Netflix’s gothic horror show, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ depicts a slow and fascinating unraveling of the stack of mysteries surrounding the Usher family. Emerging from a meek background, twins Roderick and Madeline Usher build their family name into an empire, exercising immense power and control through their wealth. However, the family faces a reckoning when Roderick’s numerous heirs, six in total from five different mothers, begin to meet their ends, each death more gruesome than the one before.
The deaths of the Usher heirs form the series’ first true mystery, with the first death introducing the multi-faced woman, Verna, to the central plot. As more dead bodies begin to drop, Verna’s interference with the Ushers’ demise increases. Thus, the mystery shifts from the circumstances surrounding the Usher kids’ deaths and moves to Verna’s connection to them. Therefore, if you’re curious about Verna’s bloodthirsty vendetta against the Usher family, here is everything you need to know about her motives. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Roderick’s Deal with Verna
When the Ushers initially start dying, with Prospero, a.k.a Perry, as the first victim, the narrative almost suggests that the Ushers’ deaths have something to do with their morality. Perry dies in a massive hedonistic orgy that he uses to dig up dirt on other people, including his own brother, as leverage for the future. The next one to go, Camille, defined by her little regard for other people’s emotions, dies while investigating her own sister. Likewise, Leo’s death is brought by a supernatural cat exacting revenge for Leo’s boyfriend’s cat, Pluto’s death.
Before each death, Verna also interacts with the victims, divulging their flaws and sins. Due to the moral stain that each individual carries with themselves— as the rest of the Ushers— the idea that Verna brings justice upon the family gains its appeal. However, Verna’s previous interaction with the Usher twins, Roderick and Madeline, hangs above every theory, reminding the audience of the bigger picture at play.
Given Verna’s supernatural abilities and Roderick’s steadfast denial of her existence, the narrative seamlessly transitions the focus from the younger Usher generation to the older one. Thus, the realization hits that Roderick’s heirs are dying because of his actions, as he has been suggesting from the beginning.
Roderick has only ever crossed paths with Verna once before, on New Year’s Eve of 1979. Although the night marked a new decade for the rest of the world, it was the start of a new age for the Ushers. Roderick and Madeline duck into a local bar to create an alibi for the night, coming off the heels of corporate sabotage and murder of Fortunato CEO Rufus Griswold. At the bar, the pair meet Verna, the bartender, who takes an interest in the twins.
As such, the trio ends up drinking together late into the night when Verna finally cuts to the chase and makes her offer. The supernatural being has seen the thirst within the twins for power and their desperate need to change the world, for better or worse. She wants to know what the Ushers can achieve if given unlimited power and complete liberty from consequences. Yet, the catch remains: if Roderick and Madeline take the deal, then the Usher bloodline would have to end with them.
Although Roderick and Madeline have been drinking the whole night, they are of sound mind when they agree to Verna’s terms, forfeiting a long future for their coming generation in exchange for a luxurious one. As the only parent in the equation, Roderick is the only one with something to lose. Still, Roderick intimately knows what a poor life, lived for your father’s mistakes, looks like. Therefore, he agrees to Verna’s terms without hesitation.
Decades later, the Usher twins have forgotten this night as a delusional dream and continue to live their lives in luxury. They evade legal repercussions for their actions at every turn but chalk it all up to their power and influence. Nevertheless, in Roderick’s old age, as his timely death nears, Verna comes to reap his bloodline’s early end.
According to the deal’s rules, Roderick’s future generations would have to die when death came for the man. Therefore, after watching the Ushers spread their influence, mostly changing the world for the worse, Verna arrives to harvest her payment. Since Madeline has never had a kid of her own, Verna only targets Roderick’s numerous heirs.
Although each kid dies as a product of their lifestyle, Verna brings them their doom. Although the deaths are purely transactional, Verna enjoys bringing some to their fates, like Fredriek, and hands him a particularly gruesome death. Alternatively, her enjoyment is subdued when the time comes to reap Lenore, Roderick’s granddaughter and perhaps the only innocent Usher. Ultimately, Roderick’s entire bloodline dies with him due to his and Madeline’s own greed, with Verna as the executioner.