Friday, 12 September 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Austere Academy, Chapter 5

And I did it! I managed to make it to the end of the week and got all my posts written. Little moment for a celebration.

Okay, we're done. Onto the review then.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires pretend that they don't recognise Olaf in order to convince him that his current disguise has worked. During Nero's awful concert they fill in the Quagmires on the situation. The Quagmires agree to help them and together they start to formulate a plan to make Nero see Genghis for who he really is. All in all it's a surprisingly nice evening for them.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter ends with a tantalising glimpse of Coach Genghis. We can see basically everything from his whistle down. He's certainly got the look down; tracksuit, trainers, he's got it all. Unfortunately we can't see his ankle here though, he's wearing socks. I'm guessing we'll be seeing more of him in this chapter.

Snicket's opening paragraph here is a discussion about the phrase 'following suit' and pulls up that old chestnut 'if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?' This issue is raised because after the Quagmires welcome Olaf as Coach Genghis, Violet follows suit, a response which somewhat shocks Klaus and Sunny. After momentarily worrying that Violet has lost her mind, Klaus and Sunny copy her example. Well, Klaus does, Sunny says "Gefidio!" which basically means the same thing.

Part of the reason Nero has brought Genghis to the Orphan Shack is to let him look at them to establish if they 'have the legs' he wants. That sounds a little bit sinister. I'm reminded of the episode of Criminal Minds we watched the other week with a guy dismembering bodies in order to rebuild the body of his dead brother. I doubt whether that is what Olaf wants their legs for though.

He establishes that the Baudelaires have exactly the legs he needs, but the Quagmires are unsuitable. Funny that. And that's the end of the discussion because it's time to head to the auditorium for the nightly concert. This evening's performance is one of Nero's own composing which is fairly short so in order to make it last the full six hours he plans to play it repeatedly. Fun.

Olaf, as Genghis, engages in a little bit of ego stroking with Nero which sort of stops the Baudelaires from discussing this latest development with their new friends. Luckily the performance offers them the perfect cover to have a discussion, despite this normally being an awful faux pas.

We get a little mention here of how musical compositions are often inspired by particular things or written to evoke a certain sense of a place.

In the case of this sonata, Nero had apparently been inspired by somebody beating up a cat...

I love this. Basically everyone stops listening, including the teachers, with the exception of Genghis who apparently loves the show. He would.

Violet reveals that she is perfectly aware of who Genghis really is and the Quagmires express their dismay at Olaf's arrival at the school. Sunny contributes "Stewak" which Violet translates as "He follows us everywhere". Violet also explains that it was pointless to try and tell Nero who the new gym coach really is, and who can blame her really. I highly doubt that Nero would've done anything other than mock them in his silly voice, which would be really helpful.

Klaus cottons onto what Violet is thinking as they will need some time to figure out what he's doing. Violet is now acting as Sunny's full time translator because she adds "we can see if any of his assistants are around" as the meaning of "Lirt!" This then leads to the Baudelaires filling in the Quagmires on the details of Olaf's assistants, I'm guessing this for the benefit of any of the readers who have jumped straight into book number five without bothering with any of the others before it.

They list each henchman and woman, with Sunny adding "Aeginu!" meaning "And the assistant that looks like neither a man nor a woman." Duncan has the same idea as me and starts documenting what Sunny says. Actually, he's documenting the descriptions of the assistants, presumably because this will be handy in identifying them. Personally I think they always seem to stick out quite a lot.

Oh, and because Isadora and Duncan intend to help the Baudelaires. That's nice. Five of them will stand a much better chance against Olaf than just the three. Or it will end badly for more of them. Though Snicket hasn't been dropping hints of doom and gloom about anything bad happening to the Quagmires in the same way he did for Monty and Josephine.

Actually, I take that back. The very next paragraph starts talking about the terrible price the children will pay. That doesn't sound good.

Duncan doesn't know this, however, he's all about making a plan to get Nero to realise that Genghis is Olaf. Personally I'd want to appeal to a higher authority, Nero is a doofus. They don't have a better plan though. Violet intends to speak to Nero the next day, which is obviously not going to end well because she's not supposed to be in the administrative building. They establish they need to get Nero to make Genghis take off his turban or show his ankle tattoo.

Isadora and Duncan love a good mystery so they're in on the investigation. It feels like a bit of a game at this stage which is probably why things are going to go wrong. Ooh and I can't remember exactly how they go wrong!

But at least right now things are going well for the children. They have friends, even if they are at an awful school, listening to their awful Vice Principal play awful violin music, with the awful Count Olaf back in the same room as them, at least, despite all that, they have their friends. And so the evening isn't quite as awful as it could be.

Of course none of this is going to last. And Snicket takes great delight in spending the last paragraph reminding us of this. Things are going to get a whole lot worse yet.

And so I'll end things here for another week, which I'll probably spend playing catch up again as I've given up my Saturday to earn some extra pennies for my trip to Edinburgh Zoo next month, but it's all for a good cause so I'm not going to complain. And I did volunteer.

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