If, against all sensible advice, you've watched A Series of Unfortunate Events all the way through to the end of season 3, we've put together a breakdown to explain the major twists, big reveals, and lingering mysteries. The Netflix series has closely followed the plot beats of the book series upon which its based, and it ends in the same place the books do: a final tale called "The End," in which the Baudelaires are shipwrecked on an island and find the answers to many of their questions.
Since Mr. Poe first arrived on Briny Beach to inform the three Baudelaire children that they were now the Baudelaire orphans, A Series of Unfortunate Events has certainly lived up to its name. The show has taken the Baudelaires on a long and difficult journey, and placed them in the hands of many different guardians - some well-meaning but flawed, and others openly cruel.
A particular poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne claims "That even the weariest river/Winds somewhere safe to sea" - but do the weary Baudelaires wind somewhere safe by the end of A Series of Unfortunate Events, or is the ending of this tale as unfortunate as the beginning and middle?
- This Page: What Happens At The End Of A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Page 2: The Sugar Bowl and the Great Unknown
- Page 3: The History of V.F.D. and the Beatrice Twist
- Page 4: Changes From the Books and What The Ending Means
What Happens At The End of A Series Of Unfortunate Events
After the Hotel Denouement burns down at the end of "The Penultimate Peril Part 2," the Baudelaires escape by launching the Carmelita 2 off the roof and using a drag chute to guide it safely down to the ocean. Unfortunately, they escape with Count Olaf, who spends their time on the ocean gloating about his "victory" instead of helping to row the boat.
A storm carries the Carmelita 2 and its passengers to the coastal shelf of a mysterious island shaped like the V.F.D. symbol. There, the Baudelaires meet a peaceful group of colonists and their facilitator, Ishmael, who welcomes the children but (following an attempted coup) orders that Count Olaf be put in a bird cage and left on the sea wall to drown in the next storm. At first island life seems idyllic, but then the Baudelaires notice that the colonists are being kept content and forgetful by drinking only fermented coconut milk, and that Ishmael "suggests" that any washed-up items be sent to the other side of the island, as they're too dangerous. After a failed effort to get information out of Count Olaf, the Baudelaires notice that Ishmael is gone from his tent, and follow his footprints to the other side of the island.
There they find piles of items that have been washed up during storms, and discover a secret house hidden inside a tree, which is full of clever inventions and - most intriguingly - books written in their parents' handwriting. Ishmael reveals that he is both the founder of V.F.D. and the Principal of Prufrock Preparatory School. He used his position at the school to recruit children with an innate sense of curiosity and desire for adventure into a secret organization, whose role was to put out the figurative fires of the world. However, after the schism Ishmael abandoned V.F.D. and went to live on the island, where he tried to lead the colonists in simple lives free of curiosity. He invites the Baudelaire orphans to join him: drink the cordial, forget their troubles, and live out their lives in peace on the island.
The next day is Decision Day - the one day of the year when the tides rise, making it possible to leave the island. The Baudelaires confront Ishmael in front of the colonists and accuse him of controlling them. However, they are interrupted when Friday spots another castaway - Kit Snicket, who has survived an encounter with the Great Unknown and washed up on a raft made of books. At the same time, Count Olaf reappears, disguised as Kit... but everyone sees through the disguise.
As Violet and Sunny rush to help Kit, Olaf reveals that he has found the Medusoid Mycelium, and threatens to unleash it and kill everyone on the island unless Ishmael hands over his canoe and the Baudelaire orphans. In response, Ishmael gets out a harpoon gun and shoots Olaf in the stomach. Unfortunately, Olaf's "baby bump" was actually the diving helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium, and the harpoon breaks through it, unleashing the deadly fungi and infecting everyone on the island. Despite the Baudelaires' protests, Ishmael decides to set sail on the canoe with the colonists in the hope of reaching the horseradish factory on Lousy Lane (horseradish being an antidote to the Medusoid Mycelium).
The Baudelaires head to their parents' old house on the other side of the island to search for an antidote, but there is no horseradish or wasabi, nor any other substitute. Skimming through their parents' book, they realize that the apples of the tree they're inside are another antidote, but they are too weak to leave and instead collapse on the floor. When it seems like all is lost, the Incredibly Deadly Viper (who, along with many other things from their past, washed up on the island during a storm) appears with an apple. The Baudelaires each take a bite, and are cured. However, when they return to Kit and offer her a bite of the apple, she refuses, explaining that it could hurt her baby.
Weakened by the poison, the Baudelaires enlist Count Olaf's help in carrying Kit from the coastal shelf to the island. He and Kit were once romantically involved, and he is still in love with her, so he takes a bite of the apple and uses the last of his remaining strength to carry her to safety. On the beach, Olaf and Kit share a tender moment, and then Olaf succumbs to the wound from the harpoon and dies. Kit gives birth to her baby and takes a bite of the apple afterwards, but the antidote is given too late. She dies, and the Baudelaires bury her next to Olaf on the beach.
A year passes, during which the Baudelaires learn a great deal about their parents and V.F.D. by reading the book that they left behind. At Kit's request, they have named her baby Beatrice, after their mother. Beatrice's first birthday is also Decision Day - the first opportunity the Baudelaires have to leave the island. They decide to do so, and sail off with baby Beatrice.
Many years later, Beatrice Baudelaire II - now about ten years old - invites Lemony Snicket to meet her for a root beer float. Snicket had run into a dead end in his research about the Baudelaires, and never found out what became of them. Beatrice introduces herself to Lemony as his niece, and then gets out the book An Incomplete History, which the Baudelaire children have added to. She begins to tell Lemony the story of what happened to the Baudelaires after they left the island, and that's where the series ends.