At a long last, the Baudelaire’s endless misery and suffering has finally come to an end – and it’s absolutely brilliant. Hello everyone, the Classic Film Kid here for another review, and today I will be finishing my reviews of the A Series Of Unfortunate Events Netflix series with the 3rd and final season, which adapts the last four books: The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril, and The End.
It has definitely been an absolute pleasure watching this series from its very first episode and to see the mysteries unfold and the characters grow and mature has been very entertaining indeed. And it’s all come down to this, the final seven episodes to finally bring all of the plot threads and character arcs to a satisfying conclusion. And it does this and more. In fact, Series 3 of A Series Of Unfortunate Events might just be my favourite of the whole series. Series 1’s repetitive formula and surface-level feel is a long way back now. The series has taken its time expanding on the mysteries of the VFD and seeing everything reach a peak in this season was riveting. This doesn’t feel like a fun, surreal black comedy for children anymore: it almost feels like a fantastical crime drama (with all the quirky comedy, of course.)
The final season also doesn’t cease to take things in unexpected directions right until the end: at the end of the first two-part story, all of Count Olaf’s henchman, apart from the Hook-Handed Man and Esme, leave him in frustration, which is something that I wasn’t expecting. Yet this gives Olaf the chance to be even more of a threat – while his over-the-top pantomime qualities are still there, he sometimes borders on being a ruthless sadistic killer, happily burning down the hotel containing nearly all of the VFD and characters we’ve come to know from previous stories, just so he can escape with the Baudelaire’s.
We also get the chance to fully get to know Olaf here, and it even gives a couple of opportunities for you to actually feel sorry for him – he saw his father murdered, his potential romance crumbled due to the VFD Schism, and throughout the series all of his henchman desert him. Even Esme and Carmelita vanish in the hotel fire never to be seen or heard from again, which leaves us the chance in The End to get some great scenes between him and the Baudelaire’s. His death scene itself is really quite emotional too, confessing to Kit before staring with resignation at the Baudelaire’s as he gives in.
This season also introduces us to Kit, played by Get Out star Alison Williams, who as you would have gathered via her surname is the sister of both Lemony and Jacques Snicket. She is on the run from the season’s villains (comically titled with The Man with a Beard but No Hair and The Woman with Hair but No Beard) and on top of that is heavily pregnant with her first child. She is an engaging character, but I wish we’d have seen more of her with the Baudelaires – she takes them to the Last Safe Place at the start of The Penultimate Peril, then she doesn’t interact with them anymore until a few scenes in The End. But that’s just a personal nitpick.
By far, my favourite episode this series was The Penultimate Peril – Part 2. It’s in a similar vein to the Season 2 finale in that everything seems completely hopeless and Count Olaf will now make the Baudelaire’s do whatever he says, but the trial sequences where both the siblings and Count Olaf are questioned are riveting. Plus, it’s the episode that brings back pretty much all of the guest characters since the start of the show for some quirky bits of comedy and to provide witness statements. Even Joan Cusack’s Justice Strauss reappears to be the judge for the trial, and she is sweet and charming as ever.
The climax is what really makes this. Count Olaf finds the Medusoid Mycilium, a deadly fungus he’s been searching for, and on finding it he proceeds to burn down the entire hotel containing many characters of the show, including Mr Poe, Justice Strauss, Esme, Carmelita and more. Once the Baudelaire’s and Count Olaf have escaped, that’s it. We don’t see any of the characters in that hotel we don’t know if they made it out alive or not. It’s a scary and ambiguous way to send off these characters, but I loved it. I always like when things are open to interpretation, and this abrupt ending was no different. We also end with a montage showing Lemony Snicket’s investigation into the Baudelaire’s set to the song That’s Not How The Story Goes sung at the end of Season 1 and it recaps all of the past adventures to prepare us for the finale. It was a nice, mysterious way to end The Penultimate Peril, but part of me thinks it would have been a nice ending for the show overall. It serves as a ‘trip down memory lane’ and Lemony Snicket’s statement of him not knowing the whereabouts of the Baudelaire’s but hoping they are alright wherever they are was a touch of ambiguity and gloominess that I think was slightly missing from the ending they went for.
The actual ending shows the children burying Olaf and Kit and setting sail for the mainland with Kit’s child, Beatrice, and then we see Lemony and a teenage Beatrice meeting in a bar and she fills him in on what the Baudelaire’s did after he last knew of them. While I was mostly happy with the ending, I can see why it’s got a few fans angry, as it kind of ends everything in a neatly-wrapped bow rather then the open ended final monologue the books went for. It’s a mixed bag of an ending, but one that I think does the job for the TV series.
In terms of flaws, they’re pretty similar to what I complained about in Series 1 and 2: Mr Poe being an annoying useless prat, getting ever so slightly too convoluted for its own good at a few points, but what the final season of A Series Of Unfortunate Events succeeds at above all else is subverting our expectations and deliver an emotionally and comically satisfying last run of episodes that finish the engaging story with style and provide a warming send off for our favourite protagonists and villains. I’m going to give A Series Of Unfortunate Events’s Final Series a nine out of ten.
It has been an absolute delight watching this show from the start and while it’s run was predictably brief, it entertained me in so many different ways, I wish the cast and crew the best of luck in whatever they do next and they should be so proud of what they accomplished on this show.
Well, that does it for this review, thank you for reading. I should have a review of Assault On Precinct 13 coming next, but until then, have a good day everyone. This is the Classic Film Kid, signing off!