Previously: Aunt Josephine wasn’t what the children expected, but then she was gone and that wasn’t what they wanted.
The Wide Window: Part Two
Marines: Look away, look away!
We start with the kids standing in front of the wide window, reading Josephine’s suicide note. What we thought was a grammatical error previously turns out to be a few errors. Dowadger instead of dowager. Leadle instead of lead. But perhaps the worst thing of all is that the end of the letter says that Josephine is leaving the kids in the care of Captain Sham. We fade from Violet saying that it can’t be, to Lemony in the nearer present, in front of the ruins of Josephine’s house. Lemony says that when you lose someone close to you, “it can’t be” are often the words that run through your saddened head. (S: So real.)
We see that Lemony is standing next to a gravestone and it turns out it’s for his beloved Beatrice. (S: All of the little mentions of Beatrice peppered through are done just as enticingly and depressingly as the book.) He tells us again about his duty to report these sad happenings and encourages us not to watch. We fade back to Violet rereading the the letter, this time to Mr. Poe on the phone. (She removed the glass case around the phone, warning of electrocution.) Violet cheerily says she will pass along some message. After she hangs up, she more somberly says that Mr. Poe says they can always rely on Mulctuary Money Management. Dani pointed this out last week, but we’re seeing even more subtle hints of how the children, Violet in particular, are learning to manipulate the adults, or say what needs to be said. It’s just another level of heartbreak to see the way they are learning to survive, but it also endears me more to her character. That’s to say nothing of the very child-like act of READING THE NOTE TO THE ADULTS instead of, you know, chucking it.
Dani: They’re having to grow up so fast, and yet they’re still so innocent. These kids today, with their texting and murder.
Samantha: Would this note even count as an actual will? It’s not notarized. Can the children just be willed away like this?
Mari: Probably no, but alas.
Klaus, meanwhile, has already picked up that there is something funny about the letter Josephine has left. Violet doesn’t get it right away, and doesn’t think this is funny at all. Klaus says it’s not funny as in joke, but funny as in smell, because the letter is full of grammatical errors.
Samantha: God, the beautifulness of that gif set. It really drives home the dreary bleakness of this plot for these children. But then we have that pop of blue with Violet’s dress because these kids are resourceful and brave and can rely on themselves. Best.
Mari: Violet is too hung up on the awfulness of being left, yet again, to Olaf. (A: Can’t blame her for that.) Klaus wishes she’d never read Mr. Poe the note because then they could’ve destroyed it and written a new one I’M SAYING. THANK YOU, KLAUS. Violet, bless her heart, wonders if it would’ve been difficult to imitate Josephine’s handwriting, which makes Klaus wonder if this is her handwriting at all. Sunny’s like, “Olaf” because she stays keeping it real.
We transition to a day scene and Mr. Poe and his coughing are back. I wonder if this actor got really tired of coughing. (D: I want his coughing to be an actual plot device at some point – like he inadvertently saves their lives because of something he does mid-coughing-fit.) (A: Or the coughing could force him into a medical leave and maybe a competent adult could take over while he’s gone.) Violet and Klaus are using more of their breath to explain to Poe that the suicide note is a forgery and it’s all Olaf’s doing, as he is in disguise as Captain Sham. Mr. Poe very sensibly suggests comparing the handwriting in the note to Josephine’s. Klaus is very taken aback by this seemingly good idea. (A: Especially considering the source. #UselessPoe) Mr. Poe says the children are very smart, but even smart people need the help of a banker. This all backfires, though, because the handwriting in the note matches Josephine’s shopping list.
Mr. Poe goes on and on about how the children have to stop jumping to the conclusion that the evil man who vowed to stop at nothing to get his hands on their parent’s enormous fortune is involved in plots to get his hands on their parent’s enormous fortune. Klaus tries to show him that the theatrical troupe is posted outside, but they are no longer in sight. Sunny is using the playing cards to build an impressive card house. (D: At least someone’s getting to play with the gifts Aunt Jo gave them.)
Mr. Poe says all these accusations of forgery and grammatical errors are easily solved over brunch, which is convenient because Captain Sham has invited them to brunch. It seems that Captain Sham “accidentally” called Mr. Poe while trying to reach a knife shop to buy a knife for some children he knows. He was shocked to hear of Josephine’s death, but he’s excited to take care of the children. Violet says they are not going to brunch with a villain, but Mr. Poe says they most certainly are. There is a hurricane coming and he is anxious to pass them off to a stranger so he can get back to the city. (S: -_- We see you, Poe.)
We cut to the car, where Mr. Poe is vowing to investigate Captain Sham to the best of his ability as a banker, saying “the eyes of Poe” will catch anything suspicious immediately. Sunny coos that he missed the turn. (D: That’s so Poe!) Klaus and Violet share a half-annoyed, half-disbelieving look.
Next, we linger on a sign for the Anxious Clown restaurant. (A:HARD PASS.) Lemony walks out in front of it. As Poe drives by, Lemony tells us that we’ve probably heard of a Venus Flytrap, a plant that grows in the tropics and “in the apartments of certain lonely people.” Lol. He explains how a Venus Flytrap traps a fly and says that as Violet, Klaus and Sunny arrived at brunch with Olaf a few minutes late because Mr. Poe missed the turn (we see Poe driving past Lemony again on the opposite side) they felt as helpless as a fly, Olaf’s scheme closing around them. Sadly, they did not know that someone was there, desperately trying to help them.
Restaurant Owner from last episode introduces himself as Larry, their waiter, and welcomes them to the Anxious Clown, where everyone has a good time whether they like it or not. (D: Sounds like my company’s monthly birthday social.) (A: I haaaaaate forced socialization almost as much as I hate clowns.) (S: Hey, thanks, I’ll just grab this cake and uh….go back to hiding in my office GREAT BYEEEEE!) He suggests the family special, and Olaf Sham is quick to jump on that. Violet and Klaus say they’ll just have water, thanks so much. Mr. Poe wants coffee. Olaf Sham suggests wine for toasting his new family, but Mr. Poe doesn’t drink during banking hours and also the children just lost their Aunt Josephine. Olaf Sham switches gears and pretends to be sad, making up a stupidly elaborate story about knowing Josephine for ages, having met her at cooking class, etc.
Larry the Waiter is super shocked to hear that Josephine is dead. Olaf Sham gives him evil and satisfied looks as he says that Josephine jumped out of a window. Larry the Waiter switches his recommendation and says that they should get the cheer-up-burgers that come with smiley faces and all. They should be sure to look under the bun before they eat. Olaf Sham says they’ll all have the cheer-up cheeseburgers and sends Larry away.
In the kitchen, the minion troupe are all there to threaten Larry into doing exactly what they say, with no tricks like secret messages in the burger. Larry tells the troupe that they will never get them, even if they are surrounded or thrown out of windows or forced to cook. Cooking is a recurring theme here (she says after 6 episodes…) (S: Can confirm from the books that it is.)
Back at the table, Mr. Poe tells Olaf Sham that the Baudelaire fortune will remain in Mr. Poe’s control until Violet turns of age. Olaf Sham is like, “fortune? What fortune??” Larry the Waiter comes out with a bonus Fuzzy Navel for Olaf Sham and waters for the Baudelaires. Violet is surprised that this anxious clown knows their names. Larry says of course he doesn’t know their names and hustles back into the kitchen. After that, the kids pick up where they left off: trying again to convince Mr. Poe that Sham is Olaf.
Mr. Poe says he’s losing patience with the Baudelaires after all his supposed hard work trying to find them a suitable guardian. And now faced with a “perfectly legal” last will and testament that puts them in the care of a sailor they met yesterday, they are spouting what Poe calls McCarthyesque accusations. (D: I want to hurt him. Badly.) (A: Poe has got to be the most infuriating adult in this whole series. Be better, Poe.) But if the orphans insist, Poe says he will prove that Olaf and Sham are two different people.
Larry the waiter comes back with their food and makes a show of handing out burgers across the table from behind Olaf. He also asks if they could possibly be allergic to anything that would make them leave the restaurant immediately. (D: I love you, Larry.) (A: An adult that may actually be helping? What even.) While that’s happening, Poe’s proof that Sham is not Olaf includes pointing out his eye patch and the half a wooden broom stick where his leg should be. Violet tells Larry that they are allergic to peppermints.
Mr. Poe says that see? Sham has none of the hallmarks of Olaf. All that needs to happen is for Olaf Sham to sign some papers in Poe’s briefcase. Olaf Sham says something creepy about how the kids will be his and nothing can stop him. Poe pauses, but only enough to chuckle and brush that creepy statement off completely. (A: BE BETTER, POE.) Larry the waiter comes back out. He hands the bill across the table to the Baudelaires, peppermints included. Klaus grabs them.
Lemony walks in to inform us that everyone is allergic to something, whether it be gluten, injustice, dark chocolate, corruption, pollen or common decency. In the kitchen, the minion troupe are still in there, watching Larry but also eating. Fernald says they are also going to make Larry do all the dishes and they all laugh and laugh.
Lemony leaves the kitchen again and explains that the Baudelaires were allergic to peppermint. (Does he always talk about them in the past tense? She asks after noticing in episode 6…) (D: I believe so. But I have to admit when Lemony’s on screen I’m more focused on the man than the words he’s speaking.) (A: Definitely past tense. And seconded, Lemony steals the show always.) (S: I think past tense in the books also. Heightens the INTRIGUE.) Their allergy was quick-acting and if you are allergic to something, you shouldn’t put that thing in your mouth, particularly if that thing is cats. (Or corruption or injustice, I’d say.) (D: It’s good advice, regardless of one’s known allergies.)
But Violet and Klaus knew this was an emergency. Lemony bends down and we see that under the table, the children pass down the mints and unwrap them. Mr. Poe is telling a boring story about going to buy milk and so no one notices as they eat the peppermints.
No one notices until the children all break out in rashes and their tongues start swelling. Mr. Poe is at least enough of an adult to know that they should get home immediately. He’s not enough of an adult to see them there or to think that Olaf Sham’s suggestion of just taking deep breaths is enough to maybe not trust this guy with children. Violet says they should stay at lunch and go over the paperwork while the children get back to the house.
Outside, the wind is blowing and the hurricane is getting nearer. Klaus suggests something, but his tongue is still swollen and we can’t really understand. Violet assumes he’s suggesting getting back to the house and figuring out the whole Josephine thing before Poe and Olaf finish with the paperwork. How will they get to Josephine’s house, though? The Convenient Taxi appears, ready to give another ride for a small fee.
Annie: What does it say that a taxi driver and a waiter are the kids’ closest things to having an ally in all of this?
Mari: Very sad things for our darlings.
Cut to Josephine’s house and Taxi Driver talking about the whale and post-colonialism. Violet thanks and pays him, and he departs with a “Call me Ishmael.” Has anyone invented that Uber but with literary puns thing yet? No?
The kids go to the library. Klaus suggests starting his research while the girls take baking soda baths to treat their hives.
Anxious Clown. Poe is explaining that part of the fortune is locked in a tuition fund. Olaf Sham asks if that means that money can’t be spent on a pair of diamond cufflinks. Poe does at least think this is a bad question. In the kitchen, Broody Minion is sharing a recipe with Larry, though Fernald comes over to tell him not to be nice to their hostage. The phone rings. Larry picks it up and is surprised to hear that someone is alive. And in Peru! The parents! Before more information can be exchanged, Fernald disrupts the call but doesn’t know how to use the phone.
Airplane. Father tells Mother that the restaurant has been compromised. Still, they are going to fly in this hurricane to get to their children.
In the library, Klaus has figured out that the letter was written by Josephine and the mistakes were a code. OOOOOH. I honestly was not thinking about a code. I’m so bad at TV sometimes. (D: Same! But at least we’re not adults-on-this-show level of bad.) Anyhow, the first its vs it’s mistake was to get their attention. The other mistakes were a code that spell out “curdled,” pointing them to Curdled Cave. The kids think they’ll find Josephine there and start to prepare to take the ferry.
Annie: Yay, something to be hopeful about? Maybe? Please?
Mari: Just then, lightning strikes and Josephine’s poorly placed house is badly damaged. The library starts to go over the precipice. Violet manages to hang on to the maps and Sunny is hanging onto a door knob with her incredibly strong teeth. Klaus, though, is slipping closer to the hole in the window. Things are flying everywhere. Of particular interest are a few pages in the book about Secret Societies that had a diagram about the eyepiece, and a picture of everyone in their younger days. I stared at a screen cap for too long. (S: SAME.)
Klaus manges to grab the picture. It looks like the library might go over, with Klaus hanging by an almost literal (rug) thread, but the house settles and Klaus is flipped back inside. They take a breath, but it doesn’t last long. A lime rolls free from its bag, pushing down Sunny’s card house and rolling all the way to the library. One second later, the library detaches and goes over the precipice. The Baudelaires run outside and just in time — the rest of the house is lost over the cliff as well. And if they had any stuff at all left, they lost it again. I know lots of bad things are going on right now, but I honestly first thought about how these children keep losing THEIR STUFF.
Annie: I felt the same way. These kids have nothing, and still somehow manage to loose ALL their stuff.
Dani: It’s just so unfair. The minute they get even the smallest glimmer of stability it’s ripped away from them.
Samantha: We feel so strongly about not having YOUR STUFF here and it is painful to see happen again and again.
Mari: TV Station, weather screen. Lemony says that during the on-season, the Fickle Ferry boards visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the sun, fresh air and mackerel. Ferries leave every 17 minutes to the Lavender Lighthouse, from where it is a short walk to the Curdled Cave. That is, of course, during season. They missed the words on the very bottom of the Fickle Ferry schedule: weather permitting.
Faced with this dilemma, the kids decide to steal sail boats and rain jackets and sail themselves through a hurricane. Lemony says that some people out there might be afraid that this would encourage others to do the same. However, he warns us all not to steal sailboats and also to not sail sailboats during hurricanes. I can very sincerely promise my boo Lemony to never do either of those things. (A: Same. I mean, I don’t like going outside on a nice day, so there is low risk of this. But I promise Lemony that I won’t.)
The kids think that no one will know, anyway, and they’ll just return the boats. Fernald is watching them. Also, sailing through a hurricane sucks, especially when you only have passing knowledge of how to sail anyway. Klaus read some nautical literature and knows sails are for catching wind. Violet knows the thing in that back is called the tiller and steers the ship. Lemony says that chance of survival right now is at zero, between whirlpools and rocks and the dangerous entrance to the cave. However, as any weatherperson will tell you, all storms eventually break.
We cut to the children on smooth seas. You can’t tell me last episode that storms and the sea stand for life’s troubles and then tell me that all storms break and then show me the children on smooth seas!! I know that’s reading a lot into all the things, but also we get so few happy times that looking cute in some rain jackets on a boat not being murdered by a hurricane feels like a happy thing.
The children walk into the cave, and we see that the wailing is Aunt Josephine. Klaus runs to her, so excited to see her alive, but she yells and jumps and scares him back. She does say that she knew that the children would be able to figure out the code. She knew it. Violet says it was Klaus. Klaus says that Violet sailed their boat. Violet says that Sunny spotted the lighthouse. Josephine tells them to let her catch her breath and then she’ll help them bring their stuff in. THEIR STUFF. Violet asks what stuff. Josephine figures they brought their luggage and some food to live with Jo in the cave. Sunny gives a long suffering, “here we go again.” Violet says they didn’t come here to live in a cave with her. Josephine asks WTF they came for. Violet says that they were in Captain Sham’s grasps because of her note, leaving the children in his care. Josephine says she was forced to write that.
We cut to a diner where Josephine and Olaf Sham are halfway through their egg sandwiches. (Seriously, I can only hear about egg sandwiches so much before I stop writing this recap to go get one.) It is then that Olaf Sham reveals himself as actually Olaf, which he proves by literally just lifting his eyepatch. Josephine is so shocked that she spits out the egg in her mouth. Grossly, Olaf picks up the piece of egg and eats it. If he was trying to be very villainous, it worked.
Dani: He’d probably think nothing of using her toothbrush, too.
Samantha: I am going to retch, a word which here means MAKE IT STOP.
Mari: I just edited a Doctor Who recap in which Dani also brought up some Fifty Trauma. Dani is very good at that.
Olaf threatens Josephine with death unless she writes a letter giving the children to him. She was so frightened, she immediately agreed, but then she decided to pen the suicide note with her secret message. Once back at the house, Josephine managed to get away from Olaf long enough to plant the note, throw a statue through the window and then jump out through the hole, faking her own death. Olaf walked in and thought that worked out incredibly well for him. He lights his pipe and casually walks out. One second later, the children run downstairs.
In the present, the Baudelaires ask why Josephine didn’t take them with her. Why didn’t she protect them from Olaf? Why did she leave them all alone by themselves? (D: And why, oh why can’t these poor kids find someone who knows how to adult??) Instead of answering these questions, Josephine corrects Violet on her grammar and redirects the conversation. Josephine intends to stay in this cave forever because she’s too afraid to face Count Olaf. Violet talks to her about doing things despite fear:
Josephine is unmoved and says that there is nothing they can say that will get her to leave. Klaus accepts the challenge. He points out that Curdled Cave is for sale, and before long, certain people will want to come look at it. Some of those people will be real estate agents. Josephine turns around and tells them it’s time to go.
Dani: Yay, now Klaus is learning the manipulation game! Before long, these kids are going to be unstoppable.
Mari: In the sailboat, it seems Josephine is spending the entire ride repeating, “uh oh.” Violet wishes she wouldn’t. Klaus suggests thinking back to a time when she was a little more fierce and formidable. He shows her the picture he found earlier in the library. She looks at it fondly, pointing out Ike and Monty and the Baudelaires. Klaus says they have so many questions about their parents and why they never told the children about Monty or Josephine or probably about many other things. Josephine says that the Baudelaires wanted to raise their children in a quieter world, removed from the fiery injustices they knew. In fact, not long after this picture was taken, Mother made a frightening decision. Before we can hear what it is, Josephine is again distracted because they’ve entered the territory of the lachrymose leeches and she recently ate a banana.
Klaus tries to be reassuring, but the truth is that the lachrymose leeches are quickly approaching. They attack the boat in unison, busting through the wood and causing the boat to start sinking. Violet says they need help. Some kind of signal. She ties up her hair and closes her eyes. Josephine applauds this move, saying she loves to close her eyes when things get too frightening. Klaus corrects Josephine. Violet is merely concentrating and soon she has an idea: they should light a fire and make a lot of noise.
The fire thing is tricky because everything is wet after the storm. Everything but Josephine’s scarf. She won’t give it up at first, but Violet grabs it anyway. Klaus reasons that he might be able to use the binoculars and the light from the lighthouse to spark a fire. He can’t quite get it at the right angle. They need something else to refract it, but there is no one out here.
We pan up and the parents fly by in their plane. I cry a little. Father pulls out his binoculars to check out what’s on the lake. They refract the light in such a way that Klaus is able to set the scarf on fire. Violet notices the plane, and she climbs up on the mast and waves the fire around. Klaus starts banging on a pail with a stick. Mother wonders why anyone would be out on the lake so soon after a hurricane. Father suggests that maybe they are trying to get to their family too. (D: *sniff) (A: I’m not crying, you’re crying.) (S: Definitely teary but I still also feel so weird about the parents.) Mother thinks they might be able to fly low and slow enough to help them, but they notice the ferry is on their way. Plus, the plane is having some difficulty. It’s going to be a bumpy landing.
Josephine is squealing because they are saved. Just as soon as Violet, Klaus and Sunny board the ferry, their little sailboat sinks. They look at it sadly, and I’m sure it has something to do with the close call, but here is something else that they lose completely. It just seems that no matter what they have, for whatever period of time, they lose.
The rescue excitement is short-lived because it’s actually Olaf Sham who has found them, and his minion troupe is with him. He tells them to stop faking their deaths and running away and stuff. The Baudelaires are infinitely defiant, even as Olaf asks who is going to believe a pair of sailboat thieves. Klaus says they only stole it to save Josephine so she could out Olaf. Olaf confronts her, asking if she was really going to defy him after all their history. She is cowering, but suddenly, she stands up a little straighter and says that she is indeed going to defy him. The Baudelaires have suffered great tragedy and have remained fierce and formidable in the face of it, inspiring her. All these years, she’s just been hiding in her house, which she says can now topple off a cliff for all she cares. Violet and Klaus exchange looks and decide they’ll tell her about that bit later.
Dani: It’s sort of hilarious that the woman who’s afraid of everything lived in a house that could be destroyed by a strong wind. I guess there’s deeper meaning there… all those protections she put in place (no cooking, no fires, no electricity) to protect herself didn’t matter. Without a stable foundation, the rest is superficial. (Or something.)
Josephine calls Olaf a villain, a wretch, and a vastly untalented actor. It’s the last bit that really stings.
We cut to Lemony who explains the use of schm- in front of things we do not care about. But the Baudelaires did care about Josephine. She gave them a house, even if it was cold and not hurricane proof. She tried to teach them, even if it was things they didn’t want to learn. They hoped their Aunt Josephine was safe.
Samantha: Josephine was frustrating, but it’s so heartbreaking to see this happen to her, especially just after finding herself again.
Mari: The ferry arrives at Damocles Dock. The children look so sullen in their bright raincoats. (D: Huge kudos to the production design team on this show. They’ve created such a striking, memorable look and feel.) Mr. Poe is waiting for them there. As they dock, Klaus seems to notice something. He points out the smoke stacks in the distance and shows Violet the picture of the secret society again. It was taken just here, so those smoke stacks belong to Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
On the dock, Mr. Poe yells at the children for lying and stealing sailboats. He says he wouldn’t be surprised if Olaf Sham didn’t want the troublesome children anymore. Olaf Sham says he did have second thoughts, but then he essentially remembered his empty wallet. The children, fighting until the end, tell Poe again that Sham is actually Olaf in disguise. Poe says that there is nothing they can say to make him believe this because they have no evidence. He can’t take the word of a single child. Violet says there are three of them, duh, though Olaf says Sunny doesn’t count.
SUNNY THEN JUMPS OUT OF VIOLET’S ARMS AND GNAWS AT OLAF’S FAKE WOODEN LEG. Wow. As they approached the dock, I was honestly wondering how they would get out of this one with Josephine gone. Never would I have guessed that Sunny would chew the wooden leg.
Dani: I love how ALL the Baudelaire children have something to contribute. Remember when Sunny card-sharped her way out of the birdcage?
Mari: Sunny is the actual best.
Olaf tries to shriek about how his leg totally grew back and it’s a miracle. Poe tells him that’s ridiculous because even a child can see that leg was false. Violet and Klaus SASS about how three children did see it was false, but he wouldn’t listen because he never listens. Olaf keeps trying to convince Poe that he’s not Olaf, but this time, none of his ridiculous lies work. Meanwhile, the children notice that there is a truck in the background for Lucky Smells. They sneak off while the adults argue and jump into the back of the truck.
Olaf says that okay, maybe he isn’t Captain Sham, but the children are still his because Josephine said so. Poe says actually not. Josephine left the kids to Captain Sham, not Count Olaf. Poe turns to look for the Baudelaires, but they are gone. And Olaf and his minions take this opportunity to run away at a speed that should not actually let them get away.
We rejoin the children in the back of the truck.
We’ve reached the final two-parter before the end. I’m scared.
Dani: I’m terrified. I don’t care how many times Lemony tells me to look away, or assures me this is not a story with a happy ending. I still cling to some hope that things will work out for these incredible kids.
Annie: Same, same, same. Why would Lemony do this to us? Whyyyyy?
Samantha: All the cosign.
Next time on A Series of Unfortunate Events: The children reach the lumber mill in S01 E07 – The Miserable Mill Part One.