Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Reptile Room

The third and fourth episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events relocate the Baudelaire children to the home of an eccentric, but mostly harmless, uncle. A renown herpetologist, Dr. "Monty" Montgomery (Aasif Mandvi) proves to be a far more fitting guardian for Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and baby Sunny than Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) ever could be. Unfortuantely for everyone involved, Olaf shows up on Monty's doorstep disguised as his new assistant. Knowing the man can't be trusted, but believing it's safer to keep the villain where he can be watched, Monty allows Olaf to stay. This, of course, turns out to be a deadly mistake.

As in the first two episodes, the two-parter "The Reptile Room" highlights the idiocy of adults. While Monty is smarter than some adults the children have come across, that's a pretty low bar to clear. Not surprising, Olaf uses his position to murder Monty and comes within a breadth of making off with the children. Thankfully even the most insipid adult, Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman), finally is made to see the truth. Once again the Baudelaire children are rescued from Count Olaf's clutches, although more from their own actions than any other intervention.

"The Reptile Room" begins to tease us with more information which may or may not be tied up in the mystery concerning the children's missing parents. The fact that Olaf's tattoo is the same shape of Monty's garden labyrinth is of interest, as is the fact that Jacquelyn (Sara Canning) shows up both to help the children in their time of need and to attempt to hunt down Olaf before he can do any more harm. Well, one out of two ain't bad. The episode is also memorable for the unusual trip to the cinema and the terrific set design of Monty's reptile-inspired mansion. The man's unfortunate death at the end of the first episode does mean the conclusion isn't as strong, but there's still plenty to enjoy.

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