One of the most delightful results of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is the visual realization of Violet Baudelaire’s awesome steampunkish inventions. In the books Lemony Snicket tells us that whenever Violet ties her hair up with a ribbon that her mind is on the brink of creating an invention that almost always saves the day. Like the rest of the Netflix adaptation of the beloved books, most of Violet’s inventions are faithfully recreated, or in same cases, actually souped-up (a phrase here which means “made even more extravagant and efficient than they ever were in the books”).
Violet may not have invented the art of being a TV show slap-dash inventor, but her skills are certainly more impressive than the recent rebooted version of MacGyver. While some of Violet’s most creative inventing days are still ahead of her in future seasons of Unfortunate Events, here’s a ranking of the awesomeness of her inventions on the show thus far.
6. Vocabulary — “The Miserable Mill Part 2”
This one is kind of a cheat. Of all the original Series of Unfortunate Events books, The Miserable Mill is the only one in which Violet doesn’t specifically invent anything. But, the pulleys and gears of her mind are working just fine in this story. Violet’s ability to remember the code word “inordinate” de-hypnotizes Klaus and saves the day. And Count Olaf bemoans, “These brats know all kinds of words. They’re book addicts.”
5. Toaster Clock — “The Bad Beginning Part 1”
An invention seen in a kind of flashback, Violet has mashed-up grandfather clock with a toaster. She mentions she made the gears herself, meaning anything wrong with the invention she blames on herself.
4. Rock-Skipping Device — “The Bad Beginning Part 1”
In the book-version of The Bad Beginning, this invention existed only in Violet’s mind. Lemony Snicket playfully told the reader that Violet was thinking of how she could build something that could retrieve rocks after you skipped them. But now, the Netflix show presents a version of the machine which Violet has already built. Awesome.
3. Lock-Pick — “The Reptile Room Part 2”
As Sunny says, this one required “teamwork.” When Violet realizes she needs to break into Count Olaf’s case in order to gather evidence, she asks Sunny to help her make a lock-pick. As always, Sunny’s sharp teeth can file-down just about anything.
2. Makeshift Alarm — “The Wide Window Part 2”
Both starting fires and stopping fires are major motifs in all of the Series of Unfortunate Events. So, when the orphans realize they need start a tiny fire as a kind of signaling alarm, they are briefly horrified. Still, imagining the need for a bright alarm that is also loud is one one Violet’s more creative moments. Anyone who can start a small fire on a boat where everything is soggy is basically superpowered.
1. Grappling Hook — “The Bad Beginning Part 2”
Perhaps the defining moment of the entire show occurs in Episode 2 when Violet builds and uses her grappling hook. Far more complex than it is rendered in the book, this grappling hook also appears to a kind of winch or pulley which propels Violet upward at the touch of a button. As she ascends Violet quotes heroically from Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming now on Netflix.