers and their Fortunato company rose to power, Annabel is scarcely mentioned. Therefore, viewers must be curious to know what happened to the woman who was such an integral part of younger Roderick’s life. Let’s try and decipher the same. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Annabel and Roderick’s Divorce
Given Annabel’s absence from Roderick’s life in the year 2023, alongside Roderick’s various children birthed by other women, the narrative establishes the couple’s detachment early on in the story. Yet, as Roderick discloses his past to Dupin, when he worked as a clerk in Fortunato under Griswold, his close relationship with Annabel shines through. In contrast, Roderick’s current relationship with Juno, a trophy wife in more than one sense, seems hollow and only betters Roderick’s meaningful past with Annabel.
Thus, the question remains: what happened between the couple? In the show’s past timeline, Roderick is a poor and hard-working individual at his biological father’s company. Yet, due to his illegitimate heir status, Roderick is ridiculed by his peers and robbed of any privilege his blood may have brought. Likewise, his twin, Madeline, lives a similar life. However, Roderick’s life with Annabel forms a key difference between the two Ushers.
Annabel and Roderick have a hard life, without even enough money to afford medicine for their sick kids. Nevertheless, they manage to find moments of satisfaction where Roderick’s love for his wife sources many poem verses, inspiring artistry even in the worst of times. These are the moments that Annabel treasures, that make her life worth it for her. However, once a young Auguste Dupin, a medicare fraud investigator, knocks on Roderick’s door, it changes everything for the Ushers.
Dupin is investigating Fortunato for malpractices and tries to team up with Roderick to bring Griswold’s company down. Nonetheless, Madeline sees the opportunity for what it could be and helps her brother turn it in his favor. Through a long con, the twins make Dupin believe Roderick wants to find incriminating evidence against Griswold and testify against him. Yet, at the crucial moment, Roderick throws Dupin under the bus and backs out, effectively winning Griswold’s indomitable trust.
Still, when Roderick makes a stride in his professional career, his personal life crumbles down. The twins had brewed this plan in secret, keeping Annabel out of the loop likely because they knew she would disapprove. As such, when everything goes down, Annabel feels intimately betrayed by her husband, whom she always believed to be a man of honor and goodwill.
As a result, Annabel can no longer stand the sight of Roderick and decides to part ways with him. Therefore, in the show’s present-day timeline, although Roderick is still with his and Annabel’s kids, Tammy and Freddy, he has married again with no Annabel Lee Usher in sight.
Is Annabel Dead?
The only time we see Annabel in the present-day storyline is at her kids’ funeral. The Ushers have been dying left and right, with Tammy and Freddy as the last ones to go. Thus, days after a joint funeral for Perry, Camille, and Leo, Roderick attends a second joint funeral for the rest of his heirs, Vic and Annabel’s kids. At this funeral, Roderick comes across Annabel, who looks barely much older than she did in their youth.
However, this meeting holds menacing implications. By this point in time, Roderick’s entire worldview has been challenged. He knows he’s on the death’s door, and Verna, the supernatural being who offered him his family’s glory, has returned to seek payment by decimating his bloodline. As a side-effect of Verna’s influence over him, Roderick has started seeing his dead kids in hallucinatory visions.
The key feature about these apparitions is that each of the Usher kids returns to Roderick in the form they last occupied in their deaths. As such, Perry, who died in an acid rain of his own making, arrives as a skinless, melted body, Camille in her chimp-mauled state, and so on. Therefore, when Roderick sees Annabel at the church with a gaping wound in the back of her skull, he’s likely seeing her dead apparition as well.
After Annabel and Roderick’s divorce, the kids went to Annabel, which infuriated Roderick. The man lost the love of his life for his ambitions. However, he did it in the name of a better future for his kids. As a result, Roderick was loathe to let them slip from his life. After Tammy and Freddy came of age, Roderick tempted them with his money to bring them back to his life.
Simultaneously, doing so took them away from Annabel. From here, the narrative makes no firm allusions to Annabel’s demise, but the wound on her skull offers a possible explanation. Annabel’s character has always revolved around her love for her family, and her sole ambition seems to reside in the happiness and safety of her kids and husband. Consequently, it chips away at Annabel when Roderick betrays her so coldly by betraying his conscience.
Worse yet, Roderick tempts Freddy and Tammy away from Annabel into his own world, turning them into another version of himself. While separation from her family would have certainly mentally and emotionally distraught the woman, seeing Roderick snuff out the light from inside his children would have been Annabel’s last straw. Roderick isn’t an ideal parent by any means. He makes his kids fight for his affection and, even then, shares it sparingly.
Therefore, it’s easy to imagine that Freddy and Tammy would have lost their spark and transformed under Roderick’s empty luxury soon after they joined their father. Losing her kids so irrevocably would have finally pushed Annabel to the edge and ended in the decision to end her life with a gun in her mouth. Hence, the gaping hole in the back of Annabel’s apparition’s head. Thus, we can conclude that Annabel would have been in her mid to early forties at the time of her suicide.