Count Olaf is always sneaky in trying to capture the Baudelaires. He disguises himself and deceives the other adults so he can legally gain the Baudelaires fortune. However, when he learns that the Quagmires have a fortune, he doesn't do anything sneaky at all. He has the white-faced women drag them to his car in front of 4 adults and makes no attempt to hide what he's doing. Why didn't he just do same with the Baudelaires? While they were running laps, he could have just had the white-faced women come out and take them to the car, while everyone else was asleep. This plan may have not worked, as Duncan and Isadora were spying, but he didn't know that. When the white-faced women put the triplets in Olaf's car, Klaus runs up to the car, leans in, and tries to rescue Isadora. This was a perfect opportunity for Count Olaf to capture Klaus as well, but he just pushes him away from the car. The same thing happens in TEE. The Baudelaires run up to the truck where the Quagmires are hidden in the statue, presenting a great opportunity for Count Olaf, Esme, and the Hook-Handed Man to whisk them away as well. Any thoughts on this?
You have to remember that the Quagmires were grabbed opportunistically. Count Olaf has no plan for how to get their fortune anytime soon; as we learn in TEE, he intended to just put them on an island until they were of age. With the Baudelaires, on the other hand, simply kidnapping them gives Olaf no legal power over them; it wouldn't get him the fortune any sooner. The Quagmires are Olaf's investment; the Baudelaires are a lottery ticket. Olaf has to handle them differently. Although it's also worth noting that Olaf later gives up the idea of getting the Baudelaire fortune legally anyway; I believe it's in TSS in which he mentions planning to use a Baudelaire hostage to threaten Mr. Poe into giving him the fortune. At that point, the series does indeed fall into "kidnap" territory, or kidnap and murder, anyway.
My story The Good Guardian tries to deal with this problem. On the general outline I agree with Dante; O hopes to become the Baudelaires' legal guardian, while with the Quagmires he has no hope of this and has no choice but to wait until they are of age. I surmised that this is because they had a guardian of their own (which also explains how they moved out of the Orphans' Shack).
My memory from the Great Reread is that while there are things in the later books which suggest O is thinking of a ransom, it's never said explicitly. And towards the end he seems rather to have lost track of reality, and just to associate 'grab Baudelaires' and 'get fortune' without any clear idea as to how.
Age: Indeterminate (prematurely aged by a life of villainy).
To add to Dante and Hermes, the Quagmires' guardian doesn't seem to care about them beyond signing things, and this is even more true for the adults at Prufrock. They're the old orphans, the ones who very obviously won't be missed or have anyone care about their safety. The Baudelairs will always have Mr. Poe, as inept as he is (it's implied in TGG that he did try to find them), and Nero would at least want to mock Sunny for not coming to his office, so they could never be kidnapped without some kind of attention being drawn.
And towards the end he seems rather to have lost track of reality, and just to associate 'grab Baudelaires' and 'get fortune' without any clear idea as to how.
This is what I personally think is most plausible. Olaf tries a couple of serious plans to get the children - marriage and Peru - and then basically loses the plot. His frustration after failing multiple times, especially given his ego and his temper, is probably quite immense (I think I recall Fernald complaining in THH about him treating the troupe badly every time a plan failed) and he's not really thinking about things properly. He actually did manage to adopt the Baudelaires in TBB, of course, and it got him nowhere, so even if one of his plans from TWW onwards succeeds, he's just back to square one. Yet he seems to think adoption is the key somehow.
Probably he's just not thought far enough ahead, too busy concocting absurd, inefficient and risky plans like hypnotism or the running laps madness. He'll think of something later, once he's got the Baudelaires - and ransom is probably quite an easy solution. But by TAA, I think he's quite crazy. The Quagmires come out to do laps and he just snaps and decides he'll kidnap them instead (maybe the sleep deprived nights got to him as well as the Baudelaires; he might just have been standing still blowing a whistle but he was still up until sunrise, I think), and then pushes his luck by trying to go after the Baudelaires as well. By TEE, he's trying to smuggle the Quagmires around and at the same time get the Baudelaire's fortune, and he really has no idea what he's doing: his best bet was probably to get Esme to kidnap the Baudelaires too (they were in her apartment the whole time, for heaven's sake) and then lock them up with the Quagmires. If kidnap is good enough for the Quagmires, why not the Baudelaires? And if ransom is his goal (which it seems to be in TVV and afterwards, when he thinks he just needs one child kept alive), whether he adopts or kidnaps them won't make a difference.
The series is shown from the Baudelaires' perspective and their actions make complete sense: they wouldn't want to be with Olaf for a single second, whether they've been adopted legally or just kidnapped, and later they also want to rescue the Quagmires. I think this distracts people from ever thinking about what Olaf is actually doing; I know that it was a couple of years after I first read the series that I started to realise his plans aren't really devious or clever at all. They're complex but needlessly so. Lemony makes us think that Olaf is an evil genius and an experienced villain, but really he's just desperate for the fortune and overly keen to make the children unhappy.
Last Edit: Feb 17, 2016 16:36:48 GMT -5 by gliquey
The way I read it, until TAA he's still trying to get legal guardianship; Josephine, Sir and Nero are each being pressured into handing the children over. Of course, legal guardianship does not give him all he wants, as TBB shows, but it's a start. He's probably prepared to wait until Violet comes of age (only four years), and as their guardian he could legally prevent attempts to rescue them, making his position more secure than it is with the Quagmires.
In TEE, so far as I can see, his plot is totally concerned with the Quagmires; presumably he has the Baudelaires where he wants them, under the guardianship of his girlfriend.
After this, though, his plots begin to fall to pieces; he may at one point be aiming at a ransom, but then he gets even more confused. From TCC onwards, he is actually more concerned with other things - the Snicket File, the sugar bowl and so on - but whenever he bumps into the Baudelaires he seems to think 'Oh yes, I'd better kidnap them', but without any clear idea of why.
Age: Indeterminate (prematurely aged by a life of villainy).
I agree, Hermes. Olaf does have a goal from TRR to TAA, the Baudelaires stumble into his plan in TEE and the Very Fancy Doilies could have very easily been planted to keep them diverted (I don't think Olaf expected them to find the Quagmires, but he knows they're readers and that they go on the alert when he turns up), and after that getting his hands on them and somehow/someday their fortune is just an idea he can't let go of.