After the lackluster 2004 movie adaptation of Lemony Snicket's #ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents left out nearly all the good parts from the books, fans were thrilled when Netflix decided to take another crack at the story of the Baudelaire orphans. When the original series finally reached #Netflix in January, fans rejoiced at how true the new show remained to the original tale. Of course, when transferring a story from page to screen, there have to be some alterations. The question is, will Netflix continue to deviate even further as it takes on the next five chapters in the Baudelaires' lives? Will A Series Of Unfortunate Events Season 2 be different from the books? Almost certainly. Let's try to figure out what that's going to look like, and why.
Netflix Was Slowly Building Us Up For Bigger Changes Throughout Season 1
The first installment of the story matched Daniel Handler's book almost to a T — with the minor and bizarre exception of changing the title from The Bad Beginning to "A Bad Beginning." But progressively, more and more changes became apparent. In The Reptile Room, it wasn't the Bald Man with the Long Nose that came disguised as Dr. O. Lucafont. Instead, it was the Person Who Looks Like Neither a Man nor a Woman as Nurse Lucafont, and the children noticed the disguise immediately. At the end of "The Wide Window," rather than returning to Mr. Poe's custody, the children run away to find Lucky Smells Lumber Mill on their own. In the books, it's Mr. Poe who brings them to the mill, because Sir is some distant relation.
Aside from the big parental twist, which was perhaps the largest deviation from the books and has already been talked about at great length, so there's no need to do it here, there's one other detail that remains suspiciously unique at the end of Season 1. The Baudelaires and the Quagmires are both sitting on opposite sides of a bench outside Vice Principle Nero's office. In the books, the five children won't meet until after the children have had their first encounter with the idiotic educator. Is it possible that the orphans are all arriving at Prufrock Prep at the same time?
The change would make sense, as it would be much more believable to get the children together if they were all living together, as opposed to serendipitously running into each other in the large cafeteria. It would also resolve one of the great unsolved mysteries of The Austere Academy: How the hell did the Quagmires get out of living in the Orphan Shack? It eliminates one unanswered question and can drive the action later in the story.
What's Going On With The Spyglass?
In a series that was already wrought with symbols, it seemed odd that the film adaptation opted to focus so heavily on a spyglass, an item that appears only in The Wide Window and very briefly in The Slippery Slope. There is never any mention of Klaus finding it in the ruins of the Baudelaire mansion. So it was more surprising still that the Netflix version — superior in so many ways — chose to adopt the same bizarre motif. However, it made more and more sense as we saw that it was in fact a piece of the puzzle used for VFD codes, as demonstrated by Uncle Monty at the showing of Zombies in the Snow. Now that the Baudelaires and the Quagmires each have one piece of a broken spyglass, we can expect it to come back in a big, uncharted way in Season 2.
Expect Even More Above-Ground VFD Happenings
With Daniel Handler as the head writer on the series, there is little chance of the Netflix series veering too sharply away from the overall message of the original. However, even Handler admits that sometimes changes are necessary to convey things on screen that are conveyed more subtly in print. In an interview with EW, Handler described that as one of the biggest challenges in bringing A Series of Unfortunate Events the show to life:
"The conversations in the various rooms were about how to lay in a big, hovering mystery that would be suitable for TV, and that’s really the big change in the adaptation — to make that mystery more present and to make it something that you need to notice. In a book, you can put in a stray sentence, and if you’re reading the book obsessively, your eyes will eventually fall on that sentence. But in television, you either have to make a mystery or you don’t. You can’t say, 'I hope that people look under the table.' They won’t look under the table unless the camera looks under the table for them."
We got a taste of what he meant in Season 1 with the introduction of Jacquelyn, a character unfamiliar to book readers, but who seems to represent the entire VFD mystery. The Austere Academy is the first time the children learn those three fateful letters, so we can probably expect to see from Jacquelyn as she lays the groundwork to teach the Baudelaires and the Quagmires the rudimentary basics of their organization. It has already been much more obviously present on the show than in the first four books, so it makes sense that that part of the story will only pick up steam.
Tune In For More Music
Neither "The Count," the frivolous and flawed number from Olaf and his theater troupe, nor "That's Not How The Story Goes," the poignant number that closed out the season, appear in the original books. While turning anything into a musical can be risky, having Neil Patrick Harris attached to any project and not allowing him to sing at least a little bit is a sheer waste, so it seems almost certain that we can expect another song or two or three in Season 2.
Don't Worry: A Series Of Unfortunate Events Will Remain Unfortunate To Its Core
In a recent interview with Slashfilm, showrunner Barry Sonnenfeld revealed that he and Daniel Handler were both originally attached to the 2004 movie, but were removed from the project due to "creative differences." While the specifics of those differences remain as mysterious as VFD, we can guess — based on the final product — that the movie was more interested in steering away from the overall theme of Handler's original story.
Now that the duo and their beloved series have found a home over at Netflix, the streaming site sounds like they have no desire to stand in the way of their grand creative vision. Sonnenfeld explained how supportive Netflix was in the development of the first season:
"I was very worried with the last book we did, The Miserable Mill, which was the last two episodes of the first season, the villain Sir smokes a cigar. I said, 'look, it’s one thing to have and it’s another to mistreat them, but no one ever likes anyone smoking in a children’s show,' and Netflix said, 'we’re not worried.'"
Neither are we, Netflix. Neither are we.