Despite filming most of the story in Dallas around 1963 – with the JFK assassination looming on the horizon – Umbrella Academy spent the first few minutes of its second season setting some very familiar stakes in place: an apocalypse that could only be avoided if Umbrella Academy could figure out what was causing it and how to stop it within days.
For most of the season, it has been difficult to understand why Umbrella Academy builds season two around a story that echoes the first season so bluntly. If you were generous, you could argue that Umbrella Academy maintained that history repeats itself; if you weren’t generous you could argue that Umbrella Academy just repeated to himself.
This culminating episode is therefore both a delight and a relief: a signal which, after a little walking on the water, Umbrella Academy is ready to let both its story and its characters surpass the archetypes established in season one. It could easily have gone the other way. Once again, Vanya broke down, and once again, the collateral damage could prove to be the end of the world. And when Allison, Diego, and Klaus each fail to reach Vanya and stop the “attack” – which actually feels more like an overpowering spasm triggered by Vanya’s physical and emotional pain – it seems like the best hope for the future. of the earth. be another leap in time.
And then an unlikely hero emerges: the ghostly brother Ben, who manages to penetrate Vanya’s psychic defenses and find her, scared and alone, in her own mind. As Vanya relives the horrors of the past, Ben touches her – not by imprisoning her, like her siblings once did, but by reassuring her that all of these horrible things weren’t her fault. “Daddy treated you like a bomb before you even were,” he says. “You are not a monster. You are my sister.
It’s enough to get to Vanya, but it comes at a cost: the effort Ben had to put in to reach Vanya means that, 17 years after his “death”, it’s time for Ben to die for real. I am not 100% clear Why it does – but on an intuitive level, it looks like the right send. And while I accused Umbrella Academy being reluctant to accept big emotions certainly succeeds here, as Ben expresses his gratitude for this farewell and asks Vanya to give him a hug as he passes out. Vanya, for her part, seems to internalize Ben’s love and understanding, which should hopefully prevent any uncontrolled appearance of the White Violin.
Back in the real world, Vanya returns to normal and the crisis that defines the season seems to be avoided. Without the Vanya explosion that scares JFK and worsens the Cold War, the timeline is restored.
Which means, unfortunately, that JFK is still murdered. Five’s role in all of this is ultimately a red herring; despite a long and far-fetched brawl with the Other Five, neither of them played a significant role in the assassination. Diego’s attempt to stop the assassination is another failure, although for a brief moment it looks like he might actually succeed. But when he tackles “Reginald Hargreeves” on the grassy knoll, it turns out to be a decoy. The fatal bullet arrives from elsewhere and the president is killed.
Diego will surely assume that the assassination was another of the twisted ploys orchestrated by his father (and maybe one day he can even confront him about it). But unbeknownst to Diego, Grace, and anyone else who suspected Reginald of committing a criminal act related to JFK, the truth turns out to be more complicated. When Reginald enters a meeting of the Majestic-12 in fury, he reveals that he only participated in the JFK assassination plot on the condition that JFK was not actually injured.
And when the smug Majestic-12 members laugh at him, Reginald – and honestly, I can’t stress this enough – takes off his rubber mask to reveal he’s an alien. Yes: Reginald Hargreeves has always been an alien in disguise, and now he’s a seriously pissed off alien. The camera only teases us with the back of his alien head and horrible sounds off-screen, but it certainly looks like he’s slaughtering a smug bunch of guys in costume.
You’d think the killing of, I don’t know, everyone in Majestic-12 would be an anomaly that would shake the world in the timeline, so it’s not really surprising that a world-shaking anomaly would be detected by a commission officer at the end. of the episode. But Umbrella Academy has one last twist in store. For all the crazy things that have happened in Dallas since the arrival of Umbrella Academy, the truly unprecedented anomaly directly involves none of them. It’s back to Sissy’s farm, where Harlan uses his newly awakened superpower to propel a capricious bullet directly at Carl, hitting him in the chest and killing him.
And apparently that was just the start, as the Commission Monitor shows the whole barn then lit up with a strange blue glow. It’s unclear exactly what’s going on inside – but given that this has raised a bigger alarm inside the Commission than either of the Umbrella AcademyBoth Apocalypses, it’s probably safe to assume that there are big things to come in the season finale.
• Reginald Hargreeves is revealed to be an alien in one of the early panels of the Umbrella Academy comics – but aside from an odd flashback scene involving rockets towards the end of the first season, the TV show has been much more evasive about its true identity. Now that it’s finally open, I’m hoping that a third season fits into Reginald’s true focus, which apparently involves the dark side of the moon.
• I guess that’s a conclusion about Ben, and actor Justin H. Min, who was fired on a series regular for Umbrella Academy season two after occasional appearances in the first season. I still think the show might have found him more to do, but his jokes with Klaus were sure to be fun, and Min managed to find the emotion in a dead boy who had a second chance on the experiences he had. missed in life. I will miss him if Umbrella Academy returns for season three.
• Stuck in a fishbowl on the handler’s desk, AJ Carmichael attempts to deliver a decisive blow by leading Lila to a case that reveals that her parents’ deaths were a Commission-ordered assassination. Unfortunately, Lila fails to realize that the Handler played a key role in the decision, blaming Carmichael (whose name was used to validate the order) and Five (who executed the blow).
• The Handler ends up swallowing Carmichael, which sounds like an inauspicious ending for a character who has been presented with so much panache. Maybe he can find a way to get revenge from within?
• I’m glad Vanya is back to normal, but won’t the FBI still be mad at all those dead agents?
• Other than a (pretty meta) conversation about how serious it all is, we really haven’t seen anything about Luther and Allison going / not wanting in season two. I wonder if the show’s creative team saw the reviews after the first season and adjusted the course accordingly.
• If you’re going to do a Five vs Five fight scene, I guess setting it all up to “Dancing With Myself” is pretty irresistible.
• Five’s “I can do this all day” sounds like a nod to Captain America, who also ended up fighting while traveling through time. Avengers: Endgame.
• There’s an extremely brief shot of a guy with a Bell & Howell-style camcorder as JFK’s motorcade passes, which may be a nod to the infamous Zapruder movie.
• Klaus to Diego: “You look like Antonio Banderas with long hair. Five to Luther: “Looks like King Kong and the Hitler Youth had a baby.”
• Do you have any idea what Ben whispered to Vanya just before he disappeared?