The Miserable Mill: Part Two
Marines: I purposefully took a long break because I’m not joking about how much I was heartbroken by the last episode. I’m not saying I’m ready for what’s to come. I’m saying that I’ve put this off long enough.
Samantha: Maybe it’ll be easier if I just preemptively start crying.
Annie: I couldn’t bring myself to rewatch this so it would be fresh in my memory. But I do remember how much I cried when I did watch this. It was a lot and it was ugly.
Dani: This episode is rated F for Feels.
We open to Mr. Poe’s many coughs as he tells his wife that he’s called around to a ton of places within 100 miles of Lake Lachrymose and no one has see the Baudelaires. You briefly think that Poe is worried about the orphans, but he’s really worried about his job. Not only has he not gotten a promotion, but he might get fired. Still a better fate than the three orphans you should’ve been paying a little more attention to, bro.
Annie: Just when you think Poe can’t get any worse, he does. But this shouldn’t be a surprise, all the adults, except Mom and Dad, seem to be competing for the Worst Garbage Human Ever trophy.
Mari: The phone rings and Poe starts freaking out, screaming about whether or not he should answer the phone, to the point that Mrs. Poe smacks him to help him get a grip. She answers the phone for him and sure enough, it’s his boss Mr. Tamerlane. He says that he’s received orders to not let Poe go, but Poe better find the orphans ASAP. My closed captioning tells me that Poe does a lot of sniveling, especially when Tamerlane tells Poe to take off his #1 Banker pin. It hurts Poe so much he faints. Mrs. Poe tells “Artie” to leave it to her, because before she became the editor of the Daily Pontillio, she was an investigative reporter. She gathers her things and says it’s time to get back to her roots. Poe is still unable to stand.
Samantha: It is such a brilliant illustration of how much more capable and tough our 3 favorite orphaned children are.
Mari: Our precious Lemony makes an appearance in black and white. (D: Oh, how I’ve missed this man.) He tells us that “seeing in black and white” is an expression for looking at things in an oversimplified, often incorrect manner. Lemony says that like many newspapers, the Daily Pontillio is printed in black and white and is often oversimplified and incorrect. He points out some of the articles he has clipped out and pinned on evidence boards, claiming false things like Dr. Montgomery died of snake allergies and Aunt Josephine’s house was destroyed by a cabal of real estate agents and Lemony Snicket is dead.
And, Lemony is sad to report that there were two terrible accidents at the lumber mill, not just one. If we would like to continue believing our lies, we can read it in the newspaper, but Lemony says it’s his duty to tell us the shocking truth behind these accidents.
We cut to the lumber mill and Klaus thanking Dr. Orwell because he can see. She says of course he can, because she’s an excellent optometrist. Violet calls Dr. Orwell’s “receptionist” right away on being Olaf in a wig, but he says he’s Shirley, duh. He threateningly says that if they do something rude like call him by the wrong name, he’ll do something rude like rip all their hair out.
Charles and Sir arrive, with Charles peddling Sir in one of the bicycle carts. Violet says that woman they are seeing is a villain, but Charles thinks that they mean Dr. Orwell, who can’t be a villain because she’s been providing free eye checks for his workers for years.
Mari: Violet tries to appeal to Charles, but Shirley cuts her off and asks Sir if he’s yet considered their proposal. Charles wants to know what proposal, but Sir rudely says it doesn’t concern him. Charles says it does, because they are partners. Dr. Orwell gets up in Charles’ face, noting that she’s never seen him in her chair. Charles says he has excellent vision, but Dr. Orwell says his eyes are dull and cloudy. She holds up a newspaper and asks what color it is. “Black and white,” Charles offers, and Orwell calls him color blind too. Sir offers the ladies a ride on the bike and off they go, leaving the children behind.
A horn blares, signaling the end of visiting hours and time to get back to work. Hypnotized Klaus zips right to it and leaves Violet and Sunny to follow worriedly behind. As soon as Klaus is back in the mill, Fernald tells Klaus to man the stamping machine. This leaves Violet even more worried because Klaus would never operate a machine without reading the manual. (D: Can Klaus please talk to my husband?) She tries to explain her worries to optimistic Phil, who says the whole situation sounds like a movie he once saw: Hypnotists in the Forest. This gets Violet thinking about hypnotists.
Phil doesn’t get to finish his thought about looking on the bright side because Klaus loses control of the stamping machine and also pulls out some wires. There’s some destruction and chaos before Phil falls underneath the stamping machine. His yell cuts to the yell of a black and white movie. We see that Lemony is playing Hypnotists in the Forest. (D: These little directorial choices make this show soooo good.) The movie stars Jacquelyn. Lemony explains a bit about hypnotists and then tells us it’s his solemn duty to inform us that someone died at Lucky Smells. But it wasn’t Phil.
Phil is not dead. The workers are trying to lift the stamper off his leg, but it’s stuck. Violet ties up her hair because it’s thinking time. (S: I get a thrill every time she does.) She grabs a piece of gum from one of the workers and hops up to the machine. She repairs the wiring damage Klaus caused, fires up the machine and lifts the stamper. Phil’s leg is squished and thus severed from his foot, which is still wiggling. He’s his usual optimistic self as everyone tries to convince him to go to the hospital.
Sir arrives to say Phil’s leg is beyond repair. Charles says at least the damage wasn’t too bad. Sir doesn’t see it that way but only because some of his machinery is broken. He asks who caused the accident and Fernald rats Klaus out. Violent tries to defend Klaus, but Sir isn’t hearing it, claiming that the Baudelaire parents burned down the town and now the Baudelaire children are here to finish the job. Charles suggests reasonable things like reevaluating their safety procedures or not letting children around dangerous machinery, but Sir won’t hear of it. (A: Is Charles the only reasonable adult?) Instead, he threatens the orphans with a worse place if they misbehave again. Sir says this has already cost him an inordinate amount of time. There’s that word again, which causes Klaus to be un-hypnotized.
Violet grabs Charles before he leaves and tells him to speak up for himself. Charles knows that Violet is right and that he’s kept the secrets of the mill for too long. He thinks it is time that Violet learnt a secret about her parents. We’re so close to information, yet so far, because Charles runs off when Sir calls him.
Samantha: The agony, the frustration. Poor Violet.
Annie: ‘Poor Violet’ is the evergreen comment for this series.
Mari: Klaus asks Violet why everyone is staring at him like a pariah. Then Phil gets wheeled out, and Klaus asks what happened there. Violet says they need to talk. Lemony appears to tell us that if it ever feels like people are meeting behind our backs to plot against us, it’s useful to know that they are. (D: I knew it!!) In Klaus’s case, his strange behavior can be traced back to one particular meeting, which Lemony says is best viewed in black and white.
Black and white. Sir is meeting with Dr. Orwell and Shirley!Olaf. Dr. Orwell tells Sir they have a good deal– she has a steady stream of clients and he gets compliant employees. Olaf pretends to drop a pen on the floor and then bends down with Orwell. They have a whispered conversation right in front of Sir’s desk about how Sir doesn’t know what Orwell does to the employees. Olaf compliments Orwell’s evilness.
That out of the way, they get down to business. Shirley!Olaf gives a clearly rehearsed, badly acted speech about how all her life, she’s wanted children, but as a poor, working woman without a partner or the means to adopt, that dream has been denied her. She’d love, specifically, a buck-toothed baby, a smarty pants boy, and a girl with an enormous fortune. Um, she means heart.
Sir calls it a coincidence that defies belief that a trio of orphans matching that description arrived only yesterday. Shirley!Olaf yells that she’ll take them and Sir is like, “wait, what?” See, he’s not willing to part with them because they are an “economic bonanza,” doing all the work of an adult for half the gum. Shirley!Olaf asks what would make Sir part with them, and he frankly says that it would take them making a costly mistake. Shirley!Olaf is like, “LIKE A MURDER? OKAY, BYE.” because his plan is now formed and we’ve seen how it went.
Samantha: Couldn’t even get this murder right, Olaf! You suck! A man is only badly maimed, ha!
Mari: In the present, the children sit together. Klaus can’t believe he hurt Phil and almost hurt Sunny. He wants to go back to Dr. Orwell’s and find out what was done to his brain. Violet doesn’t like this idea, and thinks that they should leave now. Klaus reminds her that they stayed in the first place because Violet wanted to find out more about their parents. She apologizes for that, but Klaus is determined. He’s going to Dr. Orwell’s. He walks out alone, but after a second, we see Violet’s hand grab his. She asks him what that thing Samuel Beckett said. “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Violet says they’ll go on together. I’ve got some sibling feels in my eye. (S: Oh, huh, is that what that is?) (A: My problem is onions. Too many chopped onions.) (D: The ragweed is really bad this time of year.)
At Dr. Orwell’s, Olaf is presumably checking in with Fernald, who reports that there was a leg maiming but no fatality. Olaf is displeased. After the call, Orwell and Olaf squabble a bit and pull letter openers on each other, but they’re into it, I guess. (D: Still a better love story than Twilight.)
The orphans break into Orwell’s office. They hide before Orwell comes back into the room and reveals that Charles is in the patient chair, being hypnotized. Dr. Orwell shows Charles a picture of the orphans and tells him that his life with Sir would be so much easier without the children. Olaf comes in to be a dick and mess with Charles under hypnosis, thus revealing key information that there is a trigger word. Olaf hears a creak above him and goes up to the landing to investigate. The children hide in the closet behind them.
Olaf tries the locked door for a bit and then we hear him walk away. The coast seems clear until Klaus turns around and sees something that causes him to open his mouth, as if to scream.
We cut to a black and white movie, a man screaming. Lemony turns it off and apologizes. He tells us that everyone has skeletons in the closet. In his, he has a 200-page book written by the woman he loved, all about why she couldn’t marry him. That seems excessive.
Samantha: It is, but I’ll be over here desperately trying to read that page.
Dani: Don’t despair, Lemony! I’ll console you.
Mari: And I’ll marry you, #justsaying.
Anyway, his point is that unless you are a murderer or taxidermist, you probably have metaphorical and not actual skeletons in your closet. Dr. Orwell is neither and yet she has both.
Back with the children, they try to remain calm, even though they are in a closet full of skeletons. Klaus also finds a box full of medical records and realizes that all the workers have been hypnotized.
Outside, Klaus says they need to figure out the word that breaks the hypnosis and help the others. Violet thinks they can still run away, protect each other, and remain safe like their parents would’ve wanted. Klaus says they don’t know what their parents would’ve wanted. They can only remember their parents as they were, and they were people who would’ve wanted their kids to help.
Unfortunately, just at that moment, Sir catches them outside the mill doors. We cut to them in Sir’s office. He threatens to hand them over to Shirley. Their protests are ignored. And they can’t even rely on Charles for help, ’cause he’s hypnotized now. (A: These poor kids.)
The kids walk back to the barracks, and laugh a bit over a shared memory of their father. The laughter lasts like 0.5 of a second before Violet sadly says that she doesn’t want Klaus to go away again.
Inside, the workers all sit in the dark because Sir won’t let them turn on the lights. He’s cutting costs to pay for the damage Klaus caused. Violet reminds Klaus that it isn’t his fault, but the other workers are less forgiving. The kids know they have to find the word that breaks the hypnosis. Violet pulls out the dictionary and they get three words in before they get yelled at by the workers trying to sleep.
Later that night, Klaus has fallen asleep on top of the dictionary. He’s woken up by Fernald who calls him a lucky boy, triggering the hypnosis. Klaus follows Fernald out. Violet wakes up shortly after and, seeing Klaus is gone, grabs Sunny and runs out.
Samanatha: These kids may never get another good nights sleep again, another tragedy.
Dani: Indeed. Sleep is magical.
Mari: And very important for growing children. (And sleepy adults.)
Quagmire Residence. IT’S STILL TOO SOON. (A: It will always be TOO SOON for this.) (S: I pause NOPED this scene for awhile.) (D: We all should’ve taken my boo’s advice and looked away.) The Quagmire parents are looking at the newspaper headline calling the Baudelaire fire an accident and talking about how they surrounded by literal and figurative fires. They need to mount a fire defense. The Quagmire children whisper amongst each other, wondering why their parents keep talking about fire. The parents hear them and send them off to bed.
Outside, someone is parked outside the Quagmire Residence, holding a newspaper in front of their face. They use some kind of laser fire-starter to set a picture on fire inside the house. We watch the flames catch quickly.
Violet starts yelling fire, but Klaus’s undo word is different. Olaf gloats that Violet will never figure it out and definitely not in time to save Charles. Violet uses a momentary distraction to escape from Fernald and lock herself up in the foreman’s booth.
We cut to Lemony’s apartment, where he tells us that shouting fire in a public place can cause chaos. Of course, if there truly is a fire, it can save lives. It can even saves lives when there isn’t a fire, say for instance, in the case that an enemy is waiting for you outside. Lemony has been packing throughout this speech and when he peeks outside, we see two people in shady trench coats. He finishes packing and starts yelling fire. He escapes through the fire escape.
Annie: Absolutely. The choices this show has made with Lemony from cast to how they’ve used him is amazing.
Dani: *swoons* I’m sorry, what?
Mari: Nothing, we were just swooning.
Violet is yelling fire at the mill. The workers are all waking up, both out of sleep and their hypnosis. They are very angry and head straight for the mill. Olaf sends Fernald to bolt the door. Olaf and Violet face off, giving Klaus competing directions. Meanwhile, Sunny is trying to cut Charle’s ropes loose with her teeth. All of this is foiled when Dr. Orwell arrives and orders Klaus not to listen to his sister. She also grabs Sunny away from Charles.
As Charles gets closer and closer to the saw, Dr. Orwell and Olaf fight. He breaks up with her again and, during their bickering, Olaf almost says “inordinate.” The “inor” is enough to set off Violet’s memory, though, and she puts it all together. She yells inordinate, Klaus comes to, he stops the saw, and frees Charles.
Orwell still has Sunny, though, and threatens to throw her in the furnace. Violet offers up their fortune if they leave Sunny alone. Orwell calls the children shortsighted, like their parents, with all their protestation over hypnotizing and promotion of free will, and stuff.
Fernald is having a difficult time holding the door against the angry mob demanding fair wages. They break down the door and faced with the rush of people, Orwell takes a step back… straight into the furnace. She drop/tosses Sunny as she falls back and Violet catches her. (D: I can’t take this adorable baby always being in peril!!!f) Lemony tells us that there was indeed a fatal accident at the mill. Olaf and Fernald take that as their cue to run away as the orphans watch them escape yet again.
Sir finally arrives to investigate and he’s attacked by the workers, though he also manages to escape.
The next day, there are police at Lucky Smells. Mrs. Poe is taking pictures, and Mr. Poe is with the children. They are back in their colorful raincoats. Of course, Poe doesn’t believe their story of what happened at the lumber mill, and Mrs. Poe found them completely by accident and through no investigative skill.
Dani: STFU, Poe. These kids are smarter and better than 1000 Poes combined.
Mari: Forever and ever, amen.
Charles stops by to say he’s off to search for Sir, who was not a good partner or boss or person, but one day the kids will learn that things aren’t always black and white. And maybe they will also learn that partner abuse and manipulation are real, idk.
Samantha: Yeeahh, didn’t totally love how this played. “Love transcends the bounds of reason and abuse!”
Annie: Yeah, this had some uncomfortable messages, but sadly there are some people where that’s a reality. It’s sad and depressing. Much like this show.
Mari: Too true.
As a parting gift, Charles gives the kids an unmarked page about the Paltryville fire, so now the kids finally know their parents weren’t responsible for it.
Next up for the orphans? Well, Mr. Poe explains that he couldn’t find another guardian, so they are going to boarding school. It’s the end of the season (“uh, semester“) so the kids will have to work hard to catch up.
Poe drops the children at Prufrock Prepatory, not spending much time with them because, you know. Poe. He does give them a package that arrived at the bank for them from Jacquelyn. It’s their spy glass, returned. Klaus asks if Violet thinks Jacquelyn will find them again. Violet says they are on their own.
Lemony voiceovers that in a world both frightening and unlucky, there are a few comforts. One is making new friends, people with similar experiences. We see now that on the other side of the bench the Baudelaires are sitting on are the presumably newly orphaned Quagmires. Two of them, anyway.
Lemony is also holding up two pieces of a spy glass as he says that finding friends like that can be like clicking together two halves of a broken spyglass. Back at Prufock, we see there’s a framed picture in a nearby case. Young Olaf and Lemony are in it. It’s a drama club picture.
And we end the episode with a SONG, praise bless. It’s basically about how this is a very sad story, but seeing Violet sing about how you would think that three children would lead pleasant lives, but that’s not how this story goes? So sad.
Not as sad as when I found out about the Quagmires but also now they are probably dead so still very, very sad.
Samantha: Knew it was coming but still so very very rough.
Annie: No re-write or Netflix twist for us! Just broken hearts and sadness.
Dani: I think the title’s a misnomer. This should really be called A Series of Heartbreakingly Tragic Events.
Mari: And on that note, See you next season, unless you decide to look away!
Next time on A Series of Unfortunate Events: More misery, I’m sure.