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Throwing Lulu into a pit of lions doesn't strike me as particularly brave. Just cruel and vicious.
 

Colette the Contortionist has the ability to bend her body into abnormal positions. When the Baudelaires arrived at the House of Freaks at Caligari Carnival, she was described as "a skinny woman".

Biography

Early Life

My name is Colette, and if you're going to laugh at me, I'd prefer you do it now and get it over with.
 
Colette experienced much persecution in her life due to being born a contortionist- being able to bend her body into unusual shapes and positions impossible by most standards. She considered herself a "freak" due to being so hated, and eventually, as an adult, joined Caligari Carnival, where she became part of a freakshow with Hugo the hunchback and Kevin the Ambidextrous person. Their boss, Madame Lulu, was very cruel to them and refused to pay them, as well as not allowing them to walk around the carnival if they were not putting on a show, holing them up in their caravan.

Colette and her coworkers became convinced of Lulu's philosophy that they must always give the people what they want, regardless of their own feelings.

She seemed to be more optimistic than her other coworkers, trying to tell them to look on the brightside and cheer up. However, she was just as self-deprecating as her coworkers, believing herself to be horrible.[1]

She enjoyed playing dominoes in the caravan and owned a small handmirror.[2]

She became acquainted with Count Olaf and his troupe, as he would often visit Lulu, though they treated her as horribly as Lulu did. She felt sorry for the Hook-Handed Man, as she felt bad looking at his hooks.[1]

The Carnivorous Carnival

It's like a dream come true! I'd throw a hundred people into the lion pit to wear something like this.
 
Colette is awoken by the arrival of new coworkers- Beverly and Elliot, The Two-Headed Freak and Chabo the Wolf Baby. She welcomes them, though she believes that the children are going to laugh at her for her "freakishness." They are, instead, impressed with her contortionism, though confused as to why she keeps doing it if she's ashamed, and she explains that people come to see her be freakish, so she might as well be. When his coworkers start talking depressingly, she tells them to cheer up and hope a miracle will happen tomorrow.

The next morning, they are awoken by the Hook-Handed Man pounding on the door and announcing that it's time for the freakshow and that Count Olaf is angry after finding out that one of the Baudelaire parents is still alive. The group gets ready for the show, and they head out to the tent, where the Hook-Handed Man is waiting with a Tagliatelle Grande to hit them with if they don't obey. The group takes their place on stage, where Colette's act is bending herself into several unusual shapes and positions while the crowd heckles them.

As they have hot chocolate later, Beverly and Elliot complain about the treatment they've received; as they mention going to Lulu's tent, Colette reminds them that they are "freakss" and not fortune tellers. Beverly, Elliot, and Chabo attempt to convince their coworkers that they could surely find a job that treated them better, though they don't believe them.

They then hear Olaf's car arrive and go outside to see him and Lulu bring back a cage of starving lions. They announce to the crowd that they will have a new attraction, where they feed the freaks to the lions. Colette and her coworkers are horrified by this, though they don't fight back against it. Colette then suggests they go inside and try to think of a way to not get eaten.

That night at dinner, she mentions that everyone seems unusually quiet, and when they mention their imminent fate, she admits that while she's not excited about being eaten by a lion, the carnival visitors seemed excited, and they should give the people what they want. Beverly and Elliot again encourage their coworkers that a new opportunity may arrive, and at that moment, Count Olaf's girlfriend, Esmé Squalor, knocks on the door.

She enters and sits down with them, claiming to love freaks. She flatters them, encouraging the lonely employees to listen to her, and then claims that she will give them the opportunity to join Count Olaf's troupe. While Colette is concerned about whether Olaf will want to work with "freaks" like them, and if they will have to do a job interview, Esmé informs her that Olaf doesn't care what they are like so long as they obey him, and all they have to do to join his troupe is push Madame Lulu to the lions if they are chosen, instead of jumping in the pit themselves.

While the coworkers are initially apprehensive, and Beverly and Elliot are horrified, Esmé claims that it's giving the people what they want and though Colette believes this to be cruel and vicious, and questions Esmé's motives for wanting Lulu thrown in, she quickly comes around to the idea once Esmé presents her with a long, black robe from their disguise kit, baggy enough that she could twist her body in any way without notice. Excited, Colette finally agrees to the murder plan with Hugo and Kevin, though Beverly, Elliot, and Chabo do not seem enthused. The three original employees inform Esmé that unlike their new coworkers, they would be thrilled to join Olaf's troupe.

The next day, Colette dresses in her "freakish" clothes for the last time and gathers with Hugo and Kevin by the lion pit for the show. Beverly and Elliot are chosen, but they stall for a long enough time that the antsy crowd starts to fight over who gets to push them. Colette and her coworkers volunteer, hoping to be seen as brave enough to join Olaf's troupe. In the ensuing mob, Colette contorts her arms to attempt to grab Lulu's ankles, instead of grabbing Esmé's and getting her hands twisted over her fashionable shoes. Beverly and Elliot escape in the chaos, and Lulu and the Bald Man with the Long Nose fall into the pit.

Olaf indeed decides to hire Hugo, Colette, and Kevin, and informs them that Beverly, Elliot, and Chabo are secretly the Baudelaire orphans. He and Esmé take Chabo- Sunny Baudelaire- into the car, while they have Hugo, Colette and Kevin sit in the backseat, and put Violet and Klaus Baudelaire in an attached caravan. They drive away from the carnival, which Olaf has set on fire, and halfway up a slope of the Mortmain Mountains, Hugo holds Colette, who holds Kevin, who cuts the rope to the attached caravan, sending Violet and Klaus tumbling down the slope.

The Slippery Slope

This toast feels raw. Is it safe to eat raw toast?
 
— Colette, The Slippery Slope
Colette, Hugo, and Kevin remain cramped into the backseat of Olaf's car with the Hook-Handed Man and White-Faced Women while they continue up the slope. When the Hook-Handed Man explains that they must burn the Snicket File to hide Count Olaf's crimes, and Olaf mentions that burning down V.F.D. Headquarters will be the end of their problems. Colette asks what VFD stands for, causing Olaf to get angry and refuses to tell her, only saying it's an organization he left.

They reach the top of Mount Fraught, where Esmé explains to Colette that they are working for the greater good- money and personal satisfaction. They sleep in tents set up by Sunny, who has been turned into an infant servant by Olaf. The next morning, Hugo complains that Colette won't share the dental floss, which Olaf sees no use for. When one of the White-Faced Women mentions that their faces are worse than the problems of the "freaks", Colette mentions that she can see them putting powder on their faces, making their problem simply makeup.

Sunny prepares them breakfast, but she and Hugo become suspicious of the raw toast, which Colette does not believe to be safe to eat. After Olaf destroys Sunny's meal, the Man with a Beard but No Hair and Woman with Hair but No Beard arrive and inform the group that they have burnt down VFD Headquarters. They go into a tent with Olaf and Esmé to read over and then burn the Snicket File and question the appearance of these new arsonists.

The next day, False Spring arrives, and Sunny prepares them False Spring Rolls. She and Olaf's troupe watch as several masked volunteers arrive and offer to trade the location of The Sugar Bowl for Sunny Baudelaire. However, a troupe of Snow Scouts arrive, and in an attempt to save them from kidnapping, the volunteers reveal themselves to be Violet and Klaus Baudelaire, as well as Quigley Quagmire. Sunny escapes and reunites with her siblings, and Colette attempts to cheer her boss up by telling him that maybe Sunny will cook them something with the eggplant she hid in her casserole dish.

Olaf's troupe convinces the Snow Scouts to step onto a large net, where they are captured by eagles. The Baudelaires and Quigley then escape, leaving Olaf's troupe on the slope.

Hugo, Colette, and Kevin are sent ahead to Hotel Denouement for Olaf's plan to destroy Volunteers, while Olaf, Esmé and their recently adopted daughter Carmelita Spats go into a submarine to search for and kill Captain Widdershins.[3]

The Penultimate Peril

And I'm a contortionist. Someone who can bend their body into unusual shapes could never be a volunteer.
 
Colette disguises herself as a chemist in a long white coat and a surgical mask. She sneaks around the hotel, and during such is allowed by Ernest Denouement to escort Sir and Charles to Room 547- dedicated to Organic Chemistry- in order to smell hot wood. Later, she recognizes Esmé Squalor on the ninth story, and the two of them have "a fit of giggles."

Colette watches as the V.F.D. Crows shot by Carmelita hit the bird paper on the window, and then follows her coworkers to the lobby of the hotel, where they run into Olaf, who is confronting the Baudelaires, Dewey Denouement, Justice Strauss and Jerome Squalor. The Baudelaires try, and fail, once again to convince their former coworkers to be noble people.

Blindfolds

Possibly Colette in the blindfolded jury.

The next day, at the trial of Count Olaf and the Baudelaire children, Colette submits anatomical drawings as evidence, and she declares the Baudelaires twisted when the trial is disrupted. When the Hotel Denouement Fire is started, Colette, Hugo, and Kevin are last seen on one of the higher floors holding the bird paper that Klaus hung on the outside of the sauna. Colette asks about plucking feathers off crows.

It is left uncertain if Colette survived the fire at the Hotel Denouement.

Netflix Series Divergent Canon

While Colette's role in the carnival and as the Baudelaires' coworker is mainly the same in the episode adaptations of The Carnivorous Carnival, there are slight differences to her character; she is much quicker to agree to Esmé's request that they murder Madame Lulu, and she is placed in the trunk with her coworkers instead of the backseat.

She seems to be more attentive than her coworkers, and the only one who mentions that they have a new Madame Lulu. She also has an artistic side, as she twists pipe cleaners into finger puppets to sell in the gift caravan.[4][5]

After reaching Mount Fraught, Olaf's troupe refuses to let the "freaks" camp with them and orders them to make their campsite somewhere away from them. As they try to start a fire, Hugo admits he has some money saved up and advises that they buy a farm and turn their lives around; Colette, for her part, suggests growing rutabagas.

The former Madame Lulu, Kit Snicket, arrives, though she is unrecognized by her former employees. She helps them start a fire, and informs them that they deserve much better. As soon as she is gone, the Man with a Beard but No Hair and the Woman with Hair but No Beard arrive, ordering the coworkers to leave. They reveal that they are in Count Olaf's troupe, and threaten to scream to summon him. At that, the Woman and Man pull out swords to "test that theory."[6]

The carnival employees are never seen again, and the rest of the troupe concludes that the Man and Woman likely killed them.[7] However, this is unconfirmed.

She is portrayed by real contortionist Bonnie Morgan.

Quotes

The Carnivorous Carnival

Oh, Kevin, I know it's depressing being so freakish, but try and look on the bright side. At least you're better off than me.
 
— Chapter Three
Violet Baudelaire: I thought that was amazing, and so did Chabo.
Colette: That's very polite of you to say so, but I'm ashamed that I'm a contortionist.
Klaus Baudelaire: But if you're ashamed of it, why don't you just move your body normally, instead of doing contortions?
Colette: Because I'm in the House of Freaks, Elliot. Nobody would pay to see me move my body normally.
—Chapter Three
Try to cheer up. Maybe a miracle will happen tomorrow, and we'll all get the things we wish for most.
 
— Chapter Three
I feel sorry for that man. Every time he and that Count person come to visit, it makes me feel bad to look at his hooks.
 
— Chapter Four
Kevin: Oh, I never read the newspaper. Holding it in both of my equally strong hands makes me feel like a freak.
Colette: That's better than me. I can contort myself into a position that allows me to pick up the newspaper with my tongue. Talk about freakish!
—Chapter Four
Why do you care if Lulu's tent is closed? You're a freak, not a fortune-teller.
 
— Chapter Four
Don't be too long. We're not supposed to wander around the carnival.
 
— Chapter Four
Count Olaf: The freaks you see here aren't normal people, and so they lead depressing lives. They'll be happy to exhibit themselves in the name of entertainment.
Colette: Of course we will. We do it every day.
—Chapter Five
Well, we'd better go inside. Maybe we can think of a way not to get eaten.
 
— Chapter Five
Everyone sure is quiet tonight. Hugo and Kevin, you haven't talked much, and I don't think I've heard a single growl from Chabo, or heard a word out of either of your heads.
 
— Chapter Eight
Hugo: I'm still not wild about the idea of being eaten by a lion.
Colette: Me neither, but today's visitors were certainly excited about the carnival's new attraction. Everyone does seem to love violence.
—Chapter Eight
We'll be good. I won't bend into a single strange position.
 
— Chapter Eight
Do you really think that a normal man like him would want to work with freaks like us?
 
— Chapter Eight
Count Olaf: Employ you?
Esmé Squalor: What a wonderful idea!
Colette: Yes. We'd like to find something else to do, and this seems like a wonderful opportunity.
—Chapter Eleven

The Slippery Slope

What does V.F.D. stand for?
 
— Chapter Three
Count Olaf: It was worth it. Sometimes a few people need to die in fires or get eaten by lions, if it's all for the greater good.
Colette: What's the greater good?
Esmé Squalor: Money! Money and personal satisfaction, and we're going to get both of those things out of this whimpering baby on my lap! Once we have our hands on the Baudelaire fortune, we'll have enough money to live a life of luxury and plan several more treacherous schemes!
—Chapter Three
White-Faced Woman: Don't be ridiculous. Having a white face is worse than both of your situations.
Colette: But you have a white face because you but makeup on. You're putting powder on your face right now.
—Chapter Six
Don't upset yourself, boss. I'm sure that Sunny will cook us something delicious with the eggplant.
 
— Chapter Thirteen

The Penultimate Peril

Even a contortionist like me could see what happened after Carmelita shot the crows. They fell right onto the birdpaper that Klaus dangled out the window.
 
— Chapter Nine
Count Olaf: There are noble, decent people here!
Colette: Really?
—Chapter Ten
I submit these anatomical drawings!
 
— Chapter Eleven
They're twisted!
 
— Chapter Eleven

Trivia

  • It is currently unknown why Colette disguised herself as a chemist when entering the Hotel Denouement, or why Ernest allowed her to take Sir and Charles to Room 547. While it's possible her disguise was simply to give her a coat to hide behind, it is a popular fan theory that she was disguised as a chemist in order to attempt to concoct a poison for Esmé's cocktail party.[8]
  • Colette is a French name, and a shortened form of Nicolette, which means "victory of the people."
  • In earlier drafts of the first incident-"Deep Mine"- of File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, Lemony Snicket's client is named Colette Gracq;[9] in the final edition of the book, her name is changed to Marguerite Gracq, possibly to remove confusion that she may be the Series of Unfortunate Events character of the same name.

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