‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ EP Says Season 3 Is the ‘Best’ and ‘Darkest’

A Series of Unfortunate Events
Eike Schroter/Netflix

How unfortunate. The show that delights in tormenting and troubling its three young heroes has something truly terrible in store for viewers: The series is ending.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events — based on the bestselling YA novels from Snicket (the pen name of Daniel Handler) and starring Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris as the nefarious Count Olaf — releases its third and final season January 1, which means viewers should expect the Count to pull out all the stops when it comes to getting what he wants.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

That would be cash. Of course, the money he’s after rightly belongs to the Baudelaire children, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and toddler Sunny (Presley Smith), whose parents perished in a fire. (Or did they? It’s a bit of a mystery, as are several other plot points in the show’s unpredictable story.)

The Count, a distant relative of the young orphans, has sought the dough through many means — first by trying to adopt the kids and, later, by attempting to trick then-14-year-old Violet into marrying him (ewww!). After that failed, he tried feeding the siblings to lions and even killed some of the other guardians who took them in. (Did we mention the show is absolutely bonkers?)

The Count’s latest plan involved raising Sunny after sending the other two off a cliff to their doom, which is where the sophomore season ended. So what horrible events could Season 3 possibly bring? “Things get worse,” promises Barry Sonnenfeld, executive producer of the Peabody Award–winning series. “The third season is our best and also in many ways the darkest. We’re not saccharine; we’re not sweet. And I think what lets us get away with [the content] is that we’re not only gloomy but we’re also smart, and the kids are heroic.”

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Especially in this last batch of episodes. “The kids grow up quickly. Not in age, but in emotional maturity. They’re no longer victims. They’re totally proactive in their story,” says Sonnenfeld. In other words, they’re done trying to get gullible adults to realize that their tormentor — who, in order to get close to the Baudelaires, has donned several elaborate disguises, including bespectacled female receptionist Shirley and sailor Captain Sham — is behind all the masks. “They’re not standing there saying, ‘Don’t you see that’s Count Olaf?’ [anymore],” Sonnenfeld says. “That was getting old.”

As the Baudelaires take the offensive, they continue to rely on their instincts and problem-solving skills — not always with success. “They too make compromises and wrong decisions. By the end of the series, it’s a very mixed emotional place that they’re in,” Sonnenfeld adds.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Not everything is horrible in this go-round, though. One bright spot (for viewers, at least): the return of several beloved characters from the first two seasons, which means guest stars aplenty (including Veeps Tony Hale, The Flashs Robbie Amell, Shameless‘s Joan Cusack, plus several other surprises).

Also popping up: Patrick Warburton as narrator Snicket, Allison Williams as his sister, Kit, and Max Greenfield as the three Denouement brothers, who all play a big role in wrapping up the tale and its many mysteries. Sonnenfeld notes, “I think the last episode is going to please people who are not familiar with the books and the people who are familiar with them, even though our ending is different from that of the books in a profound way.”

Sounds like a fortunate turn of events could be around the corner for the plucky Baudelaire children after all. Then again, we certainly wouldn’t count on it.

A Series of Unfortunate events, Season 3, Available Tuesday, January 1, Netflix