What does the eye symbol in Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events mean?

Contains spoilers for the Lemony Snicket adaptation

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If you managed to blink past the tears long enough to get a good look, you might have noticed something a bit puzzling in Netflix’s new drama A Series of Unfortunate Events – the repeated presence of a curious eye symbol, which seems to have some connection to the mysterious secret organisation hinted at in the background of the Baudelaire orphans’ journey from legal guardian to legal guardian.

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So, in the interests of full disclosure (a phrase which here means, we’re going to inform you of much more detail than we previously did for a fair sense of transparency) we’re going to delve a bit into the world of the books the series is based on, which reveals the truth – as well as a few more mysteries.

If you’re avoiding spoilers, look away now…

In the book series by Lemony Snicket (actually written by Daniel Handler under a pen name), it’s revealed in later books that the eye symbol on baddie Count Olaf’s ankle (and spotted in various other places throughout the action) actually spells out V.F.D., the initials of the secret organisation which the Baudelaire orphans’ parents were a part of (along with several other characters in the series).

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And the history of V.F.D. itself is an interesting one, beginning life as a Volunteer Fire Department (hence the initials) but evolving into a massive secret organisation that attempted to PREVENT fires from happening, among other exciting missions.

However, down the line the group was ruptured due to an unknown incident, resulting in a splinter group using V.F.D.’s secret codes, resources and networks of tunnels for evil purposes and leaving both allies and enemies of the Baudelaires as part of the organisation.

Interestingly, in the books references to V.F.D. were largely sidelined until the fifth novel The Austere Academy (which occurs later than the setting of this first series), but so far the new Netflix adaptation has foregrounded the V.F.D. mystery from the beginning.

The group has been hinted at by various collections of words using their initials included in the background (for example, a street seller offering Very Fresh Dill in episode five), while characters who are explicitly a part of the organisation have main roles, and the Baudelaire orphans themselves are already investigating the mystery, long before they did in the original novels.

Only time will tell as to whether this means the grand secrets of V.F.D. will be more neatly wrapped up than they were in the novels’ ambiguous ending, but we do know one thing – if it does happen, it’ll be a Very Fan-friendly Discovery.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming on Netflix now