Given the simple structure of A Series of Unfortunate Events’ plots, it must have been tempting for Netflix to try to extend the series as long as it could. Sure, author Daniel Handler only penned 13 books in the Unfortunate Events series, but the setup of his plot could inspire any number of additional schemes where the scheming Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) dons some ridiculous costume to try to steal the inheritance of the Baudelaire orphans. But series developers Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld took a disciplined approach to their adaptation, hewing closely to the novels’ plots, spirit, and timeline. The show’s third and final season, which premieres on January 1st, 2019, is a masterclass in how to build a faithful adaptation, and how to see it to the end gracefully.

Season 3 picks up in the immediate aftermath of season 2’s cliffhanger ending, with the bitey baby Sunny Baudelaire (Presley Smith) in Olaf’s clutches, while her older siblings — scholarly Klaus (Louis Hynes) and brilliant inventor Violet (Malina Weissman) — are sent tumbling down a cliff in a circus train car. Using their talents to escape from Olaf’s evil plots is second nature for the Baudelaires, but season 3 quickly changes the nature of the conflict by introducing Olaf’s menacing mentors The Woman with Hair but No Beard (Beth Grant) and the Man with a Beard but No Hair (Richard E. Grant), who are unimpressed with Olaf’s long streak of failure.

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