TV

The Fall of the House of Usher’s Verna Is Not What You Think


Carla Gugino’s Verna is equal parts an Edgar Allan Poe creation and a Mike Flanagan original in The Fall of the House of Usher.

The Fall of the House of Usher. Carla Gugino as Verna in episode 102 of The Fall of the House of Usher.
Photo: Eike Schroter | Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher.

As its title suggests, Mike Flanagan’s latest project for Netflix, The Fall of the House of Usher, is an intensely Edgar Allan Poe affair. The eight-episode series, which follows the modern day rise and fall of fictional opioid giant Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, is based on not only Poe’s epic “The Fall of the House of Usher” but many of his other seminal classics as well.

Fittingly, pretty much every character on the show is named after an Edgar Allan Poe creation. These range from the blindingly obvious (Bruce Greenwood’s Roderick Usher and Mary McDonnell’s Madeline Usher) to the less obvious (Katie Parker’s Annabel Lee) to the downright obscure (T’Nia Miller’s Victorine LaFourcade). One of The Fall of the House of Usher‘s most important characters, however, doesn’t appear to have any Poe origins … at least not at first glance.

Carla Gugino’s Verna is unquestionably the big bad of The Fall of the House of Usher. Her mysterious and ageless character sets events in motion that will eventually lead to the fall of the aforementioned House of Usher. While she is distinctly evil and uniquely Poe, there is no character named “Verna” anywhere in the writer’s canon. Thankfully, by using some context clues and sophisticated anagram technology, we can safely determine that Verna is meant to symbolize the iconic titular corvid in Poe’s “The Raven.” Indeed, “Verna” is even an anagram for “Raven.” If you feel silly for not catching that yet, imagine how I felt upon watching all eight episode screeners, stewing on them for weeks, and only just coming to that realization hours after the show actually premiered. Sometimes, the most obvious things are the hardest to catch.

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