SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the finale of Showtime’s “The Curse” now streaming on Paramount+.
The finale of “The Curse,” set nearly a year after the previous episode, begins in an unlikely place: the set of “The Rachael Ray Show.” Asher (Nathan Fielder) and Whitney (Emma Stone) appear on the cooking show via Zoom to promote the new season of their HGTV series, now called “Green Queen,” and explain to the masses the environmental benefits of “passive living.”
They also plan to announce their pregnancy during the live broadcast, Whitney’s baby bump purposefully in frame. But the “flipanthropist” couple is all but entirely ignored as Ray banters with her in-studio guest, “The Sopranos” star Vincent Pastore, who’s teaching her how to cook his famous meatball recipe. It’s a surreal start to a season finale that is about to get much, much weirder.
When their segment finally wraps up, after an interminable five minutes of Asher and Whitney forcing static smiles in the background, they ask the camera woman if Whitney’s bump was in the shot (it was) and whether Rachael watched “Green Queen.” “I know Rachael is very busy,” the camerawoman says, “so if she didn’t, it wasn’t personal.”
The pair debrief the disappointing segment during Shabbat dinner that night, while Whitney grumbles about her friend Cara landing a feature in the New York Times for her decision to quit art, meanwhile “Green Queen” is struggling to gain a viewership and has been relegated to an offshoot streamer on HGTV GO.
Asher attempts to lift Whitney’s spirit with a “push present.” Although they agreed to not accept any presents until after their baby is born – which leads to an awkward encounter later on in the episode, when they refuse a gift from their maintenance worker – they make an exception. Asher has made the decision to give their property on Questa Lane to Abshir (Barkhad Abdi) and his girls, a grand gesture he reveals to Whitney with a diorama of the house, complete with miniature figures of the tenants. He’s made a dollhouse full of Españolans for him and Whitney to play with.
Asher tells Whitney that the real gift will be the look on Abshir’s face when they tell him his family can stay in the house forever, but the couple’s hopes fall flat once again when Abshir is completely stone-faced. He’s more concerned about who will be responsible for paying the monthly property taxes. Asher and Whitney begin to feel gratified when Ashbir appears to wipe away a tear, but he assures them it’s just dust in his eyes.
The episode takes a nightmarish turn when, the next morning, Asher wakes up on the ceiling, denying all laws of physics. At first, Whitney and Asher think it’s due to an imbalance in pressure caused by their passive house, but all their attempts to bring him down to Earth fail. Meanwhile, the stress has induced Whitney into labor, and while Asher crawls on the ceiling Spider Pig-style, Whitney moans in pain on the floor.
Asher finally manages to crawl his way out of the house, but he’s still exempt from gravity, hovering above the front yard by latching onto an awning. When Whitney’s doula arrives to take Whitney to the hospital, he attempts to drag Asher onto the ground, only for them to realize that without a ceiling to protect him, Asher will continue to float up. It’s too late: Asher has flown up into the sky, catching himself on a tree branch at least 40 feet above ground.
At this point, Whitney takes off for the hospital, calling the fire department to come and rescue Asher in a desperate and delusional act of wishful thinking. When the firefighters come, they take a ladder to the tree and begin to saw off the branch, Asher’s life raft. He’s panicked, crying in terror and screaming at them to stop, trapped within the laws of a nightmare come to life. Dougie (Benny Safdie), who has just arrived, flies a drone above the tree to capture footage for the show; Whitney, in the hospital, smiles in elation as she’s handed her newborn baby, completely unaware of the torture her husband is currently enduring.
When the firefighter chops down the branch to which Asher has been clinging, he is sent hurtling into the stratosphere. (Remember when he told Whitney last episode he would disappear if he felt she didn’t want him?) Dougie, realizing what’s happened to his “best friend,” begins to sob: “Oh, God, I’m so sorry… Everything I’ve ever done, I was thinking of myself.” Whitney, although not yet aware of her husband’s horrific death, holds her baby in peace, no longer in need of Asher’s unconditional love to feel a sense of meaning. And Asher, pummeling into outer space, is no longer suffocated by his own anxieties. It seems, at least for a moment, that these characters may finally be free.