For the most part, every mission in The Umbrella Academy ended in failure. How do the best efforts of the superpowered Hargreaves siblings fail so drastically?
If it’s not clear...
[Ed. note: This article contains heavy spoilers for the first season of The Umbrella Academy]
Despite everyone’s attempt to stop the end of the world, the apocalypse still happened. Much like the doomed prophecies of Ancient Greece and Rome, it turns out that trying to stop the end of the world from happening is exactly what causes it to happen, like one big catastrophic domino effect. But what does ending on this fiery apocalypse cliffhanger mean for the future seasons?
After almost killing her sister in a fit of rage, Vanya (Ellen Page) really kills her creepy stalker boyfriend, Leonard/Harold Jenkins (John Magaro) by using her soundwave powers to stab him with every available knife in the house. Nice!
Leonard/Harold is supposedly the person who causes the apocalypse, and for the most part the Hargreeves siblings feel that their mission is complete. But there’s still the question of what to do with Vanya and her destructive powers. Luther (Tom Hopper) decides that the only solution is to subdue Vanya — right when she returns home, looking for comfort! — and shut her inside the same soundproof isolation chamber that their father confined her to in childhood. Diego (David Castañeda) and Klaus (Robert Sheehan) are horrified that this chamber exists; Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) protests Vanya’s imprisonment, but Luther believes that keeping Vanya locked up until they know the full extent of her suppressed powers is for the best.
It’s the Hargreeves’ dismissal of Vanya, their continued ostracizing of her, that leads to their downfall. Instead of repairing his relationship with his sister, Luther insists she must be controlled, forcing his siblings to do the same even if they aren’t too keen on it. He’s always been their father’s right-hand man and it’s his blind rule-following that unleashes the apocalypse.
In her isolation, childhood memories swarm Vanya, building her rage, until she unleashes the full fury of her power. The rest of the family doesn’t even believe it at first, until the whole house shakes and she bursts out of the chamber. She stalks the house, destroying each room of painful memories, one by one, murdering Pogo and Mom (Jordan Claire Robbins).
Five (Aidan Gallagher) realizes that they didn’t stop the apocalypse from happening — Vanya is the apocalypse.
Her transformation to her all-powerful White Violin form is different than in the comic series, where it’s done via a machine. Instead, Vanya’s evolution happens gradually throughout the first season.
“[Ellen Page] had an idea early on of how this character would slowly change over time, down to the nuances of what she would do in each episode, and that felt like it needed a more grounded transformation,” said showrunner Steve Blackman to the Hollywood Reporter. “It couldn’t be a machine, it had to be sort of a metamorphosis of sorts, and she does a masterful job of going from this wallflower to this woman who’s completely checked into who she really is ... It’s Vanya coming into her own and realizing, ‘I’m not just ordinary, despite what my father has told me and my siblings have told me. I am something more than that.’”
The Hargreeves siblings fail to subdue/take down/apologize to Vanya, and she unleashes a bolt of soundwave energy to the moon, which ends up shattering it. Moon rocks plummet to the earth. The end is nigh!
As everyone starts to accept defeat (“At least we’re together in the end. As a family!” Shut up, Luther, you just tried to kill your sister), Five decides that they can have another chance. He traveled through time once, who’s to say he can’t do it again? This time, though, he’s going to bring the family. As the time travel energy warps around them, we see all seven siblings as they were in their youth.
What does this mean for the second season? Will we see the Hargreeves siblings displaced in time, aged down to children? When in time have they been displaced?
“The truth is, we don’t know where they are. We don’t know what happened to them. I wanted this to really be the best of cliffhangers, in that you’re like “Wait, what? What happened?” It gives us a lot of openness and legroom to tell the best story we can next year,” Blackman said. “But yes, the apocalypse is not solved. They did not save the world, which is a slight alteration of the comic.”
The comic series boasts plenty of material to expand upon, and both Blackman and Umbrella Academy creator Gerard Way have visions to run in parallel to the comic, though not without key changes.
“Some of it will work and some of it won’t, but what’s nice about it is I know where [Gerard’s] head is going,” said Blackman. “The idea is not to deviate too much; we want to stay on course with what the comics are doing, and having that plan ahead of time allows us to set some things up now for later seasons, things that you’ll see and later be like, ‘Oh, I get that now, they did that for this reason.’”
If the series does follow the comics loosely, there is also the question of the powers of the Hargreeves’ siblings. Vanya has unlocked her true potential as the White Violin, but will her powers wreak more destruction? With her vocal chords destroyed, Allison effectively has no powers — will she be able to reclaim them? In the last moments of the battle, Klaus unleashed more of his powers. Will we see him tap into the full extent of his abilities — which include levitation and telekinesis in the comics — now that he’s sober?
But the real pressing question: Will Klaus ever be reunited with Dave, the love of his life from the year he spent in the Vietnam War?