The Fall of the House of Usher is about a family that secured its own downfall — but the Ushers definitely had a little outside help. The series begins with the end (the demise of the entire family) and the 10-episode Netflix original then proceeds to detail that fall, of child by child and heir by heir.
But in the last episode of House of Usher, we learn something huge about family patriarch Roderick Usher’s life that not only explains why an entire generation is doomed, but also solves the biggest mystery of the show: who exactly is Carla Gugino playing, and what does she have to do with the fall of the Ushers? Here’s everything you need to know.
Warning! Major spoilers for The Fall of the House of Usher below!
Who Does Carla Gugino Play in The Fall of the House of Usher?
Gugino is credited as playing Verna, the mysterious nameless woman we see haunting the events of every Usher child’s downfall. She takes many forms: a party guest, a cat shelter owner, a receptionist, and a needy patient. But Verna’s much more than that. She’s really a manifestation of the Devil. Or, at least, some sort of demon.
In Episode 8, “The Raven,” we finally get a glimpse of just what the connection between Roderick and Verna truly is. After bricking up his boss — like in the classic Poe story “The Cask of Amontillado” — Roderick and Madeline Usher find themselves in a bar on New Year’s Eve. Working behind the bar? Verna.
Who is Verna in The Fall of the House of Usher?
That night, Verna makes a deal with Roderick and Madeline. She promises the siblings everything they could ever want (fame, fortune, even immunity from any legal action). The catch? The price for this great gift will be deferred until the next generation. So whenever Roderick would have passed away naturally, all his offspring would reach untimely ends instead. Madeline seems skeptical, but Roderick jumps at the offer. Sure, his kids would lead short lives, but they would have the privilege of being born into the lap of luxury.
Ultimately, the cost of Verna’s deal is even higher than expected. Roderick becomes the head of a pharmaceutical company that pedals opioids, ruining the lives of millions of people in the process. He comes face to face with this reality in Episode 8 when Verna says he’s one of her top five most influential clients when it comes to damning souls.
Who else is in this top five? In House of Usher Episode 6, the family’s lawyer, Arthur Pym, uses Madeline’s technology to find images of Verna through time. She’s joined by the following real-life people:
- The Koch brothers
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Gina Rinehart
- Brett Kavanaugh
- Mitch McConnell
- Larry Ellison
- Donald Trump
- The Gettys
- Prescott Bush
- Randolph Hearst
- The Rockefellers
- Henry Doherty
- The Vanderbilts
- and Monsanto founder John Francis Queeny
It seems like each of these business magnates and politicians got where they are today not through hard work or even luck, but through literal dealings with the devil.
The Fall of the House of Usher ending explained
By the end of Episode 8, every single member of the Usher bloodline is dead. Those who married into the family are more lucky. Juno Usher dissolves Fortunato and funnels her inheritance to addiction and recovery programs while weaning herself off Ligadone, while Morelle starts a foundation in the name of her late daughter, Lenore.
Dupin grieves the loss of the entire family while the mysterious Verna still looks on, presumedly admiring a job well done.