The Hargreeves Almost End the World Again in ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season Two

TV and Movies
Image via Netflix.

Playing with time is messy. Fixing time without causing more problems is even messier. When the people fixing and breaking time are the Hargreeve Siblings, things are going to get very messy indeed. You can read about their adventures from last season, here.

This past Friday, Netflix dropped the second season of one of its most popular original series of late: The Umbrella Academy, based off of the comic book series written by Gerard Way (known mostly for being part of the band My Chemical Romance). Last season found the Hargreeve siblings avoiding death by apocalypse by jumping through time. Now the siblings are scattered throughout Dallas at different points in the early 1960s, with Five arriving at the latest point in time (November 25, 1963), only to discover that they somehow brought the apocalypse with them. Hazel, the former Commission employee, shows up and tells Five he has ten days to fix what the Hargreeves just caused. The Handler, Five’s arch nemesis from the Commission, has her own power play to make and Five is right in the thick of it.

Warning: The rest of this article contains spoilers for both seasons of The Umbrella Academy.

Each of the characters has their own arc and chance to grow as a person throughout the season. Here’s a look at where they each find themselves.

Number One/Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper): Luther and his super strength end up getting him involved in the boxing ring as “King Kong” and acting as additional muscle for Jack Ruby, the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald.  He is struggling with the choices he made last season that lead to Vanya’s powers causing the apocalypse, as well as his feelings for Allison, his sister by adoption. Luther’s eventual acknowledgement of how badly he messed up with Vanya and his attempts to do better are a big part of his arc.

Number Two/Diego Hargreeves (David Castañeda): Diego has always had issues with being second fiddle to Luther and never having Reginald’s approval. Getting thrown into the time period leading up to JFK’s assassination has awakened his hero complex with a passionate fury. He’s even landed himself in a mental institution over his rants about protecting President Kennedy. It’s here that he comes into contact with Lila, another patient whose issues are more similar to his than he first realizes. We spend part of the season trying to sort out if she’s the best thing for him or is going to make him worse and the truth about Lila answers one of the series biggest questions of all: Lila has powers herself. She’s one of the other special children born on October 1, 1989 that Reginald wasn’t able to purchase for the Umbrella Academy. Diego also has two very big moments. One is where he runs into the original Grace, the woman who must have been the inspiration for the robotic version that raised the kids. The other is when he faces off with the Reginald of the 1960s and is cut down by another series of insults about his insignificance that shakes him to the point where his childhood stuttering briefly returns, a moment played wrenchingly by Castañeda. He too learns to come around on his feelings about Vanya and her powers and is even part of the attempt to try to save her from being the explosion that kicks things off. The story does a solid job of him not just being the hot head of the family, but shows just how much he’s grappling with the way Reginald treated all of the kids. He gets a great moment to shine when he proves to be smart and not just a bundle of angry violence when he infiltrates the Commission and finds out that Vanya’s powers will cause an explosion that leads to nuclear war with Russia. 

Number Three/Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman): Allison finds herself in the precarious situation of being a Black woman during the 1960s in Texas without even her super-powered voice to protect her (it takes a whole year for her to be able to talk again). She has to find a new sort of family for safety and luckily finds a beauty parlor of other Black women who set up to defend her when she’s nearly attacked by a group of white men. Allison also finds herself getting involved with the fight for racial equality and even marries a peaceful activist named Raymond Chestnut, knowing that it could be years before Five finds the siblings and needing something to hold on to. She’s refusing to use her powers, knowing very well how they’ve had negative consequences for her relationships in the past. But when a peaceful sit-in protest turns violent, she ends up activating those powers again to keep her husband from being beaten to death by a police officer. It’s impossible not to make connections with the the racial equality protests and police brutality against protesters and the Black community of Dallas in the 1960s and today. Allison ends up placed in a position where in order to have the chance to return to the future and her daughter, Claire, she has to leave Raymond behind. She is eager to make up for how Vanya was treated by the siblings in the past and is also one of the siblings that tries to stop Vanya’s powers from exploding.

Number Four/Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan): If wild shenanigans are going down, Klaus is probably the one whose fault it is. Klaus always lands on his feet due to sheer force of charisma and manages to create his own cult with “scriptures” that are really pieces of song lyrics from the future. The reason he ends up in Dallas is more grounded though: Dave, the love of his life from the Vietnam War that Klaus met last time he time traveled. Klaus remembers that Dave said Kennedy’s assassination caused him to join up, and hopes to derail Dave’ enlistment. Instead he encounters a version of Dave who is still struggling with his sexuality and Dave’s “deeply closeted” uncle who is blatantly anti-gay. Klaus’s attempts at intervention only result in Dave getting forced to the recruitment office days earlier than before by the uncle trying to “make a man out of him.” Sheehan navigates these shifts between humor and tragedy with a captivating performance that has made Klaus a clear fan favorite. He attempts to be supportive of Vanya and his vulnerable confession that he blamed himself for Ben not moving on are equally touching too.  

Number Five Hargreeves (Aidan Gallagher): Every so often, you have to remind yourself that Gallagher is actually a sixteen year old and not an old man trapped in the body of a teenager. Five has always admitted that he’s a mess too, but is pragmatic enough to throw his issues to the back burner to focus on the apocalypse because priorities, people. In many ways, he’s become the real leader of the siblings. He’s equal parts sardonic and resourceful and his “over it” expressions are an absolute mood. Five is the one trying to wrangle his dysfunctional siblings and simultaneously piece together how the end of the world comes about. The siblings are clearly the bigger challenge. At one point he even finds himself in one-on-one combat with the old man version of himself, trying to essentially cut a deal with himself and even guessing at how he’s going to betray himself, proving he’s not the only sibling with complications. Five’s biggest weaknesses are his ambition and ego, but he gets the most useful piece of advice of any of them from Reginald when Reginald points out he should be thinking in “seconds not decades” with his powers, which ends up saving the lives of all of the siblings. We still have no insights as to how he ended up as the only sibling without a real name though.

Number Six/Ben Hargreeves (Justin. H. Min): After being part of an interview with Min last spring, I was excited to see how much more he would be included in the season. If Jiminy Cricket was dead and just 100% done with his charge, that’s where we find Ben and Klaus this season. Ben thinks Klaus can’t just run out on a group of people who upturned their lives to follow Klaus, especially Jill, a young Black woman who gave up a college scholarship to follow the teachings of Klaus. Ben also finds he can actually possess Klaus and even get a chance to feel the world again and talk to Jill. We also get another question answered: In 2006, Ben died as a teenager on a mission. Reginald chewed out his siblings for the failure, and the siblings quickly turned against each other in their grief. After the funeral, Klaus reached out and summoned Ben, who was too afraid to go into the light and chose to stay. The grown up version of Ben we see is simply a manifestation of how he would have looked if he had lived. One of the most touching moments with Ben is when his spirit is the one to connect with and redirect Vanya, stopping the apocalypse even though it will break his connection to Klaus permanently. He even tells Vanya that Reginald’s fears over her powers are not a failure on her part, or even a indication that she can’t control her powers. No wonder the family fell apart without him, he was clearly the heart and emotional glue of the siblings.

Number Seven/Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page): This season was Vanya’s chance to sort out who she is now that she knows she has powers in her own right. She gets a bit of a clean slate though when she’s hit by a car and loses her memory. While trying to sort out who she is, Vanya makes a connection with a woman named Sissy and Sissy’s autistic son Harlan. Things get complicated as Sissy and Vanya’s connection turns romantic though. Sissy is afraid to leave her husband, Carl, even though she’s miserable in her marriage. Carl is very willing to use the anti-gay attitudes of the 1960s against Sissy, as well as threatening to have Harlan committed (Harlan is non-verbal and sometimes prone to violent outbursts). He even goes as far as to get his police officer brother to lock up Vanya. When Vanya, who can speak seven languages, speaks in Russian, the FBI gets involved and suspects she’s a KGB spy. We soon learn Vanya’s powers react while she’s under torture from the FBI, which explodes the local FBI building, disrupting the  assassination of JFK and leading into a nuclear war when the Russians are blamed for the explosion. For a while there is a fear that the siblings will abandon Vanya again, a choice that caused the apocalypse before. Luckily, the siblings have learned and they not only come to save her from the FBI, but to help Harlan as well, proving how the Hargreeves are strongest when they are united. Heartache also comes to Vanya though. Sissy is ready to strike out on her own finally, but unwilling to risk Harlan by jumping through time, and Vanya ends up having to leave her behind too. The Hargreeves just can’t catch a romantic break at this rate.

Just when we hope that the siblings have learned something and will return to a future where things have changed, the consequences catch up. There is a change when they return, but clearly not one they anticipated. Reginald was not thrilled by his run-in with the Hargreeves in the past and made some changes in his choices in 1989. Reginald picked some other kids and made the Sparrow Academy, led by a still-alive Ben. Reginald, Ben, and the Sparrow Academy are waiting for the Hargreeves when they return to 2019. As for what Reginald is, he appears to be some sort of alien but we still don’t know what his true end game and master plan actually is.

The season was a great follow up to the first, and I’m super excited to see how Ben being alive will have an impact on the next season. The introduction of more of the special kids also opens up a lot of new doors I can’t wait to see explored. Of course there’s always the question of which other characters may also be alive now that the timeline has been altered. Either way, this is a set of fictional siblings I hope we keep around for awhile.

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