Series 13

Welcome back to the only show that actively discourages you from watching it! We are now broaching the unknown territory of “The Wide Window: Part Two” of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Our Baudelaire orphans are in the thick of it now. Aunt Josephine’s unfortunate suicide propelled their lives into a chaotic spiral. If you’re like me and find great joy in watching lives spiral out of control, grab some popcorn. This should be fun!

We open right where we left off – the children discover Josephine’s suicide note. Klaus (Louis Hynes) is reading said note aloud. “My life is as cold as Ike and I find it unbearable,” he reads. Josephine’s final wish is that the Baudelaires be placed in Captain Sham’s care. “It can’t be,” Violet (Malina Weissman) says in disbelief.

Then, our melancholic narrator Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) interjects, as he does periodically. He insists that we as the audience have something better to do than watch the tragic tale of the Baudelaires unravel. As he is speaking we see a stone slab with the name “Beatrice” etched into it. More hints at Lemony’s deceased wife?

Meanwhile, Violet is on the phone with Mr. Poe. We see her feigning cheerfulness as she speaks with the often unobservant banker. “Mr. Poe says we can always rely on Mortuary Money Management,” she tells Klaus flatly. She also reveals to Poe that Josephine had passed away. Klaus believes a conspiracy is afoot. He points out the grammatical errors in Josephine’s notes. These are not the mistakes of someone who devoted their life to proper grammar. “Josephine left us in the care of Captain Sham and I don’t know what we can do about it,” Violet laments. Our orphans put their heads together and come to the conclusion that Josephine did not write the note.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Later, Poe (K. Todd Freeman) shows up the next morning. “Forgery? That’s a very serious charge!” he states. Klaus tells him that it’s not as serious as murder, which is what Count Olaf did. Poe launches into an exasperated monologue about the constant talk of Olaf. He can see no evidence of a struggle save the large, gaping hole in the window. In order to put this matter to rest, he suggests they compare Josephine’s handwriting to something else she wrote. “That’s actually an excellent idea,” Klaus says. They find a shopping list Josephine concocted and put the two notes side by side. Unfortunately, everything matches. “You musn’t start letting your imaginations get the best of you,” Poe chides. “Captain Sham is Count Olaf!” Klaus insists.

Klaus shows Poe that Olaf’s acting troupe has been waiting outside. However, the car they were occupying is now empty. “I see an approaching hurricane but no theatrical troupe,” Poe observes. After a bit more attempts at convincing Poe about Olaf, the former reveals that Captain Sham invited them out for brunch. Apparently, the seaman was “trying to reach a knife store to buy a surprise for some children he knows.” Oh, Olaf. Always with the cray antics.

While en route, Poe solemnly promises to investigate Sham to the fullest extent of his “capabilities as a banker.” “The eyes of Poe will catch it immediately!” the banker says. This should be interesting, considering the numerous times our Poe has been outwitted by the dastardly Count.

Meanwhile, Lemony returns with a Venus Fly Trap metaphor – the Baudelaire children are being trapped in Olaf’s plan. According to our narrator, someone is lurking in the background and attempting to save them. Here’s hoping they do!

Later, everyone is situated cozily at the Anxious Clown restaurant for brunch. Sham (Neil Patrick Harris) insists everyone drink because it’s a “celebratory brunch.” “It’s not every day a man becomes a father of three children,” the seaman sniffs. Poe mentions that the situation is not celebratory for the Baudelaires – they lost an aunt. “Josephine was my oldest and dearest friend,” Sham says tearfully. “You met her yesterday at the town market and petting zoo,” Klaus comments. Sham goes on to say they knew each other in school. He promised her that he would care for any orphans she had should she meet an untimely death. Sounds fishy to me.

“Josephine is dead?” Larry the waiter (Patrick Breen) exclaims. Remember him from his brawl with Olaf in the previous episode? Of course you do. Unless you’ve experienced any head trauma between then and now…then maybe not.

“Yes, Josephine jumped out the window of her home late last night. Didn’t you hear?” Sham tells him with a hint of malice. After recommending the “Cheer Up Cheeseburgers” for their meals (although the Baudelaires only want water), Larry heads to the kitchen. We see Olaf’s theater troupe chastising him for going “off the script.” They tell him that he will provide a lovely brunch for their boss, with absolutely no hidden messages or secret codes. “You will never defeat us,” Larry proclaims.

Series 14

Meanwhile, in the dining room, Poe mentions the Baudelaire fortune that will continue to be under his supervision until Violet is of age. ‘What fortune?” Sham inquires. “I have no interest in a fortune, I’ve got my sailboats,” he adds. Larry briskly enters from the kitchen with drinks – an alcoholic beverage for Captain Sham, and “waters for the Baudelaires.” “You know our names?” Violet asks in surprise. “Of course I don’t know your names!” the waiter replies, exiting hurriedly. “You’ve done something terrible to Aunt Josephine and you’re scheming to get our fortune!” Violet accuses Sham. Poe interjects that he understands the trauma the children experienced when they’re parents died. Poe says he will prove to them that Sham and Olaf are two different people.

Later, Larry the Waiter (infinitely cooler than Larry the Cable Guy) brings out their meals. He asks the children if they have any food allergies. While this happens Poe is illustrating all the physical differences between Captain Sham and Count Olaf. For example, Olaf’s tattoo on his left ankle vs. Sham’s lack of a left leg. “Captain Sham has expressed great interest in raising you without touching a single penny,” Poe says, beaming. “We’ll see” Sham mumbles.

Meanwhile, the Baudelaires sense Larry the Waiter is trying to send them a message by asking about their allergies. “We’re allergic to peppermints,” Violet answers. Sham demands the waiter bring him more alcohol (should probably cut back there, Count). Violet, Klaus and Sunny all wish to go home to Josephine’s house. Poe extracts a document for Sham to sign, which he does all too enthusiastically. “I brought the bill. Take your time,” Larry the Waiter says. “The banker’s buying!” Sham yells. What a cheapskate! The Baudelaires see peppermints are on top of the check, so naturally they partook.

Later, Larry the Waiter heads back to the kitchen. Olaf’s acting troupe is still lurking, and informs him that he will do all the dishes.

Meanwhile, our Baudelaire children immediately break out in swollen, red splotches from the effects of peppermint candy. Fast acting allergies are a plus!”I feel quite terrible,” Klaus says with a swollen tongue. “I think we should go home and rest,” Violet states. Poe thinks this is a splendid idea, while Sham doth protest too much. Violet tells them after they finish paperwork Sham can find them at Aunt Josephine’s. Sham is unhappy about this but he allows it.

Later, they are waiting outside the Anxious Clown. Violet asks how they will get home. Like clockwork (or some kind of divine intervention), we hear “Does anybody need a ride someplace for a reasonable fee?” Our favorite Moby Dick fanatic shows up. He even tells Violet to call him Ishmael. I love the multiple literary references peppered throughout this series!

Once safely inside, the kids race to the library for research purposes. Klaus is armed with a book about nouns and a book detailing verbs.

Series 15

Meanwhile, our anxious waiter is being bossed around by Olaf’s theatrical troupe when he hears the phone ring. “Alive? Where? Peru?” He is clearly talking to the Baudelaire parents. Hook Handed Man (Usman Ally) yanks the phone away from him, but due to the nature of his lack of hands fumbles with the cord.

“The restaurant has been compromised,” Mr. Baudelaire says. The parents of our orphans are flying, presumably en route to see them. “It will take more than a hurricane to keep us from our children,” Mrs. Baudelaire states.

Later, after a much needed baking soda bath, Violet and Sunny find Klaus making waves in his research. He discovers there is a secret code interwoven in Josephine’s letter. “What if she only wants people to think she’s dead?” Violet inquires, wheels turning. Perhaps Josephine is alive and wants the children to know where she’s hiding? After deciphering it, they find she is located in the Curdled Cave! Sounds milky.

Then, the kids make to leave via Fickle Ferry to the Curdled Cave (this is fun) when lightening strikes the house. Said lightening bolt severs half of the very wooden home, which starts to take a tumble down the cliff. Klaus starts sliding, while Violet grabs on to a map and little Sunny hangs from a doorknob with her mouth. She is putting those chompers to good use! We see Josephine’s safe fly open and the contents of it fall through the shattered wide window. Klaus spots a book open to a page detailing the telescopic device he once had. Violet’s tenuous hold on the map becomes even more so as the wind plays a role. Suddenly, the wind strengthens, pushing the house upright once again.

Then, the “severed part” teeters off the cliff once more, sending poor Klaus flying toward the edge of the house. He notices a photo of Josephine, Ike, Monty, his parents and Lemony Snicket with presumably Beatrice making an escape for the sea. He grabs it. Lemony Snicket knew their parents? Interesting. Unfortunately, Klaus falls out the window, but fortunately he is hanging by a tapestry that snagged a glass shard from the broken window. That trickster wind gives Josephine’s house another push upright, launching Klaus inward to land with a thud next to his sisters. Finally, the severed section of the house collapses, tumbling off the cliff into the lake below. Our Baudelaires run outside, where the rain picks up. The remainder of the house also meets the lake.

Meanwhile, Lemony reappears to give us a “weather update.” He is describing the Fickle Ferry operating schedule in accordance to weather conditions. Meaning, it’s…one might say…fickle. Also meaning it’s not running. Violet, Klaus and Sunny make an executive decision and nick a trusty little sailboat. They want to sail across Lake Lachrymose in the midst of Hurricane Herman (these alliterative names are killing me). As they embark on their surely perilous journey, Hook Handed Man spots them leave.

Later, we see the children figure out the basics of sailing as they go. They spot the Lavender Lighthouse, which brings a lavender ray of hope. “All storms eventually break,” Lemony says, doling out subtle life advice. Everything seems still, quiet. “Lake Lachrymose is actually very pretty,” Klaus remarks. Finally, the Baudelaires approach the Curdled Cave, which they notice is for sale. “Who would want to live in such a phantasmagorical place?” Violet asks. I would, simply so I can use “phantasmagorical” when describing it. They hear strange moaning. It intensifies as they sail closer to the shore. We see the moaning is be attributed to Josephine (Alfre Woodard).

“You figured it out! I knew you could figure it out!” Josephine exclaims happily. She asks if they brought luggage with them, under the assumption they were going to live out their days in a dank cave. Josephine also inquires about food, which she has none of. “We didn’t come here to live with you!” Violet exclaims. Violet then asks her why she left them. Josephine admits Olaf made her write that note detailing the children would be placed in his care.

Josephine takes us back to their date over fried egg sandwiches. We see “Captain Sham” admit he is Count Olaf during said date. He demanded she write out her will or he would drown her in the lake. When they arrived at Josephine’s house she sneaked away from the Count. When Olaf noticed she was missing, he said “Here’s Shammy,” while he hobbled toward the library. Love the reference to The Shining. Josephine faked her own death by throwing a statue of herself out the window followed by…herself. “Well, that worked out,” Olaf says. “It’s a good thing I remembered to put gas in my recreational water craft,” we hear Josephine say as she scaled the cliff.

Back in the present, Josephine announces she picked this cave because she didn’t think Captain Sham would find them. Violet puts her foot down and tells Josephine she is returning to town with them. Josephine refuses to leave the sanctuary of the Curdled Cave. Violet Baudelaire launches into an inspirational monologue about how afraid they were of doing everything it took to find Josephine. When that seems to fail, Klaus tells his aunt he noticed the cave was for sale, which meant real estate agents would be there. Josephine is deathly afraid of real estate agents. “Okay, let’s go,” she says, changing her tune.

While en route back to civilization, Klaus hands Josephine the photo he saved during the storm. She reminisces over said photo. “Your parents, Baudelaires, wanted to raise you in a quiet place, far away from the fiery injustices that were threatening all of us,” Josephine tells them. Klaus is excited to get more answers, but unfortunately that would have to wait. Lachrymose Leeches, forever existing in infamy, discover their modest sailboat. Violet reminds her aunt the leeches are harmless unless you’ve eaten. Josephine has eaten. We see a ripple in the water, making a bulls eye for their boat. Said ripple ricochets away. “See? We’re perfectly safe,” Violet says triumphantly. Not for long!

Suddenly, the leeches return with greater strength, piercing the boat and knocking it from all sides. Josephine attempts to fight them with a wooden oar, which they promptly digest. “This boat is sinking, we need help!” Violet exclaims. The eldest Baudelaire ties her hair back. She is thinking. “We need noise. We need light,” she says finally. They are going to start a fire! Violet nabs Josephine’s scarf and uses the half-eaten oar for kindling. Klaus finds a pair of binoculars – now all they need is light.

Meanwhile, the Baudelaire parents are flying over them. Dad pulls out a special pair of binoculars that lights up the scarf and sets it aflame. Violet waves the flame scarf, yelling for help while Klaus bangs on a bell. A ship nearby heeds their calls. “They’ll be okay,” Dad says to Mom from above. “Which is more than I can say for us,” Mom replies as the plane begins to sputter.

Later, we see the Baudelaires and Josephine clamber aboard the ship that saved them. “We don’t know how to thank you,” Josephine says. “I can think of a way,” Count Olaf replies menacingly. In true evil villain fashion, he is the one that saved them. Our Baudelaires really are unfortunate. Olaf reveals that Poe is gathering the adoption papers as they speak. Klaus counters that Olaf forced Josephine to construct that suicide note. Olaf asks them who Poe is going to believe. He discovers that Josephine plans on turning him over to the authorities. “You were going to betray me? After all those years we spent together?” “Yes, I was going to betray you,” she replies vigorously. Josephine tells the Count how the children inspired her to be “fierce and formidable” once again. While mid speech, Olaf pushes her into the leech-infested waters below.

“Take the boat to Damocles Dock,” Olaf instructs gruffly. Our poor orphans are devastated.

Later, they arrive at the dock to find Poe waiting for them. While exiting the gangplank, Klaus spots the towers of Lucky Smells Lumber Mill, where that photo of everyone was taken. “Aunt Josephine said it wasn’t far,” he notes. Poe chastises the kids for running off across a storm-ridden lake. Captain Sham says he had second thoughts about adopting him, but his third thoughts told him just how empty his wallet and his heart were. “As I used to say to my late Josephine What’s-Her-Name, ‘get in the car,'” Olaf  demands. The children refuse to go with him. They remind Poe that Sham is really Olaf. Sunny launches herself onto Sham’s peg leg and decimates it with those chompers. Olaf’s real left leg, complete with odious ankle tattoo makes an appearance.

Finally, Poe sees the truth. “You don’t listen. You never listen,” Klaus tells Poe. A truck for the Lucky Smells Lumber Mill rolls into view. The children make their escape and hop aboard the truck, while Poe and Olaf argue. Our hapless banker plans to send Olaf to jail, where he belongs. Poe notices the kids are missing. He calls for them, which gives Olaf a means for escape. He runs away, his henchmen in tow. “I’m all alone,” Poe says forlornly.

Series 13

Meanwhile, the Baudelaires are riding in the truck bed, en route to Lucky Smells Lumber Mill. They ponder over whether they made the right decision. As if right on cue, a flock of birds fly above them, heading in the same direction. It must be a sign.

Lots of action in this episode! We really saw the Baudelaire children battle the elements and the story line propelled forward. What answers will Lucky Smells Lumber Mill hold for the Baudelaires? How is Olaf connected to everyone, including the parents? What disguise will Olaf wield in the next episode? Will our plucky little protagonists ever reunite with their parents? Well, only two episodes left to find out!

A Series of Unfortunate Events is now streaming on Netflix.

Melody McCune
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