Moderated by: Nick
Who: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is an American black comedy-drama television series developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, which is based upon the children’s novel series of the same name authored by Lemony Snicket and which is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.
What: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” adapts the books of Lemony Snicket’s series of novels. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, and Presley Smith.
When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf (Harris), an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf’s initial failed attempt to do so, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and to uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.
When: Season 3 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on January 1, 2019, with a total of 7 episodes.
Where: The action takes place in various fictional locales, not always specifically named.
Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode covering Season 1 via the link below.
How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS
Couch Potatoes Unite! has been reviewing and recapping this series from the beginning! If you need to catch up with us, listen to the prior episodes of this series via the embedded links below:
Frequent contributor and panelist Nick abounds in passion and, therefore, perseveres in his moderation duties while discussing the latest (and final) season of Netflix Streaming Original A Series of Unfortunate Events, in this latest chapter of CPU!’s podcast episodes about this #Unfortunate series. In this final season’s recap and review, yours truly, the Chief CP, again participates as a regular old panelist to remark upon the unfortunate-ness of the whole affair. Nick and I are, in turn, joined by returning CPU! and ASOUE panelists Kristen, Kelsey, Selene, and Jenn for this final probing, passionate, and, at times, pithy discussion about the Baudelaires and their trials and tribulations.
This podcast was recorded in May 2019, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, our regularly scheduled review episodes will return to a brief hiatus (as spring moves into summer), so CPU! will continue the “On the Couch With…” feature with Associate Producer of Marketing and frequent panelist Krista interviewing Associate Producer of Special Projects and frequent panelist Selene. Stay tuned until next week for more casual one-on-one, get-to-know hilarity!
1) Will the Baudelaire children survive their trials and tribulations? Will they get a happy ending? Will they reunite with the caring Justice Strauss (Joan Cusack) from Season 1? Will they find a happy home anywhere? Or, will they be marginally miserable but, at least, always together?
ANSWERS: (SPOILERS!!!) The Baudelaires survive and become quite self-sufficient in the end, needing no guardian, which might be the happiest ending that they could have expected or for which we, the viewers, could have hoped. They also reunite, briefly, with Justice Strauss, who the viewer learns has been searching for them for the length of the entire series, ever since the children were separated from the kind judge in the first season. Unfortunately, Justice Strauss is forced to preside over a trial during which the Baudelaires must answer for questionable, entirely inadvertent crime(s). The Baudelaires, as a result of a rigged system overseen by nefarious High Court adjudicators that Justice Strauss naively trusts, choose to run from the trial, particularly given some arson-related circumstances affecting the trial’s location, and find themselves on the ocean and sailing toward a mysterious island, surprisingly with Count Olaf and without Justice Strauss. After these wily children deal with Count Olaf on this removed island oasis, they make a temporary home for themselves in an abode, the interior of an apple tree, previously occupied by their parents; the island itself provides a very specific tidal window through which to sail that can only be accessed once per year. The Baudelaires, then, after a year of waiting for the turn in the tide, return to the mainland, together, where they presumably live out the rest of their days. Listen to the podcast episode for further details.
2) Will Count Olaf get his well-deserved comeuppance?
ANSWER: Well…Count Olaf does find himself on the receiving end of a poisonous fungus and a harpoon, which (SPOILER!!!) ultimately cause his death. Whether that ending feels satisfying as a proverbial “comeuppance” is debatable. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
3) What is the SUGAR BOWL? Why should we care about the sugar bowl? Is it Beatrice’s sugar bowl? Why does Esme Squalor (Lucy Punch) want it so badly?
ANSWER: The SUGAR BOWL is just a sugar bowl, as it turns out, though it becomes an important vessel for the VFD’s secret formula for a weaponized poisonous fungus called the Medusoid Mycelium, as well as the sugar-like form of the antidote to said poisonous fungus. Esme wants the bowl so badly because the SUGAR BOWL was originally her sugar bowl, part of a tea set that was very “in” for her when it was whole. Listen to the podcast episode for further analysis.
4) Who is Beatrice? Is she dead? If not, where is she?
ANSWER: The podcast panel believes that Beatrice, i.e. the subject of Lemony Snicket’s (Warburton) notes at the top of each pair of episodes, is the Baudelaires’ mother, played by Morena Baccarin, who is confirmed to be dead. Yet, Beatrice could also refer to Lemony’s niece, Beatrice Baudelaire II, who the Baudelaire siblings care for following the death of Beatrice II’s mom, and Lemony’s sister, Kit Snicket. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
5) Are the Baudelaires’ parents really dead? If not, will we see them again?
ANSWER: Yes. The Baudelaires’ parents are really dead, though we are treated to a glimpse of them in a series finale flashback.
6) If Lemony Snicket is telling the story, does he know the end?
ANSWER: No. Lemony does not know the end, and he makes a point of saying that readers/viewers are not meant to know all the answers to all the questions, either. In fact, the series finish is rather open-ended. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
7) Are the Quagmires’ (Avi Lake and Dylan Kingwell) parents officially dead?
ANSWER: Yes. The Quagmires’ parents are officially dead.
8) Who is Jacqueline (Sara Canning) – what is her goal?
ANSWER: Unknown. Jacqueline apparently leaves to be the new Duchess of Winnipeg, according to Mr. Poe (Freeman). We presume Jacqueline fulfilled her VFD duties in ensuring, sloppily, the protection of the Baudelaire children, but her disappearance ultimately feels forced and unsatisfying. Of course, maybe we are not supposed to care about whether or not Jacqueline has goals, since we are also not sure if they have been fulfilled. Anyway, we’ll never know the answer, unless Lemony Snicket writes more books focused on any of the other characters besides the Baudelaire siblings. Of course, panelist Jenn reveals in this episode, after some cursory research, that Jacqueline is not a character in the books. In conclusion, none of the panelists appear to be too broken up about the lack of Jacqueline information. Let us know what you think.
9) Will the Quagmire triplets return?
ANSWER: We do not see the original two triplets, at least not until the last episode, but we do learn that Quigley, the third, presumably dead, triplet is actually alive. Listen to the podcast episodes for details.
10) What is the VFD already? And why did Count Olaf “look away” from them at the start? Why do they have standard disguise kits?
ANSWER: The VFD is a super-secret spy organization established to put out the world’s fires, both literal and proverbial. We learn in this season that Count Olaf is wooed away from the stability and safety of the VFD because, first, Beatrice I inadvertently kills Olaf’s beloved father via a freak opera-house accident, and because, second, two nefarious characters with absolutely no back story – the Man with a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard – see fit to cause the oft-mentioned VFD schism by preying upon the easily manipulated but grieving Olaf. The disguises, we presume, are part of spying. Except where Olaf is concerned, when disguises and costumes are either part of ACTING or NEFARIOUS SCHEMES TO STEAL CHILDREN’S FORTUNES. Anyway, the panel believes that the VFD might be officially defunct as of the end of ASOUE, unless there are other VFD agents out in the world that we have not yet met. We’re not betting our opiate-laced coconut milk on it, though.
New Questions Without Answers
1) Who are the Man With a Beard and No Hair and the Woman with Hair and No Beard, and why do they have such beef with the VFD? Why were they introduced so late in the series?
2) How could the Baudelaire children remain on the mainland without an official guardian, and why isn’t the viewer at least somewhat entitled to know the minimum information about the world in which the Baudelaires reside vis-a-vis wards of the state?
3) What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Count Olaf and Kit Snicket, and why does the show not take more time to develop it?
4) Are all three of the triplets at the Hotel Denouement, as played by Max Greenfield, truly good and/or truly evil? Why would Kit Snicket align herself with the allegedly evil one if she was really good? For that matter, is Count Olaf truly evil or simply greedy and nefarious?
5) Why don’t the Baudelaires seek Lemony Snicket out sooner than the series finale, when Beatrice II seems to be preteen adjacent?
6) Whatever happened to Fernald and Fiona Widdershins? Whatever happened to their stepfather?
7) Did Ishmael (Peter MacNicol) create the mysterious series-ending island? Why is the island shaped like the VFD insignia tattooed on all of its agents?
8) Why didn’t Nathan Fillion appear in the flashback scene with Morena Baccarin or, earlier in Season 2, with Neil Patrick Harris in what could have been fourth-wall shattering actor reunions between Joss Whedon series alumni?
9) Whatever happened to the pirates?
10) Whatever happened to the orphans on Count Olaf’s submarine?
The ASOUE panel’s review of Season 3 is decidedly mixed among the various panelists. Some panelists, particularly the Chief CP and Jenn, expressed experiencing a mingled sense of apathy, frustration, and boredom about where the series ended, as they regard the repetition off-putting even as the ending felt rushed; other panelists, like Kelsey and Kristen, find themselves relieved that the ending was, ultimately, a bit more fortunate for the unfortunate Baudelaires. Remaining panelists Nick and Selene report possession of an overall sense of enthusiasm about the series, now that all is said and done, but acknowledge the obvious narrative flaws, which they discuss in this episode.
Yet, the panelists continue to unanimously praise the visual presentation and technical aspects of the show, even as they offer wide-ranging reactions to the overall direction and story flow. To that end, all panelists find reason to enjoy the show’s overall pastiche, with the script’s whimsical wordplay, the over the top characters, and the absurdly unfortunate situations guiding the overarching plot. The panelists also laud the use of tongue-in-cheek breakage of the fourth wall and some sly references to popular culture, though such references may or may not date this story over time. Ultimately, however, many of the panelists struggle with the scattered and somewhat tonally flat final season’s end, feeling that the show does not so much earn its sprint across its artificially constructed fictional finish line, despite all of its ham-fisted attempts to subvert typical fantasy tropes and in light of the anticlimactic and somewhat unsatisfying story conclusion. Still, all panelists, even the skeptics like the Chief CP, find enough good to say about A Series of Unfortunate Events to recommend it in the end, which is kind of fortunate, if you think about it. Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it – you can always “look away.”
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Ended! A Series of Unfortunate Events ended with this third and final season after ultimately adapting all of the Lemony Snicket novels in the original book series via the three available seasons of this Netflix original program. All ASOUE seasons are, therefore, available to stream on Netflix, as that is the network that produced it.
At the last, despite the fluctuations of panelist opinions between the first two seasons and between those seasons and the third, A Series of Unfortunate Events continues to be recommended by all of our panelists, especially to fans of the original book series; of the 2004 film adaptation of same; of Neil Patrick Harris and of Patrick Warburton, who portray Count Olaf and Mr. Snicket, respectively, and who do so with flourish and aplomb; to fans of the type of dark, sardonic humor offered by the likes of Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfeld, the latter of whom is credited as a creator and an executive producer of this series; and to fans of generally wicked wordplay. Panelists Kelsey and Selene recommend this program for family viewing along with younger children, though they expressed more concern about the uptick in darkness and death prevalent in the second and third seasons and about how their seven-year-old daughter might react to this new intensity. Chief CP Kylie, the only true member of Gen X on this panel, continues to caution that the series may be more palatable to Millennials and to younger generations, who had a chance to grow up with the original series of children’s books and who might relate to the program more easily, despite the fact that the erstwhile Doogie Howser MD plays a lead character. Yet, in the end, no panelist regards the viewing of this delightfully original if adapted series to be a waste of one’s time, which might not chalk up to be a fortunately ringing endorsement but can be construed as a CPU! Official Endorsement ™, nevertheless.
In addition, while our ASOUE coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time. In the meantime, from our Unfortunate panel of Cake-Sniffers to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing reviews of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which now officially come to a close. To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here. For now, we bid you adieu!