Previously: Olaf’s plot to marry Violet thankfully failed and they escaped him, for now.
The Reptile Room: Part One
Marines: Credits, which now allude to the fact that the Baudelaires are with Dr. Montgomery. The song tells us up front that this adult is also going to be bad at adulting, so cool. On the bright side, I didn’t know I could love these credits more, but they are CUSTOMIZED. I already know I want to rewatch all the credits once I finish the series and my memory is more fresh on what all the little tidbits are. (S: Agreed, this is a very exciting development.) (A: They were a little spoilery, but it brings me joy, so.)
After the credits, there’s a dedication to Beatrice: “my love for you shall live forever.” Lemony is a romantic mess. Oh, wait. I literally paused but the dedication went on. “You, however, did not.” There’s my Lemony.
A crocodile croaks, “woe is me.” Lemony is standing outside of a bright mansion as he explains that the croaking we are hearing is that of a rare species, a broken-hearted crocodile. He reintroduces himself, Lemony Snicket, our narrator dedicated to researching the plight of the Baudelaire orphans. We all don’t have to share in his melancholy and misery and yet here we are, about to start the ghastly new episode in the Baudelaire’s unfortunate lives.
Sam: From now on Lemony is the voice in my head narrating our ghastly political climate.
Dani: I always feel so guilty when I ignore his warnings and watch the show anyway, like I should apologize for being such a giant disappointment to dearest Lemony.
Mari: To combine the two thoughts, I’ll now hear Lemony in my head warning me to look away from the news. I’ll ignore it and feel terrible.
We cut to Mr. Poe, still driving. He tells the Baudelaires that this is a brand new episode in their lives with their new guardian, Dr. Montgomery. He is their closest living relative and they should’ve been with him all along. Mr. Poe is starting to think listening to the oddly dressed consultant with no identification and no references was a mistake. (A: Listening to self-appointed ‘consultants’ with no apparent experience or references spells disaster? WHO KNEW.) Violet gives him a polite NO DUH and Sunny gives a less polite babble. As they drive onto Lousy Lane, Lemony is in overalls sitting on some crates. He basically recaps stuff we already know but look at those sweet, sweet overalls. Lemony tells us that Lousy Lane is awful. It’s surrounded by a horseradish factory and smells bitter and strong. The house is rather grand and the shrubbery is reptile themed. (D: I’ve never seen anything so gorgeous and yet nightmarish at the same time. Well done, set designers.)
Klaus looks around, hesitant, and asks how exactly they are related to Dr. Montgomery. Poe answers that he’s their father’s cousin’s wife’s brother, which explains why they haven’t met him. Sunny babbles that that doesn’t explain why they are going to live with him. Preach, Sunny.
They walk to the front door, establishing that Dr. Montgomery’s name is Montgomery Montgomery, and Violet expresses a hope that Dr. Montgomery is a decent human being. A small ask, really. They ring, and Dr. Montgomery (Aasif Mandvi) answers immediately. He comes with coconut cake too, but Olaf had cupcakes so we cannot trust desserts. We cannot trust them. (S: The horror. I can always be tricked by desserts.) (A: I really like cake, so this is totally bumming me out.) (D: Mmmmm … cake.) Dr. Montgomery tells them to call him Monty and also talks about movies. He even knows that Violet’s favorite movie (The Dawn Patrol) is the same as her father’s.
Inside, Monty keeps giving the impression that he might not be awful by knowing that Violet is an inventor and Klaus is a reader. Plus, he’s got more cake and a carrot for Sunny. Sunny and a carrot appreciation break!
Dani: She’s adorbs, but I’m a little distracted by how all the kids are still wearing the same outfits from the first episode at Briny Beach. Has no one thought to take these kids shopping?!
Mari: Funnily enough, I mention that later in this recap. We are v concerned with Violet’s arms and their lack of clothing. LIKE ADULTS.
Klaus blurts out that Monty won’t be able to get to their fortune until Violet comes of age. Monty assures everyone that he doesn’t care about the fortune because he’s got his own money, but he appreciates Klaus’ skepticism. Mr. Poe doesn’t blame Klaus for his outburst after the “unpleasantness” with Olaf. Monty is like BITCH PLEASE and quickly tells Poe that they won’t need anything else from him and shoos him out the door.
Once Poe is gone, Monty apologizes for being a little rude, though he scoffs over Poe’s downplaying the “unpleasantness” with Olaf, especially since Poe placed the kids there in the first place. The kids are still hesitant and bring up the fact that their parents never mentioned Monty at all. He thinks that’s odd and leads them upstairs. He shows them a picture of his parents, but it’s just a picture of a piano because they were all hiding inside of it. Hokay, Monty.
This is a picture of me. I have been absorbed into the books.
Annie: Pausing for some shelf-envy.
Samantha: It’s not mine, for the record.
Mari: Yeah, but if we could have a picture be us but not us, that’s a good one.
Monty’s babble train keeps riding as he explains that he studies snakes, his long-time assistant Gustav recently and unexpectedly quit (D: to study space bugs on BrainDead under the alias Dr. Bob Bob?!) (That fits so hilariously well…) and that he’s super excited to have the kids around because they can help with his research. He shows them behind a super intricate door that has many locks but opens if you turn the knob because adults are really bad at being reasonable in this series.
Behind the closed door is The Reptile Room.
Monty’s reptile room has flying lizards, and tortoises with little headphones on, and a giant snake. Monty introduces it as his latest discovery, The Incredibly Deadly Viper. We look at the viper from the POV of the children and then it strikes, cutting us to black.
That transitions us to Lemony’s cup of tea. He’s in a new, dingy apartment. He tells us he finds tea or other powerful beverages (S: *wink wink*) useful for when the Baudelaire story gets overwhelming. (A: I also find powerful beverages useful for when life gets overwhelming, so I feel you, Monty.)
However, he knows that Sunny survives this particular incident. Monty dies, but not now. DAMN IT, LEMONY.
Just kidding. Everyone dies. (D: Dafuq??)
Back on Lousy Lane, The Incredibly Deadly Viper is slithering all around Sunny. Her siblings panic and Monty laughs as he grabs the snake and puts it back in its cage. See, The Incredibly Deadly Viper is the friendliest snake and the name is a joke. (S: Ha ha ha, traumatizing children is so silly.) Everyone makes fun of Monty’s name so he’s decided to bring a snake called incredibly deadly to the next herpetological society meeting and pretend it escaped. I can’t imagine that would do anything positive for his professional reputation, but you do you Monty.
Violet asks if there are any poisonous snakes in the room, and Monty says of course there are. He takes them to the other side of the room, which has his scientific library. He invites them to read the books there and promises that even though some reptiles can cause harm, not all reptiles do. And it is through getting to know the reptiles that they will be able to recognize the good ones vs. the bad.
Okay, honestly, am I just reading political commentary into everything these days???
Samantha: Only in a very real valid way. Powerful beverage, anyone?
Dani: Make mine a double, pls.
Mari: Monty promises that as long as they educate themselves, no harm will come to them in the Reptile Room. Lemony is now in the foreground in the room and gives us a little education in dramatic irony.
On some other day, the kids are in the Reptile Room. Klaus looks like he’s digging into some reading while Violet and Sunny play together on the floor. The heartbroken crocodile comes in and Klaus kind of snaps, on account of how they are recent orphans being passed around like hot potatoes. Violet tries to comfort him by saying that Monty is at last treating them well, illustrated to us the viewer by the fact that these precious children have finally had a change of clothes. (D: Whew.) Plus, the Baudelaire parents seemed to want them with Monty. Klaus questions this, given that their parents never even mentioned Monty. The Baudelaires are getting suspicious. (S: Proud of you, children.)
Monty comes in and tells them that he’s going into town to pick up some supplies. Afterward, they are going to see a movie, but he doesn’t know what yet. Klaus has never heard of a theater that doesn’t tell you beforehand what movie is playing. Monty laughs and says there are a lot of things Klaus has never heard of. He calls life “a conundrum of esoterica.”
After Monty is gone, Violet asks WTF that means. Klaus says a conundrum is a mystery and esoterica are obscure objects or documents. On that note, Klaus rolls out the original blueprint of Monty’s landscaping. It’s a labryinth that forms the shape of an eye, the same one that was tattooed on Olaf’s ankle. Klaus calls it a mark of villainy. Violet can’t believe that Monty is in cahoots with Count Olaf. Klaus says that something strange is definitely going on, however.
On cue, the door bell rings. Sunny wisely tells her siblings not to answer it, but if we listened to Sunny, the plot would move along too easily. (A: Though the Baudelaires would be living a better life…) The Baudelaires answer the door and it’s Olaf in a Terrible Disguise™. This one involves a lab coat, a long white beard, very round glasses and some kind of higher pitched voice/Italian accent. He calls himself Stephano, Monty’s new assistant. Right away, the Baudelaires are like “WTF OLAF?” (S: It’s my favorite lol moment of this episode.) (D: I love these kids so much.) Klaus tries to close the door in his face, but Olaf keeps it from closing with a very big knife. In his normal voice, Olaf tells the children they haven’t changed a bit. Violet is as stubborn as ever and Klaus is still wearing glasses. Wow, Olaf. Sick burn.
Olaf goes on to threaten to cut off one of Sunny’s toes and pretend it was an accident. Violet says he wouldn’t dare. Olaf replies that they shouldn’t talk about what he would or would not dare to do, which is fair, since he’s already slapped Klaus and almost-married Violet. Olaf points to the picture of the piano and says that the Baudelaire parents were very brave in their day, but now their days are over. Klaus says that piano is not a picture of their parents, but Olaf tells them just as Monty did: they were inside the piano. And Olaf knows because he claims to have taken the picture. (S: !!!!) Now, the Baudelaire fortune is his.
At that moment, Monty’s screeching iguana clock chimes, startling Olaf enough to let the Baudelaires escape and run downstairs. They head toward the Reptile Room and lock themselves inside. Lock as in Olaf pounds on the door and doesn’t think to try the door knob. Klaus suggests breaking a window and running far away from this place, his go-to suggestion. Violet doesn’t think they can do that and doesn’t think Olaf would really hurt them because he wants their fortune. He must have some plan, but she doesn’t know what yet.
Monty pulls up and Lemony voice-overs that for years, the Baudelaires would wonder what they might’ve done differently that day Olaf showed up at their door. Maybe they might’ve been able to save Monty’s life. (D: Oof.)
Olaf-Stephano greets Monty as the children watch through a window. Violet thinks Monty will see right through Olaf’s disguise, but he doesn’t seem to. Olaf-Stephano pretends to be from the Scientific Society Seeking to Soothe Stress and this involves hissing that acronym back and forth until Monty gets it right. Olaf-Stephano has a pretty rad looking resume, if you ignore the fact that the back says “Count Olaf. Actor.” I believe in customizing your resume, but maybe not all on the same document, Olaf. Official HR Lady advice. Monty invites Olaf-Stephano inside so easily that even Olaf is surprised.
Inside, Monty tells Olaf where to find his room. After he’s gone, Monty makes a big show of opening the door with all of its “security measures.” Once he opens the door, he loudly tells the Baudelaires that there is nothing to fear because Stephano is just an assistant who chased them up and down the stairs with a knife because it is part of his fitness routine. The Baudelaires pick up on the fact that we are acting badly, and reply that everything makes sense now. Violet says she may even join Stephano during his exercise, which makes Monty chuckle.
Monty asks them to come outside and help him bring in the stuff he bought. This includes a canoe. Once the canoe is over their heads, Monty whispers an apology to the Baudelaires. He did not think that their enemies would catch up to them so quickly. The children are shocked that Monty knows that isn’t an assistant up there and Monty is like, “duh.” He’s not a dumb banker or a star-struck judge. (A: This fact made me equal parts happy and sad. Finally, a non-idiot adult. But he is not long for this world.) Violet suggests calling the LOLPD and Monty levels that with an LOL. His plan is instead to very carefully watch the intruder. (S: Sure. Okay. Yeah. That’s certainly a plan.) Of course, as they are walking back into the house, Olaf-Stefphano drops a glass lamp on Monty’s head. He says it was an accident and Monty says it’s perfectly fine, even with a bunch of glass in his hair.
Dinner. Olaf-Stephano says he doesn’t want to go to the movie. Monty insists. Olaf-Stephano insists back. He says he prefers long-form television to movies and gives the camera a knowing smile.
Annie: I loved every single one of these fourth-wall breaking moments. Give. Them. All. To. Me.
Dani: If it’d been anyone other than NPH, I might have objected… but his delivery totally made me chuckle.
Mari: Just watch that last gif in the set.
Monty says that he feels uncomfortable leaving his reptiles alone with a relative stranger. Olaf-Stephano gives in, but wants to first place a phone call. Violet asks him to pass the pot stickers and Olaf-Stephano grabs the plate and stuffs all of the remaining pot stickers in his mouth like the child-hating mega-villain that he is. Seriously. Rude.
Annie: First he ruins cupcakes, now he steals the pot stickers. He really is evil.
Mari: In the parlor, Olaf calls someone and tells them about the movie theater.
Outside, Olaf-Stephano calls shotgun and climbs in the car before the kids can. As they get in, he tells them to hurry up because they don’t want to miss the previews or excessive commercials. Again, we see you, Netflix.
Monty takes a while to get around to his side because he stops to clean a smudge on the windshield. Alone in the car, Olaf takes out his knife to properly threaten the children. The Baudelaires say they’ll discover his plan and best him yet again. Olaf says that he has no plans to hurt the children, on purpose. Monty climbs in and Olaf-Stephano pretends to be finishing a story about why frogs are the best reptiles. Klaus tells him frogs are amphibians. Monty asks where Olaf-Stephano studies herpetology and, after saying he doesn’t know anything about mouth sores, turns the music on.
Theater. An old lady orders a ticket. She’s treating herself because her life is boring. Monty is next and he orders all of their tickets. The ticket taker greets him warmly.
Concession stand. The old lady says she’s ordering popcorn because nothing at all interesting happens in her life.
Olaf-Stephano says popcorn sounds like a great idea and shoos them into the theater while he buys some for everyone.
Inside, Monty tells the children the 7th row, right of center is the best place to sit. Violet smiles because this is what her mother used to always say. That’s where Monty learned it. Aw.
They sit and Monty says that their parents would be proud that they are watching a movie, because a movie isn’t just a movie. It’s like how a book can teach you things about poisonous snakes or prop open a refrigerator. Sunny gives an actual “wuh,” which Violet translates as “we are not following.” Monty simply says there is much to learn, but not tonight because Olaf-Stephano. He tells them that if he gets up suddenly, they must not act like anything is amiss. They must keep an eye on Olaf-Stephano.
Olaf-Stephano arrives precisely then with a giant tub of popcorn for himself and a baby-sized one for everyone else. Violet is clearly holding a doll right now. (S: Girl’s arm muscles needed a break. Maybe Klaus should hold the baby more.) (A: SERIOUSLY. This distracts me a lot during the show. #giveVioletsarmsabreak) The movie starts and the credits tell us this is a movie by Gustav Sebald. Monty pulls out his own super secret eyepiece. Klaus looks at it questioningly, but Monty tells him it’s not the time for questioning looks. The movie is “Zombies in the Snow” and it is subtitled, which Olaf-Stephano immediately hates.
Turns out, the movie is in English and the subtitles are in English. Klaus asks why and Monty tells him that all the best movies have subtitles. The lead actress is none other than Jacqueline and I believe the guy is now-dead Gustaf. (A: These two are everywhere.) Violet kind of recognizes Jacqueline, but Klaus is distracted by the weirdness of the whole experience. Monty keeps fiddling with his super secret eyepiece. After he’s got a bunch of settings in place, he looks at the screen through the eyepiece and the subtitles reveal a super secret message: Hello Monty. Danger! Take the children on the SS Prospero to…
Olaf-Stephano sees what Monty is doing and stands up to “get more popcorn.” He purposefully stands in front of Monty for a while, pretending to be confused on which way to go. Poor old lady with the boring life is PISSED. Monty misses the next part of the secret message.
Dani: The old lady with the boring life confused me. I kept expecting something crazy would happen to her (i.e. dramatic irony), but it didn’t. Maybe next time Lemony can explain “misdirection” or “plot holes” to us.
Mari: I honestly went back and added the old lady into the recap after she showed up again at the concession stand because I was convinced that she would be significant. Jokes on me.
Concessions. The two henchtwin ladies are there. Olaf-Stephano tells them that you-know-who is trying to send a message to Monty. They don’t care very much about that, so Olaf-Stephano just tells them that operation capture Monty is still a go.
Olaf-Stephano goes back inside and soon after, Monty excuses himself. Olaf-Stephano tries to follow after him, but the children say he can’t go because they are too young to be left in a theater alone. This seems to work for unknown reasons, and Olaf-Stephano sits back down.
Monty passes the concession stand on the way to the projection room. There, the ticket taker helps him rewind the movie back to the part Monty missed. The rest of the message is “to Peru.” The henchtwins have followed Monty and we can hear them whispering around outside as Monty tells Ticket Taker that things are bad and he needs 4 tickets on the SS Prospero to Peru ASAP. Ticket Taker conveniently sells all kinds of tickets, so they head next to the ticket booth. There, he prints out a ticket, passage for four, on the SS Prospero.
As Monty walks into the theater, he’s restrained and kidnapped by the henchtwins. Lemony shows up to tell us that the children were so focused on keeping their eye on Olaf, they didn’t notice what was happening behind them. There are lots of things happening the children don’t know about. (D: I love these ominous little snippets they drop in. It’s very tantalizing for those of us who’ve never read the books.)
Cut to Mom and Pop Baudelaire dropping down into a tunnel. Every time I see Cobie and Will, I squee. (A: Same.) They exit the tunnel and Mom can immediately tell they are in Peru. The shot pans out and we see they are on a ledge surrounded by waterfalls. (S: I’m still freaked by their existence and so very skeptical.)
Theater. The movie ends and Sunny claps and it is the cutest thing. Someone hug that baby. (D: I volunteer as tribute!) Olaf-Stephano dumps the rest of his popcorn on the floor. Someone kick that douchebag. (D: Same!) The kids finally notice that Monty is gone. They run out and call for him, but Olaf is there. He grabs them and villain-speeches that they are all alone with no guardian. Whatever shall they do.
But hark! Monty appears and he’s fine? He sends the kids to the car so he can have a word with Olaf-Stephano. He reveals that he doesn’t know who Olaf-Stephano really is. He thinks he’s a spy from the herpetological society. Oh.
Monty tells Olaf-Stephano to be gone, with his pale-faced twins and Olaf leaves, head hanged in supposed shame, but he’s really laughing at his good luck. Not a good adult to be seen anywhere yet.
Dani: I got the impression Monty was intentionally misleading him again. I mean, he had the decoder thing and knew about the secret message in the movie and the parents in Peru… surely he was just playing dumb to Olaf, like he did earlier. Right?
Samantha: Nah. Unfortunately.
Mari: In the car, Klaus questions the whole “leaving Olaf-Stephano alone at the theater” thing, but Monty thinks this is all a great plan and anyway, even if Stephano escapes, they will be far away. He tells them they are going to Peru to find reptiles and answers. (S: How about maybe go right now and don’t stop home, mmkay?)
At the mansion, Monty tells them more about their travel plans. He tells them that he knows the loss of their parents was a great tragedy, but they can still lead the life intended for them. It’s bed time and Monty grabs Sunny, noting that she ate all her marshmallows. She babbles that they were delicious. Violet tries to translate, but Monty doesn’t need it. He understands Sunny and happily says that they finally found a soft food Sunny likes.
Monty tucks them into bed and Sunny is clapping again. I can’t handle it. (D: The marshmallow consumption increased her cuteness tenfold. Because science.)
Outside of their room, Monty smiles at the picture of the piano. The iguana clock screeches. Lemony says this is the last screech before the arrival of dramatic irony. Downstairs, Monty sees the door to the reptile room is open. Lemony says that Monty promised that no harm would come to the Baudelaires in the Reptile Room, but the irony is that great harm will come to Monty. (A: Noooooo!)
We watch him walk in and something attacks him.
Next time on A Series of Unfortunate Events: RIP Monty in S01 E04 – The Reptile Room: Part Two.