REVIEW: A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 – The Vile Village

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 - The Vile Village

“It takes a village to raise a child”: an aphorism that gets twisted in the next A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Vile Village. Mr. Poe delivers the Baudelaires to their next set of guardians: the entire population of the V.F.D., the Village of Fowl Devotees.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 - The Vile VillageThe village is set in an arid area and populated by some people and an unusually large amount of crows, collectively called a “murder” which is meaningful in many ways for the story, as Klaus and Lemony Snicket point out. But instead of the village taking care of them, the orphans are meant to do chores for all the villagers, as decreed by the Council of Elders (wearing crows on their hats). The village has a ridiculous amount of rules that everyone must adhere to very strictly.

The Baudelaires are sent to live with the timid village handyman Hector who is kind to them and has ingeniously built a self-sustaining mobile hot air balloon home. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are tempted to escape but they are still concerned about their friends the Quagmires, who were smuggled out in a red herring in the last story. Violet and Klaus receive mysterious couplets everyday from the crows, which they suspect are from Duncan and Isadora.

REVIEW: A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 - The Vile VillageAfter the monochrome and very structured style of The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village has a distinctly Western feel, with the desert setting and the accents of the inhabitants. There is also a saloon (that used to be volunteer fire station) that Count Olaf, Esme, and their cronies choose as their headquarters. Jacques Snicket and Olivia Caliban soon arrive, in matching cowboy outfits (probably a lot of fun for Nathan Fillion), to confront Olaf. (Fans of Dr. Horrible surely enjoyed that).

But it is futile to hope that these helpful and noble characters will succeed in their mission because, in A Series of Unfortunate Events, nothing ever goes as planned. Jacques Snicket is too noble for his own good. He tries to appeal to Count Olaf’s better nature, unaware that such a thing does not exist.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 - The Vile Village

But is he really dead?

Olaf and Esme get the better of him and despite his optimism and belief that he can get out of any scrape, he is not so fortunate. He is disguised as Count Olaf, murdered, and then the Baudelaires are framed for the crime. And then, the villagers are manipulated by Olaf to have the children burned at the stake as opposed to simply forced to pay a fine.

Book readers will delight to see that more of the VFD’s history is revealed on the TV version of A Series of Unfortunate Events than in the books, since the show does not limit itself to the point of view of the Baudelaires. We get to see more action from the volunteers like Larry your Waiter and Jacquelyn and even more of Jacques Snicket, so that we end up caring that he died, and not just because Lemony narrates the events so sorrowfully.

The Baudelaires really have a unique way of dealing with their continuously miserable circumstances. They keep their cool and never freak out. They lament the situation but always in deadpan tones. My favorite line has to be Klaus going:

“I don’t mean to sound spoiled but I was really hoping for a better birthday than being imprisoned for murder and burned at the stake.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S2 Eps 5&6 - The Vile VillageIn a stroke of luck, the Baudelaires decipher the couplets and rescue the Quagmires from the crow fountain. They manage to evade execution with Sunny driving a fire truck and they let the Quagmires escape with Hector on his self-sustaining, mobile, hot balloon home. But with Esme shooting harpoons at the balloons, the Baudelaires have to go on the lam, bidding farewell to their friends.

The Vile Village serves as a turning point for A Series of Unfortunate Eventsas many of the patterns followed in the previous installments are now broken. The Baudelaires are branded as criminals and will no longer be sent to any new guardians. Everyone now believes that Count Olaf is dead so the manhunt has ceased. Now, more than ever, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny will have to rely on their own devices if they are to survive.