A Series of Unfortunate Events has returned for a second season of mystique and mischief and, despite constant warnings from key characters and the theme song itself, we can’t look away.
Netflix released the 10-episode continuation of the massively successful small-screen adaptation on March 30. Based on novels five through nine in the book series of the same title by Lemony Snicket, the show follows the Baudelaire children as they attempt to curb the traps of Count Olaf, the hilariously devious villain played by musical and comedy extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris. While Olaf is after the enormous inheritance of the children whose parents perished in a mysterious fire, the sibling trio is determined to find out about the secret organization their parents belonged to and how it might explain all of the trouble that follows them.
Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off. The Baudelaire children, including Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith), enter their new life at Prufrock, a dilapidated boarding school where class consists of quizzes on the details of a teacher’s personal anecdotes and a library that’s open for 10 minutes each day. If that wasn’t bad enough, orphans are given the worst treatment in the school, forced to live in a shack infested with fungi and crabs.
With the arrival of a new home for the Baudelaires, of course, comes new despicable characters to overcome. Among them is Vice Principal Nero (Roger Bart), a self-proclaimed master violinist and wholly negligent leader of the academy. While he installs an “advanced computer system” to combat any possible infiltration by Count Olaf into the campus, he is all too concerned with his musical career to really care much about the fate of the orphans. His favorite student, the allegedly adorable but altogether deplorable Carmelita (Kitana Turnbull), constantly reminds them of their low place on the school’s totem pole, mocking them as “cake-sniffers” (and don’t ask—we never learn what that means) and later becoming Olaf’s sidekick.
There are, however, some new alliances introduced to the Baudelaires. The Quagmire orphans, Isadora (Avi Lake) and Duncan (Dylan Kingwell), befriend the children, and we soon learn that they suffered a tragedy similar to the siblings’, as their parents and triplet brother died in a mysterious fire. Coincidence transforms into suspicion when the two families discover that they each own pieces of a spyglass that click together and that their parents knew each other.
In search of more information about their parents and the organization they might have belonged to, they turn to the school librarian Olivia Caliban (Sarah Rue). Little do they know, however, that help is on the way in the form of Larry, a member of their parents’ organization who plans to deliver a book explaining all they need to know.
But as the series always goes, any sprinkle of hope is met with a flood of despair. Count Olaf soon arrives on campus disguised as a turban-adorning gym teacher. He and his squadron of delinquents torture the Baudelaires once again with mandatory night runs that compromise their grades and prevent them from reaching Larry. In an effort to expel the children and get them away from the eyes of the school, Olaf challenges them to take comprehensive exams to determine their pass or failure of their courses.
While the Quagmires help the Baudelaires and along the way discover the book about their parents’ organization, Olaf has the upper hand at last. He drives away with the Quagmires in his back seat, leaving the Baudelaires hopeless once again and vulnerable to a brand new season of terror.
Season 2 maintains the perfect blend of dark humor and tragedy that makes A Series of Unfortunate Events such intriguing entertainment. The simultaneously shadowy and colorful cinematography captures the bleak circumstances always underlying the clever banter in every scene of dialogue. Each character adds a new dimension of peculiarity to this already rich tale, constantly prompting viewers to weave together the individual threads of the mystery teased out in the story.
If fans are searching for more of what they got last season, they’re in luck. Count Olaf is still a demon in clown clothes, and the Baudelaires still battle adversity and ignorance with grace and integrity. Right when you think justice is on its way, the plot veers in another direction, and no character is ever really safe. However, where the preliminaries to the tale consumed most of the first season, the second season has more room for depth. Lemony Snickett (Patrick Warburton) is more than just the vague narrator, becoming undoubtedly intertwined in the story, and a larger war appears to exist under the obstacles of the children.
In the best possible way, A Series of Unfortunate Events has entered its terrible twos, where the more terrible the circumstances become, the more delightful it is to watch.
Featured Image by Netflix