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Television Review

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season Three Review – Surreal, Clever and Absurdly Hopeless

Netflix's Lemony Snicket adaptation comes to an end - but do the Baudelaires go out in a blaze of glory?

A Series of Unfortunate Events

We are at the finale, folks. But the misery is not over; more enemies show up, including the devious Frank and Ernest. All the secrets are revealed in this showdown between the schisms from VFD. But will the Baudelaires ever find out who burned down their family home and killed their parents? Will they uncover the mysteries that their parents had hidden from them?

The final season starts off with a bang. Stranded on Mount Fraught, Violet and Klaus try to find Count Olaf, who has captured Sunny. After being chased by snow gnats, they find some snow scouts and a masked individual. This mysterious person dishes the dirt on the whereabouts of the sugar bowl and VFD’s meeting. But should they trust this mysterious individual? Will he help them rescue Sunny and find VFD’s meeting place?

More enemies make an appearance. We are introduced to Olaf’s superiors: The Man with a Beard and no Hair and the Woman with Hair and no Beard. It turns out that they are the greater scope villains, responsible for Olaf’s descent into villainy as well as creating literal and figurative fires during VFD’s schism. Throughout the chaos, the Baudelaires travel to new, treacherous places: Mount Fraught, the Gorgonian Grotto and Hotel Denouement. All of the final seven episodes are translated well, with many references to Lemony Snicket’s All the Wrong Questions. Its literary allusions will give the Harry Potter franchise a run for its money. This series is littered with literary references, from Herman Melville (Ishmael Queequeg and Hurricane Herman) to Shakespeare. The Paradise Lost allusion in the final episode is clever and symbolic of the Baudelaire orphans’ loss of childhood innocence throughout the series.

However, one of the show’s flaws is the revelation of the Great Unknown in the Grim Grotto episodes. In the books it was supposed to be like an eldritch abomination from the Cthulhu Mythos, a legendary creature that nobody is sure is real or not. Showing its eye and gargantuan body reduces its sense of mystery. Furthermore, the series opts for a happier ending for the characters, which goes against the final book’s ending. Although this adaptation ties loose ends and ends on a heart-warming note, it goes against the series’ main point: that the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.

At the end of the series, nobody knows what happened to the Quagmires or the Baudelaires. Did they make it ashore, or did they drown? Nobody knew. This controversial ending left readers
thinking about their fates for years, creating many interesting theories. Having it end on a happy note goes against the series’ message.

Its huge cast does a brilliant job in bringing the eccentric characters to life. Lucy Punch and
Kitana Turnbull steal the show as the villainous fashionistas, Esme Squalor and Carmelita Spats. Neil Patrick Harris chews the scenery as the villainous Count Olaf, adding a mixture of comedy and horror into his performance. Both Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes improve drastically throughout the series as the hapless Baudelaires. Hopefully, we will see more of these young stars in future films.

The rest of the ensemble are an entertaining cast of snowflakes: from Larry the Waiter to the narcissistic Vice Principal Nero, the cast is vast and memorable. K. Todd Freeman will make you love to hate Mr Poe; if it were not for his chronic stupidity, the orphans would not be in this mess. We end up sympathising with Olaf’s Theatre Troupe, especially the Hook-Handed Man (Usman Ally), who shares a great chemistry with Sunny (Presley Smith) throughout the show. Bo Welch’s set design will always remain mind-blowing. From the art deco styled Denouement Hotel to the steampunk aesthetic in the Grim Grotto, Welch does a terrific job in bringing Brett Helquist’s illustrations to life.

Cynthia Summer’s chic costumes make the characters look like they have jumped right out of the pages. Esme and Carmelita’s matching pink pinstripe suits will make Lady Gaga go green with envy. To conclude, a phrase which here means ‘to finish reviewing this witty, weird series’, A
Series of Unfortunate Events has been a never-ending cycle of despair. It follows the storyline of the original books accurately, whilst including extra subplots and original characters. Many of the new characters and the Snicket siblings were the only likeable characters in the series, along with Olaf’s henchmen. The parallel world of Lemony Snicket is Kafkaesque and sophisticated, with gallows humour galore. Hopefully Netflix will surprise us and give us an All the Wrong Questions adaptation in the future.

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