Our favorite dysfunctional family of superheroes returns in The Umbrella Academy Season 3, with a season-long arc that is just as incomprehensible and convoluted as the first two seasons were. (I’m still not entirely sure what I just watched.) There is yet another apocalyptic event to worry about (this one involves the literal destruction of the entire universe), but the Hargreeves siblings also have to contend with another set of super sibs in the Sparrows.
“What is family?” Klaus asks that in “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine”, and I believe that’s the overarching theme of The Umbrella Academy Season 3 – really the series as a whole. It seems like every season shatters the tremulous familial bonds that these people share, reconstructs them, and then smashes them again. After season 2, I honestly thought that the group would be more united, but season 3 proves that they are just as easily scattered as before.
This was actually a bone of contention for me during the season, particularly for the whole conflict between Viktor and Allison. Allison felt betrayed because Viktor lied about Harlan being the one who killed their mothers. (I actually don’t think Viktor lied; I think he just didn’t tell anyone. I’m not justifying that decision, but still.) Allison holds Harlan responsible for Claire not existing in this timeline. And I understand that Allison is grieving not only Claire but also Ray, but even if their mothers had lived, Claire wouldn’t have existed in this timeline.
I feel like no one really sat down to think about the butterfly effect they had on their own futures. Since they weren’t adopted by Hargreeves, they would have led completely different lives. We have no way of knowing what would have happened to them had they been born in this timeline. Would Allison have still become an actress and married Patrick? Had that thought honestly not occurred to her? (Not to mention the fact that the timeline where Claire was born was literally destroyed at the end of season 1. What did they think they were going back to?)
I guess I have to remember that character development isn’t always forward. Sometimes they go backwards. The past couple of seasons have shown Allison trying to be better and use her powers more responsibly. In season 3 we see what she must have been like pre-season 1: selfish and reckless and cruel.
But still, if there’s anything the Hargreeves siblings can do, it’s come together in a crisis. It may take until the last second, but they generally do come through for each other. Allison’s flirtation with the dark side ended as soon as she realized that she’d put her siblings’ lives in danger. (I mean, she was pretty awful to them before that, especially what she did to Luther.) In the end, their bonds may be warped, but they’re still pretty strong.
I liked how this season featured bonding scenes with siblings who aren’t usually alone together. I’m not a fan of this harder, darker Allison (like seriously at all), but I liked that Diego took her somewhere where she could punch out her feelings. Klaus bringing Five along on the road trip to find his mother seemed to hint that he is struggling with the loss of Ben more than he’s letting on. Luther and Viktor had a lot of sweet scenes, which I thought was fantastic considering their history.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 reinforces that whatever happened to the Hargreeves siblings, the fracture began when Five disappeared. Repairing the fracture became impossible after Ben’s death. This new set of siblings, the Sparrow Academy, did not experience those events – or seemingly anything similar – and so they are still living together, training together, and going on missions together.
In fact, “Meet the Family” shows us that the Sparrows are led by a very different Reginald Hargreeves. The Sparrows don’t respect, fear, or defer to him at all. Marcus summons him to the gym and orders him around. Also, they’re so rude to Grace. It made me wonder if the Umbrellas would have behaved in a similar fashion if they had all lived and stayed together. I thought perhaps there was something different with Hargreeves’ parenting style after meeting the Umbrellas in 1963.
It turns out that they were drugging him. Klaus teaches him how to hide the pills and thus Hargreeves reverts back to his normal, sociopathic self. It seems a reoccurring theme on The Umbrella Academy is that no matter what any of them do to make things right, it only ends up making things worse. True, Klaus was able to spend time with Hargreeves in which he actually properly trained on his powers, but later Hargreeves leaves Klaus to disintegrate with the end of the universe.
I’m so very curious to know what Hargreeves’s end game is. What does this man want? Did he blow up the whole world just to save his wife? Did he found these academies just to have seven superpowered people to stand on the symbol and power the machine? I do like that we see things in later seasons that retroactively explain things in earlier seasons. For example, Hargreeves didn’t just send Luther to the moon to get rid of him; his wife was in cryostasis on the moon. Hargreeves just never told Luther that, because that would have invited too many questions.
The Sparrows were underutilized. Killing Marcus in the first episode surprised me, but I thought it would lead to more development on the Sparrows as a whole. It did not. Aside from the brief montage of them growing up, we know very little about their personalities (other than the fact that they’re huge jerks). Ben, Sloane, and Fei were the only three that had any real depth, and even Sloane’s “depth” was mostly just “Luther’s love interest”. And please explain to me what the heck was going on with Christopher. He had a human mother, right? So how is he a sentient cube?
I think the problem was that there were just too many characters. Introducing six new siblings with brand new abilities led to some pretty great fight sequences, but otherwise added nothing to the plot. For the most part, they weren’t important. I think that’s highlighted by the fact that at the end, when they all come out of the hotel, it’s the original siblings (minus Allison, plus Lila). I really just wanted more with the Sparrows.
One character I thought that season 3 could have done without was Stan. I felt differently when we thought that he was Diego and Lila’s son, but as soon as she revealed that he wasn’t, I wondered what his purpose was. I know that Lila was tormenting Diego because she thought he abandoned her, and maybe it was partially a test to see how he’d handle being a father. But then Stan accidentally shot Klaus with a harpoon gun, killing him (temporarily), and Diego barely reacted to his brother’s death. The whole situation was played for laughs, and it really put me off.
I like that they had Elliot Page’s character transition along with him. I had worried, after Elliot came out as trans, that playing a female character so soon after his transition would be bad for his mental health. It’s fantastic that the show allowed Vanya to become Viktor. It made sense with his character, too; Vanya always seemed uncomfortable in her own skin, and while during the first two seasons you assumed that was because of their childhood, you can now look back and see how well it fits with someone struggling with their gender identity as well.
Viktor’s transition was well handled in the sense that they didn’t really make a big deal about it. But I do appreciate that it wasn’t a one-and-done thing, especially since Luther wasn’t there when everyone else found out, so he naturally would have been confused. And I really appreciate Luther wanting to mark the occasion, especially considering all of the history between the two of them. It’s reassuring to know that Luther’s apology to Viktor last season was sincere; Luther even asked Viktor to be the best man at his wedding.
The Umbrella Academy is so very good at utilizing its soundtrack. I love the continuing tradition of using the most inexplicable yet strangely perfect songs for fight scenes – like “Do You Believe in Magic?” as the background for Diego’s battle with Jayme and Alphonso in “Pocket Full of Lightning”. The bachelor party karaoke night was amazing. And I’ll admit that it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the dance-off to “Footloose” in the first episode was a hallucination of Diego’s.
This is also a show with a lot of humor, which definitely came through in season 3. Scenes like Lila forcibly disrobing Diego to get him changed for the wedding, Luther talking about getting his ass kicked (“Here you go! It’s your ass!”), and Klaus running from the Amish stick out in my mind the most. But if there’s one thing this show nails, it’s the quippy, sarcastic banter between siblings.
Questions I Still Have After The Umbrella Academy Season 3:
- Is Allison dead? She should have been with the others at the hotel, and she instead ended up somewhere where both Claire and Ray exist at the same time and in the same place. Or was that the deal she made with Hargreeves?
- What happened to Sloan? We at least got to see why Allison wasn’t with the others, but Sloan has just vanished.
- Was the Ben that we saw in the mid-credits scene OG!Ben, Sparrow!Ben, or a completely different version of Ben?
- Did no one notice, after they supposedly contained the Kugelblitz, that the city was literally burning all around them?
Each season of this show is a different apocalypse in a different timeline, which is going to get tiring after awhile. (I had this same issue with The 100.) I don’t think it leaves enough time to develop certain aspects of each season. I honestly thought that the Hotel Oblivion part of the season was great and deserved more than basically one episode. But otherwise, I thought the pacing was pretty good.
For the most part, I enjoyed The Umbrella Academy Season 3. I know that there are comics and aspects of the series are adapted from that, but the plot of season 3 seemed kind of all over the place. It does sort of make sense within the context of the first two seasons, but I really wished I’d done a full rewatch before, because I missed a lot of the foreshadowing.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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