A little way into the series you realize Lemony Snicket is one of the characters of the story, while Daniel Handler is the real person behind the books, sometimes pretending to be the character. So far so good, until Daniel Handler himself appears in the Unauthorized Autobiography (and is subtly referenced elsewhere in the books), and they both appear to have very similar writing styles, somewhat similar appearance and very similar voices (judging by the audio-books). Fridge Brilliance kicked in when I realized that in-universe they're also the same person, but the situation is reversed. In real life Daniel Handler is the real one, using Lemony Snicket as his pen name, while in-universe Lemony Snicket is the real one, using Daniel Handler as an assumed persona (being his own literary representative) to hide in plain sight, while on the run from his enemies and the Law. Given how bad people are in this world at seeing through Paper Thin Disguises, it probably works very well, and allows him to live a somewhat normal life.
The Incredibly Deadly Viper offers the Baudelaires an apple. It's an apple that will cure them of poison but the symbolism of a snake offering an apple is linked to the knowledge that Ishmael is keeping from his colonists. To him they are children and need to be protected from the horrors of the world...but with it, they are protected from the many amazing trivia facts that will protect them from these horrors (not to mention making their lives less boring and worth living)...much like the kind of black humor that this book uses to teach children random facts and give them a story that does not have any trite resolutions or happy endings. Oversymplistic lesson but it's there.
Isn't it awfully unlikely that wasabi and horseradish, completely different plants, would act as an Improbable Antidote to the Medusoid Mycelium? Probably, but it doesn't matter — most wasabi sold in the United States isn't real wasabi at all, but a mixture of mustard, starch, green food coloring, and... horseradish!
How does Olaf manage to keep fooling the adults with his paper-thin disguises (aside from theobvious)? In the second book, the Baudelaires recognize him by his voice, his shiny eyes, and his tattoo - all of which people less familiar with Olaf might not know about.
In The Bad Beginning 14 year old Violet is being forced to marry the much older Olaf who is her guardian (it's a play so no one will object to her being so young) because he has her sister Sunny and will kill her if she doesn't, all so he can have her fortune. However, this becomes Squicky when you consider all the lines he throws around about how pretty she is and how "You may not be my wife, but you are still my daughter". He also decides that he'll let her live even after he has the fortune. In the next book he has a knife to her THIGH under the table. This implies that he intends to rape her.
And don't forget the line, "Violet imagined sleeping beside Count Olaf, and waking up each morning to look at this terrible man." Handler must have known what that would imply to his older readers. Then there's this line "Now if you'll excuse us, me and my bride will be off to have our wedding night..." This indicates that rather than just the money he's possibly interested in Violet in that way as well. This coming from a psychopathic criminal who looks like an old man, and who was most likely behind the fire that burned down her house and killed her parents, just makes the implications even creepier.
In order for a marriage to be fully legal (therefore entitling Olaf to the fortune) it HAS to be consummated...
When the hook-handed man has Violet cornered in the tower during the rescue attempt for Sunny: "Yes, boss. Yes, boss, of course I understand she's yours, boss." The emphasis is the author's. It sure seems like Olaf has to order the hook man not to rape her because he plans to do it first.
For that matter, quite a lot of Olaf's incredibly creepy group of sidekicks (most of whom are male) describe Violet as being very pretty. One such time is in The Hostile Hospital, where they comment on how pretty Violet is while she is unconscious, Strapped to an Operating Table, and about to have her head sawed off (which they remember, given that they comment also about how smart she is and how it will do her little good in a short while). Erm...
Speaking of The Hostile Hospital, at the end of the book, Olaf and his troupe are talking about how they only need one of the orphans alive to claim the fortune, and wonder which one it will end up being. Olaf says that he hopes it's Violet, because she's the prettiest. GAH.
And in The Carnivorous Carnival, Violet finds the hair ribbon she'd been missing. Where did she find it? In Olaf's pants pocket.
Not only that, but in that very same book Violet mentions that Olaf was the one to prep her for surgery (ie. changing her into the hospital gown). Given that, all the stuff above, the fact that Violet seems much more prone to having breakdowns after the eighth book (PTSD, much?), and how much more smug Olaf acts around the children, Olaf may have done more than just changed her clothes while he had her in his clutches.
In the fifth book "The Austere Academy" the school's motto is Latin that literally translates out to "Remember You Will Die". It can also be translated as "Remember Your Mortality", which also indicates that you aren't anything more than a human. Which means that if you are a troublemaker (or if the teachers see you as one) you can - and will - be broken down, by any gruesome means possible.
In the eighth book "The Hostile Hospital", the eponymous hospital is set on fire with the Baudelaire siblings still inside. "Mattathias" (Count Olaf) orders everyone to catch the children... before getting the patients out of the burning hospital.
It was ambiguous whether any of the patients got out. In fact, it didn't describe ANYBODY getting out.
Same for the hotel fire in The Penultimate Peril.While the children do warn everyone to escape, the narrator himself says the he doesn't know who survived and who didn't. Also, everyone was afraid to take off their blindfolds, so even if anyone did try to escape, they'd be stumbling around blind. While the entire building is burning down.
In The Penultimate Peril, either Frank or Ernest uses Sebald Code upon the ringing of a bell to ask the Baudelaires I can't tell if you are associates or enemies please respond. But even if the Baudelaires had known Sebald Code, they still wouldn't have been able to respond correctly because 1) the message gives no clue as to which twin it is, and 2) both sides of the schism know the codes.
Although all three Baudelaires have regressed at various points, Sunny appears to be the darkest character; she is the one who comes up with the idea of burning down the hotel and also suggests to her siblings that they murder Olaf. This doubles as Fridge Brilliance if you look at her life so far. While Violet and Klaus have at least twelve years of love and happiness to set their moral compasses by—Sunny has a few months, if that, and from then on she's known nothing but cruelty. It's hardly surprising that she's stepped closer to the line than her siblings.
Even though you know that a lot of very unpleasant things happen in the lives of the Baudelaires, the author narrates those events with a good touch of humor — that it tends to lessen the impact of the feeling of true hopelessness and distress that the Baudelaires must consistently endure.
In the movie, it's all about the money. In the book, however, it's much more explicitly suggested. Also, Olaf was related, albeit distantly, to the Baudelaires, which is why they were sent to live with him. Think about that for a second; he has no problem with sleeping with his own, fourteen year old... let's just say cousin, for the sake of brevity. (Ironically, it's not illegal today for third cousins to marry; according to scientific research it provides more children and has less of a chance of dormant and recessive diseases from showing up. Olaf is either the grandson of their fourth cousin... or the great-grandson of their third cousin. According to Modern Day science, this would actually be better for the reasons stated above. That being said, he might also have faked being their relative to get the money.)
Count Olaf is very grandiose in his actions to the point where any kid in the theater would fall in love with him. This was probably the intention of the director and of Jim Carrey, adding comedy in the movie and allowing kids to be more shocked by his homicidal tendencies. However, to older audiences, this ability to attract younger kids while complimented with his later obvious psychological issues makes him appear far scarier.
Carrey as Olaf starts the film as melodramatic and over-the-top, convincing people familiar with Carrey's comedy that this will be another one of his clownish, incompetent characters. This troper remembers that about halfway through the movie, when Olaf violently backhands Klaus, an audible gasp of shock went through the theater.
There's a deleted scene where Olaf and his troupe play spin-the-bootle and the white-faced women get picked. In the book, they are SISTERS.
In this world, it's perfectly legal for a legal guardian to marry his "daughter."
Why shouldn't the clueless adults be fooled by Count Olaf's disguises in the film? They aren't nearly as paper-thin as they are in the books, where he basically just throws a dodgy fake mustache or a turban on and is apparently good to go - in the film, he clearly had to have gone through some effort to make the disguises at least halfway-believable, so it also raises the question of how the Baudelaires can even see through them to begin with.