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The Ersatz Elevator: Part One Recap

Lemony goes through the secret tunnels and warns the viewer that the following story will teach the difference between the words "anxious" and "nervous".

Poe drives the Baudelaires to a very fashionable block of the city. The Baudelaires point out that the Quagmires have been kidnapped, but Poe says that there's a citywide manhunt to find Olaf and rescue the Quagmires. He assures the orphans that Mulctuary has put up posters of Olaf, even though it's too dark to see them. Meanwhile, Poe is dropping them off at the apartment of old friends of their parents who have promised to take care of the Baudelaires. The Baudelaires have never met the friends.

Poe runs into a lamppost and finds the building. The doorperson greets them and says that the Baudelaires are expected. Poe leaves and the doorperson says that the Baudelaires will be staying with Esma Squalor, the sixth most important financial adviser in the city, and her husband Jerome. He assures them that Olaf won't get in, and Violet realizes that the elevator is out. She offers to fix it, and the doorperson tells them that the elevator is just out, not out of order.

The Baudelaires walk up the stairs to the Squalor penthouse, and see the mysterious eye symbol inscribed on a neighboring elevator door. Klaus notices that there are two sets of doors on one floor, and one door only on every other floor. Before he can press an elevator button, Jerome invites them in and makes them non-alcoholic aqueous martinis. He talks about how they went up to the mountain for high-impact birdwatching, and admits that he never met any of their parents' friends. Jerome says that he wanted to adopt them. His wife Esma says that orphans were out then, but then they were in. Esma tells them that they will be on the in with everything in, and tells them all the things that are in. The Squalors have heard of the Quagmires and assure the Baudelaires that once the Quagmires are found, they'll stay there as well.

A newspaper boy delivers a paper that light is in and dark is out. Esma and Jerome go to open the drapes and run in panicky circles, and the Baudelaires open the drapes to reveal a disguised Olaf in a suit. He boasts that he has the Quagmires and soon will have the Baudelaires as well. The Baudelaires call in the Squalors, and Olaf says that he's there... in a poster that Olaf has. Esma explains that Olaf is Gunther, and Olaf says that he's a foreigner from a faraway land. Violet says that the law is searching for Olaf, and Olaf point out that if he's arrested then the Quagmires will never be found and starve to death.

Esma says that they're planning an in auction and is being hosted by Olaf., and the money will go to her. Jerome suggests that they give the proceeds to starving people, and Esma points out that if they give money to poor people then they won't have anyone to feel sorry for. Olaf tells the Baudelaires to leave so he can discuss the auction with Esma. Jerome leads the Baudelaires off and takes them to their new room to put on pinstripe suits. Once he leaves to make more martinis, the Baudelaires figure that the Quagmires are close and Olaf might have hid them in one of the penthouse's many rooms. They realize that if Jerome dies, Olaf might marry Esma and become their guardian.

In the main room, Olaf offers to show the Squalors a party trick. He cuts a rope and Klaus tackles Jerome before the chandelier can fall on him. Klaus then says that Violet is off looking through the penthouse.

Violet walks through the penthouse and uses chalk to mark her way through the maze of rooms.

Olaf refuses to let Klaus look through the penthouse. He convinces Esma to let him look by underplaying the number of rooms so that she shows them up. The Squalors go on ahead and Olaf tells Klaus that he could get away with murder... again.

Esma leads the others through the dining rooms, and once they leave Violet emerges from hiding and finds a cabinet of champagne bottles. She goes into the games room, and moves on. The others come in and Olaf sees Violet's chalk marks. He erases the marks as he finds them, and Violet tries to find her way back only to discover that Olaf has erased her marks.

Olaf finally says that he's allergic to orphans. Violet joins the group and she tells Klaus that she didn't find the Quagmires. They return to the main room and Esma suggests that they go to the most in restaurant in the city. She has Jerome take a photo of them and insists that the Baudelaires are in the pictures.

Later, Olivia shows the newspaper photo to Poe and points out that the Baudelaires keep finding trouble and Poe is supposed to look out for them. She explains that she has taken an unpaid sabbatical from her job at Prufrock to investigate the matters for herself. Olivia has the book, and says that she has found disturbing information. Poe is more concerned about the helicopter that he's going to use to find Olaf. As Olivia leaves, Jacquelyn recites the organization's motto. Olivia recognizes it from when Larry told her the same thing, and runs to get her trolley. Jacquelyn calls Jacques and says that they have a potential member, and he gets a description of her.

Olivia misses the trolley and Jacques pulls up and offers her a ride. Jacques recites the facts of the Baudelaires, and says that he's a member of an organization. Olivia realizes that he's a Volunteer and they introduce themselves. She gets into the cab and Jacques drives off.

As the doorperson turns on the lights, the Squalors and the Baudelaires come down. Olaf joins them and covers himself with Esma's cloak so that the police don't see him. As they get into the limo, Jacques watches and calls Jacquelyn to say that Olaf is at the Squalor penthouse. Eleanora arrives to take her husband to the helicopter pad, and Jacqueline reminds him that it's Secretary Day. Poe agrees and Jacquelyn suggests that they go to an expensive restaurant where financial advisors attend.

The limo arrives at the restaurant, Herring Houdini, and Olaf and the Squalors go in. Olaf's gang has set up the restaurant and offer to give the Baudelaires a tour of the kitchen where they won't be thrown into a burlap sack. Esma figures the restaurant isn't in, and goes back to the limo. The others follow and the driver lets them off on the other side of the limo. Cafe Salmonella is there, and Larry is there as a waiter. The Baudelaires recognize him as the man who is always trying to help them. Olaf recognizes Larry as well and says that he has to go back to the penthouse. Larry insists that he stay and forces him back in his seat.

Larry offers salmon-flavored water and holds up a note for the Baudelaires saying "VFD". Violet says that she wishes the Quagmires are there, and Larry tells them that they can have lunch and the wait staff will take care of everything.

Jacques tells Olivia that Larry is making sure that the lunch takes a long time so that they can search the 46-stories of the Squalor building. He tosses her a climbing harness.

Eleanora takes photos of Esma with Olaf when she and Poe arrive. Poe says that he knows that they will be properly cared for now that they're eating at a stylish restaurant. Olaf offers Eleanora a tip on the next restaurant to be in, and takes her off. Esma chokes on her salmon-flavored water, and Klaus wonders who is looking for the Quagmires. Jacquelyn appears and takes the spyglass out of her purse, shows it to Klaus, and says that everything is according to plan.

Jacques attaches a safety rope from his belt to Olivia, and the two of them fire suction cup grappling lines onto the building.

Larry serves the various courses very slowly. The Baudelaires ask Jerome if he's noticed anything suspicious about Olaf, and he's surprised that they suffer from xenophobia. Eleanora arrives and talks about elevating her readership, and Klaus tells Violet that they should go back to the penthouse. Olaf wants to go but Larry tells him that he can't and Esma agrees... until a newspaper comes in announcing that Herring Houdini is in and Cafe Salmonella is out. Esma insists on going there and everyone else leaves. The Baudelaires slip out and Olaf finally realizes that they're gone.

A crowd gathers at Herring Houdini, and the bald man offers Jerome drugged drinks. Olaf tells his people that they have to shut the place down so that they can search for the Baudelaires.

The Baudelaires sneak past the doorperson wearing a statue from Cafe Salmonella.

Jacques and Olivia search every floor but the penthouse and fail to find the Quagmires.

Once they get past the doorperson, Klaus tells Violet that Eleanora talking about "elevated" made him think the one door with the working elevator is where the Quagmires are. They open the door and find an empty elevator shaft.

At Herring Houdini, Jerome passes out from the drink. The hook-handed man whispers to Olaf that everyone is there except the Baudelaires. Olaf tells the Squalors that they should hurry back to the penthouse. Larry tells Olaf that he isn't going anywhere until he entertains them with a song. Eleanor says her readers would love it, and Esma tells Olaf that it would be good publicity. Jacquelyn asks him to do it for Secretary's Day and the customers all join in. Olaf gives in and sings with accompaniment from his gang.

Violet creates a parachute basket from Esma's in collection of a giant handkerchief, a rutabaga basket, and a giant ball of rubber bands. They drop down the elevator shaft, while Olivia and Jacques arrive via the window. The Baudelaires find a cage with the Quagmires in it.

Written by Gadfly on May 6, 2018

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