A Series of Unfortunate Events: VFD & The Sugar Bowl Explained

A Series of Unfortunate Events VFD Headquarters

Warning: SPOILERS ahead for A Series of Unfortunate Events season 3


A Series of Unfortunate Events season 2 is full of mysteries, but perhaps the two biggest questions relate to the nature of the secret organization called V.F.D., and the importance of a certain sugar bowl. This season sees the Baudelaires once again shuffled from one guardian to the next, with Count Olaf always close behind, but after the mid-season two-parter "The Vile Village" things go off the rails, as the orphans are falsely accused of murder and have to go on the lam.

Fleeing from the law (well, from an angry mob that wants them burned at the stake) brings the orphans to Heimlich Hospital's Library of Records, where they discover a film reel with a shocking revelation. They learn more about V.F.D. at their next stop, the Caligari Carnival, where Olivia Caliban finally clues them in to what the letters stand for - though tragedy forces the Baudelaires away again before they can learn all of V.F.D.'s secrets. If you have burning questions, and you don't want to wait another year for the answers, then here's a breakdown of what V.F.D. is, how Count Olaf is connected to it, and everything that's revealed about the sugar bowl in the books.

Related: A Series of Unfortunate Events Spoilers: The Truth Behind Beatrice

We're going to get into spoilers from the books in this article, which means revealing plotlines from the next and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you'd rather not know how things play out, and instead prefer to speculate based on what happens in season 2, stop reading now.

This Page: What is V.F.D.?


A Series of Unfortunate Events - VFD Painting

The Baudelaire siblings don't say the full name of the organization their parents belong to until the season finale, but by that point you may have already figured out that V.F.D. stands for Volunteer Fire Department. The original goal of V.F.D. was to bring together a group of like-minded people who were dedicated to fighting fires, both literal and figurative. Their symbol - which can be seen in the above series, and is also tattooed on the ankles of all V.F.D. members - looks like an eye, but is actually a stylized depiction of the letters V.F.D.

At some point in the past, there was a schism within V.F.D., with some members deciding that they preferred starting fires (both literal and figurative) to putting them out. Count Olaf, obviously, sides with the starting-fires faction, while volunteers like Jacques Snicket, Jacquelyn and Larry Your-Waiter remain doggedly devoted to putting out fires. The parents of the Baudelaire and Quagmire orphans were also members of V.F.D., which is why they were targeted and had their houses burned down. Other members that we've seen so far in the series include Uncle Monty, Josephine Anwhistle, Dr. Georgina Orwell and - of course - Lemony Snicket himself.

Beyond fighting fires, V.F.D.'s main goal is to gather information and knowledge, which is why libraries crop up so often in the series. Most V.F.D. members, in addition to being firefighters and intrepid explorers, have some kind of academic speciality - like Uncle Monty's enthusiasm for herpetology, or Aunt Josephine's love of grammar. Those on the fire-starting side of the schism, conversely, are often fiercely anti-intellectual (Count Olaf is a prime example of this), which is why they'd rather burn books than read them. However, both factions have one thing in common: they want to get their hands on that sugar bowl.

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