Get a first look at A Series of Unfortunate Events season 2

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"The Austere Academy" 

There’s no reprieve from misfortune and sorrow for the Baudelaire orphans when this adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events returns for season 2. Covering books 5 (The Austere Academy) through 9 (The Carnivorous Carnival) of Lemony Snicket's beloved series, this season aims to be more ambitious and complex than the first. "Tonally, we have more action, and things are little darker and sadder," executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld tells EW. "Now that we're in season 2 -- and I think the same is true with the books -- now the Baudelaires can start to take some control and try and take more action," says Neil Patrick Harris, who returns as Count Olaf, the villainous man who is after the Baudelaires' fortune. "I think season 2 ends up being a little bigger in its scope and scale, but also allows for a little bit of a more fevered heartbeat from our protagonists." Picking up immediately where season 1 left off, the second season premiere finds Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith) at the miserable Prufrock Preparatory School, which is where Mr. Poe deposits them until a suitable guardian can be found. There, they meet their unbearable new classmate Carmelita Spats (Kitana Turnbull), whom you can see in this image. Click through the next slides for a sneak at "The Ersatz Elevator" and "The Hostile Hospital" episodes.

"The Ersatz Elevator"

After their brief stay at that miserable boarding school, the Baudelaires are shuffled off to a fancy art deco penthouse to live with the obsessively trendy Esmé Squalor (Lucy Punch), the city's sixth most important financial advisor. And, as always, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) isn't too far behind. When he does catch up to his prey, he'll be in disguise as ambiguously European auctioneer Günther. "It was wild," says Harris of playing the Karl Lagerfeld-inspired persona. "It’s an Eastern European accent that intentionally switches from mostly German to sometimes French to a bit of British, and some Irish pops in a bit in there." In this image, Günther and Esmé attend the IN-est most auction at Veblen Hall.

"The Ersatz Elevator" 

Here, Günther and Esmé dine at the IN-estmost Café Salmonella. The audience can expect Esmé to have a huge personality that rivals Olaf's. "Lucy Punch is kind of a genius," says Harris of his scene partner in this image. "I can't wait for everyone to see her take on her character. She's almost a livewire of electricity that is just unhinged and everywhere, yet fully guarded and in control, but not. It's a great performance."

"The Hostile Hospital" 

Episodes 7 and 8 will tackle the book The Hostile Hospital, which sees the Baudelaire kids take refuge at the Heimlic Hospital. Unsurprisingly, this hospital is a pretty dangerous place for them. "We go into a very darkened hospital with similar-looking hallways and the Baudelaires trying to avoid being dismembered by each other," teases Harris. "[It's] almost like The Shining -- twisted hospital nightmares." As you can see here, Count Olaf and his new partner-in-crime Esmé eventually find the Baudelaires and infiltrate the hospital in disguise as medical staff. Even though Olaf is barely in disguise here, Sonnenfeld says Harris still developed a unique voice for his character's latest persona. 

Behind the scenes of "The Ersatz Elevator"

Over the course of the season, Olaf's villainy will start to take a toll on his mind. "Olaf is becoming more and more overtly unhinged, and the road that he is on is veering in all sorts of maddening directions," says Harris. A Series of Unfortunate Events returns in 2018.