We're continuing our look at the Netflix original series 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' with episode five of season one 'The Wide Window, Part One'. Spoiler Warning Is In Effect.
THE TALE OF THE BAUDELAIRES
The second half of this tale of dismay opens with Mr. Poe leaving the Baudelaires on a dock for they are off to live with the Aunt Josephine, who are one point her life was a fierce and formidable woman, but with the tragic lost of her husband Ike at the teeth of the Lake Lachrymose leaches, she is now a woman who lives in fear of everything, and while not a total shut-in, she is very much not the woman that at one point in her life enjoyed sky-diving and wrestling alligators, but she won’t talk to Violet, Klaus or Sunny about the things they need to know. That’s not to say she doesn’t give them some info, Josepheine reveals that she along with Ike and the Baudelaires parents made codes and they were close associates, but nothing more than that… unless you spoke with improper grammar other wise she’d talk your head off.
That said, there is one huge big flaw with Josephine as a character, in particular when you compare her to Monty, in that while Monty was very proactive and about doing things, noticing dangers as they come and adapting to deal with a situation… Josephine is presented as just a lonely fearful person who sees danger everywhere but not right in front of her which makes her a perfect mark for Count Olaf to swoon under the persona of Captain Sham, and while the Baudelaire’s can see through the disguise rather easily, Josephine’s own self-imposed fears leads her to captivated… and apparently leads her to commit suicide, jumping out of a window that over looks the large lake (Though if one is paying attention one would notice a statue in the darken room where this took place that is not there after the Baudelaires hear the glass breaking)
Now don’t take this as me being critical of Alfre Woodard’s performance of the character, she got the character over quite well I thought, but it’s such a downer in comparison to Monty that I can’t help but fell like one of the Baudelaires in being disappointed. Which might be the whole point come to think of it.
As far as Count Olaf goes… he’s surprisingly downplayed in this episode, and does a fair job of covering most of his identify features including a peg leg to hid his left ankle. As compared to the Stephano persona form The Reptile Room, Captain Sham is a much better disguise for him to utilize since anyone can be a sea captain and talk nautical terms. He apparently knows a lot about Josephine and was able to easily set up a ‘chance meeting’ and woo her into going out on date for fried-egg sandwich while she was out shopping for supplies for a pending hurricane (has something to do with the fact that Lake Lachrymose is practically a small ocean)
Stand out scene for me was Violet and Klaus trying to determine how to proceed to escape from Josephine’s home which is being guarded by Olaf’s theater troupe, and Klaus considering that Josephine is right about being afraid of everything, which prompts Violet to bring up what their mother always said ‘Do the scary thing first and then worry about being scared’ (or something to that effect).
Other little details in this episode, when Olaf arrives in Lake Lachrymose he is confronted by a waiter, and they are very much aware with one other… Josephine has a copy of ‘An Incomplete History of Secret Organizations’ the same book that was in Justice Krauss’s library… the Baudelaire children are allergic to peppermints, I suspect this will come into play in the next episode...apparently there was a ‘Snicket’ in the organization, not sure if it’s Lemony or someone else… the Baudelaire parents had an interesting honeymoon if the implications indicated that there were in a plan that was shot at…
Which leads me to a huge problem with this episode: it’s too damn dark… to play into Josephine’s phobias, apparently there is no electricity in her home (she disconnected the door bell because she feared people getting electrocuted) and the use of candles is forbidden (cause they could fall and start a fire), meaning it’s just a bleak episode to look at for any scenes shown at Josephine’s home. I get why they did it, but I wish more could been actually SEEN!
Overall: This episode sets the status quo for the story, but I felt the pacing was rather muddled, not helped with dark lighting.