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Stars: 5/5

The new season of A Series of Unfortunate Events was an epic finale for the show, staying true to the original books while adding some cool twists, including more orphans and much-needed Esmé screen time. To be honest, I was starting to lose interest in the earlier seasons because they just kept baiting the viewer without actually giving information. However, in the third and final season, the writers really delivered.

The V.F.D. and the mystery of the sugar bowl, the start of Count Olaf’s villainous career and Lemony Snicket’s tragic past were finally all revealed. The visuals were beautiful, especially the island scene in the last episode, and Esmé, my favorite villain, outdid herself in outfit changes. The season begins where it left off — with Violet and Klaus Baudelaire about to plunge off a cliff.

Of course, Violet ties up her hair and they end up alive. After that, they are forced to climb up a frozen waterfall to rescue Sunny, who has once again been put in a cage while the villains camp out on Mount Fraught.

There’s also an introduction of two mysterious and extremely fashionable villains, the man with no hair and a beard and a woman with hair and no beard.

The writers really pulled out all the stops with their characters. I in no way supported their evil villain agenda, but I had nothing but respect for their aesthetic choices, which included matching outfits and scary pet birds, and their relentless surveillance of all the other characters. It seems like they existed only to show up at crucial plot points and make some truly cutting remarks.

One of the most interesting moments in the season was when all of the characters from previous seasons get a mysterious telegram signed J.S. telling them to come to the final refuge of the V.F.D, located at the aptly named Hotel Denouement. There, Judge Strauss has gathered together everyone from the children’s past to judge Olaf for his crimes. During the trial, Olaf tells part of the sugar bowl story, and just really kills it. His character is finally fleshed out, made much more empathetic and relatable.

In this season, it feels like all the characters, especially the villains, were much more rounded out, and I loved how the past finally caught up with the present. It was more complex and interesting than the other seasons because the viewer finally got to see the motives behind everything, how quickly small rifts could become huge and the connections between all the characters.

It was also a much sadder season than the others, because it was colored by loss and mourning, nostalgia for a rosier past when everything wasn’t so broken. While the earlier seasons focused on the Baudelaire orphans, this one was more about the V.F.D. members and the rift between them.

The Hotel Denouement scene was so powerful because of this, showing that in some vital ways, all the adult characters were still living in the past. Even while they are actively engaging in the Baudelaire's lives, it seems like their hearts aren’t into it. Like Lemony Snicket, they’re living ghosts, unable to forget long-ago hurt and loss.

While the season ended on a hopeful note with the Baudelaires literally striking out for new waters, you still come away with a sense of finality, because V.F.D. and all its promise is dead and there can be no final reconciliation — just a way to move forward.

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