Friday, 27 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Penultimate Peril, Chapter 9

Earlier today we looked at Chapter Eight of The Penultimate Peril, the twelfth book of A Series of Unfortunate Events. We’re now onto Chapter Nine after having had the children have a whole lot of mysterious things explained to them by Dewey, Justice Strauss and Jerome Squalor, though not everything was cleared up, not by a long shot.

Of course Olaf has just shown up, so I imagine this is going to complicate things somewhat.

What Happens?

Olaf’s crew show up and inform him that the sugar bowl is in the laundry room. Then there’s an argument and Esme and Olaf break up. Dewey reveals that he’s the only one who knows how to open the Vernacularly Fastened Door so Olaf demands he share the password and threatens him with the harpoon gun. A struggle ensues and the Baudelaires gain control of the gun, briefly, before it is dropped and accidentally goes off. And someone gets hit.

Thoughts as I read:

I suspect that the chapter image for this chapter has no relevance to the actual story, must like the one in the previous chapter. This one shows an angry looking goat which seems to be frowning at a dandelion. I can’t help but find this amusing because a week ago I read The Tales of Beedle the Bard and in Dumbledore’s notes he mentions a story his brother liked about Grubby the Goat. I doubt whether he’ll be putting in an appearance here.

And I’m right. Snicket starts talking about small mercies and gives an example of vicious goats eating a pretty dandelion. I think that means there’ll be a lot of talking in this chapter again because there wasn’t much else for Brett Helquist to draw.

Olaf is pleased to have the children back in his clutches, to which Violet replies ‘We just happen to be standing in the same room’. Good one Violet.

There’s more confusion surrounding the identical triplets, since Olaf thinks Dewey is Ernest, which he obviously isn’t because he’s not about to hand the children over. The existence of Dewey Denouement is a bit of a revelation for Olaf. They continue to argue about whether or not the children should be handed over or not and who has more people on their side in the hotel (volunteers or villains).

We also learn that Fiona and Fernald have taken off in Olaf’s submarine. That definitely sounds like they’re not interested in helping Olaf any more. Meanwhile Olaf is trying to point out to the children that they can’t trust any of these people since they’ve already let them down before. Each person that the Baudelaires name as being present in the hotel can be countered by Olaf with someone who doesn’t care about them. There are even people at the hotel, like Mr Poe (there to investigate a bank robbery) who may not be on either side but they’ve still wound up being a far greater help to Olaf in the past than the children. Olaf does have a point here.

Olaf continues to berate the children. See I was right about this being a chapter which was all about the talking. He tells them that there are no noble people in the world, to which Sunny replies ‘Our parents’. Except it would appear that there is something about Mr and Mrs Baudelaire that we’ve not been told before.

But we aren’t to know just what it is yet because Esme shows up along with Carmelita, Hugo, Colette and Kevin who we’ve all seen hanging around the hotel in various disguises before this point. Carmelita’s got her harpoon and two of the hooks have been fired. I’m guessing someone is going to be shot at some point in the next three or four chapters. In fact, she threatens Violet with it until Esme calls her off.

Conversation briefly turns to the cocktail party while Olaf threatens everyone with the highly poisonous fungus. And then they move on to the subject of the sugar bowl. It’s revealed that Carmelita shot the crows and that Violet gave her the harpoon gun, information which shocks Justice Strauss. Violet explains that she didn’t know what she was supposed to do with the harpoon gun. Perhaps if they had made sure that everyone knew who they were talking to and made it clear exactly what was supposed to be done they wouldn’t have this problem!

Next up is the revelation that Klaus hung the birdpaper out of the window. Everyone is suitably shocked at this as well, but Klaus launches into a similar defence of his actions as his sister did. This is why your plan was destined to fail. If you trusted the Baudelaires so much then you should have given them all the information they would need. No wonder the volunteers have kind of failed up until this point.

Violet and Klaus try to talk their former colleagues into joining the side of good rather than helping Olaf any more, which is followed by a discussion of choice versus destiny. Then it’s Esme’s turn to learn the truth about Dewey and the fact that he’s real. I kind of want them to stop talking now and start moving events along a little more.

We do get to learn a little more about the sugar bowl though. Esme wants it back because of what is in it, it used to be hers and Beatrice stole it from her. Then she threatens to have Carmelita shoot Dewey which ignites a fresh argument between Carmelita and Olaf. It goes on for a page and really isn’t worth recounting here. Suffice to say it ends with Olaf yelling that he never wanted Carmelita anyway. And he’s not impressed with her behaviour. You know a child’s behaviour is really bad when Olaf thinks you need some discipline!

This has a domino effect and prompts an argument between Esme and Olaf about whether she’s fired, quit, or left by mutual agreement. I take it this means they’ve split up as well. I suppose it would make a relationship kind of awkward after that.

Dewey’s refusing to tell them how to open the Vernacularly Fastened Door and is even suggesting that it’s a decoy. I think that this decoy is actually just a way for him to be able to tell the Baudelaires how to open it:

“The first phrase is a description of a medical condition that all three Baudelaire children share.”
The Baudelaires shared a smile.
“The second phrase is the weapon that left you an orphan, Olaf,” Dewey said.
The Baudelaires shared a frown.
“And the third,” Dewey said, “is the famous unfathomable question in the best-known novel by Richard Wright.”
The Baudelaire sisters shared a look of confusion, and then looked hopefully at Klaus, who slowly shook his head.

Olaf isn’t happy to hear this because he doesn’t know the answers to two of these questions. It seems that in order to answer these questions there would need to be some collaboration. Perhaps that’s Dewey’s intent. Does he mean to mend the schism by forcing both sides back together? I can’t see that working personally.

Also there’s this brilliant quote in response to Olaf saying he doesn’t have time to read:

“Wicked people never have time for reading,” Dewey said. “It’s one of the reasons for their wickedness.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say someone who never reads is wicked, but all the best people in the world love books. It’s true.

Luckily now that Esme and Olaf have fallen out, she’s refusing to do anything for him. This gets Jerome’s hopes up that his wife (ex-wife?) is actually a noble person after all. She’s very quick to disabuse him of that notion. Justice Strauss confesses to spending some time as a horse thief in her youth, as you do, before finding a life of law instead. Meanwhile Olaf’s realised that if he wants anything doing, he’ll have to do it himself, so promises to shoot Dewey to death at the count of ten, unless he gives him the answers to the questions.

Personally I would start shooting other people at the count of ten. Once he’d done two or three Dewey would probably realise he was serious and would tell him the passwords. If he kills Dewey then he’ll just have to figure them out for himself. Clearly I am not a noble person!

The Baudelaires are obviously noble people because they stand in front of Dewey to prevent any harm being done to him. Olaf continues to count, not caring how many people he has to kill along the way. If you’re going to be evil it makes sense to be really evil. The kids step forward, despite the slowly counting madman, and grab hold of the harpoon gun, which finally seems to give Olaf pause.

And the guy genuinely doesn’t seem to know what other option he’s got. He’s been bad for so long, he doesn’t know any other way to be. So the children try to persuade him not to be evil and wicked and murderous. And it might have worked if it wasn’t for Mr Poe showing up, which distracts Olaf, who hands the gun to the children, who aren’t ready to receive it so drop it, setting it off as it hits the floor.

So Mr Poe, who as we know only ever sees and hears what he wants to see or hear, is witness to the Baudelaires ostensibly setting off the harpoon gun which kills one of the number gathered in the hotel lobby. And I think we can all guess who it is who’s been shot.

Yup, that’s right, Dewey Denouement is meeting a rather sticky end. He’s stumbled backwards out of the door and into the pond. So the Baudelaires rush after him to help, which I doubt they will be able to, unless Klaus’s research has included surgery recently. Dewey is sinking down into the pond and it’s fairly clear that no matter what the Baudelaires say, they’re not going to be able to save him. He’s a goner.

Sunny says ‘We failed you’ but Dewey manages to shake his head, murmur ‘Kit’ and then slips under the water.

And he’s gone, and it looks like the Baudelaires have another death to chalk up to their list.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)