Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 3)

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80%
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Delightful

The third and final series provides a satisfying conclusion to the story, but not before giving us some more deliciously disastrous mishaps.

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After last season’s display of suspicious schooling, hazardous hospital procedures and calamitous carnival shows, A Series of Unfortunate Events is back for its third and final instalment of the tale of the Baudelaire orphans and their never-ending misfortunes. In this concluding round of the Lemony Snicket adaptation, we find the Baudelaires where we left them last series: Violet and Klaus (Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes, respectively) speeding precariously down a mountain in an uncontrolled wagon, and Sunny (Presley Smith) in the clutches of the villainous Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who is still scheming to steal their fortune. We’ve spent two years reaching this long-awaited finale, and Netflix manages to successfully deliver the satisfying conclusion we’ve all been waiting for.

This time, we see the Baudelaire orphans find themselves on top of an icy mountain, in a submarine travelling the depths of the ocean and a mysterious hotel with many secrets to be uncovered, all while they try to uncover more information about the underground organisation, VFD, which their parents were a part of. With Season 2 coming across as a little muddled at times, especially when dealing with unexplained plot points like the puzzling sugar bowl, Season 3 does a good job in clearing any confusion by taking the time to finally explain why the sugar bowl matters alongside elaborating on other key plot points. What is also impressive about this series is that it manages to transform certain characters, most notably Count Olaf, who’d previously been a very one-note villain up to this point, into more three-dimensional characters with informed backstories which explain their present-day characteristics. While flashbacks have been utilised throughout the show, they are used far more frequently in the third series, looking back into the pasts of characters like Olaf, as well as explaining why a seemingly-innocent sugar bowl could cause such chaos and disruption among VFD agents.

Yet amongst all of these details being uncovered, the show manages to maintain its distinctive tone; the humour of the show is very dry, and the audience are constantly asked to suspend their disbelief when thrown into the most absurd scenarios which most of the characters accept as normal. Most of the dry humour is delivered by the series narrator, Lemony Snicket himself (Patrick Warburton), who appears in scenes interspersed among the action in which he provides his own droll commentary on the events occurring. Harris also gives an excellent performance, making Olaf engaging rather than detestable, through his own form of witty humour. Far and away though, the best performance has to go to Presley Smith as Sunny: having grown up considerably over the course of the show, the adorable toddler manages to steal every scene she appears in.

This season is undeniably an improvement upon the last, and possibly even the first, tying up loose ends and creating complex and enjoyable episode structures without causing confusion, as the second season often did. In a faithful adaptation of the books, the final episode – aptly titled ‘The End’ – allows us to say goodbye to the Baudelaires in a pleasing close to the story. Throw into all of this some famous cameos both old and new, from the likes of Joan Cusack (Toy Story, Working Girl), Allison Williams (Girls) and Max Greenfield (New Girl), and you’ll find that witnessing unfortunate events has never been so enjoyable.

All three seasons of A Series of Unfortunate Events are available to watch now on Netflix.

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Literature Executive 2018/19. Lover of Hobbits, theatre and tea.

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