The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

By Adam Lock
Published: October 12, 2023
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The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 1 Recap


“A Midnight Dreary” is an enticing opener that sets out many of the show’s mysteries, whilst introducing the large cast and the show’s intricate narrative. It is well-written and brimming with potential, just like all good premieres should be.

Mike Flanagan has treated viewers to an exciting new horror series every year on Netflix for four years straight now. But The Fall of the House of Usher may end up being his last for the streaming giants as he signs a new overall deal with Amazon Studios. Flanagan opens his final project for Netflix with Season 1 Episode 1, “A Midnight Dreary”, and our recap of it contains major spoilers.

This Netflix original gets off to an unusual start, with six of the main cast members being declared dead right away. The season opener explores this complex tale of bickering heirs, courtroom trials, and supernatural threats, with CEO Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) narrating his confession to Assistant US Attorney C. Auguste Dupin (Carl Lumbly) in the present.

The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Auguste or Auggie begins the series staring at his evidence board. All six of Roderick’s children have died in mysterious circumstances and he wants to find out who the killer is. Out of the blue, Roderick invites Auggie over, promising to confess to every single crime he’s ever committed.

In the dead of night, Auggie meets with Roderick at the CEO’s childhood home, a creepy, abandoned building. Roderick announces that he will confess to everything, all 73 of the charges against him, with an extra bonus one thrown in as well. He’ll tell Auggie how all his children really died.

What was Eliza’s job?

He starts with the early days of his life story, in 1953, back at this very same childhood home. Roderick and his twin sister Madeline lived there with their mother Eliza, the personal secretary to the CEO of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, William Longfellow.

William was an aggressive boss, who refused to help Eliza when she became ill. Eliza was a religious woman, who declined medical intervention, which led to her subsequent death. Roderick and Madeline decided to bury her body in their back garden.

During a rather atmospheric storm, Eliza rose from the dead, breaking out of her makeshift coffin. Having come back to life, Eliza stormed over to William’s home right away, where she proceeded to strangle the horrid boss to death. Eliza then collapsed and died herself.

Roderick explains how the twins covered this story up and carried the secret together for the rest of their lives. The CEO states that this story is only relevant because the ghost of his mother is standing behind Auggie at that very moment. Auggie thinks this scaremongering is just a tactic and refuses to turn around though.

The two enemies then discuss family values and the ensuing court case. Roderick was impressed with Auggie’s opening statement in the trial against him and his family empire. He comments on how the trial was one of the last times that the entire family was together.

Why was the Usher family on trial?

In another flashback, we witness the start of the trial, which took place only two weeks ago. The trial was a historic pharmaceutical prosecution against Fortunato and the Usher family. Auggie insinuated that their business was to blame for the opioid epidemic and thousands of deaths. He believed that they twisted advertising to sell addictive, harmful drugs.

During his opening statement, Auggie stated that he had an informant on the inside, who was going to destroy the Usher family’s entire reputation. The Usher estate’s attorney Arthur Pym (Mark Hamill) was rattled by this revelation and demanded to know who the informant was, but Auggie would not reveal their identity.

Roderick then organized a family dinner to debate this informant further. All of the family members gathered for this vital meeting. They were forced to sign NDAs and Roderick offered them $50 million if they could sniff out the traitor.

Back in the present, Roderick comments on how this was the last time the family were all together. After this meal, all of the children would die, one by one. Auggie asks if Roderick is insinuating that the trial is to blame for their deaths. Roderick denies this accusation, stating that he knows who is truly responsible.

The Fall of the House of Usher Episode 1 Ending Explained

Roderick blames himself and a mysterious woman, of whom he keeps having visions. This mysterious woman is called Verna (Carla Gugino). She was a bartender that Roderick and Madeline met on New Year’s Eve, back in 1979. The twins had just committed a horrible crime and were hoping that by attending this public place, they could create an alibi for themselves.

The opening episode then ends back at the funeral. Roderick has more hallucinations of Verna and then he sees all six of his dead children staring down at him from inside the church. Roderick exits the church, with the paparazzi following his every move. He enters his car, where he has another horrifying vision. Roderick has a nosebleed and then collapses on the ground.

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