In The Ersatz Elevator, Mr. Poe dumps the Baudelaires at the large city apartment building 667 Dark Avenue which is said to block out the sunlight. Mostly because they’re sent to live at a luxurious penthouse belonging to Jerome and Esme Squalor. Mr. Poe doesn’t accompany the children inside because he’s Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs, a position he totally gained through his hard work and dedication (according to his superiors anyway, but I highly doubt this). This means he’ll be looking for Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, which means they’re screwed. For if he or the police had brains in this series, they’d keep watch on the Baudelaires 24/7 and expect Count Olaf to be about as recognizable in his latest disguise as Tom Cruise was in Tropic Thunder (though I’m setting a high bar). Anyway, once inside, a strange doorman tells the Baudelaires that they’ll have to climb between 45-84 flights of stairs since the elevator is out. Not out of order but out of fashion, which I don’t get. Because obviously, if I want to go up 50 floors, I’d definitely use the elevator whether it’s in style or not. Since it’s 50 freaking floors. At any rate, the Baudelaires will have to spend hours climbing the stairs by themselves. Add to the fact that the spiral staircase is dark and only lit by candles. Seems like Count Olaf’s S.O.R.E. training will come in handy.
I chose Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” for this sequence due to the stairway presence in the song. Written by member Robert Plant, it’s considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time. The original version according to him, as Jimmy Page recalls, “was some cynical aside about a woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving back any thought or consideration.” Gee, I wonder who that reminds me of? In this version, the Baudelaires go up the dark stairwell reflecting on their old lives and wondering what their new guardians will be like.
“Stairway to Penthouse”
Sung by Violet and Klaus Baudelaire
This place is so dark so Poe knew not where to park
While we’re climbing the stairway to penthouse.
Streetlamps and candlelight, don’t make things all much bright
As we go up to meet our new guardians.
Ooh, ooh, while we’re climbing the stairway to penthouse.
Well, we can’t take a lift since they say it’s not in
Though I don’t have much concern for the fashions.
Not sure how many floors or how long it’s been,
Cause the staircase seems like never ending.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.
There’s a feeling I get when I think of our friends,
And where Count Olaf has them.
Mr. Poe tries to assure that we need not be concerned
That he’s been put in charge to go find them.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.
He’s head of Orphan Affairs, not sure he even cares
But it gives me no hope for the Quagmires
He’ll be out for three weeks, but will come up empty
Since he probably won’t find the Quagmires.
What are the Squalors like we don’t know, are they quite decent,
To live there will sure make us wealthy.
They must have no fear of great heights, unless they’re shut-ins
Since climbing all these stairs takes forever
And it makes me wonder.
Recall when Mom and Dad were so spent, they were exhausted
They cooked on the kitchen floor.
They didn’t use the stove, Aunt Josephine would’ve loved it
But we know what befell her before.
As we climb up through the stairs
We hear the voices through the walls.
Hope Count Olaf won’t find us here
Though he seems to tail us everywhere
He could be just right down the hall.
Our school friends can’t be far
If Count Olaf soon draws near.
Will our new home be safe from him
Or will he cause danger from within?
And we’re climbing the stairway to penthouse.