REVIEW: A Series of Unfortunate Events, S3 Ep7 – The End

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S3 Ep7 – The End

A Series of Unfortunate Events concludes with a surprisingly happy ending for the three Baudelaires as well as closure for long-time fans who never got answers from the books. This was a fitting end to a long and arduous journey that wasn’t all misery in the end because of how the Baudelaires’ bond was fortified by their trials, how many friends they made along the way, and how they grew up and learned to face a complex world.

The orphans and Olaf are washed up on a strange island with inhabitants dressed in uniform white dresses and who all answer to a mysterious bearded figure named Ishmael. In typical Olaf-style, the count tries to claim that he discovered the island but for the first time in A Series of Unfortunate Events history, no one is fooled by him and he is subsequently put inside a cage by the islanders. Even when he pathetically tries to disguise himself as the pregnant Kit Snicket, nobody falls for his tricks.

Ishmael proves to be a key figure in the story (although the adaptation doesn’t get into the island’s politics as much as the book did) and is revealed to be the founder of VFD and the real principal of Prufrock Preparatory. The island has a library built by the Baudelaire parents, containing a wealth of invaluable knowledge. Thus, the children learn that their parents spent some time on this island prior to their births.

But they also discover that Ishmael has a sinister side to him, forcing the people on the island to forget their old lives by drinking cordial. On Decision Day, the one day in a year when the tides rise and it is possible to leave the island, the Baudelaires confront Ishmael, accusing him of manipulating the islanders. This trial is interrupted by the arrival of Kit Snicket, having escaped the Great Unknown via a raft made of books. Count Olaf wreaks havoc by unleashing the Medusoid Mycelium on the island. Ishmael and the islanders take a boat to try their luck on the mainland, all while infected with the deadly fungus.

Luckily, the Baudelaires discovered that the apple tree planted by their parents is a horseradish hybrid that is the antidote to the mycelium. The Baudelaires take the apple and survive (Sunny for the second time!) and they find a wounded Olaf on the shore while a dying Kit has gone into labor. The Baudelaires ask Olaf to do one noble deed and when he learns that Kit is in danger, he takes a bite of the apple and carries Kit to the shore.

A Series of Unfortunate Event Kit and OlafOlaf and Kit’s history in A Series of Unfortunate Events does not come as a great surprise here since they shared a scene together in opera flashback. Despite Olaf’s despicable character, one cannot help but be moved by the shared moment between him and Kit as they recite poetry to each other before Olaf dies. Despite all the terrible things he did to the Baudelaires, they cannot help but mourn his loss (Sunny’s soft “Olaf?” was heartbreaking) because all through A Series of Unfortunate Events they came to somehow understand how the wrong choice of mentors can corrupt a person completely.

Kit gives birth to a baby girl whom she entrusts to the Baudelaires’ care. They name her after their mother, Beatrice, and they take care of her on the island for a year while reading their parents’ journals and learning all they can from the library. When the tide rises next, the Baudelaires come to same decision as their parents, choosing to leave the safety and peace of the secluded island and to face the terrors and complications of the wider world.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S3 Ep7 – The EndThis isn’t to say that the journey ahead will be easier but Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have grown so much because of their struggles and are now better equipped to face whatever comes next.

This series was a unique adventure with unforgettable characters (both heroes and villains), crazy disguises, unparalleled imagery, and some profound themes about human nature. This season in particular seemed to pay homage to the films of Wes Anderson, as another reviewer points out, with the snow scouts scenes reminiscent of Moonrise Kingdom, the submarine adventure of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and very evidently, all the scenes at the Hotel Denouement will undoubtedly remind viewers of the aesthetic of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

There are some differences between how A Series of Unfortunate Events end in the books and on the television adaptation, but the latter definitely provides more answers to the series’ great mysteries. The sugar bowl is revealed to have contained a special kind of sugar hybrid that was the cure to the mycelium (though how such a substance could have remained intact in a seemingly unsealed sugar bowl is dubious). Whether or not these answers satisfy hardcore book fans, the show at least gives closure and even some hope to the conclusion of the account of the Baudelaires’ misfortunes, whose ultimate fate was way more ambiguous in the books. We also learn that the Quagmire triplets are reunited, Fiona and Fernald find Captain Widdershins, and all of Olaf’s former troupe members have found success on the stage.

Showrunner Barry Sonnenfeld discussed the ending in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying that the show had a “real ending that feels like it was probably in the book even though it wasn’t…It doesn’t feel like we imposed that ending on the show or somehow made it happy or saccharine. It feels like it’s the way Daniel should’ve ended the book.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S3 Ep7 – The EndSome parts of the finale are also taken from The Beatrice Letters, a companion book published after The End. Beatrice II makes an appearance, having finally tracked down her despondent uncle, and they share a touching moment over a rootbeer float. Through the course of A Series of Unfortunate Events and with the flashbacks to VFD’s fraught history, we come to understand why Lemony narrates the tale with such woe. He feels guilty for not being able to help the Baudelaires and his chasing after them is his attempt at atonement. Unable to learn their ultimate fate, Lemony would have succumbed to despair were it not for the unexpected contact made by the young Beatrice.

Sonnenfeld told EW:

A Series of Unfortunate Events, S3 Ep7 – The End“What I love about our show, which isn’t in the book, is how Lemony Snicket bookends the show…He’s in the first episode, and what he says at the very beginning, the very first lines of the first episode, we hear him say in the last episode. We now totally understand why he’s been narrating the show, which is not in the last book. I find the fact that we bookend three seasons with Lemony Snicket incredibly emotional.”

Beatrice and Lemony reconnect over a rootbeer float and the young girl gives her uncle the closure he needs about the Baudelaire orphans. As the curtain closes, we all come to understand that, while the world can be a cruel and complex place, as long as there are people like the Baudelaires who are strong enough because they stay together, resourceful enough to face hardship, wise enough to learn from their mistakes, and courageous enough to do the right thing, even A Series of Unfortunate Events can come to a happier end.