DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 6, “Goldbug,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

“Goldbug” spotlights Tamerlane Usher’s descent into paranoia and gruesome death (although, I’d argue that Camille’s death is probably the most graphic). It’s adapted from “The Gold-Bug,” another short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s also worth noting that Tamerlane is named after Poe’s poem, which follows the historical conqueror Tamerlane. In the poem, Tamerlane ignores love to achieve power. Sound familiar? 

This episode is beautifully acted, and it propels the narrative with new clues regarding Verna’s identity. The horror is subtle in some instances, making the action even more impactful. 

Ready to delve into “Goldbug”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with Tamerlane (Samantha Sloyan) in her house as she goes about her evening — washing her face, drinking tea and working on the script for her Goldbug product launch. However, something’s amiss. She’s blacking out for chunks of time. It’s most likely the side effect of her extreme sleep deprivation. She also keeps hearing noises. Eventually, Tamerlane finds a green box with the Goldbug logo on her kitchen island. She opens it hesitantly to discover a pile of bloody flesh and bugs inside it. Of course, that’s not actually in the box. 

That evening, Tammy tries to sleep but merely lies in bed and stares at the ceiling. Meanwhile, Roderick (Bruce Greenwood) returns to his office after witnessing Victorine’s suicide. His shirtfront is covered in blood splatters. He opens a package on his desk containing ancient Egyptian tools for embalming and sending the dead into the afterlife. Madeline (Mary McDonnell) enters the room and learns about Victorine’s and Alessandra’s deaths. She can’t believe Verna got to them despite the increased security presence. Roddy reveals he removed the heart mesh device from Alessandra’s heart. 

Roderick wears a blood-spattered dress shirt while holding a box and standing in his office in The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 6, "Goldbug."

Bruce Greenwood as Roderick Usher in Season 1 Episode 6, “Goldbug,” of The Fall of the House of Usher. Cr. Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2023

Then, Mads tries to persuade her twin brother to take action. If they don’t find Verna, more of them will die. And there are only two Usher heirs left. The following morning, Juno (Ruth Codd) wakes up by herself. She wanders through her massive mansion to the kitchen, where she takes her insane dosage of Ligodone. Juno watches a news segment about Victorine and Alessandra. 

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Meanwhile, Frederick (Henry Thomas) and Lenore (Kyliegh Curran) watch the same segment in shock. Lenore is afraid for her and her father’s life. Freddie reassures his daughter that they’re perfectly safe. After Lenore departs, Freddie delivers a not-so-subtle threat to Morella (Crystal Balint), who’s awake in bed. Bill-T (Matt Biedel) tries to reason with Tammy to reconsider their marriage. They can work things out. Tammy blacks out. When she looks up, Bill-T is gone, and his keys are on the counter. 

Lenore approaches her grandfather with her very valid concerns. Her grampus reassures her that he’ll protect her. He asks her if she “sees them, too.” We spot the ghosts of Perry, Camille, Leo and Victorine standing behind Lenore. Creepy. Meanwhile, Arthur Pym (Mark Hamill) investigates the aftermath of Vic’s death. We see various bloody instruments on the floor. Pym finds Vic’s file on Verna (or Pamela), taking note of her ID photo. He takes the files. 

Later, Tamerlane arrives at Roderick’s home in search of her father. She chats with Juno. Juno launches into a tearful monologue about feeling ignored and unloved in this family. It’s heartbreaking. However, Tammy is uninterested in emotion. She simply tells Juno to inform Roddy of her visit. Madeline plants the seeds to overtake Roderick as the CEO of Fortunato. She also hopes to take the company in a new direction with her barrier-breaking algorithms, which will create AI copies of people based on their social media/digital data. 

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Next, Pym finds Verna’s address from the photo ID in Victorine’s files. He winds up in front of Roderick’s and Madeline’s childhood home, where Roddy chats with Dupin in the present. Hmm. Speaking of Roderick and Dupin, Roddy hallucinates the window breaking behind him. The blast knocks him onto the floor. Then, we see bare feet walking slowly on glass shards. It’s the ghost of Tamerlane. Of course, Dupin can’t see her. 

Madeline leans over the desk in Roderick's office while looking determined in The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 6, "Goldbug."

Mary McDonnell as Madeline Usher in Season 1 Episode 6, “Goldbug,” of The Fall of the House of Usher. Cr. Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2023

This leads to a flashback with young Roderick (Zach Gilford), Dupin (Malcolm Goodwin) and Annabel Lee (Katie Parker). Dupin explains precisely what he needs from Fortunato’s files — patient records. Fun fact: “Fortunato” comes from Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado.” Anyway, after Dupin departs, Annabel expresses her concerns about Roderick breaking the law. However, he and Dupin are merely exposing Fortunato’s numerous crimes. He reassures his wife that what they’re doing is worth the risk. 

Then, we see Roderick breaking into Fortunato’s storage to grab the files Dupin needs. In the present, Pym presents a series of photos taken over the decades. They all have one thing in common: Verna. We see her posing with influential figures in history. Occasionally, she’s tailing behind them. Pym traces these back to as early as 1901. Roddy calls bullsh*t, but Madeline looks like she’s a believer. She urges him to take action. He recalls their chat with Verna in 1979. Pym confirms that these photos have been online for years. They aren’t photoshopped. 

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Meanwhile, Lenore watches a few movies with her mother. She finds Freddie bowling while hopped up on coke. She asks her father if any doctors have visited Morella yet. He claims they haven’t, but Morella will be fine. He pops in to see his wife. Freddie places a picture from their wedding day before her as a not-so-subtle reminder. Then, he mixes a concoction for her, asking her how long she was f*cking Perry. Dude, she wasn’t cheating on you. I can’t tell what he injects into her IV, but it looks like an amalgam of sodium chloride and maybe a powder version of Ligodone. Or some nightshade agent. 

Arthur Pym stands outside a house while talking on the phone in front of his car in The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 6, "Goldbug."

Mark Hamill as Arthur Pym in Season 1 Episode 6, “Goldbug,” of The Fall of the House of Usher. Cr. Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2023

Morella begs him not to administer the mixture. Unfortunately, it’s too late. She looks paralyzed. Her heart rate is elevated, too, based on the monitor next to her. Next, Madeline hangs out with Roderick in the basement. He’s parked in front of that damn wall. She orders him to get it together. 

Later, it’s the big product launch for Goldbug. Tamerlane looks nervously at the audience before ducking behind the curtain. Madeline gives her a pep talk. She can do this. Before taking to the stage, Tammy notices Verna (Carla Gugino), dressed identical to her, is already onstage, delivering a speech. Tammy barges onto the stage to chase her off, but she’s not there. Instead, Verna sits in the audience behind Juno. Tammy struggles to get on track after that intro. Madeline watches, annoyed, from the sidelines. 

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We see images of Tammy and Bill-T posing on a screen behind her, utterly beaming. She introduces her new custom gift boxes, curated to match each customer’s needs. Tammy urges the audience to check under their seats. They’ve got complimentary boxes. When Tammy spots Verna in the audience, she yells at the latter, thinking she’s Candy (the woman Bill-T had dinner with). Madeline scours the crowd for a sign of Verna. 

Verna sits behind Juno in the audience for Tamerlane's product launch in The Fall of the House of Usher Season 1 Episode 6, "Goldbug."

(L to R) Ruth Codd as Juno Usher, Carla Gugino as Verna in Season 1 Episode 6, “Goldbug,” of The Fall of the House of Usher. Cr. Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2023

Suddenly, Tamerlane notices the pictures of her on the screen transforming into Verna. Now, Verna is posing with Bill-T. Then, we see footage of Tammy instructing Bill-T how to pleasure the woman they hired to pretend to be her. Horrified, she demands her assistant switch off the screen. However, there’s a technical malfunction, and the footage continues to play. Enraged, Tammy takes matters into her own hands by smashing the screen with the microphone stand. 

Tamerlane sees Verna walk down the aisle toward her. Tammy yells, “F*ck you,” before lugging the microphone stand in her direction. Unfortunately, it hits Juno in the head, knocking her unconscious. Madeline sees the version of Verna she met at the bar in 1979. She runs toward her. Verna vanishes as Madeline tries to touch her. Mads pulls her hands away to find them blackened after the act. Strange. 

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Later, Tammy arrives home after the embarrassing launch ordeal. She sees Bill-T trying to call her. She tosses her phone across the room. Then, she sees Verna, dressed as Tammy, pacing in the living room while on the phone with Bill-T. Tammy grabs a fire poker and swings it at Verna. She disappears instantly. Tammy walks through her house while brandishing the fire poker. She calls out to Verna, calling her a stalker. Whenever Tammy looks at a reflective surface, she spots Verna staring back at her, taunting her. Tammy starts smashing any reflective surfaces she encounters. 

This takes Tammy to her bedroom. She has a surprising amount of mirrors in her home. Verna keeps popping up to mock Tammy. Tammy now has a fair share of scratches on her face and limbs. While standing on the bed, a hand snakes out and grabs her ankle. Frightened, Tammy smashes the mirror on the bed frame. Notice how the room is bathed in a green light — in “The Masque of the Red Death,” green represents adolescence. That makes sense, given Tammy’s business, Goldbug, is about staving off aging for as long as possible. 

Finally, Tamerlane looks up at the mirrors above her bed. She notices Verna in the reflection. Tammy launches into the air to smash the mirrors with her fire poker. We see her fall in slow motion as the shards on her bed pierce her body. Then, a giant mirror shard presumably punctures her throat, killing her. Oof. What a way to go out. RIP, Tamerlane. 

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How will Freddie die? Will we finally learn about the terms of Roderick’s and Madeline’s deal with Verna? Only time (and more episodes) will tell. 

The Fall of the House of Usher is now streaming on Netflix

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Melody McCune
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