Previously: Aunt Josephine wasn’t dead, but then she was, and the children ran away.
The Miserable Mill: Part One
Marines: New two-parter = new credits! NPH sings, “the lumber mill is where the Baudelaires are forced to work, the eye doctor is sinister, the owner is a jerk, they end up in a fiendish plot with logs and hypnotism, the very thought of watching should be met with skepticism.”
Look away, look away, etc.
New dedication to Beatrice: my love flew like a butterfly, until death swooped down like a bat.
Mr. Poe is on Damocles Dock, freaking out since the Baudelaires are gone. He’s yelling at a random passerby, saying that they have not a moment to lose. And then Poe gets distracted by free samples of clam chowder.
Dani: I hope the chowder is super hot and burns his mouth.
Annie: I hope he’s allergic to clams, eats it and then he dies.
Mari: The violence escalated quickly.
Back of a truck. Violet hopes that Mr. Poe isn’t too worried about them. (A: Sweet child, do not waste your worries on him. He has failed you over and over again.) Sunny and Klaus both give her, “bitch please” looks and she concedes their silent point. Violet looks into the cab of the truck and unfortunately, the truck driver spots her. And being an adult in this universe, the driver decides to drop the children off on the side of the road and yell, “get a job hitchhikers!”
Klaus asks what now, and Violet simply says they must walk. Sunny is NOT a fan of this idea, but Violet’s long-suffering arms are there for her. We watch them walk for a while before Violet announces that they are almost out of the woods. Lemony slinks in to explain that the expression “out of the woods” exists because the woods are awful, basically. He says in Hansel and Gretel, two children enter the woods and are menaced by an elderly cannibal. In Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf enters the woods and is menaced by a rude little girl (lol), and in Walden, Thoreau enters the woods and is menaced by the revelation that we should all abandon civilization and live by a pond. As he says this, he’s walked by a miniature gingerbread house, a wolf and a girl in a red cape, and Thoreau sitting in a chair, looking rather, well, menaced. Lemony finishes that while Violet was right and they were almost out of the forest, they were far from out of the woods.
Dani: I need more Lemony in my life.
Annie: We could all use more Lemony in our lives.
Mari: The area surrounding Lucky Smells is all burned down. The children think that perhaps all the secrets and clues have been leading them here. Klaus asks what happens if they don’t like what they learn. Violet says not knowing is worse. All that stands between them and knowing is a larger wooden wall. Violet puts Sunny down and ties up her hair, trying to think of a way to catapult them over the wall. Klaus recalls all he’s read about walls: Jericho, China, Pink Floyd… Sunny just crawls right over and pushes open the gate. (D: Bless.)
Klaus sees a sign that says trespassers will be put to work. Violet says they are children, not trespassers, but Klaus knows the two aren’t mutually exclusive. As they enter, Klaus wonders what they are looking for. Violet says it’s like fine art: they’ll know it when they see it. She’s confident that this is the right place, though. Just then, Klaus spots a building with a window shaped like the mysterious eye. He thinks Count Olaf may be involved here. The children are startled by the appearance of a man. He says he thought they were trespassers, but now he sees they are just children. Klaus starts to explain that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but Violet cuts him off and lies that they are on a school trip. The man says this is not a safe place for children, and he should know, because he runs the place. He introduces himself as Charles. Violet pulls out the picture of the whole secret society in front of Lucky Smells and asks Charles if he knows anyone in front of the lumber mill. He smiles fakely at the picture and says they should talk to his partner.
As they walk, Violet asks if Charles knows what happened to the town outside the mill. Charles says that Paltryville was a booming town until one day everything burned down, except the LUMBER mill and the eye-shaped building. Suspicious. Charles seems to be on the verge of telling us who owns the eye-shaped building, but they’ve reached where they were walking to.
Charles’s partner tells the children to call him Sir, as everyone does, because he’s the boss and he makes them. Sir is played by Don Johnson. It’s amazing. (D: SO amazing!!) “Sir” gives me a horrible Fifty Shades Flashback Twitch, though. Decidedly not amazing. (A: The trauma is real.)
Sir says that everyone does as he’s told, even his partner. Klaus asks if partner doesn’t mean equal. We pan back and Lemony is there to say that partner can mean several things, like two people who own a lumber mill together or even, thanks to a certain high court ruling, two people who… He gestures to the two men. Sir puffs on his cigar and says Charles irons all his clothes. Lemony says the two definitions of partner are not mutually exclusive.
Charles explains that he found the children wandering around unsupervised, the poor dears, and he thought they might be able to take them in and give them a loving and normative home. In a sudden and unexpected turn of events, that is not actually what happens. (D: LOL.) It hurts doubly because Sir reasons that these children should be treated as adults. So many adults have treated them as stupid children, but the answer certainly isn’t putting them to work in a factory.
Violet asks if working at Lucky Smells means they can stay at the factory. Sir admires her line of thinking and asks what her name is. He recognizes her last name, so the children immediately ask if he knew their parents. Sir says everyone in Paltryville knew the Baudelaires. He chokes in the middle of saying how, which leads to a Klaus outburst about how EVERY TIME they are about to get answers, something happens.
Dani: Ugh. I’m starting to wish I’d listened to Lemony and looked away.
Annie: Just when you think it can’t get worse… it does.
Mari: Olaf gets a ride from the Lucky Smells truck driver. His name is Evander, though Olaf condescendingly calls him “truck driver” the whole time. Evander confirms that he kicked 3 children out of his truck just outside of Paltryville. Olaf reminisces about the town and woman he once worked with until he ran away in the middle of the night with her valuables. (A: So he’s always been a class act.)
Mill. The children are having dinner with the other workers, grown-ass adults saying hateful things about these children’s dead parents. Of course, none of them ever met the Baudelaires or even know what happened to Paltryville. Violet tells them they should STFU then. (Not really. She very firmly says, “stop spreading rumors.”) A more cheery man comes in to say that he doesn’t believe those rumors anyway. He asks where the Baudelaire parents are. Violet says they are orphans and we add another terrible reaction to our long line of them: Phil says that’s cool. They are living a curfew and rule free life. Just then, lights-out is announced. (D: Ha! I think my favorite thing about this show (besides Lemony, of course) is the way they play with contradictions like this.) By candlelight, Phil says he knows things look dark, but just because the Baudelaire parents set fires to towns doesn’t mean that the children have to. His own parents were Olympians and look at him! He happily gives the children their welcome packet.
Lemony cuts in to say that Phil is clearly an optimist. He defines accordingly:
Dani: Guys, just look at his face when he says, “Ah, my arm!” I AM SO IN LOVE RIGHT NOW.
Annie: This guy is such a great Lemony. I shout that at his face every time I see him in that insurance commercial. (Is it insurance? I dunno what he’s selling. I’m too distracted by his face and his being to remember what he’s selling).
Mari: Our super best Lemony goes on to say that this is not to be confused with an optometrist and we get a flash of a scary eye doctor’s visit, complete with secret society eye on the wall. Considering the credits song, I’m sure this will be significant.
The children try their hand at being optimistic. Violet spots a library on a map of the mill. Klaus says there are machines here, and maybe Violet can invent a better way to turn the trees into planks. Sunny reminds them of the eye building because of a flyer with their welcome packet. They ask her what it is and she’s all, “I can’t read!” I love that baby. Turns out the eye building is an optometrist’s office. (Klaus says optimist at first, mixing them up because their father always said he didn’t trust either.) Violet says that at least they haven’t seen Olaf at all since they got here.
Lemony is lounging nearby (is Dani drooling?) (D: maybejustalittle, haha shut up) and says Violet should’ve been asking herself where Count Olaf’s ex-girlfriend works.
It’s the eye building, of course. Olaf grabs flowers from the pot outside. Inside, his ex-girlfriend is playing darts; Olaf’s face is the bull’s eye. I know her best as Macauley Culkin’s mom in Home Alone, though Catherine O’Hara has been in many other things. (D: BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE!) (A: She’s Canadian, so been in a lot of Canadian TV… she was also in The Nightmare Before Christmas!) Olaf knocks and at first, the woman doesn’t react at all. Olaf keeps knocking and she finally asks who it is. Olaf grandly announces that he’s looking for Dr. Orwell. Orwell starts, clearly recognizing the voice. She runs to the mirror and puts on some lipstick and starts coloring in her gray hair with a marker. (D: Been there.) Meanwhile, Olaf goes on about how he’s looking for Dr. Georgina Orwell in the hopes of making things right between them and totally not at all because he needs something from her.
Dr. Orwell opens the door to say she swore an oath to never let Olaf back in her office, even during regular business hours. She’s got her own life and her own evil scheme now. Olaf asks what she’d say to another opportunity to destroy the Baudelaires. Fate and fortune have brought them together. Orwell asks how big a fortune they are talking about and Olaf evil laughs.
Mill. Klaus asks if Sunny is asleep.
Dani: I WANT THAT BABY!!!
Annie: I’d honestly take all three of them in. I’d even give up my office so the kids could all have their own damn rooms for their own damn stuff. Hashtag give these kids their stuff.
Mari: Klaus asks Violet if he thinks what Sir said about their parents is true. Violet says of course not. Klaus thinks that can only mean one thing. As he says that they should run away, Violet says they should stay and clear their parents’ name. Klaus is confused. He doesn’t think their parents wanted them here. Violet says their parents shouldn’t have left them, then. Oof. Violet knows that isn’t what happened, but I can’t imagine it’s always easy to remember that their parents didn’t leave them. Klaus and his sister aren’t seeing eye to eye. Violet insists that staying will be the best way to get some answers. Klaus corrects that the best way would be to ask their parents, but they can never do that. (D: Double oof.)
Annie: With everything the kids keep going through, I somehow forget that they’re still really grieving their parents. Until we get a moment like this. Punch to the heart.
Mari: We segue magic from the moon Klaus is looking at to the moon the parents are looking at. Mother says they can’t keep hiding this way. Father thinks she means literally, but she’s talking about hiding things from their children. She wants to tell them everything as soon as they get back. Father says they have to make it back first. We pan out and see that people are searching the woods where the parents are hiding.
Fade to morning in a very nice and spacious room as three very happy children wake up. Lemony voice-overs that morning is a very important time of the day because how you begin your morning often tells what kind of day you’ll have. These Happy Children get a butler serving blueberry pancakes and fresh squeezed orange juice. Our children get the lumber mill foreman yelling over the PA system while banging pots together.
Phil says that he believes everyone has a good side, but he has to admit that their last foreman was a lot nicer. Klaus asks what happened to that foreman, and Phil just assumes he quit in the middle of the night, which happens a lot around here. Randomly, the doorway they pass is full of old chewing gun. I HATE THIS MILL. GET THEM OUT OF THERE!
They enter a large barn where all the very scary heavy machinery overwhelms the children. The foreman yells at them to grab a debarker and get to work. There are signs around the area that say, “shortcuts save time. Take some.” and one about how safety goggles are optional. (D: Lucky Smells really puts the “k” in “quality,” eh?) Violet and Klaus team up and go about their work slowly and very confusedly. Sunny uses her super teeth to own the log.
Lunch break. Even Sunny is tired of biting things. Violet is happy to finally have a break, but turns out, it’s just a 5 minute break and all they get to “eat” is gum. (That explains all the chewed gum on the wall…) Violet asks if they can use their wages to buy something and the other workers laugh at her because they don’t get paid wages. They get paid in coupons. Violet asks why they stay in this miserable place and they all stand in unison and recite: Lucky Smells is our life. Lucky Smells is our home. Klaus states the obvious: they need to get out of here ASAP.
The children try to sneak into the library, but they are caught by Sir and Charles. They say they just wanted to use the library during their lunch break, but Sir isn’t having it. They get a five minute chewing break and that’s all. Charles tries to lightly appeal, but he’s bull-dozed. Sir stomps back into his office. Violet asks Charles if he knows that the workers are being paid in coupons. He’s aware and even says he’s tried to talk to Sir about it. Violet says if they are partners, he should be able to stand up to Sir. Charles says it’s complicated because Sir had a very terrible childhood. Klaus, my precious dear, says he understands, because he’s having a very terrible childhood RIGHT NOW. Charles closes the door on them.
Back to debarking. Klaus has been thinking about the new foreman and how he just magically showed up. He thinks it could be Count Olaf. Violet says it can’t be, and it sounds very adult-ish if you know what I mean, but she’s mostly being stubborn because she wants to stay and clear their parent’s name. Klaus leaves, saying he needs a new debarker.
Really, he makes his way to the foreman’s booth to try and sneak a peak at the guy’s ankle and determine if it’s Count Olaf. Thankfully, the foreman is sleeping. Not thankfully, Klaus wakes the guy up. Something about the way the foreman lifts his arm makes Klaus recognize him. The Hook-Handed Man? The foreman kicks Klaus and stomps on his glasses. That catches the attention of the workers, but no one is sympathetic to the child abuse. It’s only Phil who suggests letting Klaus visit the optometrist since he won’t be able to see with broken glasses. Phil offers to take him. Klaus assures Violet that he’ll be fine. He might get some answers. Violet says she’ll find some of her own. Somewhere, Sunny is the only one working.
Olaf flirts with Georgina. They get a call from the foreman saying the boy is on his way. I’m not sure if the plan was just to wait around until the foreman got a chance to stomp on some glasses, but okay! (D: This 100% sounds like a plan Olaf would come up with.)
Phil and Klaus approach the eye-building. Klaus says that in the book The Great Gatsby there is a sign with an eye on it representing the eyes of God looking down and judging society’s moral wasteland. Phil cheerily says it sounds like a great book. He also gives Klaus a pep-talk about how doctors are your friends and there is nothing to be afraid of. Lemony shows up to say that Phil is, of course, wrong and there can be unfriendly doctors and butchers and mail deliverers and refrigerator repairman. Lemony once got in a fight with a refrigerator repair person. He wonders where that guy is now.
Cut to the parents stopping a refrigerator repair person. He is very unfriendly and instead of offering the parents a lift, he offers them a beatdown. Mother asks father, “partners?” and father replies, “always darling.” And then Mother takes down the dude all by herself, obviously.
Violet and Sunny have snuck off again to find the library. The entire library is filled with the same book: The History of Lucky Smells Lumber Mill. Violet wonders who TF would fill a library with the same book, but the answer is clear: SIR. He wrote the book. (D: Okay, but srsly if I ever get published this is pretty much what every bookshelf in my house will look like.) Violet thinks out loud that whenever Klaus reads a long and complicated book, he always checks out the table of contents first. She does this and finds the chapter on the Paltryville Fire. The first line is, “The Baudelaires were unequivocally responsible,” but the rest of the first paragraph has been blacked out in marker. Violet checks another book and it’s the same. She checks a ton of other books and it’s all the same. And of course when Violet finds a copy that isn’t crossed out, Sir returns. She grabs Sunny and hides, allowing Sir to see the mess and rip out the page with the actual useful information. Thankfully for us, we have a pause button:
The Baudelaries are the real MVPs. (A: Like there was any doubt.)
Sir gets called away to lunch.
Meanwhile, Sunny has found something. It’s a dictionary with this quote on the front page: in every library there is a single book that can answer the question that burns like a fire in the mind. Fire is double underlined. Lemony explains that it wasn’t the quote or the reference to fire that caught Violet’s eye, though. It was the handwriting. And sure enough, the book was last checked out to Bertrand Baudelaire. Sunny gives a cute little “da-da,” and our hearts are all broken. (A: Hug all the Baudelaire orphans.)
In the office, Charles says that the Baudelaires are good children and he doesn’t get why they have to lie to them. Sir says that they made certain deals in order to keep the mill open and if “she” wants them to lie to the children, then they have to. Sir throws the uncrossed out page into the fire. The mill is all he has. Oh, and Charles too, but not enough to go in for a kiss. Sir leaves, Violet and Sunny are able to sneak out with the dictionary, and Charles saves the page from the fire.
Waiting room. It’s creepy. Klaus is uncomfortable. Dr. Orwell finally comes out and greets Klaus relatively nicely. Phil is like, “SEE? So nice.” Dr. Orwell says you are more likely to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Klaus corrects her, because you are more likely to catch flies with manure. (D: “Hmm, that must mean I should treat everyone like crap.” — Christian Grey, probably.) Dr. Orwell explains the saying to him, and there is no one around to be afraid for Klaus’s life.
Upstairs, Klaus is in the chair that looks like it will kill you after your eye exam. Dr. Orwell says he looks nervous and he repeats his father’s saying: never trust optimists or optometrists. Dr. Orwell says it sounds like he had a bad experience with one, hmmm, who could she have been? Did she ever practice optometry after the lawsuit and the heartache and the plastic surgery to assume a new identity in a new town?
Someone save Klaus.
Dr. Orwell checks out Klaus’s eyes while explaining bedside manner in a calm and soothing voice. She asks Klaus how he feels, but still not well. It’s this town where everyone thinks his parents did a bad thing though no one even met them. Dr. Orwell says she’s not like everyone else, not because she doesn’t believe the rumors, but because she did meet his parents.
Suddenly, Dr. Orwell presses a button that straps him down into the chair. He’s got one of those vision test machines in front of his eyes and Dr. Orwell yells at him in the most violent vision test I’ve ever seen. “An A or a C? A sea or a lake?” The picture is of Damocles Dock. “A reptile or an amphibian?” A snake. “A fire or an accident?” The burning Baudelaire mansion. It goes on and on until we see those little spiraly things that always mean someone’s being hypnotized. Klaus’s vision goes even more fuzzy and finally Olaf in a wig shows up to say again, “tell us what you see.”
Back at the mill, it’s bedtime but Violet stays up and waits for Klaus. He walks in a bit later, very much hypnotized and unresponsive. He keeps calling Violet Sir. In her own bed, Violet thinks out loud again about how she was supposed to protect Klaus and she didn’t. And now there is no one left to save them. (D: Ouch, my feels.)
The next day, the foreman calls for everyone to wake up. He specifically calls for Klaus “Baude-liar” and tells him to bring his sister. Klaus grabs Sunny before Violet is up. The foreman tells Klaus to go up to the woodchipper. He starts throwing in some scrap, and Sunny likes being this close to the chipper 0%. Violet catches up to them and grabs Sunny away. She asks what’s going on, but Klaus still won’t answer.
In his office, Sir takes a call. He’s all, “nope, no Baudelaire orphans here ha ha ha.” He asks who is calling but gets hung up on.
In the refrigerator repair van, Father also hangs up. Mother asks what’s wrong. Father says that nothing could be wrong because they will finally be with their children. I have such a bad feeling about this right now. I don’t even want to tell you what I’m fearing because it either took me too long to realize, or I’m wrong, or I’m going to be so mad that they’ve misdirected us this way. SO MAD. (A: Same, same, same.)
Mill. Violet begs Klaus to come back. She says she loves and misses him an inordinate amount. Either her love or a vocabulary word bring him out of the hypnotism. That was kind of easy.
The parents park and approach a very fancy door.
In the mill, the foreman tells the Baudelaires they have visitors at the very fancy door.
Charles is waiting for them outside. He gives them a peach and says that visitors aren’t allowed, but points them in the direction of the very fancy door.
The parents open it and call for their children: FUCKING DUNCAN, QUIGLEY AND ISADORA BECAUSE THESE ARE THE QUAGMIRES NOT THE FUCKING BAUDELAIRES. I AM DISTRAUGHT.
Dani: Unlike you, I didn’t even get the bad feeling earlier, so I was completely unprepared for this. I was GUTTED.
Annie: I went through all the emotions. I was infuriated, then frustrated, then distraught. How COULD they? I was so hoping for a twist. BUT NOT THIS TWIST, SHOW. FUCK YOU.
Mari: To add insult to injury, the Baudelaire’s visitors are Orwell and Olaf, though we only see a flash of them because Lemony literally pulls the frame away and begs us to look away and pretend they get happy visitors, like a parent you thought you would never see again.
Annie: NOT YOU TOO, LEMONY. DO NOT TROLL US. DO NOT BETRAY US LIKE THIS.
Mari: Lemony says he once visited Paltryville long after Lucky Smells had closed its doors, and Dr. Orwell’s office had fallen into disrepair. Of course, the building wasn’t originally an optometrist office at all, but the headquarters of a secret organization. It was in visiting this place that Lemony found out what happened to poor, poor Klaus Baudelaire. He crouches and we see some police tape and a smashed pair of glasses. Lemony says the Baudelaires should’ve asked the question that his beloved Beatrice should’ve asked: where is Count Olaf?
Back with the children, Klaus gets a new pair of glasses from Olaf in a wig. He asks if Klaus isn’t a lucky boy, and Klaus is all hypnotized again.
I went back to look at the picture from last episode and I guess the young couple in the middle could be the actual Baudelaires?
I hate everything.
Dani: Okay, so I know the show started with loads of warnings about how miserable this story is, and how unhappy the lives of the Baudelaire children are, and how we really shouldn’t be watching it because it’s going to break our hearts. And yet… I was still so freaking devastated when I realized what was happening. I think it was really clever to have the word “optimist” feature so heavily in this episode, since we viewers were eternally optimistic about Mother and Father. @%*& this show is killing me.
Annie: Yep, yep, yep. HOW DARE THEY. How dare they do exactly what they said they were going to do. How dare they cast TWO OF MY FAVOURITES and ask them to participate in this god damn ruse! Where is the misdirection? Where is the hope? Fuck this.
…yet, I can’t look away. God damnit.
Mari: So see you next time for the final miserable episode.
Next time on A Series of Unfortunate Events: Violet keeps trying to clear her parents name in S01 E08 – The Miserable Mill Part 2.