A Series of Unfortunate Events, S1 Eps 3&4 – The Reptile Room

A Series of Unfortunate Events continues for the three Baudelaires in the Netflix adaptation of The Reptile Room. After escaping the clutches of the villainous Count Olaf, it seems like life is about to get better for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny as they are sent to live under the guardianship of renowned herpetologist Dr. Montgomery Montgomery or Uncle Monty.

Uncle Monty (played by Aasif Mandvi) is charming, attentive, and intelligent, sharing his work and his home with the children. And he had more to do in the television show than in the books. I also would like to appreciate the diversity in the casting for A Series of Unfortunate Events because no races were mentioned for the characters in the books, so it’s heartening to see several characters played by POC actors on the show, including Uncle Monty, Mr. Poe, and the Hook-handed man.

Monty is probably the best guardian they can possibly have, which is why he will surely not last very long considering the nature of this series. Not that this is a spoiler. After all, Lemony Snicket continues to remind us of the dire nature of the story.

It seems everything is going fine for the kids. Violet gets to invent things, Klaus gets to read books in Uncle Monty’s library, and Sunny gets to bite things and even makes friends with the Incredibly Deadly Viper (a misnomer.) But because this is A Series of Unfortunate Events, misery, and Count Olaf, are never far behind.

He soon shows up at their door in the flimsy disguise of “Stephano.” The children see through this immediately, though Monty is not so convinced. Luckily, he is still suspicious of the stranger and during a trip to the movies, another feature of VFD work is shown in the television show that was not shown in the books. Monty decodes a secret message from his fellow volunteers by using a special spyglass, one that Klaus also finds in the ruins of their former home. Later in the episode, the orphans also meet Jacqueline, another ally, who has been following them and trying to help but is unable to catch Count Olaf.

Eventually, Uncle Monty is murdered by Count Olaf and the latter’s associates arrive to try and make it look like the herpetologist was killed by one of his snakes. Once again, A Series of Unfortunate Events shows how clueless the adults (Mr. Poe) can be while the children have to struggle to make sense of the chaos around them. They finally unmask Count Olaf, but it’s far from a happy ending because Uncle Monty is still dead and the true happiness they experienced was short-lived. So off they must got to their next guardian.