Friday, 20 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Penultimate Peril, Chapter 4

We're heading onto Chapter Four of The Penultimate Peril, after the previous non-chapter which told us that since the kids are having to gather information using a 'divide and conquer' tactic, the next three chapters are going to do the same.

This means that we're going to spend the next chapter with Violet as she heads up to the rooftop sunbathing salon to find out what joys await her up there.

What Happens?

Violet finds that Esme Squalor and Carmelita Spats are up on the roof. Violet's able to listen in on Esme's conversation with a journalist, learning that Esme is watching the skies for something. She almost learns who J.S. is but is interrupted by Carmelita demanding a harpoon gun. When Violet goes to fetch it, she runs into someone who is almost certainly Ernest, who lets her have what she needs.

Thoughts as I read:

There's a rather interesting looking picture at the beginning of this chapter. It's a person (I can't really hazard a guess as to whether it's a man or a woman as they've got short hair and nothing that really screams either gender) who is wearing a bathrobe and sandals. They've also got great bit bug-eye sunglasses on and seems to be holding a couple of giant fish slices.

Up on the roof things are quite bright, which is fine because Violet's costume includes sunglasses. The reason for the bright light, well the sunlight is being reflected by just about everything below them. As if that's not enough, there's big mirrors round the edge of the building so it's clearly intentional to give everyone the chance to get skin cancer, I mean a suntan. The person in the picture is actually a man whose job it is to use the spatulas to turn the sunbathers to make sure that they get a nice even tan. That's practical.

There's someone else up here on the roof as well. Esme Squalor. She's pleased to finally see Violet which worries Violet for a second, until she realises that she's pleased to see the concierge, not the eldest Baudelaire.

We get a closer look at Esme then, clearly what is 'in' at the moment is looking really weird. She's got silver lipstick on as well as some serious nail art. All her nails are filed into the letters E, S, M and E with her thumbnail in the shape of an eye. I could understand painting your nails to spell out those letters but filing them into those shapes just sounds uncomfortable. Wouldn't the M keep snagging on things? She's always wearing three pieces of lettuce as a bikini. Interesting, though I'm not sure it's very practical.

Also on the roof is Geraldine Julienne, the journalist for The Daily Punctilio. She's just hanging out on the roof planning such biting headlines as 'UNBELIEVABLY GLAMOROUS AND BEAUTIFUL WOMAN COMPLAINS ABOUT HOTEL SERVICE!' which I'm sure will be as riveting as it sounds.

Violet's been summoned up to attend to Carmelita who is hanging out in the pool. Carmelita's also trying a new look right now. She's gone for the tomboy approach in being a 'ballplaying cowboy superhero soldier pirate' and is wearing attire which is suitable for this profession which is about as weird as it sounds. She's also got a boat in the pool, because she's a pirate of course.

Esme, despite doting on Carmelita and telling everyone how wonderful the bratty girl is, is quick to point out that she's not her daughter. She's also very quick to tell Geraldine that she only adopted three orphans because that was in at the time, now they're not fashionable and she doesn't want to be reminded of them. Now she's allowing herself to be interviewed by Geraldine because that's one of those in things right now.

"I can see the headline now: 'ESME SQUALOR, THE MOST GLAMOROUS PERSON EVER!' Wait until the readers of The Daily Punctilio see that! When they read about your career as an actress, financial advisor, girlfriend, and cocktail party hostess, they'll get so excited that some of them will probably have heart attacks!"
"I hope so," Esme said.

That kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Geraldine turns the conversation to Esme's bizarre outfit allowing Esme to explain that her weird sunglasses are 'sunoculars' which are a combination of sunglasses and binoculars, allowing her to look over great distances while shielding her eyes. This is apparently necessary because birdwatching is in, which is also clearly a lie.

Evidently, whatever the bad guys are waiting for, it's going to be coming from far away and via the air. Hope that Quigley is getting on all right up there!

Geraldine continues to push Esme for more info about the party, but Esme's not prepared to give anything away, that is, unless Geraldine knows who the guest with the initials J.S. is. Geraldine's about to spill it as well, when Carmelita interrupts to complain that Violet isn't doing anything. This means that Violet is dismissed to go and wait on Carmelita instead.

And Carmelita wants a harpoon gun. Apparently she's been bonding with Count Olaf and he's going to teach her to spit soon as well. I'm sure that's a skill that'll come in handy in the future for her. All the same, it's a good excuse for Violet to get out of their company as she heads off in search of a large weapon for Carmelita.

It's not until Violet gets into the lift that she realises that she's not sure where in the hotel she'll find a harpoon gun. She ends up asking Frank/Ernest who is not best pleased by this because a bunch of guests have shown up early and he's not got time to be helping his staff. Besides, if Violet is who Frank/Ernest thinks she is, she shouldn't need a catalogue to find what she needs.

Violet contemplates the best answer to this question for a moment, before deciding to go with the relatively safe 'Of course I'm who you think I am' which doesn't answer the question at all, until she clarifies that she's a concierge. Frank/Ernest does question the wisdom of giving a child a harpoon gun to play with and I have to agree.

He then leads Violet to a room numbered 121 which contains a convenient harpoon gun. Every hotel should obviously keep one of those hanging around. The fact that Frank/Ernest gives Violet this with the words 'A weapon like this should only be in the hands of the right person. I'm grateful for your assistance, concierge. Not many people have the courage to help with a scheme like this.' which means he's Ernest, right?

After presumably-Ernest leaves Violet the hotel clock starts to chime, and it sounds like it's saying 'Wrong!' over and over. But despite this obvious warning, Violet heads back up to the top floor of the hotel ready to hand over a dangerous weapon to a spoiled little girl.

And we won't find out what happens next until at least Chapter Seven!

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