The final episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events begins with… a fourth Baudelaire? For those of you still reading or watching, I obviously can’t convince you to avoid this blog, but perhaps this future beginning with Lemony’s musing about root beer floats and the closure of that journalistic bastion, The Daily Punctilio, will convince you.
Witness the hilariously bad green screen wonders of the ocean. The effects have been higher quality during the rest of the series, so I assume it’s an artistic decision. Sunny gets the practical and dark idea to simply push Count Olaf off the boat, but a convenient storm saves Olaf. It also beaches the boat on an island. While Friday, an islander, takes them to the Island Facilitator, Klaus and Olaf trade bad puns.
Olaf attempts a coup e’tat but cannot overthrow the Facilitator, a seemingly indecisive, shaggy-haired man named Ishmael. All of the islanders have names associated with ocean stories like Alonso from The Tempest or Friday from Robinson Crusoe. After Violet offers to build a water filtration system for the island, which has no fresh water, Ishmael tells her not to rock the boat – a phrase which Klaus feels like he needs to explain because they haven’t said anything fancy yet. While discussing whether or not to leave the island, Klaus realizes that Ishmael knew they had been orphans even though they hadn’t told him.
It turns out that Ishmael knew their parents and worked for VFD, having put it together from a group of students including the Baudelaire parents, Olaf, and the Snickets. Once the schism broke out, Ishmael retreated the island and set up a primitivist, Luddite society where all technology gets throw into a junk heap and ignored. The Baudelaires’ parents had even lived on the island once and set up a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse underneath an apple tree full of books. Meanwhile, Lemony laments never sharing a horse costume with Beatrice again.
The Baudelaires try to leave, but Ishmael will not allow it after all, and suddenly Kit arrives on a raft made of books. Meanwhile, Olaf, escaped from a birdcage and disguised as Kit, confronts Ishmael. Neil Patrick Harris really owns this role. In one scene, he transform a strange, silly story into a pathetic one. Olaf begins monologuing about how Ishmael, his former teacher, couldn’t protect him from the world’s pain with books and poetry. Olaf uses the diving helmet full of Medusoid Mycellium as the baby bump in his disguise, and Ishmael shoots it with a harpoon gun. Everyone gets poisoned, Ishmael and the villagers leave in the outrigger, in order to get out of the way of the main plot.
Kit reveals that the Sugar Bowl (back in Dewey Denouement’s sublibrary) had sugar that also doubled as an antidote for the Medusoid Mycellium. Olaf has a harpoon lodged in his chest, Kit starts to go into labor, and the Baudelaires have been poisoned. So, the Baudelaires run to the island trove of books, and discuss a learning strategy: skimming. They learn, with their seemingly dying minutes that their parents also created apples that can be an antidote for the Medusoid Mycellium. They are too weak to get an apple themselves, but luckily a friendly snake (from season 1) gets one for them. Sound familiar? Like, Biblically so? Basically, they just lost their literary innocence in a Garden of Eden scene complete with a devil/serpent.
The Baudelaires try to feed the antidote the poisoned and pregnant Kit who refuses it, saying it will “hurt the baby,” because at this point science has taken two weeks leave and tendered a letter of resignation. Olaf manages to drag Kit to safety, shares a tender scene with Kit (Again, Neil Patrick Harris everybody!), and dies telling the Baudelaires not to have any kids themselves. Wait, could there be a little Olaf out there? No, or at least, probably not. Kit gives birth to the baby, whom the Baudelaires adopt and name Beatrice.
The now four Baudelaires decide to sail off the island and back to society. A montage reveals that Quigley did find his own two siblings, Fiona and Fernald finally found Captain Widdershins, and Olaf’s henchmen became a real troop of actors. Meanwhile, Beatrice grows into a twelve-year-old girl and meets with her uncle, Lemony Snicket.
The series has finally come to its conclusion. The episode managed to cover all the events of the book, but left out some interesting character moments for both the Baudelaires and some of the minor characters, like Friday. Unlike a few of the early books, this book really didn’t need two episodes, so while I’m glad they stopped at one, I wish a similar attitude had been taken toward the whole series. While symmetrical, the two episode per book model clipped some of the drama and tension for the Baudelaires.
Overall, the writing for the series has been great. It’s been witty, sharp, and full weird literary references like we expect from an adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s works. I have loved the anachronistic appeal of the design and aesthetic associated with the whole series. Those elements added both a gothic and absurd touch to some hilarious acting especially from Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton. The series, however, has come to the end. Will they adapt All the Wrong Questions next? There’s been no release of anything like that yet, but if they do, we’ll cover it here.