We last left the two eldest Baudelaire orphans at a summit, a word which can refer to the top of a mountain, but also means rare meeting between individuals. In this case, Klaus and Violet Baudelaire and Quigley Quagmire, who survived a fire that killed his parents. The youngest Baudelaire, Sunny, was also left at summit, but the meeting which she witnessed between Count Olaf, the Beard, and the Hair, and actually happened to be at the top of Mount Fraught.
Quigley’s ability to become a member of V.F.D. in this version did not require the sponsorship of Jacques Snicket as it did in the books. One might find it somewhat unbelievable that a grieving boy could train himself to become a sort of librarian-spy alone, but, then, many unbelievable things happen in this show. Similarly operating alone, Kit Snicket runs into Mr.Poe (actually in the last episode) and conveniently has to drive him back to the city because he happened to wandering the mountains after being banished from his job for contrived, if believable, reasons.
Back on Mount Fraught, few have noticed the blatant absence of the three carnival henchfolk. Esme has noticed some Verdant Flammable Devices, and the show becomes a sort of parody of anti-smoking advertisements when Count Olaf screams about how gross cigarettes are to the screen. Meanwhile, Hooky remains torn between Count Olaf and Sunny Baudelaire. He lets us know in a speech about his estranged sister and stepfather. While somewhat impromptu, this expansion of a minor character into an emotional arc reflects one of the great hallmarks of Lemony Snicket’s writing, a term which here means, “weird, surprising, and awesome details about the books.”
Sunny signals Klaus and Violet with a Verdant Flammable Device which causes Olaf’s parental figures to (rightly) accuse Sunny of spying. Competant villains are not easy fooled by babies, but Olaf’s henchmen probably shouldn’t be villains in the first place. Later in this episode, they decide not to be, all abandoning Count Olaf except for Hooky.
The older Baudelaires see the signal. Back at headquarters, Klaus finds a book of codes in the charred VFD library. Violet builds crampons out of a candelabra and shoes. Ten points to Klaus and House Hufflepuff for completing the much more difficult task. Violet and Quigley get some alone time when they begin to climb the frozen waterfall to the summit and leave Klaus to decipher the contents of the fridge. Quigley, who in the book comes across as a smooth young man, does not have as much time to romance Violet in this adaption, but they do so nonetheless.
When Violet and Quigley reach the top, they meet with Sunny’ clandestinely and offer to sneak her back down the waterfall. Instead, Sunny shows her maturity by volunteering to stay and spy like the Beard and the Hair suspect. Sunny tells Violet that she’s not a baby anymore – she’s a young girl! It’s adorable and it brings the writing staff’s ability to grow a character from infant to the limelight. This episode features two of my favorite Sunny lines: “Mata Hari” when she offers to spy for VFD and later, “Rosebud” when the Baudelaires need a quick escape.
In the course of her spying, Sunny learns that Olaf, the Hair, and the Beard, have a plan to kidnap and ransom the Snow Scouts and kill their parents to get all their fortunes. In the course of his research, Klaus learns that the Volunteer Fire Department communicates using an actually pretty neat code with the contents of the refrigerator called Verbal Fridge Dialogue. He then learns that a massive VFD summit will be held on the next Thursday at “the last safe place.”
When Esme Squalor sees green smoke from a Verdant Flammable Device, she explores the headquarters and finds the Baudelaires and Quigley, who attempt a prisoner exchange: her for Sunny. Everything happens predictably enough when they decide that this would be immoral to hold Esme prisoner and simply return her to Olaf. Olaf attempts to have Hooky kill Sunny, but Hooky lets her escape. Olaf saves Carmelita out of all the Snow Scouts who get kidnapped by eagles (as random as it is in Tolkien), which means that we, just like Count Olaf, are stuck with her. Escaping on toboggin (“Rosebud!”) the Baudelaires and Quigley are separated by a inconvenient branch and the orphans stumble into their next adventure.
Much like climbing and descending an actual slippery slope, Part Two of this episode went by quickly after a beginning which felt a little laborious. Clever dialogue permeated this episode, as well as a chance for the Baudelaires to flex their talents. However, the most interesting aspect of this episode had to be the intentional departure of Olaf’s long-conflicted henchfolk, which felt far more satisfying than the books where they simply disappear or die.
Join us next week as we cover Part One of “The Grim Grotto!”