At long last, A Series of Unfortunate Events allows Lemony Snicket to meet the mysterious Beatrice. In fact, the final scenes of the last episode of the Netflix adaptation of the popular books might raise a Count Olaf-sized eyebrow from loyal readers. This isn’t how the books ended! What’s going on here? Did Netflix really change the ending of The End in A Series of Unfortunate Events? Bizarrely, though the ending of The End on the show isn’t how it happens in the books, the show did not change the ending of the story of the Baudelaires. It just ended with a different book.
Massive Spoilers ahead for the entire third season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Even if you’ve read the books, you might want to stop reading this now if you haven’t finished the show.
Though mostly faithful to the 13 volumes of the original books, the framing of the final episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events isn’t actually derived from books 1 thru 13. Instead, the plotline involving the younger Beatrice Baudelaire II searching for Lemony Snicket in the future occurs in a supplementary Lemony Snicket book published in 2006 called The Beatrice Letters. It is in this book that it’s implied that the child of Kit Snicket — Beatrice II — who was raised by the Baudelaires on the Island, is looking for Lemony Snicket. This book also vaguely implies that the boat (also called the Beatrice) sank at some point after the events in The End, which explains why the young Beatrice is looking for her adopted siblings; they were separated by a shipwreck.
In other words, even though the Netflix version of A Series of Unfortunate Events seems to end on a non-unfortunate event, it really doesn’t. At some point after we see the Baudelaires all sail away, their boat will crash and they will be separated from their younger, adopted sibling. Now, when this happens is totally unclear, and the show certainly gives us more than the books did. But, that’s also because the fifth and sixth episodes of the show did make one pretty big change to the books. In the book version of The Penultimate Peril, Lemony Snicket didn’t meet the children, at least it wasn’t stated explicitly. But in the show, he does, and that fact changes the narrative framework of what Lemony Snicket “knows” about the whereabouts of the children.
Thus, when Beatrice II is searching for him at the beginning of the final episode, the agency of Snicket’s narration is actually removed, because he simply doesn’t know what is going on with the orphans anymore. And while this is a change from the final book, it is very much in the spirit of The Beatrice Letters. In fact, in one of the “new” flashbacks, in which Lemony professes his love to the first Beatrice (the mother of the Baudelaires) his speech about the ways in which he loves her are taken directly from The Beatrice Letters. That’s right, that book contains not only Beatrice II’s letters to Lemony Snicket in the future but also Lemony’s letters to the elder Beatrice in the distant past.
Basically, if you loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, and you haven’t read The Beatrice Letters, you totally have to. It’s funny, smart, and reading it will make the ending of the Netflix show feel a lot more complete, for, well, completists. Plus, if your kids think they know the whole story, they don’t. Not only does The Beatrice Letters expand the Snicket universe, but also Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, and the four-part prequel book series All The Wrong Questions.
So, the Netflix show may be over, but there’s a good bet you’ve still got like six great Lemony Snicket books you didn’t even know you needed to read.
A Series of Unfortunate Events season 1-3 are all streaming now on Netflix.