Last week we kicked off the final book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, this one aptly titled The End. We've witnessed the Baudelares (and Olaf) getting washed up on the shore of a mysterious island with inhabitants who follow the instructions given to them by one Ishmael. The children feel safe but they're not sure they will be happy here, especially as Kit Snicket's arrival on the island seems to have given Olaf a chance to worm his way into the colony.
At first things seem to be going well for the Baudelaires. No one wants Olaf to join the colonists and they definitely don't trust someone in such a terrible disguise. Unfortunately Friday and the Baudelaires have been discussing the myriad secrets they've kept from the colonists and so Olaf points this out in the company of the other colonists and Ishmael. Although Ishmael is happy to lock up Olaf in a giant birdcage, he's not sure about Kit Snicket and decides that since the Baudelaires are causing a lot of trouble on the island, it would be much easier to just leave them all behind on the coastal shelf.
Thoughts as I read:
This is one of those pictures where it's part chapter heading, part picture. It shows the word 'SIX' being written in the sand by someone holding a stick. There are a couple of seashells dotted around too. This pretty much tells us nothing about the chapter that we're about to read, except perhaps that it's going to take place on the beach. Considering this is a desert island, this isn't really news.
Snicket points out that we're already familiar with the hallmarks of a Baudelaire story. This is almost the halfway point so we're right on schedule for things going from bad to worse. Once again Olaf has donned a ridiculous costume and looks set to fool everyone into accepting him.
But that's not quite what happens.
Friday immediately calls out Olaf on his strange outfit. Olaf insists that he's actually a heavily pregnant Kit Snicket, but Mrs Caliban apparently knows Kit Snicket and that Olaf is not she. Friday speaks for the colonists as she says that Olaf is no friend of theirs. That's good. Friday is also hiding things in her robes again, it seems that not all of the islanders want Ishmael to know what they've found on the coastal shelf.
Despite the opposition from the colonists, Olaf still insists that he is a pregnant woman who deserves better treatment than this.
"You're not in a very delicate condition," said Larsen firmly. "You're in a very transparent disguise. If Friday says you're this Olaf person, then I'm sure you are, and you're not welcome here, due to your unkindness."
The colonists tell it like it is.
Unfortunately Olaf causes a murmur of concern when he mentions that this massive pile of books is a library, after all, Ishmael has always said that libraries lead to trouble! Everyone gets worried and says that they can't decide anything themselves, they need to speak to Ishmael. So they start pushing the large stack of books up the beach, despite the fact that there is an unconscious and (actually) pregnant woman perched on top!
Klaus points out that this might not be the safest course of action and is backed up by the resident vet. So they decide they will have to bring Ishmael out to the coastal shelf, the only question is how? The answer is to pull him there with the sheep and the sleigh, so Friday is given responsibility for guarding Olaf and the Baudelaires while the others bring him.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but leaving a seven-year-old girl to guard Olaf seems like a bit of a bad idea.
Friday is confident that this will all be sorted out soon and Sunny tells Olaf 'Pellucid theatries' which Violet translates as 'Your disguise isn't working'. Unfortunately Olaf reveals that he still has the harpoon, which he produces from behind his back in true cartoon villain style, and threatens them to play along which who he says he is, otherwise he might remember he's Count Olaf and start acting like him. So, he's delusional, but at least he's aware of it.
Surprisingly no one is scared by this threat because it will just prove to the other colonists that Olaf is truly a villain. Even more surprisingly, Olaf seems kind of deflated and starts talking about how hard it is to be on his own here, which prompts Friday to tell him he could actually stay with them if he behaved a little better. The Baudelaires aren't too happy about this, but in order to tell everyone about all the bad stuff Olaf has done, they would have to share all the bad things they've done as well.
Olaf seems to be coming around to Friday's way of thinking though and actually offers the children the harpoon gun. We all know how well that ended last time he did that!
The Baudelaires say as much and Klaus accuses Olaf of trying to trick them. It might be a little bit more believable if he wasn't still speaking in his fake Kit Snicket voice and caressing his fake pregnant belly!
I'm half expecting the inevitable to happen and for Friday to cave in and give Olaf what he wants, but she stays firm; she's waiting for the colonists to come back. I'm impressed. Though I'm also fairly certain that they'll fall for Olaf's scam.
Friday decides she's had enough of Olaf and asks the Baudelaires about books. Poor child, she's never seen one before. I hope that Ishmael doesn't stop them from telling stories because otherwise that would be a terribly deprived life she's been living.
Ah, she does know how to read. Professor Fletcher taught them without telling Ishmael. I suppose the downside to ruling from one spot because your feet are encased in clay is that your subjects can get away with doing things behind your back. That's why there was the word 'six' in the sand at the start of the chapter, Friday keeps in practice from time to time.
Friday hopes that they can keep some of the books and Klaus points out she won't be forced to do anything, but Friday is perfectly aware of peer pressure and its manifestations. So Klaus suggests they could try some peer pressure back. Perhaps that's the way to get what they want there, a bit of peer pressure and mob psychology. ;-)
Clearly Ishmael's island is not a healthy place to raise a child because Friday has been taught things in secret by many of the other colonists. She's gotten very good at keeping things hidden. Like the creature she pulls out of her pocket. Sunny recognises it at once, shrieking 'Incredi!' and sure enough, it's the Incredibly Deadly Viper.
So we get reacquainted with our favourite reptile as the Baudelaires tell Friday all about it. We already know this because we read The Reptile Room. Needless to say it's a happy reunion for the Baudelaires and brings back some happy memories of their time with Monty, before Olaf ruined it all.
This information also prompts Friday to realise just how much she is missing out on by living on the island. Olaf, who is clearly having some sort of identity crisis announces that 'The world is a wicked place' and Ishmael appears in the distance being dragged along by the wild sheep with a massive bird cage behind him. This is going to be interesting.
"Count Olaf," Ishmael said in a booming voice, as soon as his chair arrived. He stared down at the villain scornfully but also carefully, as if memorizing his face.
"Ishmael," Count Olaf said, in his disguised tone.
"Call me Ish," Ishmael said.
"Call me Kit Snicket," Olaf said.
Well that's the introductions taken care of.
I was expecting Ishmael to cave on the Olaf issue, but instead he tears the seaweed wig off Olaf's head and lock him up in the giant birdcage. Just as well Ishmael didn't send that to the arboretum! It kind of bookends the story, having Sunny in a birdcage in the first book and then Olaf in one in the last book.
And as we're halfway through the story now, we get another full-sized picture. This time it shows Olaf hunched up in the birdcage. It's a bit cramped and he doesn't look very comfortable. Slightly worrying is the fact that it's slightly submerged in the water. Hopefully this doesn't mean that they're going to leave him there to drown. I mean, I know it's Olaf, but that's a bit sinister.
Olaf is quite miffed at this treatment, after all, people usually let him get away or go along with his stupid disguises. He's like a spoiled child suddenly finding he can't always have things his own way.
Unfortunately, things also start to turn out badly for the Baudelaires as well. The colonists tell Olaf that from what they've seen he's just been treacherous and the Baudelaires have just been good. So he points out that Sunny is hiding a whisk in her pocket which means they all have to come clean about the personal items they're hiding.
Ishmael kind of over reacts:
"You were told of the island's customers," the facilitator said sternly, "and you chose to ignore them. We were very kind to you, giving you food and clothing and shelter, and even letting you keep your glasses. And in turn, you were unkind to us."
Yeah Klaus, they let you keep your glasses! What more do you want?!
Friday, grateful for not being dropped in it herself, says that the wild sheep can take everything away and everyone seems happy with this. Everyone except Ishmael, but since everyone has agreed there's obviously some peer pressure thing going on there and he relents and allows the Baudelaires to stay.
Of course, this is where the Incredibly Deadly Viper pops up from where it was swimming and Friday has to cover up the fact that the Baudelaires told her it was a friendly snake. So Ishmael says the snake should stay with Olaf and the books should go to the arboretum.
Luckily before they can push the books away they remember the fact that poor, pregnant Kit Snicket is stuck up there unconscious. Not yet having caused enough trouble, Olaf announces she's his girlfriend, which Klaus promptly denies. This only leads to more trouble because Ishmael accuses the Baudelaires of rocking the boat again since they never had these problems before they showed up. Sunny replies to this accusation with 'Dreyfuss?' meaning 'What precisely are you accusing us of?'
And here's where Ishmael's island starts to get darker for the Baudelaires. Ishmael wants to abandon Kit as well as Olaf. They're basically given two choices; to stay on the coastal shelf with Kit, Olaf and the books; or to return back to the tents with the rest of the colony. Staying is clearly not a good choice because Decision Day is approaching and the coastal shelf will be flooded. This means that not only were they going to leave Olaf there to starve, he probably would've drowned as well. That's just lovely.
At this moment something strange happens. Something rolls out of Ishmael's robe sleeve and falls into a puddle. The Baudelaires don't see what it is, but Ishmael clearly doesn't want anyone else to spot it and distracts the assembled people to get them to take him back to his tent. So they all leave, somewhat reluctantly, but they all go just the same.
And so the Baudelaires and Olaf are left behind, complaining about how unfair this is. And none of them make any moves to investigate what that thing was that fell out of Ishmael's robe! Priorities people!