Warning: Major spoilers ahead for future seasons of Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is a story that lives up to its name at every turn. Based on a book series by Daniel Handler (who wrote under the pen name Lemony Snicket), Netflix’s new show tells the sad story of the three Baudelaire orphans — Violet, Klaus, and Sunny.
The book series and TV adaptation are both narrated by Lemony Snicket, a man who begins each story by reminding his audience that they really should avert their eyes and choose a more enjoyable story instead. But each episode pairing also begins with a morbid dedication to a woman named Beatrice.
Who is this mystery woman, and how does she tie into the larger story?
“Unfortunate Events” book readers already know the answer, but the show is likely saving this reveal for later seasons. So stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Each of the dedications comes at the beginning of a new story — since Netflix has split the books into two episodes each, that means we see a new note to Beatrice at the start of every other episode.
Here are all four messages from season one:
To Beatrice —
For Beatrice —
My love for you shall
You, however, did not.
For Beatrice —
I would much prefer it
if you were alive and well.
To Beatrice —
My love flew like a butterfly,
until death swooped down like a bat.
Beatrice is none other than Beatrice Baudelaire — the dead mother of the Baudelaire children.
She died in a fire along with her husband, Bertrand. But before she married Bertrand (and had Violet, Klaus, and Sunny), Beatrice and Lemony Snicket were in love and almost got married themselves.
“In my closet, I keep a 200-page book written by the woman I loved, explaining at great length and in specific detail the reason she could not marry me,” Snicket said in episode seven. “Which if I were to leave out in the open, I would find myself reading over and over. It would be as if my darling Beatrice were bringing me bad news every day and every night of my life.”
The exact reason (or reasons) why Beatrice rejected Snicket’s proposal remains a mystery, even to book readers. But thanks to Handler’s other works, especially a volume called “The Beatrice Letters,” we know a bit more about their history.
Snicket and Beatrice were childhood friends who were both enlisted in the secret society known as the V.F.D. The Baudelaire children are beginning to see glimpses of this society, though much of it remains a mystery to them.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is told by Snicket at an undetermined point in the future, long after Beatrice died and her children were placed into one unfortunate situation after another.
The whole reason he feels compelled to tell this story actually has to do with another woman named Beatrice — his niece.
At the end of the book series, the Baudelaire children wind up taking another young baby into their care. The infant is the daughter of Kit Snicket (Lemony’s sister) and another character, both of whom die during the course of “Unfortunate Events,” leaving the Baudelaire’s in charge of her.
Violet, Sunny, and Klaus decide to name the baby after their mother — Beatrice.
As revealed in “The Beatrice Letters,” Beatrice Snicket became separated from the Baudelaires during a treacherous journey. She then grew up in the V.F.D. society and reunited with her uncle, Lemony Snicket. Beatrice Snicket begged Lemony to help her find out what happened to the Baudelaires.
Which brings us all the way back to the first story of “Unfortunate Events.” Lemony Snicket introduces us to the Baudelaires by saying it is his solemn duty to tell us their story (which we now know was brought about by his niece who once knew them).
Each story is introduced with a sad dedication to the Baudelaires’ dead mother, the love of Lemony Snicket’s life, and the namesake of his niece — Beatrice.
So next time you see that depressing typed introduction, you will know the painful history behind each remembrance. As Lemony Snicket warned us all, this story definitely does not have a happy ending.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is currently streaming on Netflix.
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