Mike Flanagan’s latest offering, The Fall of the House of Usher, may be tantalisingly good, but it is not always an easy watch. This series, a loose adaptation of several works of Edgar Allan Poe, delves into the horrific downfall of a ruthless wealthy family. While doling out just desserts to the greedy, twisted, and corrupt Usher clan, Flanagan also depicts more than one harrowing tale of animal abuse.
One entire episode, the fourth one, featuring Napolean, aka Leo Usher’s fate, may be particularly hard to watch for pet parents and cat lovers alike. In this particular episode named ‘The Black Cat,’ the spotlight falls on Rahul Kohli’s character, Leo, one of Roderick Usher’s six children. Leo’s apparent (and rather grotesque) murder of his pet, Pluto, the cat, sets the stage for a riveting story: Leo’s descent into madness and subsequent death.
However, Flanagan has clarified in two recent tweets that the gruesome cat killing portrayed in The Fall of the House of Usher is, in fact, a hallucination. Flanagan set the record straight, explaining that in his version of Poe’s famous short, “the cat is alive and well.”
Flanagan further pointed out that the cat wearing a Gucci collar we see at the end of episode four is indeed the missing pet Leo hallucinated killing. The closing shot of the episode, featuring Pluto, as well as the empty bathtub, serves as concrete evidence that all the animal violence was a product of Leo’s mind playing tricks on him, courtesy of the demon Verna (Carla Gugino).
What happens to Leo in The Fall of the House of Usher?
Convinced that he has committed a heinous act by killing Pluto, Leo rushes to an animal shelter to buy a look-alike cat. What ensues is a tormenting ordeal in which Leo is haunted by this new feline presence around his home. His boyfriend, Julius, never actually sees the new cat, leaving Leo to battle his own delusions. His apartment becomes a house of horrors, as he discovers dead rodents strewn about, suffers scratches and bites, and ultimately vows to kill the cat, wreaking havoc in the process with Thor’s hammer no less!
The episode’s climax sees Verna adopting the characteristics of the malevolent cat that leads to Leo’s tragic end. In a final confrontation, Leo, seeing the cat on the railing of his balcony, charges towards it and ultimately plummets to his death. The sight of the real Pluto prancing atop Leo’s lifeless body in the episode’s closing moments confirms that the animal carnage was all figment of Leo’s tortured mind.
Okay. So… “The Black Cat” was written by Edgar Allan Poe. In HIS version, a cat is killed. In MY version, the cat is…— Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) October 12, 2023
… 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? 🙂 https://t.co/3EyukDXiYB
That’s why we made such a big deal about the the fact that Pluto was wearing a Gucci collar, and the new cat was not. Look at the cat in the final shot of the episode, who is wearing the collar… and the empty bathtub, which means ALL of the animal violence was imagined— Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) October 12, 2023