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Television Review

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2: Review

Season one may have received a glowing reception, but does season two follow suit?

A Series of Unfortunate Events ― Netflix

After season one’s glowing reception, season two of A Series of Unfortunate Events aired. You know what that means? More friends and foes, more mysteries and more sassy moments from Sunny Baudelaire.

Have your V. F. D telescopes at the ready. This season is dangerous and full of scary foes.

Season two’s story is wild. We join Violet, Klaus and Sunny as they were at the end of the last series, having been sent to ‘Prufrock Preparatory’ school, where they meet a host of new faces. The fandom’s second hate sink, Carmelita Spats (Kitana Turnbull), is introduced. She makes the Baudelaire’s lives a misery during their stay at Prufrock. Alongside the most revolting girl in the universe, they meet the enigmatic Olivia Caliban (Sara Rue) and the Quagmire siblings, Isadora (Avi Lake) and Duncan (Dylan Kingwell).

Finally, they have found a few new allies… but Count Olaf and his troupe have other plans. The game of cat and mouse quickly resumes after Olaf kidnaps the Quagmire siblings. The Baudelaire’s search for their imprisoned friends whilst staying in ‘667 Dark Avenue’ and the ‘Village of Fowl Devotees’. They also learn more about V. F. D. and their search for the enigmatic sugar bowl. What is the sugar bowl? Does it store sugar cubes or Medusoid Mycelium? Could it be a vital MacGuffin for the Baudelaire’s in their search for their lost friends? The plot thickens.

Character story-lines are expanded on, especially the Snicket siblings’ stories. Olivia Caliban and Poe’s secretary, Jacqueline, take part in a side quest with Jacques Snicket to bring down Olaf. Although the subplot links with the main plot, they draw too much attention to themselves, which makes them out of character. In the Vile Village they are seen wearing cowboy outfits in an Amish-styled settlement. Could they not have at least tried  to wear Amish clothes? They are from the V. F. D, yet play dress up during missions? Nevertheless, the Quagmire’s story-line makes up for that nitpick.

Duncan, a journalist, collects information surrounding V. F. D during their stay at Prufrock. He believes their parents were involved in V. F. D. too, along with the Baudelaire parents. Many revelations are exposed, including the idea that one of the Baudelaire’s parents might still be alive. The children’s hopes are shattered when Olaf kidnaps the Quagmire’s. This ending is a genuinely hopeless moment for the orphans. Not only do Klaus and Violet lose people who know about the organization they had been investigating into, they lose more trustworthy allies. Handler pulls at our heartstrings, once again.

The main characters go through significant changes throughout the story. Klaus and Violet use devious tactics (disguises, lying to people they trust) to survive whilst on the run. They fear becoming the villain that they had tried avoiding, which is a powerful plot point. Good job, Daniel Handler. Other characters, including Madame Lulu (the fortune teller) get more screen time than they did in the books. This is a clever move from the producers; we sympathise and relate with them more, instead of dismissing them as the useless adults they were often relegated to in the books.

Furthermore, the acting has improved from last season. Count Olaf and Esme Squalor’s pairing is reminiscent of the relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker. Neil Patrick Harris and Lucy Punch chew the scenery to smithereens each time they are on screen. Although Weissman and Hynes improve as Violet and Klaus, Kitana Turnbull steals the limelight as the revolting Carmelita Spats. She is the child version of Dolores Umbridge: obnoxious, tyrannical and always wearing pink. You desperately want her to be fed to Madame Lulu’s lions by the time the series ends.

The juxtaposition between muddy hues and bright colours establish the recurring theme of hope and despair in a really interesting, visual way. We get more time anachronisms: A Forties-era metropolis, steampunk technology, Uber and (of course) Netflix. The latter two while not being from the books, slot into the show with enough of a tongue-in-cheek wink to the audience for it to slide. Bo Welch’s beautiful set design portrays a world that is neither now, nor here, yet present at the same time. ‘Caligari’s Carnival’s’ striped aesthetic will more than excite a Tim Burton fan, whereas the ‘Heimlich Hospital’s’ monochromatic colours ooze with creepiness.

So far, Netflix has done an excellent job in bringing this book series to life on our television screens. This mystery show is on par with the likes of Riverdale and Stranger Things.

For now, the show is left on a cliffhanger. Many questions have been answered, but many mysteries are left unsolved. Where is the sugar bowl? Will the orphans reunite with their missing parents, if they are even still alive? Who burned down the Baudelaire mansion? We will (hopefully) find out in Season Three…

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