|“||My motto is 'give people what they want.'||”|
— Olivia to the Baudelaires, The Carnivorous Carnival
Olivia Caliban, also known under the alias Madame Lulu, was a fortune teller at the Caligari Carnival in addition to its manager.
In the TV series, she has an extended role; she first appeared in The Austere Academy: Part One as a librarian employed at Prufrock Prepatory School's library. She befriends Jacques Snicket in The Ersatz Elevator: Part One and becomes a member of the Firefighting side of VFD in the process. She later takes the rule of Madame Lulu while a woman that previously held the post (implied to be Kit Snicket) left the Caligari Carnival to retrieve the Sugar Bowl from Heimlich Hospital.
In the book, Olivia has a somewhat cowardly personality, and becomes reliant on the Baudelaires to escape with them to the mountains. She is also a flawed adult who just wants to "give people what they want" which is probably a desire to satisfy others. Before her death, Olivia revealed true identity of the Baudelaires (who were disguised as freaks) to Count Olaf simply because he asked, making them feel betrayed when the caravan rolls down the mountain. Olivia is also shown to be somewhat cruel, saying she does not care about the sleep quality of the carnival freaks.
It is implied that Olivia and Count Olaf were in a relationship or simply liked to be with her for more than her abilities, since she mentions he used to visit her only for the pleasure of her company. Additionally, Olivia calls him "my Olaf" and Olaf seems to gift her lions just so she can have a more successful carnival. This could factor into why Olivia backstabbed the Baudelaires in the way that she did. Her motive could have been to try to make her former love happy again.
In the TV series, her personality is fundamentally altered so that she is a caring, more independent adult who wishes to protect the Baudelaires. She is given a much more heroic role such as accompanying Jacques Snicket on several missions to help the children and do whatever they can to put a stop to Count Olaf's scheme. She develops romantic feelings towards Jacques during their time together, kissing him before she departs. There are also no implications that she was ever romantically involved with Olaf.
In the TV series, unlike the book, she was a lot more confident in what she did. When visiting Mr. Poe to tell him to bring Count Olaf to justice, she is more confident. In the next 2 episodes, she tries to save the Quagmires with Jacques. In her final moments, she confronted Olaf, determined to avenge Jacques, but her words were twisted by Olaf, who took them to mean Olivia had given him her consent to be fed to the lions, resulting in her death in the lion pit.
Her motto was "Everyone gets what they want." Her natural hair color was blonde, but she disguised this with a fake turban, the same turban Count Olaf wore in The Austere Academy when he was pretending to be Coach Genghis and spoke in the same accent that Count Olaf used when he was pretending to be Gunther, the innest auctioneer, adding "please" at odd times.
Count Olaf visited her at the carnival whenever he needed to know the latest whereabouts of the Baudelaires, believing that she could tell through psychic means. However, Madame Lulu wasn't a real psychic. Instead, she requested her guests to close their eyes, then researched the answers to their questions, using the documents in an archival library hidden under a table in her tent. A device that she invented would trick her guests into thinking that smoke and lightning would initiate inside the tent. It is unknown whether or not Count Olaf learned that she was a fraud.
Madame Lulu was originally, as Olivia Caliban, a member of V.F.D. It is known that Captain Widdershins taught her how to read codes on stained maps. It is unclear what side of the schism Madame Lulu was loyal to if she chose a side at all. Madame Lulu said that she just likes giving people what they want.
The Carnivorous Carnival
Madame Lulu is aware that Caligari Carnival may close if they do not get enough customers so she hires the Baudelaire orphans disguised as freaks to work there in the hope that the new arrivals will cause the carnival to be popular again.
The next morning, they discover that when Olaf asked Madame Lulu "Is one Baudelaire parent still alive?", she consulted the crystal ball (and V.F.D. Members using a phone disguised as a lamp) and answered: "Yes, one is up in the Mortmain Mountains."
Olaf gifts her a pack of lions, saying that if one of the freaks is devoured, it will boost the popularity of the carnival.
The Baudelaires go back to Lulu's tent to search for clues. They first discover the V.F.D. symbol on the outside and inside find a secret archival library under the table hidden by a tablecloth that she uses to aid her in her predictions. The mysterious effects behind her fortune telling turn out to be no more than ropes and pulleys. They accidentally break Lulu's crystal ball when trying to lift the tablecloth higher to get a better glimpse of the archival library, and they are discovered when Lulu comes in.
Lulu breaks down and throws off her disguise, revealing herself as a woman named Olivia who just wants to give people what they want. She is a member of V.F.D. and tells them about the V.F.D. disguise kit and a Schism that tore apart the organization. Olivia discovers that the children are actually the Baudelaires in disguise when Klaus lets slip that Olivia made a prediction regarding the Baudelaires' parent. The Baudelaires reveal their identities and plan to travel with Olivia to the Mortmain Mountains to determine if one of their parents is actually alive as she predicted to Count Olaf.
Despite clearly saying so, Olivia herself is uncertain and only suggested the Mortmain Mountains as their possible location as that is one of the few remaining V.F.D. headquarters. Violet plans to invent a vehicle made from the cars from the nearby roller coaster and the fan belt from the lightening effects Olivia used in her fortune telling that would enable them to escape from the carnival and travel up the Mortmain Mountains.
Esmé Squalor, who is jealous of Olaf's attention to Madame Lulu and the latter's actions towards her boyfriend, comes to the caravan of the freaks in an outfit that says I Love Freaks. Esmé tries to convince them that whoever is picked to be thrown into the pit of ravenous lions the next day should throw Madame Lulu in instead. If they do that, they will be made part of Count Olaf's theater troupe and begin adventurous careers as criminals.
Madame Lulu, along with the Bald Man with the Long Nose, died after falling into the pit of lions during the skirmish at the carnival. Not wanting to watch her being eaten by lions, the Baudelaires silently walked away from the crowd. Crying and distressed, they found themselves at Madame Lulu's tent.
Later, when the Baudelaires are riding in a caravan up the mountain, Olaf reveals that before her demise, Madame Lulu told him that the Baudelaires disguised themselves as freaks. She most likely did this because of her devotion to giving people what they want, but the Baudelaires felt betrayed.
TV Series Divergent Canon
|“||“I’m more than that. I’m a volunteer”||”|
— Olivia’s last words before being mauled to death by lions.
In the TV series, Olivia has an extended role.
In The Austere Academy: Part One & Part Two, she is a librarian at Prufrock. She tries to help out the Baudelaires and the Quagmires to the best of her ability. She finds an annotated book, The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations, which was dropped by Larry the Waiter while trying to deliver it to the Baudelaires at Prufrock Prep, and she learns of the bigger picture.
In The Ersatz Elevator: Part One & Part Two, Olivia visits Arthur Poe at Mulctuary Money Management. She tries to tell him about how the orphans are being taken advantage of. As usual, Poe does not listen, although it is mainly because he is about to go on a helicopter search for the Quagmires. Jacquelyn Scieszka overhears the conversation and has Jacques Snicket pick up Olivia and recruit her into their secret organization, V.F.D. Jacques and Olivia search 667 Dark Avenue for the Quagmires by climbing up the side of the apartment building in order to do so, but have no luck looking for them.
In The Vile Village: Part One & Part Two, Jacques and Olivia arrive at the Village of Fowl Devotees to track down the Baudelaires and Count Olaf. Jacques and Olivia detain Olaf at the local jailhouse, unaware of Esmé's new role as Officer Luciana. Off-screen, she detains Jacques and Olivia before setting Olaf free afterwards. In jail, Olivia convinces Esmé to free her and Jacques in exchange for the location of the Sugar Bowl, an object with ties to Esmé's past. Jacques directs Olivia to Madame Lulu, a fellow associate, in order to find the Sugar Bowl before Esmé and Olaf do. Jacques stays at the village in order to watch over the Baudelaires and the Quagmires and gives Olivia a farewell kiss. Unfortunately, he is murdered by Olaf once Olivia leaves.
In The Carnivorous Carnival: Part One & Part Two, Olivia reveals to the Baudelaires that "Madame Lulu" is a rotating role. The adaptation mainly follows the same plot as the book, except Olivia is more honorable to the Baudelaires as she never reveals their true identity to Count Olaf and tries to save their lives. She explains about why she gave Esmé the location of the Sugar Bowl and that she swapped places with the previous Madame Lulu (Kit Snicket), so she could retrieve then it. Later during the performance at the lion pit, Klaus and Violet(disguised as Beverly and Elliot) are picked to jump into the lion pit. Esmè pressures Olivia to push them in, but she pushes them to safety, and confronts Olaf. He realizes that Olivia is in fact "that school librarian", to which Olivia states she is a volunteer. She means she was part of VFD, but Olaf decides to take it to mean she’s volunteering to be fed to the lions. He cuts the rope holding the plank up, and Olivia falls into the lions pit where the lions eat her alive.
Behind the scenes
She is portrayed by Sara Rue in the TV series.
- "My Olaf!" (said 18 times in the book)
- "I'm thrilled, please, to see you, my Olaf. Welcome to the caravan of mine. How is life for you?"
- "Madame Lulu has no money, please. Is hard, my Olaf, to do fortunetelling for you when Madame Lulu is so poor. The caravan of mine has leaky roof, and Madame Lulu needs money, please, to do repairs."
- "Madame Lulu does not particularly care about sleep of freaks."
- "How dare you, please, enter the tent without permission of Madame Lulu! I am the boss of Caligari Carnival, please, and you must obey me every single moment of your freakish lives! Please, I have never seen, please, the freaks who are so ungrateful to Madame Lulu! You are in the worst of the trouble, please! You are the breakers of the crystal ball! You should be ashamed of your freaky selves! The crystal ball is the very valuable thing, please, and is having of the magical powers!"
- Klaus: "A library is an island in a vast sea of ignorance."
Olivia: "Particularly if that library is tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."
- Nero: "Why are you here?"
Olivia: "Why are any of us here? Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. Voltaire said that."
- "Too bad we can't fix stupidity at the vice principal level."
- "Mr. Poe, I have taken an unpaid sabbatical from my job as a school librarian to come to the city and investigate these things for myself, and frankly, the more I read, the more confused and upset I become."
- "In a world too often governed by corruption and arrogance, it can be hard to stay true to one's philosophical and literary principles."
- "Look at me, a part of a noble and heroic organization, finally putting my innate physical dexterity and extensive training in library science to the purpose for which they were made." (to Esmé)
- "I’m more than that. I’m a volunteer" (About to be fed to lions)
- Although the book does not reveal "Madame Lulu" is a rotating position, it could be implied in the book when she says, "My name is Olivia. I'm not Madame Lulu and I'm not a fortune-teller." Whether or not "Madame Lulu" being a rotating position was intended when Daniel Handler wrote the book is unknown.
- In the book The Miserable Mill, Madame Lulu may be the fortune-teller who did not forgive Lemony Snicket after a policeman (possibly Harvey Mitchum) tripped Snicket, forcing him to break the crystal ball he was holding.
- However, in the TV series, Lemony says he never had the pleasure of meeting Olivia, although the books and TV series may be considered separate canons.
- Olivia Caliban may be the sister of Thursday, the sister-in-law of Miranda Caliban, and the aunt of Friday Caliban. However, she could also be Miranda's sister, which would still make her the aunt of Friday, but the sister-in-law of Thursday instead. If Captain Widdershins is Thursday, then the latter must be true.
- Another theory is that if Olivia Caliban and Miranda Caliban are sisters, then it's possible they have a third sibling, N. Caliban or N. Snicket, because of the alphabet name order of many siblings in the series such as the Snickets and Denouements. It would be MNO, as in Miranda, N, and Olivia.
- In the TV series, Olivia secretly enjoys cart-surfing when no one else is looking.
- In the TV series, it is revealed Olivia liked To Kill a Mockingbird. Unfortunately, Carmelita Spats interpreted the book title too literally and thought Olivia liked killing mockingbirds.
- In the TV series, it is revealed that Olivia is an orphan when Count Olaf, disguised as Coach Genghis, asked all orphans to stand.
- In the book series, Olivia falls into the lion pit by accident, while the TV series shows that Olaf dropped her into the pit, causing her to be eaten.
Behind the Scenes
- In the reprise of That's Not How The Story Goes in The Penultimate Peril: Part 2 an image of Kit standing next to her taxi and looking at the burning Caligari Carnival is labelled as "City News October 12th" above the newspaper.