Over the course of just eight episodes, Season 1 of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events establishes a status quo and subsequently upends it. As the orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire bounce around from guardian to guardian, pursued by the villainous Count Olaf, the formula is comically simple: The children meet their new guardian, encounter Count Olaf in one of his disguises, and in the course of his subsequent schemes, their guardian dies. Rinse and repeat. Spoilers, by the way, follow.
But the end of Season 1 leaves them alone at a boarding school without a guardian. Further, for the first time, they’re on the verge of uncovering definitive answers about the mysterious and unfortunate experiences that have taken over their lives. This is because the final shot of Season 1 shows them on the brink of meeting Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, whose parents are involved in the same secret society and spy network as the deceased Baudelaire parents, the narrator Lemony Snicket, the mysterious new character Jacquelyn and countless others. Both sets of orphans have the same mysterious spyglass.
If you’re impatient to get your hands on Season 2 but don’t have time to read the books, here’s what you can expect.
If Season 1 follows the same pattern as Season 1, there will be two episodes per book. We can therefore expect the first two episodes of Season 2 to be “The Austere Academy Part 1” and “Part 2.” Over the course of the story, the children will deal with adults who are even more unreasonable than ever, including incompetent teachers and a vice principal who thinks it’s fine to employ baby Sunny as his receptionist and forces children to watch him play the violin for six hours every night. They will also encounter an unpleasant bully named Carmelita Spats who is essentially the Draco Malfoy of the story and will have a recurring role in future episodes. Count Olaf will don a turban and disguise himself as the school’s gym teacher.
On a less unfortunate front, the Baudelaires will find friendship and understanding with the Quagmires, and they will work together to parse out the mysteries of the VFD spy network that both sets of parents belonged to. The Quagmires make a startling discovery about its true nature, but they’re captured by Count Olaf’s henchmen before they can impart the information. As the show is making the air of conspiracy more prominent, it’s possible the viewer will be privy to slightly more information thanks to Jacquelyn.
The Ersatz Elevator
After their unpleasant experience at boarding school, the next two episodes will follow Mr. Poe as he takes the Baudelaires to live with a snooty upper class couple, Esme and Jerome Squalor. While Jerome is down to earth and caring, he’s a doormat to Esme, who is obsessed with trends and what’s “in” and what’s “out.” They live in the penthouse of a tall building with no elevator, as elevators are not “in.” The building and entire street are also sheathed in darkness, as light is “out,” and Esme has taken in the Baudelaires only because orphans are “in.” The children discover the Quagmires at the bottom of the empty elevator shaft. Before they can rescue them, they fall prey to Count Olaf’s evil scheme.
Count Olaf disguises himself as an auctioneer and hides the children in an object he auctions off. It comes to light that Esme is in cahoots with Olaf, and the children discover that the fake elevator has a secret passage leading to their old home. In the book, this is tantalizing information hinting at some larger conspiracy. Now that the show is front-loading its conspiracy narrative, this reveal will likely be even more significant.
The Vile Village
The Vile Village is the real turning point for the series; after this book, the children never have a guardian again, and even Mr. Poe is no longer looking out for them in his incompetent way. In this story Mr. Poe puts the children in a new program operating on the philosophy, “It takes a village to raise a child.” They end up in the Village of Fowl Devotees, a town filled with crows. They live with Hector the handyman and do the village’s chores. Although the village is unusual with strict rules — as can be expected in this universe — Hector proves to be a kind man with an extensive library and a secret hot air balloon mobile home he’s working on.
Naturally, as Hector is kind, their time with him is short-lived. The village council captures a man they claim is Count Olaf and plan to burn him at the stake, despite the children’s protests that it is not Olaf but Jacques Snicket. As the show might have conflated Jacque’s identity with Jacquelyn’s, this could be the end of Sara Canning’s character. The children must attempt to save Jacques and the missing Quagmires, as they seem to be receiving secret messages from them. At the end of the story, the children are framed for Jacque’s murder and pursued by an angry mob, including Count Olaf disguised as a policeman. The Quagmires — who they eventually find concealed in a fountain — have a moderately more fortunate fate, as they escape with Hector in his hot air balloon.
The Hostile Hospital
The last two episodes of Season 2 will see the story taking the darker tone it stays on for the remainder of the series. While on the run, the children encounter a group called Volunteers Fighting Disease. They accompany them to a hospital that is half-finished. There, they volunteer to work in the hospital records, reasoning that it might contain some of the answers they seek. Indeed, they uncover a file called “The Snicket File”, which refers to the survivor of a fire. Although the children excitedly presume this means one of their parents survived, it’s actually Quigley Quagmire, the third triplet who briefly appears in Season 1.
The file also has a photo of their parents, Jacques, and someone they don’t recognize. It’s commonly presumed to be Lemony Snicket, which the show already nodded to with this photograph in “The Miserable Mill”:
The climax of the tale involves Klaus and Sunny rescuing Violet from the operating theater, where a disguised Count Olaf is poised to do a horrifying procedure on her brain. The hospital catches fire in the middle of the chaos, and the orphans escape by hiding in the back of Count Olaf’s truck.
Season 2 does not presently have a date, but it’s currently in the works.