Thursday, 10 July 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Reptile Room, Chapter 8

I'm really looking forward to getting to watch the film version of the first three books soon. I'm hoping to watch it the weekend after I finish The Wide Window and then do some sort of a review on it in between my Chapter-by-Chapter posts. I'll let you know when to expect that closer to the time.

What Happens?

The doctor, Dr. Lucafont, shows up to examine the body of Dr. Montgomery. He establishes that Monty was killed by the most poisonous snake in the world which presumably let itself out, bit the doctor and let itself back into its cage. The adults all discuss how they are going to get themselves and the children back into town, while the Baudelaires end up heading back to the Reptile Room because Violet has an idea.

Thoughts as I read:

The picture at the start of this chapter is a very clever representation of two of the things that have played an important part in the series so far. It's the traditional medical symbol but with an eye with bat wings at the top and then two snakes twining up from the bottom. Obviously this will represent the doctor we will be meeting in this chapter.

The children are feeling quite crushed at the revelation that there is no tattoo on Stephano's ankle. Understandably so because we already saw it earlier on in the book, so where has it disappeared to? I do like this bit: It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right and the person who is really wrong is the one who is proving you wrong and proving himself, wrongly, right. Right? It is true.

Klaus is still trying to convince Mr Poe that Stephano is Olaf and he has somehow just removed his tattoo. Mr Poe is happy to accept that since Stephano has no tattoo and his facial hair does not resemble Olaf's, they are obviously two different people. There is a moment of relief though, Mr Poe points out that whoever Stephano is, he won't be allowed to just take the children away. And besides, he can't get Mr Poe's name right, he's clearly not fit to be in charge of children!

A car pulls up behind them and a man introduces himself as 'Dr. Lucafont'. That name is almost Count Olaf. I studied it for a while trying to work out whether it was actually Count Olaf but it's missing an O. Close enough to raise a red flag though. He's described as having a 'big, solid hand' so I'm guessing he's not the hook-handed man at least.

Mr Poe is slightly incredulous at the speed with which the doctor has arrived but Lucafont shrugs it off, saying that 'speed is of the essence' and an autopsy needs to be performed. Of course, despite this he still considers having a mug of coffee, as offered by Stephano, until it's pointed out that he really needs to see Dr. Montgomery.

We get another clue that Dr. Lucafont is not who he says he is when he responds to Stephano with ''You're the boss''. Could it be that he's an evil-henchman?

Stephano explains that he told the doctor about Mr Poe's car and he'll run him back into town. Klaus firmly puts his foot down and states that there is no way the children are going to stay alone with Olaf. Mr Poe takes this as a perfect opportunity to criticise Klaus's social skills, as he keeps on telling Mr Poe that he won't stay anywhere with Stephano. He even tells him to apologise to Stephano.

Obviously, Klaus doesn't take this suggestion too kindly. But Stephano steps in (calling Mr Poe 'Mr Yoe', I think he's working his way through the alphabet) and telling him that he understands the children are upset so they don't have to be that polite. Olaf probably doesn't mind the rudeness, he's a pretty rude kind of guy so that sort of quality seems to appeal to him.

He also makes a slip up here. In telling Mr Poe that the children are upset he says that it's because of 'Dr. Montgomery's murder'. I'm not sure whether Mr Poe picks up on this, but Violet's a sharp cookie and she calls him out on it. He shrugs it off, saying that he simply 'misspoke'. To my surprise, Mr Poe doesn't bat an eyelid at this and accepts Olaf's excuse.

We then go back to the question of who the children will stay/travel with. This time Mr Poe is suggesting the children travelling to town with him and the doctor, Olaf counters this with the fact that the children probably won't fit into that vehicle either but that he could follow along behind them.

The children are left out of this conversation so they're stuck on the outskirts trying to figure out how to get themselves out of the situation. They don't seem to have trusted Mr Poe's assertion that Stephano won't be able to take custody of the children. I can't say I blame them. Olaf has his sights set on them and he's determined not to let them get away. Snicket even points out how ridiculous that their whole fate hinges upon a question of carpooling.

Once again, it's Violet who comes up with a possible solution. She suggests that the children ride with Dr. Lucafont and Mr Poe could travel with Stephano. Mr Poe queries why and Violet and Klaus insist that they want to see the inside of a doctor's vehicle. This unfortunately, is not an option as Lucafont only has room for two more passengers with Monty's body occupying all other space in the vehicle.

Lucafont has decided that Monty's cause of death was a snakebite and he somehow determined that the venom in Monty's veins was that from the Mamba du Mal, a very poisonous snake. The possibility of a poisonous snake roaming the house is mooted, however, not only has the doctor determined Monty was poisoned, he's also established that the snake escaped from its cage, bit Monty and then locked itself back up again. When Violet points out how ridiculous this is, the doctor says that the other snakes must've helped it.

Lucafont is about as inappropriate as Count Olaf, he's not rifling through the kitchen cupboards in search of food. Mr Poe does find this story a little suspicious and Violet decides to prod him in the hopes of him taking this train of though further. She points out that Monty was the best in his field so he wouldn't have allowed a snake to escape from a cage if it was poisonous and deadly.

There's a bit of back and forth about whether it could have been a murder, but there aren't enough suspects because the only options are the children or Stephano. And Stephano quickly points out that he doesn't know enough to kill someone with snake poison.

Mr Poe tells the children that it's unfortunate that Monty died but that it does seem to have been an unfortunate accident. Before more can be said along these lines, Klaus kind of flips out about Dr Lucafont eating the canned peaches that Monty had picked up the previous day. Mr Poe suggests that the children leave them alone to discuss the travel arrangements. It's a bit like one of those logic puzzles where you have to get the wolves and chickens across the river but the wolves can't be left with a certain number of the chickens otherwise they'll start eating them.

The children hesitate and refuse to leave right away. Even Sunny joins in the rebellion against leaving the room, saying ''Afoop!'' which means ''No.'' But Violet steps in and agrees to leave, taking her brother and sister with her. She obviously has a plan. I wouldn't be surprised to see he start tying her hair up again any minute now.

Violet has realised that while she's letting the adults do their adult stuff, she needs to make a move. It's said here that Violet will always be proud of the fact that she realised they should get out of the kitchen at this point in proceedings. Clearly whatever comes next is going to have a massive impact on the future of the Baudelaires. Instead of taking them up to one of their bedrooms, she leads them out of the kitchen and into the Reptile Room. I think they're about to do some investigating of their own.

Don't forget that Friday is a double-post day for the Chapter-by-Chapter reviews. The Chapter 9 review will be posted in the morning, with the Chapter 10 one following along later in the day.

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