Thursday, 20 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 13

And so we’ve come to the final chapter of book seven of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. This chapter is a bit of a long one so get ready… Here we go.

What Happens?

The Quagmires and Baudelaires start to escape up the rope ladder into the hot air balloon but Luciana shows up with a harpoon gun and starts firing. The Quagmires get into the basket, but the Baudelaires are forced to climb back down when she severs the rope ladder. The villagers then turn on Olaf and Esme when they injure a crow and continue to use mechanical devices; the two escape and the villagers rush off to tend to the crow, leaving the Baudelaires alone as they realise that, as they are wanted criminals, they are well and truly on their own now.

Thoughts as I read:

This is one of those pictures that goes round the whole page. At the very top we’ve got a crow looking slightly annoyed at the harpoon that has just speared a notebook sending bits of pages flying everywhere. You can’t quite make out exactly what the pages say on them, there’s definitely one that has a ‘V’ on it and I think I can see one with an ‘F’ near the bottom of the page. I think it’s safe to say the the Quagmire books are toast.

If you remember, we left the children being chased by a crazy mob. It’s being led by Officer Luciana and she’s got the kids trapped. Sunny’s still hopeful for a way out, saying “Machina!” but Violet has to break it to her that there is no deus ex machina for them now. Except Violet is wrong because there’s something up above.

And yes, it’s the self-sustaining hot air mobile home. We get a fairly detailed description of it here, there’s twelve baskets, all sorts of pipes and cables and lots of balloons. The one fault with it is its inability to land, which means that in order to save the children Hector must throw down a rope ladder to them. Duncan and Isadora start climbing up it straight away, introducing themselves to Hector in the process.

The Elders immediately start bleating about all the rules that Hector is currently breaking. This means that they’ll need to get more firewood for his fire as well. It’s going to be quite the bonfire at this rate. Up in the air Hector’s feeling brave and is finally able to answer back. The first thing he summons up the courage to say is how wrong it is to burn people at the stake, took him long enough!

Hector then tells them that he doesn’t want to live in V.F.D. any more and he’s taking the children well away from there. The Elders are thinking about the important implications of this, like who will make their hot fudge sundaes. Things actually start looking quite good for the Baudelaires at this point as the trio start climbing up the ladder. It kind of looks like they might get away right now, except we’ve got about twenty pages left to go so it’s highly unlikely that things will go so smoothly.

At this point Luciana reveals that she’s holding a harpoon gun, the plan being to pop the balloons. This will make a smooth getaway difficult so Violet tells Hector to fly higher to get out of range. He goes higher but the harpoon pierces Hector’s supply of cranberry juice. Poor Hector, he’s going to have spend the rest of his life flying around with no cranberry juice to drink! Next to go is the whole wheat flour and extra batteries, this is rapidly becoming a disaster!

By this point the villagers are feeling conflicted. Luciana is using a mechanical device and is breaking rules, this goes against everything they believe. The best course of action is evidently to go to the town hall to have a meeting about what’s going on. Then Dupin/Olaf arrives on his motorbike:

“Dupin isn’t a citizen,” another member of the Council pointed out, “so he’s not breaking Rule #67.”
“But he’s riding through a crowd of people,” Mr. Lesko said, “and he’s not wearing a helmet. He’s not showing good judgment, that’s for sure.”

Hehe, I love this.

Now that the Baudelaires seem to be getting away the villagers are having to direct their anger at someone else. They’ve turned their attentions to Luciana and the man their know as Dupin. Now it’s Luciana and Dupin/Olaf against all the villagers as well as Hector, the hot air balloon and the children. And then we’re told the sky has filled with the crows as they’ve headed for Nevermore Tree for the night. This is exactly what the children and Hector need to get away because it stops the bad guys from seeing them.

Hector tells the children he plans to fly even higher which makes Sunny yell “No!” which seems rather self-explanatory but which is defined nonetheless, this means “I’m not sure that’s the wisest plan – we won’t survive a fall from such a height!” No sooner has she said this than Luciana fires another harpoon and severs part of the rope ladder. Looks like the children aren’t going to get out of this one so easily.

It’s Violet who realises that there’s no way they’re going to get up the ladder before the rope comes completely unravelled. She breaks this news to her siblings who do not take it well; Klaus immediately argues with her and Sunny says “Yoil!” They do as they’re told however and they make it down a little way, causing them to fall but it’s only a short drop and they survive. Well, they survive for now, they’ve still got an angry mob and Olaf to face.

There’s no going back down for the hot air balloon, despite Duncan begging Hector to do just that. I do have to admit that that’s a pretty big design flaw, I mean, going down to earth occasionally wouldn’t always be a bad thing if it enabled them to restock on the essentials or perhaps get medical treatment or something. Klaus is still desperate to get to the basket but his suggestion of climbing the tree and jumping in won’t work since the tree is steadily filling up with crows. All they can do is watch their friends sail away into the distance and try to find them in the future.

Keen to help them out Duncan tosses down their notebooks, promising that they contain everything they need to know about V.F.D., Jacques and Olaf. We know from the image at the chapter opening that this isn’t going to work, that was a bit of a spoiler wasn’t it.

And over the page we find out that I was right. Luciana looses another harpoon and it spears both of the Quagmires’ books. So the children don’t receive notebooks, they just get a lot of bits of paper. Oh and they get one word as well, someone yells ‘volunteer’ at them, which is probably what the V in V.F.D. actually stands for. Sunny immediately says “Tesper!” meaning “Let’s try to gather up as many pages of the notebooks as we can!” showing that as usual she’s the glue holding the little band together.

Olaf chooses this moment to reveal that the Baudelaires are on the front page of the paper, except they’re calling them Veronica, Klyde and Susie and they’re described as having murdered Count Omar. Given what ‘Omar’ put them through I think they would be quite justified in actually murdering him, but alas it’s only going to mean that they’re wanted for a crime they didn’t commit and everyone will think they’re safe from Olaf.

Speaking of Olaf, he still wants to know which Baudelaire is going to get away to enable him to get the fortune. Personally I would say Sunny should get away, because if she’s the last remaining Baudelaire then surely he’d have to wait for her to come of age before he could get the money. Plus Sunny’s got the smarts and could probably figure out a way to escape from her guardian before that point. Obviously this isn’t the ideal situation because it would mean losing her older brother and sister… this is why I don’t make big decisions like this.

Remember that crow from the picture at the start of the chapter. Well it wasn’t looking annoyed. It was looking worried, because right after the harpoon hit the notebook it hit the crow as well. Not hurting crows is rule number one, and despite Luciana and Olaf being ready to shrug it off, the villagers are not so willing to let it go. Bad move that!

The next bad move occurs when Olaf/Dupin takes off his sunglasses and reveals that he’s only got one eyebrow. The villagers decide to burn him at the stake along with Luciana, after all they’ve got all those flaming torches and it seems like such a shame to let them go to waste. But Olaf isn’t going to go quietly so he hops onto the motorbike and yells for Esme to join him.

Oh yeah, Luciana is Esme Squalor. I had a funny feeling that it was her the whole way through but I didn’t like to keep calling her Esme just in case I was wrong. But I was right. And Esme and Olaf are dating now, can you imagine if they had a child? It’d just be a complete devil:

She climbed aboard Olaf’s motorcycle and tossed her helmet to the ground, showing that she cared no more about motorcycle safety than she did about the welfare of crows.

Poor crow. :-(

The mob have no mechanical devices so can’t chase after them, and besides they have to get the crow to a vet (I hope the poor thing is okay). And just like that the Baudelaires are sort of abandoned by all the villagers.

Well, not entirely, they still intend to burn the Baudelaires at the stake just as soon as they’ve made sure the crow is okay. Bizarrely the Baudelaires do not turn tail and start running, they do as they’re told and kind of hover around, picking up odd pages of the Quagmire notebooks, after all this is the only way they’ll figure out all these mysteries. “Phelon!” says Sunny, clearly regarding their status in the eyes of the law at the moment. This is translated as “And of proving that we’re not murderers!”

They’re not doing too well at collecting the scattered pages though. The wind blows many of them away so that in the end they only have twenty-two, but it’s more than they’ve had before so hopefully we’ll get some answers soon. They can’t really afford to hang around really though, after all, when the villagers come back they’re planning a bonfire. Violet’s not sure where they should go and it’s Sunny who suggests “Burb” meaning “Anywhere, as long as it’s out of town.”

This time they’re all on their own. They’re wanted criminals now so there’s no going back to Mr Poe to ask for help. It’s all up them to survive now. Klaus points out that they’ll have to be just like the hot air balloon, as in self-sustaining, and Sunny says “Like me” then take her very first steps. Aww, poor little Sunny, she’s growing up and she’s all alone in the world with only her big brother and sister to look out for her.

But looking out for each other isn’t really anything new since they’ve been doing that for the last seven books and they’re getting quite good at it now. So they start to head out of town, all alone, as criminals at large.

This is not a happy ending to the story.

Our final picture of the book shows Sunny (standing by herself) and Violet in the distance, while right in the foreground Klaus tries to catch a slip of paper with an eye drawn on it (much like the one on Olaf’s ankle). There are other little bits of paper all over the floor, along with the copy of The Daily Punctilio. You can just see the picture of Violet, Klaus and Sunny (or Veronica, Klyde and Susie) and on the back of it is some sort of advertisement with ‘LAST CHANCE’ splashed across it. I’m guessing this is where we’ll be going next.

And this is confirmed by the ‘Western Bunion’ telegram pictured across two pages at the end of the book which has been sent from ‘Last Chance General Store’. I’m not entirely sure how the General Store will play into the next story though as the next book is called The Hostile Hospital and while I vaguely remember how it ends, I don’t actually remember anything about the beginning.

We’ll take a look at the cover tomorrow and start reading it next week but check back here tomorrow morning to hear about my trip to Edinburgh Zoo.

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