For those with keen eyes, you may have spotted two famous faces in A Series of Unfortunate Events during the first trailer. Actors Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders appear in the Series of Unfortunate Events trailer, though their roles in the new Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket's book series are unclear. Once who Arnett and Smulders play in A Series of Unfortunate Events is revealed, you'll see that — just like Count Olaf — the series has some tricks up its sleeve. Spoilers for all of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Season 1 follow.
Even if you are familiar with the book series, you were probably surprised to see Arnett and Smulders in the final moments of the first episode. And perhaps you were even more surprised to see them credited as "Father" and "Mother." If you don't know the books, then you were led to believe that The LEGO Movie (and presumably The LEGO Batman Movie) costars Arnett and Smulders were the parents of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire.
Yet, with the entire premise of the series being that the Baudelaires are orphans, you would be mistaken in assuming that Arnett and Smulders portray their parents. After all, in the words of the literary Lemony Snicket in the book The Austere Academy:
"Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble."
I was thrilled to see Arnett and Smulders since I adore them both — and further love the How I Met Your Mother connection between Smulders and Count Olaf actor Neil Patrick Harris. Plus, if you believed they were possibly the Baudelaire parents, their appearance may have filled you with hope that the intelligent, impeccably-behaved, and lovable Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were not actually orphans. However, the show's constant warnings to "look away" should have been heeded since the series was depressingly deceptive with its presentation of Arnett and Smulders.
A Series of Unfortunate Events continuously misled viewers into thinking that Arnett and Smulders were the Baudelaire parents and that they managed to survive the fire at their house. For example, Smulders' Mother says, "What's that thing Einstein said?" in the last moment of the first episode, which is the exact same question Violet asked Klaus in the beginning of the episode. Nearly every episode ended with Arnett and Smulders doing something that either mirrored or played off of what the children had experienced earlier in the episode. So, when in the seventh episode, it was revealed that they were the father and mother to three other children, it was extremely gut-wrenching — especially if you hadn't seen it coming.
Turns out, Arnett and Smulders' characters are the parents to triplets Duncan, Isadora, and Quigley Quagmire. One of the reasons viewers who hadn't read the books were able to be so deceived into thinking they were the Baudelaires is because the Quagmires appear to be in the same secret organization as the deceased parents of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. As the attractive and heroic couple of Arnett and Smulders were on their adventures, it was easy to romanticize that they were the Baudelaire parents since the series intentionally drew parallels to the struggles between Violet, Klaus, and Sunny and them.
Although Arnett and Smulders aren't the Baudelaires, another trick that A Series of Unfortunate Events played was to have a photo that included both the Baudelaires and Quagmires in front of Lucky Smells Lumbermill in Paltryville. For viewers curious about the Baudelaire parents, it must mean they are the couple in the center of the photo that appears at 1:16 in the below trailer.
While the Quagmire triplets were lucky enough to have their parents come home from some truly daring feats, their mother and father's triumphant return was short-lived. That's because the Quagmire home was shown to be burnt down — just like the Baudelaires' house. With two of the children appearing in the final moments of Season 1 at Prufrock Preparatory School with Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, it was implied that the rest of the family had died in the fire.
If you can handle some light book spoilers, the two children who are at the prep school with the Baudelaires are in fact Isadora and Duncan Quagmire. Although their parents did die in a house fire, Mr. and Mrs. Quagmire were only mentioned in the books and were never officially confirmed to be in the same organization as the Baudelaires. By incorporating Arnett and Smulders — and by making it very much seem that they were associates with the Baudelaires (matching spyglasses and all) — Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events was able to throw non-book readers for a loop and give some answers to book readers all at the same time.
While Arnett and Smulders will most likely not appear in Season 2 since their characters have apparently died, the use of these actors in Season 1 was a fantastic way to incorporate some additional intrigue — and unfortunate events — for all viewers of the Netflix series. Yes, it was tremendously cruel, but it wasn't like Lemony Snicket hadn't warned you.