A Series of Unfortunate Events/Headscratchers

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search


  • How on earth would the freaks be considered 'freaks'? I've seen a good number (okay, three, not including a couple others with scoliosis) of hunchbacks in my life and there are some people that are like crazy-flexible. I know Snicket likes satire, so it may be poking fun at it. But seriously? Ambidexterity? Hell, I'm ambidextrous myself and just...seriously?!
    • That's the joke. The "freaks" have absolutely no reason to be in the freak show, but they're all convinced that they're hideous abominations. (Though the ambidextrous guy still makes me angry.)
    • DUH.
    • I always figured this took place at a time where people segregated others who were too different to be "normal". This may help give a clue as to what time period the series may take place in, as freak shows were a popular Victorian entertainment, and it continued to be popular (in the United States anyway) until the mid-20th century.
      • But there were at least basic computers at this time, so it couldn't be Victorian.
  • The ending. VFD. Absolutely nothing being explained. For all the buildup, we got nothing. Everything was still on track until The End, where instead of trying to meet up with the VFD, the orphans end up on an island. It's a betrayal of the readers.
    • I think that was the point. Didn't Snicket say not everything would be resolved?
      • There's a difference between "not everything" and "fucking nothing."
      • Indeed, and this is the former. After all, we did find out who Beatrice was.
    • If you read Lemony Snicket: An Unauthorized Autobiography, a shitload more makes sense. I read it after I read the eighth and first books, and pretty much everything but the last three books were spoiled completely.
  • Jaabi: The Beatrice Letters.
    • Alright, so maybe some of the letters are from different people, as implied by the last letter, but that doesn't explain how these imposter Beatrices can all be in contact with Lemony.
    • The letters make even less sense if read in the order implied by the provided alphabet letters: B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K. However they do seem to become more consistent in their visual style; e.g. typewriter, handwritten etc.
    • It gets more confusing though after this troper read the last chapter in The End again: maybe the letters were in fact written by Kit Snicket's daughter, whom the Baudelaire's named Beatrice? This could imply that the letters stating B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K means that after the thirteenth book, there was an accident, in which Beatrice was separated from the the Baudelaires - and thus the Beatrice in the Beatrice Letters is a different Beatrice - to what the reader may first expect.
    • I thought this was obvious. The letters written by Lemony were written to the Beatrice Lemony loved, while the letters written to him were written by Beatrice Snicket, Kit's daughter. As for B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K, I'm pretty sure it's referring to a ship named Beatrice.
    • There are three Beatrices: Beatrice Baudelaire, the Baudelaire sibling's mother; Beatrice Snicket(?), Kit's daughter; and Beatrice, the vessel that the Baudelaires sailed away on in the epilogue. Those poor kids can't seem to get a break.
  • Jaabi: My second confusion is the line "Sunny appearing on the radio to discuss her recipes" (K, BB to LS #3). Maybe it's just the handwriting, or my interpretation, but does that mean there's a significant time-gap between this letter and the main series of books, and Sunny is now working for radio?
    • I thought it was just a joke about Sunny's personal dialect. She had been getting more proficient in English quite quickly once she set her mind to it.
    • But there was quite a time gap, seeing as how the younger Beatrice Baudelaire, who wrote that line, was only a year old at the end of The End, and The Beatrice Letters states she's now ten years old. I wouldn't be surprised if Sunny was a successful young chef by this time.
  • In the first book, Mr. Poe says that their parents' will says they must be in the care of a relative. This prevents the Baudelaires from living with Justice Strauss. However, why is Mr. Poe quite willing to hand the children over to Count Olaf in disguise (not knowing he is Count Olaf, an actual relative), a complete stranger, in the third book, breaking the conditions of their parents' will?
    • Mr. Poe believes that he is following the wishes of Aunt Josephine, who was the Baudelaires' legal guardian at that time. Presumably the parents' will stated that the children are to be left in the care of a relative, but allows for the relative to make their own arrangements in the event of his/her death.
  • How in the world does Sunny know Japanese and Jewish? For that matter, how do her siblings translate phrases that's she's probably never had to say before? (Like, when would a two-year old need to utter something about VFD Headquarters before book 10?)
    • Daniel Handler (the actual author of the series) has said that he makes his characters Jewish by default. For everything else, it's a kid's book.
  • The fact that every single adult in this series is holding an Idiot Ball. I'll take The Reptile Room as an example. The Baudelaires arrive to uncle Monty's, that's ok. The real bug comes when Stephano (A.K.A Count Olaf) arrives. Surely Montgomery's workplace had to give some info about his new workmate? A little backstory of his previous studies, C.V, letters of recommendations, etc. to know who he will be working with. And even if Monty didn't get anything, surely he would have politely asked for those papers so they could get to know each other? Or even go to so far that have Stephano to prove his identity (with a driver's licence, for example) because his children's last abusive parent is still looking them to get vengeance? NO! Same thing with The Austere Academy. The Baudelaires arrive and at the same time, this mysterious stranger comes along looking a job from the academy. Do they ask any kind of papers? Do they run any kind of security check because there is a murderer at large? Nope. They just let him in with a big smile. WHAT IS UP WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
    • I'm sure Jerome apologized about it.
    • I think that being annoyed that the adults in ASOUE are idiots is being annoyed that this isn't a completely different series. Adults are always useless in traditional kids' literature, otherwise the kid heroes would have nothing to do; ASOUE takes that tendency (along with a bunch of others) and turns it up to 11. It isn't meant to make logical sense. It's a satire, and the illogicality is part of the point.
    • Monty knew almost immediately that "Stephano" was an unsavory character, if not actually when they first met. He was just stalling for time and playing that he had been completely fooled. Really, he was one of the best characters in the series, both literally and intellectually.
    • Olaf is a very cunning guy, and he clearly has connections (hiring a skilled hypnotist in book 4, getting an octo-submarine out of nowhere in book 11), so he could easily have either forged some documents or gotten some phony identification. Also, in the case of The Austere Academy, Nero was probably glad to hire anyone willing to work at his shoddy school.
    • Olaf killed the men that were about to be hired by Monty, Nero ect.
  • I find it hard to believe that as long as Nero has been principal, with his general douchebaggery, that he has not been A. hunted down by the school board for making kids sleep in awful conditions B. reprimanded about his teachers' teaching methods, or C. given poisoned candy, during his weird buy-me-candy-and-watch-me-eat-it punishment. Let's face it. He should have been dead/gone WAY before now.
    • Technically he was Vice Principal, but like the point above stated, the series basically takes all of the elements in children's literature that pertains to Adults Are Useless and greatly satirizes it. In the case of The Austere Academy, it parodies the strict rules and punishments in boarding schools, the unfair living conditions, and bizarre teaching methods (for the record, this Troper knows a girl who is taking a college course on vampires in literature. This girl insists that her professor goes on rants about how sly and manipulative women are instead of teaching about vampires, so there are teachers who have useless teaching methods). Anyway, if it were real life, then none of these things would have happened since in all likelihood, the children would have been taken away from Count Olaf's care when they first talk to people about their living conditions.
    • Still, though...no one's come up with the idea of killing him off by the very punishment he requested?
      • He could insist on only pre-packaged candy. Then again, someone could still get revenge by giving him Atomic Warheads. Or Zagnuts.
  • In The Hostile Hospital, one, how the hell did nobody realise that the bad guys were going to kill their 'patient'? And that whole thing with the rusty knife- come on, as if that would ever be used in a hospital.
  • What time period does the series take place in? I always got a Edwardian Era sort of feel from it.
    • Before Europe and after America? But seriously, the Schizo-Tech places it firmly in an alternate universe that happens somewhere between our 1940-something (Lemony Snicket having got in a fight with a television repairman) or late '50s, maybe '60s (western horseradish-based imitation wasabi paste), and the present. I like to think it is in the mid-sixties or early eighties, but I think there were a few clues that placed it firmly in the 1990s (despite the distinct lack of modern cellular phones pushing it back to the 1980s or early '90s).
    • I'd assumed it was the late 30's to early 40's.
    • Klaus was born 1924 according to the Snicket Wiki, and he was 12 by the start of the series. That puts it at 1936.
      • The same wiki now says he was born in 1969 so.. Yea.
  • I have to say that the Reptile Room is one of the most hair-pullingly annoying ones, simply because of how big of an idiot Klaus is. If he'd have just kept his mouth shut and played along with Stephano going on the trip to Peru, Monty wouldn't have died, and they'd all have been fine. But no, he had to get cocky and insult the one person they know is capable of horrible things. Stupid stupid stupid....
    • Well, Reptile Room is only the second or third book in the series, right? By this time the kids probably didn't even know the extent of what Olaf could/would do. I'm sure they knew he's a bloodthirsty killer/pedo/theif/killer of little babies, but they probably didn't know he'd follow them the rest of their lives. At this point, they're all just desperate to get away from him and Klaus either wasn't thinking straight or thought he'd be believed.
  • I remember going on the "Series of Unfortunate Events" website and reading a FAQ, where Lemony Snicket (the character) implies that Count Olaf was still alive. However, in The End, Count Olaf dies. Uh... What?
    • Lemony Snicket is still researching the events of the series while he's writing the books, and some of the events are possibly still occurring (hence the secret message to Kit Snicket in The Slippery Slope when she dies in The End); when he wrote that, either he hadn't yet discovered that Count Olaf had died, or Count Olaf was still alive at that point.
  • What was the point of having Carmelita recur in such a prominent role? It was OK in book 10, since there was some humor in the snow scouts troop leader being her uncle, but after that she added nothing to the stories in terms of plot, theme or entertainment value. Olaf and Esme didn't really need her for anything (Esme could easily have shot the harpoon gun herself if she felt like it--we saw she was a crack shot in book 7), and at best she just added filler material to books 11 and 12.
  • Captain Widdershins forgives Fiona after she 'failed him'. I'm sorry, what? He swam off while she was out doing something very dangerous, left the submarine empty with no hint of where he'd gone. Fiona was so desperate to find him - her sole parent - that she joined with the bad guys - very briefly, I might add - in the hope they'd help her find him. And she failed him?
    • This troper can't recall the exact circumstances behind that part, but perhaps it was referring to some unknown agreement the two made? Like, Widdershins had warned Fiona about how dangerous the bad guys were and told her that she was always to resist them.
    • The exact line was "The captain had forgiven the failures of those he had loved." This troper always thought it referred to Fernald.
  • What is "?" (The Great Unknown), the horrible-underwater-thing?
    • Symbolism for the great unknowns of the universe? We never find out what it is, much the same way we will probably never find the true answers to some of our biggest questions about life during this life (if you even believe there's some kind of afterlife after this one where we'll find out). It would fall in line with the moral of the end of The End, that we're never going to have all of our questions answered and sometimes none of them are.
    • Wait just a minute... OH MY GOD...
  • The above just brings up a whole 'nother set of bullshit. That moral would have been fine, had it been telegraphed from the beginning (or at least some suitable distance from it); but given that it was only vaguely hinted at by the whole "Great Unknown" thing two or three books from the end, and only stated explicitly in the very last fucking book in a set of THIRTEEN, it still comes off as a massive dick move. Then again, since the whole VFD angle doesn't even come up until halfway through, it's not difficult to surmise that Daniel Handler was yanking this stuff directly from his rectum from the beginning, and he got to volume thirteen without knowing how he was going to wrap all this shit up and had to wing it at the last minute with some folderol about not explaining anything. I dunno, I never read The Beatrice Letters so maybe I'm missing something, but I kinda doubt it.
    • It was especially bad because, in the end, the Baudelaires basically run from the troubles posed by VFD and the "great unknown" and lose all curiosity, even though they'd been given the SAME exact option by Jerome in book 6! But no, in book 6 they turned the offer down because "we have to rescue the Quagmires." By the end of book 13, the Quagmires are still in trouble, but for some weird reason the Baudelaires don't care anymore. The series could have been half as long and accomplished the same purpose.
      • The thing is, by book 13, they've been through soooo much bullshit in the past year or two that maybe, just maybe, they might just want to go back to normal, because it was turning into a situation way over the heads of two barely adolescent kids and a toddler. By book 13 was basically them throwing their arms in the air and knowing when to fold.
      • It is very obvious in retrospect that he threw all those clues in without ever intending to resolve them. Look the autobiography in particular: The whole conspiracy is completely absurd. The ending was not what anyone was expecting but it was still appropriate to the series.
        • The conspiracy's absurdity does not compensate for the fact that the Baudelaires are emotionally engaged in finding a solution for most of the series, then they suddenly decide it's not worth caring about. The ending derails the element that made the books most engaging.
      • But you're forgetting Ishmael's book. Having read a book that was devoted to recording, explaining and solving (where possible) all the mysteries that occurred within their messed up world, it isn't unreasonable to think that the kid's had most, though not all, of their questions answered. It's just a shame the book hasn't been published to us.
  • Does Prufrock Prep have an ACTUAL Principal? How did Nero even get his job?
  • Count Olaf spends thirteen books chasing three children around with vague notions of kidnapping them for their fortune, possibly taking them to Peru where he could somehow utilize "relaxed guardianship laws" or having other people name his false personas their guardian, which of course would be checked by the government (supposedly; adults are useless and all.) He clearly has no scruples or morality--so why the hell didn't he ever just ROB Mulctuary Money Managment? If Poe is any indication, the people working there are completely incompetent. Surely robbing the bank wouldn't be any harder than tracking the orphans through the country, using a complicated hypnotism scheme, and infiltrating a school dressed as a gym teacher?
    • Actually - unless I'm remembering wrong - isn't there an implication that the Baudelaire parents helped kill Olaf's parents? That might explain why he's specifically targeting the kids...
      • Yes, that's implied in book 12. Poison Darts.
  • Pretty much everything about the sugar bowl. First of all, in order to know anything about it, we have to accept that the sugar bowl contains horseradish as is heavily implied in The End. But that doesn't make sense. Nobody could have had enough foresight to anticipate that the Beaudelaires would accidentally release the Medusoid Mycelium when they weren't supposed to be in the grotto in the first place. Given that horseradish's only plot significance is to act as an antidote for the Medusoid Mycelium, why was it in the sugar bowl? Moreover, why was Count Olaf looking for the sugar bowl before the Medusoid Mycelium was released?
    • Huh? Where'd you get that from? I didn't get that impression at all, as far as I was aware it was never revealed or even strongly hinted at what was in the sugar bowl. Did I miss something?
    • Basically, when Klaus reads from his parents' entries in the island's log titled A Series of Unfortunate Events, it briefly mentions than Esme has packed horseradish in a vessel, and the sugar bowl was once referred to as a "Vessel For Disaccharides" (which means sugar). But that seems like a horribly anticlimatic content for the sugar bowl, since horseradish is so common.
  • How did the Beaudelaires manage to accidentally and fatally shoot Dewey Denouement with the harpoon? The physics of such an action seem questionable at best, especially given that they were facing the wrong way at the time.