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Before we get into it, I'd just like to mention that the first part of this review will be spoiler-free until a clearly marked "SPOILER" section.
Also, I'm going to see how it compares to the book and whether they dropped or added things in a reasonable and understandable way, or a lazy and unfaithful way.
If you're not already aware the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events book series, Daniel Handler, was involved in the writing of this show.
Here we go...
This season 3 opener provides what we've come to expect in witty writing, clever wordplay, and excellent acting. Whimsical to the core, this show does have some hard to swallow moments, a couple of which show up in this very episode. Both of these are towards the start of the episode and feel more like an adjustment period for yourself than the fault of the show.
Your enjoyment of this show draws heavily on your own acceptance of the whimsical and the absurd—though the most absurd things about the book seem to have been left out for an easier to believe product. These alterations from the book serve the episode well, and usually are not to the detriment of the overall story.
Another possible obstacle for potential viewers is that almost everyone in this world speaks in a way nearly no real human every would. This is all absolutely part of the story, and the world it has built, but I can see some people struggling to enjoy it.
The sets are as usual a wonderful bar, one particularly off looking mountain wall, and the costuming is glorious once again.
Characters old and new crop up in this episode and each of them is a delight. Lemony Snicket continues to be a standout part of the show and Patrick Warburton is killing it in every scene. Esmé Squalor (Lucy Punch) and Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) are a fantastic duo as are the Man with Beard But No Hair (Richard E. Grant) and the Woman with Hair But No Beard (Beth Grant). There is a third standout duo who I won't mention here, as I would consider it a spoiler, but let it be known it's done very well and I'm fully on board with it. However, some characters do feel under used and under valued. Specifically, the trio of "freaks" from the previous season.
In terms of how closely it aligns itself with the books. Well...
There are several changes, but some have no real impact on the story and simply serve to save time or make it a more visually interesting story to watch. Some of the changes mean the story makes less sense and some are further expanding the story in a way that the books did not. The series had already made several changes. For instance, when it introduces different characters and ideas. This series continues to flesh that out, whilst still keeping close enough to the original story we already know, in the hopes of not offending too many fans.
I found this to be an enjoyable episode, with only a couple of moments that I wasn't happy with.
If you're avoiding spoilers, this is where the review ends for you.
Thank you for reading and feel free to check out my profile for my take on the rest of the episodes.
From now I'm just going to talk about whatever I want, so spoilers ahead. I'll block them a bit with the use of the picture below, but this is your final warning to bail.
In this section, I'll be running through the episode almost scene by scene. If you found a specific art of the episode amazing or dreadful then you should be able to easily scroll to that section to see my thoughts.
The opening titles have a fun update with a change to the lyrics. Something I very much enjoyed.
Like much of the dialogue, some of this is basically word for word from the book. This is much appreciated, but I won't be commenting on it every time it happens.
I really love Patrick Warburton in this role. He is fantastic.
My only issue here is that pause between matches. It is so long. Why? Why is it so long?
I feel that the actors, Malina Weissman (Violet Baudelaire) and Louis Hynes (Klaus Baudelaire), struggled to remain in their odd ball character's style of speaking during this fast-paced and stressful situation. The lines come off awkwardly, and at first, I thought maybe it's just that I have to readjust after a year of not watching the show. But that isn't the case, as I've seen the full season and rewatched this episode and it is still awkward.
The caravan sign stating that the caravan isn't suitable for children is a perfect example of this show's comedy.
After the caravan is hanging of the cliffside, Violet and Klaus make what looks like an impossible climb up the mountain. I'm not happy about this at all. How did they do that?
Once the duo are walking up the mountain side, the mountain wall does not look good at all. It doesn't match the show's aesthetic and it just looks super fake.
I very much enjoyed the acknowledgement that Sunny (Presley Smith) is no longer a baby. Within the timeline of the books, I believe it's over two years. The Netflix series is over three years, which is a similar amount of time and makes Presley Smith a reasonably accurate age for her character.
This scene is a wonderful example of the show's well-thought out dialogue, from the meta to the witty. Providing comedic moments and exposition flawlessly. It also gives us another Lemony interjection, which has its own well-written joke based on the current actions of Count Olaf. A great deal of the show is very well crafted.
This is the first portion that expands on the original books, giving us more detail on Kit (Allison Williams) and what she was doing before she meets the Baudelaire's on Briny Beach. This scene also introduces the Man with Beard But No Hair and the Woman with Hair But No Beard. Both of whom are very well acted.
I do have an issue with those dragon fly wings though. Kit definitely dies from that fall and kills her baby. Also, what the fuck is the noise the eagles make?
Kit's line about not being out of the woods is good fun on word play that, again, this show is full of and I'm all for it.
This scene is another excellent job of book references and dialogue lines.
They use a toilet here and it looks exactly like Shrek's. Is that a reference or does America just have these toilets?
During the catchphrases scene I'm pretty sure Hook-Handed Man (Usman Ally) was going to say he loved Olaf. Also, Olaf says, "Give me the earrings, Rachel." This is later repeated by Carmelita Spats (Kitana Turnbull) in her sleep.
How stupid do you have to be to think you've found some green cigarettes laying around?
Lemony pops back up in a cute little number talking about Cinderella. This is straight from the book, but what happens next is not. Hook-Handed Man and Sunny bond! It's fucking adorable and I love it. Je made her a lil' outfit and everything.
That shot behind Sunny when she's cleaning her head is bloody terrifying. They need to stop using that shot.
We'll return to camp shortly.
Crossroads to Cave Holes
This scene deals with the litter, the snow gnats, the cave, and more different than the book. This is not a bad thing. It speeds up the episode, takes away volunteer lion spies, and makes the children look less stupid.
It does, however, mean they don't have any form of disguise when meeting the people in the cave, and no one really recognises them except Carmelita who is basically just ignored when saying they're murderers.
Also, fuck yeah Carmelita is back—what a queen. A horrible character. Done really well.
Brucie the Scout Leader (Keegan Connor Tracy) is a gender swapped, no longer related to Carmelita, waste of breath.
I honestly thought they we're going to make us listen to that awful pledge twice. I would've turned the show off no lie.
The speed Violet and Klaus can come up with V.F.D. references is madness to me.
Klaus ask, "Why is he the only one in a mask?" or something like that. Even though the masked character had already announced masks make for good disguises... thought this kid was meant to be smart.
These characters are irrelevant in the show and are killed straight up.
They make it to at least book 12 from my memory. This episode is based on book 10, so you see the difference.
My assumption is that there was too much going on already and they felt cutting the "freaks" side plot made life easier.
Count Olaf puts his head in the little baby tent and doesn't immediately see the big hole in the back?
Explaining the Stockholm Syndrome by using Poe (K. Todd Freeman) is a good way of explaining why he's on the mountain. It also leads into my favourite duo! Sunny and Hook-Handed Man are great in this episode and I love every interaction they have, barring one: When Sunny wipes his face, the ice is different in every shot and it upsets me deeply.
When Sunny serves food, they say it's delicious before they even taste it... what?
VFD people are elitist as fuck in the show, and at least explaining away their elitism into life is more complex in the books.
Mask boy says something like, "I'm well-read and well-read people are nice, evil people just watch network television." Which is obviously bullshit; there are many well-read villains in the world and one of my closest and nicest friends fucking hates books.
Patrick Warburton is one of, if not the, best thing in the show.
Holy shizzle wizzle it's ya boi Quigster—big reveal.
Let's wrap it up.
I bloody love this show. Almost every complaint comes from a place of love and wanting perfection. I'm very happy with how this show is turning out and I really hope other people enjoy it, too!
Brilliant scripts, acting, costumes, and (usually) set design.
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