As of January 1st, 2019 the final season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events aired. And it has been an entertaining ride through and through. This series succeeded in adapting all 13 books and making its characters fun and believable to the end (both literally and figuratively). Like most adaptations it has its good points and its fair share of flaws.
Got Right: Sunny in the slippery slope.
Seeing baby Sunny brave through Olaf’s captivity is amazing and really solidifies her as a character outside of being snarky. Even after Violet and Quigley find her she still decides to stay behind to find what Olaf and his associates are planning. In an adorable scene she ties her hair up just the way her older sister Violet does (in response to Violet questioning how she will escape) and tells that she learned bravery through her.
Got Right: The man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard
Richard Grant and Beth Grant breathe a great and sinister life into these characters. Both are mentors to Olaf and think far bigger than him. Their ability in looking beyond the Baudelaires gives way to the majority of misfortunes befalling the three and ultimately forcing them to go on the run with Olaf. And Olaf is genuinely terrified of these guys. It’s quite rare to see people that actually throw Olaf off his game.
Got Right: The Denouement Brothers
Max Greenfield does an amazing job of playing all three brothers in the Penultimate Peril. All three characters look, move, and sound exactly the same. So it really generates a sense of mystery between both the characters and the audience of which brother the characters are talking to and one that slowly unfolds as the episode goes along and comes full circle in the end. Having Dewey be the father of Kit’s baby was also a nice nod to a fan theory.
Got Right: Allison Williams as Kit Snicket
This season could not get Sara Canning back as Jacquelyn due to her dispute with Netflix. However, Allison Williams as Kit Snicket breathes a whole new life this season. She proves to be quite intelligent, brave, and bold in her endeavors to keep the sugar bowl safe and protect the Baudelaires. Her interactions with the Baudelaires in Penultimate Peril and The End show that she’s a loving woman as she was willing to die for her then-unborn baby Beatrice.
Got Right: Olaf’s Trial
The performances Louis and Malina give as they summarize to the crowd all the horrible things Olaf has done really makes you feel for all the rage and frustration Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have endured at his hands. The scene is made even greater when Olaf finally chews out every last useless adult there telling him that their stupidity was the only reason he was able to get away with it all this time. Neil Patrick Harris’ performance as he says this and digs deep into the things that the Baudelaires have done (albeit for a noble reason) truly feel horrifying which balances out many of his comedic moments.
Got Right: Quigley Quagmire
Quigley Quagmire like Olivia Caliban and Jacques Snicket were one-off characters in their respective debuts. However, like them, the show expands Quigley’s role. The exact same actor plays both Duncan and Quigley but Dylan Kingwell manages to make the two differ in their looks and personalities. In the show even after he and the Baudelaires are separated we still see him helping VFD and searching for his brother and sister which is very entertaining.
Got Right: The end of Olaf and Kit
For a largely comedic show, it knows how to portray a deep moment. The love and care he has for Kit are very believable and their final moments truly make you feel for their bond. Olaf’s death is also very tragic. For all his evil it’s clear that he has lost a lot of things that mean to him. Even the reactions of the Baudelaires as they see Olaf succumb to his injuries ultimately show that even though they have every reason to hate him show no pleasure in his death. Olaf’s one kind deed doesn’t redeem him but it does show him as far more than just a wicked count trying to steal some children’s fortune.
Got Right: Olaf’s backstory
The flashback to the night at the opera makes everything come full circle. And it is nice to see the heroes and the villains in a time where they actually got along. This makes it saddening when a single fight over the stolen sugar bowl goes out of hand leading to Olaf’s father getting hit by a poison dart.
Got Right: Fernald’s bond with Sunny
Outside of her siblings (and Uncle Monty), Fernald the hook-handed man is the one villain who can understand what Sunny is saying and often has a frenemy relationship with her. And his fondness for her reaches its peak in the first four episodes. While in captivity Fernald on Mount Fraught tries to make it less difficult for her by helping her cook food and get her soda when she’s thirsty. Towards the end of Slippery Slope and Grim Grotto he even goes out of his way to save her from death ultimately defying Olaf in the process.
Got Right: Not how the story goes
The end of Penultimate Peril part 2 has another rendition of the ending song from Season 1 Not how the story goes. It details all the Baudelaires trials through the photos. Even if you know this isn’t the end for them as far as Lemony was concerned up until he met with his niece, they were gone forever. And it’s still devastating knowing that Olaf ultimately bested the Baudelaires even with so many people trying to help them (most of these people dead now). The song itself is a lot more melancholy than the season 1 version giving so much more weight through its visuals.
Got Right: The departure of Olaf’s theatre troupe
In the books the person of indeterminate gender and the bald man are killed off in books 8 and 9 respectively. Here however they both leave Olaf’s side along with the two powdered white-faced women. And it hits the perfect amount of comedic and emotional value. Throughout Slippery Slope Olaf constantly mistreats them and eventually forces them to kill Sunny. They all realize that killing Sunny is the point of no return for them and leave. I wouldn’t even mind a spin-off with these guys somewhere down the road.
Got Right: A happy ending
Unlike in the book, the characters do get a happy ending after all the misfortune they’ve been through. And for all the characters it is one that is well deserved.
Could have been better: The Look Away openings
The opening theme song is one of the prominent parts of the show. It’s catchy and Harris sings it very well. Each one also has different lyrics telling the story. The versions of Slippery Slope were good ones. However, from there it seemed to get more forgettable even by this show’s standards. Harris did however, do a good job of giving a distinct voice for the part 2 openings considering that he rarely uses much of a disguise anymore in this season.
Could have been better: The revelation of what’s inside the sugar bowl.
Even before this series came out there was so much speculation of what could be inside the sugar bowl. Was it a list of VFD outposts and members? Was it a secret about the arsonists? The audience interpretation of it was a great part of the books. However the final episode Kit reveals it contained sugar, which was an immunization against the Medusoid Mycelium. This really takes a way from its impact overall.
Could have been better: The End only being one episode
When it first leaked that The End was only going to be one episode it was thought it was to make it more intense. It was assumed that the episode was going to be two parts meshed into one. However it turned out to be only the length of one episode and as a result leaves a lot out such as the island mutiny, Ishmael’s story, his history with Olaf, and one of his most famous lines (“What do your parents know about surviving?”).
Could have been better: The death of Larry your waiter
Larry throughout the second season spent most of his time looking after the Baudelaires wherever they went. And the poor guy always wound up falling victim to Olaf. And outside of Ersatz Elevator he never gets his revenge as Olaf dips him in curry ending him. While we knew him well we only saw him once this season before meeting his end. At least he didn’t die in vain.
Could have been better: Not everyone could return for Penultimate Peril
The Penultimate Peril book had several characters from the previous books return. It was nice to see some return in the show like Roger Bart as Nero, Tony Hale as Jerome, and Keri Kenny as Babs. But they weren’t able to get characters like Charles, Sir, and Hal back. The carnival freaks are also not present unlike in the books as they are disposed of by Olaf’s mentors in Slippery Slope within minutes. And it’s sad because it would have had a much greater impact in explaining why the many of the adults in this world ultimately are futile in helping the Baudelaires.
Could have been better: The Baudelaires meeting their biographer
Penultimate Peril takes a huge deviation that should have been bigger. After the death of Dewey, Lemony pops up in a taxi to save them. The Baudelaires meeting him should have been a huge Meta moment and the Baudelaires should have recognized him from Olivia’s files back in season 2. While their choice to stay behind and owe up, holds a great deal of weight, the meeting with Lemony doesn’t have the impact it should. The way it’s played it feels like Lemony meeting with them doesn’t matter.
Are there any other moments that were done right or could have been better? Comment below.