Previously on ASOUE: The Vile Village
For Beatrice –
Summer without you is as cold as Winter.
Winter without you is even colder.
Count Olaf’s latest disguise as Dr Matathias Medicalschool is both a hoot and plain scary. He and his troop of minions, alongside Esme Squalor (in a uniform straight out of an Ann Summers catalogue), have the Baudelaire Orphans penned up with no obvious escape at Heimlich Hospital. Their mission is twofold. First and foremost, Olaf, now presumed dead, needs to get his hands on the orphans and their fortune. Secondly, Esme wants her sugar bowl, stolen years ago by Lemony’s lost love Beatrice. With no allies supporting them this time around, the children’s plight is ever more desperate. Olaf terrifies Babs (Kerri Kenney), the hospital’s head of administration, human resources, and party planner into early retirement and takes over the dilapidated building for his own heinous reasons.
Travelling around the hospital, cheerfully and annoyingly singing to sick patients are the Volunteers For Disease. Led by Bearded Man, the troupe remind me of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine gang – hippyish, dressed like it’s the ‘60s/’70s, and in need of drugs themselves. Also around is Hal (David Alan Grier), caretaker of the hospital’s expansive Library of Records, where the children might be able to get information. In fact, a film relating to something called The Snicket Files lands on their laps, but they can’t look at it because hospital policy forbids anyone examining any and all files with the library. It’s bureaucracy gone mad. Hal is a genial figure, though, and he latches onto the children, filing them under P for “people he can trust”. Violet agonizes over whether or not they should steal his keys, but promptly gets over herself when she realizes her parents would want them to. They get a quick preview of the Snicket film, which features Jacques Snicket (Nathan Fillion) being interviewed about Olaf and the fire that killed the Baudelaires’ parents. Jacques lets slip that there might have been a survivor. Could one of their parents still be alive? Just as it looks like they’ll get the information they need, Esme spoils the spoilers and Violet ends up in Olaf’s clutches.
Klaus and Sunny hide among the singing volunteers and visit patients in the hospital to see if they can find where Violet is being stashed. The poor patients – Lord. They’re in need of painkillers, water, and specialised care for plague-related symptoms, but all they receive in the way of care are these well-intentioned but ultimately useless volunteers and their heart-shaped balloons. Klaus and Sunny eventually decide to play Olaf at his own game: they disguise themselves as doctors, hoping this ploy serves them better in their quest to find Violet. Meanwhile, the nefarious count is enjoying himself far too much with Violet, pledging to not only secure her fortune but to obliterate the Baudelaire line completely. Klaus, as Dr Faustus MD, works out where his sister is, but finds out Olaf has her scheduled for decapitation.
I kind of thought we weren’t going to see Mr Poe appear in this instalment, seeing that he thinks the children are wanted fugitives, and his wife is publishing fake news stories in the paper she works for. But no, he’s in the area and he feels unwell, so he checks into the Heimlich to see a doctor. He’s overjoyed at the amount of paperwork he needs to fill out, plus he gets ringside seats to Violet’s chranioctopy (this is not a genuine medical term, but the word is thrown around a lot). As usual, though, it’s up to the orphans to rescue themselves from their dire situation. Klaus and Sunny manage to put the rails on Violet’s death but have to hand over the film to Olaf in order to save her life. Esme is left without her sugar bowl. Chaos ensues when Olaf looks at the film and hears about the possibility of a survivor from the fire that apparently claimed the Baudelaires’ parents. He sets it on fire and lets the flames take down the whole hospital. This time, however, the children figure it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t and hide away in the trunk of Olaf’s getaway car. Now they’re wanted for arson as well as murder. The hits just keep on coming.
With one more book to cover this season, we’re getting close to finding out what the real VFD is and how important Esme’s sugar bowl is to everything that has happened so far. The Hostile Hospital is a fun adaptation. It’s scary in parts and thrilling in others, and I constantly enjoy the visual gags and amazing wordplay. I was left with butterflies in my stomach.
Next up: The Carnivorous Carnival
ASOUE Book Eight Review Score
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Presley Smith, Nathan Fillion (cameo), Lucy Punch, David Alan Grier, Kerri Kenney