This article contains spoilers for The Fall of the House of Usher.
The Fall of the House of Usher features many gruesome deaths as each member of the Usher family is killed in equally bizarre ways. But for all of the blood and gore we see throughout the series, there’s one death in particular that left some viewers worried about the fate of a furry member of the Usher clan. Thankfully though, series creator Mike Flanagan reassured fans that not everything is what it seems in episode 4.
Episode 4 titled “The Black Cat” focuses on Napoleon “Leo” Usher’s (Rahul Kohli) death and is based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name. The episode begins with Leo finding his partner Julius’ (Daniel Jun) cat Pluto brutally murdered. After getting blackout drunk the night before, Leo worries that he killed the cat and quickly disposes of the body before immediately seeking a lookalike to replace Pluto before Julius gets home.
The cat then starts to act strangely and attacks Leo repeatedly leading him to lose his mind and believe the cat is stalking him through the walls. Leo eventually falls off his balcony to his death trying to attack the cat. After Leo’s death, Pluto reappears in the apartment as if nothing happened.
According to Flanagan, the original Pluto never actually died and that’s truly where Leo’s hallucinations began. For many, it was clear that the odd behavior of the second cat and even the second cat itself was imagined by Leo, but in the chaos of his death Pluto’s reappearance could easily have been assumed to be another trick or Verna shapeshifting again.
Poe’s version of the story centers on the very real and brutal death of the titular black cat. Like Leo, the main character of this story spirals into an alcohol fueled rage that eventually leads him to kill his cat and then his wife while blackout drunk. The cat then reappears mysteriously within the walls of his house and alerts the local authorities to the location of the man’s dead wife. Thankfully Flanagan’s version doesn’t get this brutal toward the people or pets in Leo’s life, despite his drug-induced hallucinations. Flanagan did his best to make sure no fictional animals were harmed in the telling of this story, including the original Pluto.
In a reply to fans on X (previously Twitter), Flanagan said “That’s why we made such a big deal about 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.”
As an animal lover, I appreciate the fact that Flanagan was able to keep the essence of Poe’s original story without the cat actually dying in the episode. It’s also incredible to think about the real Pluto just wandering around their building or neighborhood the entire time that Leo is spiraling, just vibing and doing his little cat things and then showing up at the end like “what did I miss?” All of the Ushers may be dead by the time the series is over, but at least we know that Pluto the black cat survived.
The Fall of the House of Usher is now streaming on Netflix