3P Reviews, Graphic Novels and Comics, The Umbrella Academy

You Know I Love Dysfunctional Family Dinners – The Umbrella Academy, Season Two, Episode Six

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The season builds tension this episode as the Umbrella Academy siblings prepare to face their biggest challenge yet: a dinner with their father. It’s been years since most of them have seen him, and no one (other than perhaps Five and Vanya) is particularly looking forward to it, given their contentious relationship with the now-dead authority figure who has overshadowed so much of their lives.

The episode is filled with other tidbits as well, from important character interactions to the typical amusing setups that make this show so enjoyable for me. The dialogue is about as sharp as it gets for this show, and while the episode isn’t especially flashy, there’s something appealing in its overall aesthetic.

However, it’s not all fun and games. Episode six precipitates the events that will lead directly into the end of the season, and while we’re still a little way from making a clear picture of what the show has to offer in wrapping up Season Two, the forecast is not great. Issues that have plagued this season from the start persist, and if anything, are gaining steam, making me question how long this series can maintain its own momentum in the long run.

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3P Reviews Series: The Umbrella Academy

Season Two

Episode Six:  A Light Supper – ****

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Spoilers: Yes

Audience Assumptions: Familiarity with the series and/or my review series for the first season.

Content Warnings: Mention of death, violence, murder, parental abuse.

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Part One: Party in Dallas

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This is the rare episode where all of the main seven get something to do, though most of that comes in the titular supper that their father has invited them all too. However, as you might have guessed from the trajectory the characters have been on so far, not all of their subplots are equally thrilling prior to the dinner.

Luther is still fat, or at least the show thinks he is. Highlights include him eating eggs and releasing a “silent but deadly” in an elevator. Classy. He, Diego, and Vanya are the first to learn about the dinner, so they start the episode deliberating whether they actually want to go. Luther is against it on the grounds that he’s done a full 180 on their father and has already met this version of him. Vanya, memories still gone, learns of their father’s abuses and decides that if he’s really that big of an asshole, she has to see for herself, but in a child-gawking-at-circus-animals sort of way. She’s having fun the whole way through with her new crazy family.

With Luther no longer willing to take the lead, Diego decides that they should all be an equal group with no leaders or numbers, and confront their father as something other than his Umbrella Academy. He names this group Team Zero. Coincidentally, zero is also the number of people who are with him on this.

As with so much of this season, Allison and Klaus kind of take the spotlight in terms of character development and side plots. The episode opens with a scene that is tonally very different from most of the rest of the series, with Allison landing in the past, unable to speak or use her powers. Shortly after learning where she is, she’s chased out of the White side of town by several thugs looking to brutalize her, only escaping when she finds a barber shop full of Black women, one of whom pulls a pair of scissors on the men to chase them off. This becomes Allison’s safe haven where she gets a job and finds emotional support in the frequenters of the establishment. About a year after her arrival, her voice is slowly healing and she meets Ray, becoming invested in him and his cause simultaneously.

Back in the present timeline (or at least the 1963 one), Ray confronts Allison about her powers and she explains to him how they work. When that fails to convince him, she takes him to the shops to show him, commanding a segregated tailor to let Ray try on whatever clothes he wants. While Ray starts to have fun and see the potential good of Allison’s powers, things take a turn when they pass the café and Allison decides to do single-handedly what the sit-in didn’t.

This is where Allison’s subplot gets a bit iffy for me, since it starts to venture outside of the realm of useful analogues. Allison goes in and once more asks the man at the counter to serve her coffee. When he refuses, she uses her superpowers to force him to do it. This was the same man who poured scalding coffee on her during the sit-in, and with all of her rage pent-up since she arrived in the 60s, Allison commands the man to keep pouring coffee into the cup until it spills over and starts burning his hand. Ray is uncomfortable with Allison’s abuse of power, and tells her to stop, then they both leave. In a later scene, Ray has decided he isn’t comfortable with Allison’s powers because of their dangerous potential. While he doesn’t seem sympathetic to the racist asshat at the café, he doesn’t think he can really trust her not to use her powers on him.

I’m of two minds on this scene, but more the one than the other. Fantasy and sci-fi series sometimes approach historical travesties or other injustices with a positive “what if?” perspective. What if you had a time machine and killed baby Hitler? What if you could stop 9/11? What if you could somehow magic away all of the racism, or cure all disease, or reverse global warming? Often, stories that explore these hypotheticals come to the conclusion that making big changes by way of magic is somehow against the natural order of things, and that other problems would arise as a result. For instance, if you killed one horrible person before they committed their crimes, then someone else might be committing the crime instead, or maybe some chain of events leading to a net positive would fail to happen, and you’d end up in either a similar or worse world than the one you started with. I don’t really find this line of thinking useful. For one, it’s very deterministic and seems to justify atrocities as a necessary part of history, which they’re not. For another, magic isn’t real, and while that doesn’t ordinarily matter in stories, when you start applying impossible solutions to real problems, you end up drawing parallels to existing phenomena and insinuating things about those phenomena that may not be reasonable.

For example, Allison’s powers here don’t exist. You can’t just force someone to stop being racist by whispering the right words in their ear or brainwashing them. However, power itself does exist. You could, for instance, pay someone a hefty sum of money to serve coffee to someone they didn’t want to, or reward them some other way, or you could use some other sort of authority like social standing to get them to do what you want, or peer pressure, or you could threaten them with violence, threaten to fire them, trick them into thinking they’re serving coffee to someone they like. All of these are a form of power because they involve throwing around something, material or otherwise, that shifts the power balance from the person serving coffee having the final say to the person ordering coffee having the final say. Some exertions of power are easier to come by than others, and some are more effective in the long run than others. Threatening someone with violence, for instance, will get immediate results, but not necessarily the results you want. Torture doesn’t work as a means of information extraction because the person being tortured very quickly resorts to saying whatever will get the torture to stop, most of which is nonsense. The incentive system when a person is under threat is to escape from or otherwise remove that threat, rather than change their actions or thoughts. Social pressure, however, tends to be extremely effective at changing people’s minds, and is one of relatively few things that can.

So what are Allison’s powers closer to, a form of coercion, or a form of persuasion? It depends on the scene in which they’re used. Often, her powers take on the tone of something that an influential authority would say, which could be either a sort of threat or a sort of persuasion (think of the difference between a police officer telling you to do something and a celebrity telling you to do something).  On a practical level, Allison can use her powers to break up fights and force integration, which are not at all against the Civil Rights Movement’s philosophies. Legal rulings need teeth to be effective, and while threats of violence are not generally useful as a backing for social reform doctrines, consequences in the form of blackballing, taking away a person’s licenses, public shaming, forcing a person to pay financially, etc. can be very effective at directing a person’s behavior as long as you target them right.

I find the idea of Ray seeing Allison’s powers as “going too far” a bit distasteful, because it puts the blame for Allison’s anger on her herself and holds her to an unreasonable standard. People of color are often expected to be the bigger person when protesting, with any sign of anger or violence on their part seen as a personal failing. Non-violent protestors in the 60s were steadfast in their convictions and endured horrific things for the cause, all while maintaining composure. While that’s something everyone in the U.S. and beyond should respect them for, it’s not reasonable to expect that same response of every person of color whose life is threatened. Some people choose to take on an extra burden to change things, but many of the people impacted by bigotry, discrimination, and hate crimes don’t get to choose whether they’re involved or not. Similarly, a person’s right to dignity and safety is not contingent on them paying some sort of toll, especially not a toll set by people handed those same things for free.

All that said, I don’t hate this scene as a part of Allison’s personal arc – it fits fine. I just don’t think using a social movement as allegory for her personal struggles is particularly tasteful. Allison is impulsive and impatient, sometimes to the point of hurting other people without realizing. However, none of that has anything to do with her being a Black woman, and it doesn’t play well as the dramatic thrust for this particular conflict. I’d like to see the show play around more deeply with Allison’s character, and I think on the whole, it’s done a good job of that this season, but it still has a way to go if it wants to explore her character in conjunction with the Civil Rights Movement as fully as it’s aiming.

Klaus’ subplot in this episode is more straightforward by comparison. As ever, though, it takes up a disproportionate amount of the episode and plot space, with no less than three unrelated components to it.

With the end of the world imminent, Klaus has taken it upon himself to disband his cult and send them off to spend their last few days with their families. Easier said than done. As it turns out, he has completely lost control of his own cult and they are apt to interpret his words with or without his help. In this case, his admission that he is a fraud and has been scamming them this whole time prompts a Spartacus moment where one by one, the cult members also confess their fraudulence despite Klaus’ pleas for them to stop being a cult. It is actually quite a funny scene.

Ben, however, is unimpressed and take umbrage with Klaus for duping a bright young student named Jill. That’s right, Ben finally gets something to do! He’s been pining after Jill from beyond, which is more than a little creepy if you ask me, given she can’t see him. Klaus, of course, can barely keep track of himself, let alone the people in his cult, so even though this person has been traveling with him for multiple years, he still doesn’t know her.

I mean, okay, I’m not one to judge. I’ve taken over a month to remember the name of someone I knew well enough to borrow DVDs from, and I’ve stared up conversations with a bus stop stranger I only later realized was a coworker I’d known for several years. It happens.

At one point, Klaus says something dismissive about Jill, and Ben charges at him (to be fair, he probably has more than a bit of pent-up rage from Klaus’ recent actions). Instead of tackling him, though, Ben runs through Klaus’ body, briefly possessing him. It would seem that we are back to throwing any and every new ability at Klaus for unclear reasons. It’s very silly in its execution and I won’t defend the convoluted means by which both characters discover this new power, but admittedly, anything that actually brings Ben into the plot does intrigue me, and I have a soft spot for characters doing a supernatural split personality bit.

Bizarrely, Klaus’ section transitions directly from a goofy possession scene to Klaus having a painful heart-to-heart with Dave. The tonal shifting of this series is not always great, but this season seems to have even bigger miss-swings. Nonetheless, the scene with Dave works well on its own. Despite their unpleasant previous encounter and Klaus’ apparent resignation to leave Dave be, something he said in the café stuck in Dave’s head. He’s come to Klaus on his own to apologize for punching him and gently press him about those things he was saying the other day. While he remains skeptical that Klaus is actually a prophet like he claims, he quickly figures out that Klaus knows him somehow.

Klaus struggles not to overload him with information, but gradually reveals that he knows Dave like they’re very close, and that he cares about him. Like before, Klaus tells him not to join the Army because it’s not going to give him what he wants – specifically validation from his family. Dave comes from a conservative family and remains in the closet largely because of them and the mindset they’ve engrained in him. It runs deep enough that he’s apt to parrot their words, and isn’t ready to admit to himself, much less anyone else, that he’s gay. Eventually, Klaus reveals that he’s not just warning Dave away because Vietnam is a lost cause; he shows him the dog tags he carries around and tells Dave the time and place where he’s going to die.

While this gets to Dave, riling up a ball of complex emotions as he processes the information, he in turn reveals to Klaus that he’s still going to join. In fact, he’s already signed up. This catches Klaus off-guard because Dave isn’t supposed to sign up for several more weeks according to his timeline. Dave leaves in the end upset, mostly directing his fear and anger at Klaus.

Five spends little time with his siblings in this episode, instead dealing with the Handler outside of the family dinner. His run-in with the Handler and discovery that Lilah is her daughter have little consequence; the Handler isn’t looking to kill him (not for the moment, anyway), but to hire him. She wants Five to kill the board of directors, including A.J. the goldfish man, so that she can return to her cushy managerial position at the Time Agency. Her offer in this episode echoes back to her offers in the previous season – apparently the Handler is just all about deals. In this case, she wants to trade Five guaranteed safety for him and his family in exchange for the assassination job, her reasoning being that she doesn’t really care what happens to them at this point. While there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot backing her promise, the idea of having his family safe back in their own time and ducking the apocalypse once and for all appeals to Five, enough that he agrees to take the job.

Vanya does relatively little this episode. She’s mostly just drifting through life, hanging out with her new family, trauma-free and maybe a little drunk on something. She does get a brief scene at the end when Sissy comes to find her, and it’s pretty intense. After their fallout in the previous episode where Sissy described their relationship as a side fling, she takes Vanya aside to explain what’s going on. A woman like her is vulnerable, with only her husband to provide for her and her son, and his ire to face if she steps out of line. As she puts it, “Some of us don’t get to have the life we want. That doesn’t mean we don’t want it.” Choosing Vanya means giving up her shelter, food security, and safety, as well as that of her son. Vanya tells her that they could run away together, taking Harlan with them, and that she could serve the same role as Carl, but as someone whom Sissy loves and who loves her back. While she doesn’t have the details sorted out yet, Vanya’s commitment is enough that Sissy agrees to work toward an escape plan.

Caught up in their dreams of running away together, the two of them fail to notice Carl, who has followed them here at a distance and now knows of the affair.

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Part Two: Dear Old Dad

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But of course, the main focus of this episode is the family dinner their father has invited all of them too.

It is a scene as rewarding as it is brief; it takes up only a few minutes in the middle of the episode, but it’s pretty much everything you would want and expect.

Everyone has received separate invitations and shows up at a fancy hotel with a bit of time to spare before their father arrives. As you might expect, they are in disagreement almost immediately, with Five wanting to ask for their father’s insight into how to stop doomsday, and Diego on a one-track mind to interrogate him about the Kennedy assassination. Vanya comes up with conch-based solution where the person speaking has to be holding a conch so that they won’t be bickering over each other. This does not last long; Diego proclaims that they are all Team Zero, and there’s no more ranking for their father to use against them, to which Luther says, “Diego, you don’t have the conch.”

When Hargreeves comes in, they all sit promptly at the table and he explains why he’s assembled them here. He has no idea who they are or why they keep pestering him, but he’s finished running background checks and has confirmed that they aren’t CIA, KGB, or any of the other secret organizations that he would have reason to worry about, so mostly he wants to know just what the fuck they want. It would seem their ineptitude has put them on his radar as “harmless by default,” which is a fitting assessment if ever I heard one. When they explain they’re his children from the future and run through their backstory, Hargreeves seems utterly perplexed by the news.

If you were expecting him to be five steps ahead of them with a whole plan figured out, as he always is in the flashbacks, this is perhaps an unexpected twist. It would seem that not only does he not actively have any long-term plans to create and adopt several child superheroes to train for world-saving, he is actively caught off-guard by the notion. This is the first we’re seeing any of the adult characters interact with Hargreeves, and the first time we’re seeing him in a position of relative powerlessness. They have all of the information, and while he maintains a stiff composure, they manage to impress and confuse him throughout the dinner.

The revelation that they have powers interests him, and he starts to take notes in what appears to be the start of that red notebook that became so important in the first season. Hargreeves says relatively little of substance other than to express skepticism and insult, but the kids show him their powers regardless. Diego throws a knife at him and then curves it so it hits the wall behind him instead, Five teleports to stop Diego from socking Hargreeves when he says something to the effect of “You missed.” Five lists off their abilities, and Diego makes a snide remark about Allison having powers but not using them, to which she makes him punch himself in the face. Hargreeves inquires about Vanya’s abilities and everyone agrees that it’s best she not show them off, so of course she immediately volunteers and explodes the fruit bowl at the center of the table. Vanya finds it hilarious, and Hargreeves jots down more notes. Things go downhill from here.

Diego, ever-persistent, pulls out the photo of their father on the grassy knoll and reveals that he knows about Hargreeves’ plan to assassinate the president. Hargreeves sarcastically praises him for having figured it all out, and proceeds to cut deep with his jibes by insulting Diego’s mental state and declaring that he has a self-destructive hero complex. This prompts a flare-up of Diego’s stutter and is a harsh reminder to him and the others of their father’s abusive parenting.

Ben, who has been sitting this whole time trying to get Klaus to involve him in the conversation, eventually gets fed up with Klaus sitting back and drinking martinis, and jumps into his body to possess him. Klaus has a bit of a supernatural seizure and then says, “I’m… Ben!” which fails to impress Hragreeves. That is the extent of Ben’s participation, as he loses control of the possession and both of them fall over, everyone presuming that Klaus has done some weird ghost thing for attention or something.

Sensing that they’re losing their audience, Luther tears off his shirt to reveal his gorilla body and yells at Hargreeves, “Look at what you did to me!” to which Hargreeves understandably has no response. Thus ends the dinner.

Actually, Hargreeves does stick around to speak with Five in private at the hotel bar, deciding that he’s the only one of these clowns who is making any sense. Mostly, it seems that he’s interested to know why Five quoted the Odyssey at him earlier. Five takes the opportunity to make up for lost time, asking him for advice and help, particularly regarding his time-travel abilities. Hargreeves doesn’t have much of substance to offer about stopping the end of the world, declaring that “worlds end,” but he does listen to Five’s difficulties with his powers and gives him a basic recommendation. He tells Five that his problem is that he’s been jumping around by decades, when he should be practicing with smaller increments, like seconds. Five seems incredulous that jumping back seconds could change anything, but Hargreeves tells him that some events can turn on a dime, and controlling the right few seconds count make a huge difference.

The dinner scene is about six minutes long in total, and while parts of it are very obtuse in their comedy and character building, there are emotional touches that I think work well in the framework of the overall story, especially with the first season in mind.

Allison probably participates the least among the characters, but because she has a less complicated relationship with their father, her additions to the conversation are mostly snide little quips. Diego remarks that she’s “Daddy’s favorite” at one point, which isn’t entirely off the mark. Luther’s outburst, by comparison, is absurd and desperate, but very understandable for someone who only recently realized what a horrible person his father was to him.

Klaus and Ben’s participation is minimal except for the possession scene, and while I find it hard to believe that none of the other siblings have figured out that Ben is hanging around Klaus as a ghost, Ben’s desire to be seen is rather fitting for his character. We don’t know a lot about his relationship to their father – presumably it wasn’t particularly good, but it also seems that Ben doesn’t have a specific beef with Hargreeves, unlike Klaus, Vanya, Diego, and Luther. His death was likely driven by Hargreeves pushing them all too far, and he would have been around Klaus following his death, so he probably doesn’t have reason to want to impress his father, but then again, Klaus excludes him from participation in family matters and Hargreeves has a way of manipulating the siblings so that they’ll fight for his approval.

Vanya is just here for the laughs and having a great time, which is kind of delightful and also a bit upsetting given she has more reason to want to confront him than any of the others. I suppose in order to keep the dinner light, the story needs to keep from straying too close to the more traumatic parts of the characters’ fraught relationships with Hargreeves. We got elements of that elsewhere in the first season, like with Klaus’ encounter with Hargreeves in the afterlife, and I suspect there’s more to come in the subsequent seasons.

Diego is the one who pulls the short straw here, as he ends up the butt of many of the jokes over the course of this scene. Some of it is definitely mean-spirited, but I think the show walks the line between chastising Diego for his uncooperative nature and actually punishing him. When Hargreeves does get nasty and goes beyond being a disdainful Brit, it’s meant to read as cruel on his part. We’re meant to sympathize rather than laugh at Diego here, and maybe even question whether it was right to find his previous comedic moments funny at all. The other characters stop poking fun at him, and the darker tone the scene takes on is a reminder that those character flaws the others make fun of Diego for largely stem from the way their father pitted him against Luther. As bad as he is at naming it, his concept of “Team Zero” isn’t wrong; these characters work better when they support each other, rather than fight and compete amongst themselves.

He’s actually approving of Luther afterward, despite Luther’s outburst effectively ringing the death knell for the dinner. He points out in the elevator that that was the first time he’s seen Luther stand up to their father, and rightfully so.

I’ve mentioned Five’s relationship with their father before as being unique among the group. While it isn’t exactly a positive one, Five reveres their father more than the others, and has only recently come to terms with how much he wants to talk to him. Five has had decades to sort through his childhood trauma regarding their father, and like Allison, he doesn’t have as much of it as the others because he was one of the favored children. Five carries more baggage related to him being separated from his family, and in his mind, his father is included among that group. He’s guilt-ridden from ignoring his father’s advice and getting trapped in the past as a direct result, so rather than view his tumultuous life as the result of his father’s bad parenting, he views it as the result of him being a bad son. This isn’t a fair mindset, and from his previous lines, he seems to know it on a logical level, but the emotional drive of wanting to impress his father persists, hence why his interaction with his father is more of him asking for help and advice rather than trying to work out his beef, as it is with the others.

I think I’ve said before that I don’t approve of the show leaning in the direction of making Hargreeves seem “tough, but with good reason,” but I also don’t really think that’s what it’s doing. Much of this series is an exploration of complicated interpersonal relationships, and the paradoxical nature of families. Having the characters confront this version of Hargreeves is a smart move because while he’s brusque and clearly much the same character as we’ve seen in the flashbacks, he’s not exactly the same character. The scene serves as a space where the siblings can voice their frustrations at him without him justifying his abuses. While this version of Hargreeves seems just as unfazed as the one Klaus ran into in season one when accused of being a horrible parent, his disinterest is actually probably not the worst thing for these characters. Much of this scene is about characters like Diego and Luther confronting their father as adults; they’re not here to make amends or see him as a well-rounded person. He can’t be reasoned with. While he can offer bits of advice and his relationship with characters like Five is not exclusively negative, part of the process of many of these characters coping with their trauma is internalizing how they didn’t fail their father, he failed them. He’s not larger-than-life, and he doesn’t know all of the answers. He’s just some guy, and their own paths are their own.

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Part Three: Only Four to Go

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We’ve passed the halfway point. Pacing-wise, the story appears to be headed for the typical superhero show climax that takes multiple episodes to resolve, yet one of the things that strikes me about this episode is how it seems to do little to build toward the season finale. I like the episode, make no mistake, but like much of this season, it fails to contribute to the structure of the whole. There is a single event the episode revolves around, and plenty of the previous episodes have built up to this one, but the momentum largely stops there, for all of the show’s effort to sow intrigue at the end.

I’ve seen the rest of the season, but I’ll try not to reveal my cards too much about what happens. Instead, I’d like to examine what this and the previous episodes indicate has left to be resolved in the show. I’m not doing this to preserve spoilers; if you haven’t watched the show already, I have a feeling you aren’t likely to, given I started the season two reviews in *checks watch* uh, August. Instead, I think it’s telling to point out how a show forecasts future events, because often it’s the events that aren’t sufficiently set up that end up being disappointing.

The order of these things is hard to tell, but what’s apparent to me from the way the overarching plot scenes are constructed is that one of the first things that’s going to happen is Carl is going to become more outwardly antagonistic. Him finding out about Vanya and Sissy is one of the few points of tension from previous episodes that has yet to be resolved, and now that he knows about it, it seems likely that him trying to separate the two and punish his wife will be a driving force of tension for the next episode. We know that the main characters will have to leave 1963 behind eventually, meaning Vanya and Allison will almost certainly have to leave behind their respective partners. The main hope is that both Sissy and Ray make it out alive, because otherwise that’s cold, show.

Klaus’ exchange with Dave seems largely finished, at least for the time being. Again, because the show seems unlikely to bring characters from the past with the protagonists when they leave, Klaus can’t just pluck Dave out of the 60s to rescue him from the war, even if we did get a scene later in the season where they make up. I’m not saying I don’t want a scene like that, I’m just saying I don’t think it would change the direction of things. Plus, I have the feeling this show still wants to play with Klaus emotionally into the next season or two, and given that Klaus’ personal arc revolves heavily around the Dave subplot, I anticipate something else of it coming up in the next season. One thing to note here is that, aside from Ben, no one knows about Klaus reuniting with his long-lost boyfriend. No one but Diego even knows who Dave is.

Speaking of Diego, one of the very few things he does in this episode is run to mommy. Or rather, the woman who looks like his mother. After the dinner, he confronts Grace and tells him that Hargreeves is duplicitous and working to assassinate the president. While Grace has no reason to believe this hairy madman she keeps running into, you can imagine this encounter is here to sow something for a later episode. You can imagine a scene where she and Hargreeves are working, and she has a mind to gently prod him with a question, likely one with an unsatisfactory response on Hargreeves’ part.

We still don’t know what Hargreeves is up to, and while there is still tension surrounding his involvement in the A plot, when watching this the first time, I remember losing interest in Hargreeves almost immediately after this episode. Does it really matter what he’s doing with the Kennedy assassination at this point? It’s rather obvious that Diego is not going to succeed in rescuing the president, and not just because that would mess with the timeline. Although, Klaus discovering that Dave has enlisted early is a sign that when they get back to the present, some things may have changed, perhaps in dramatic ways. However, as far as Hargreeves goes, I like his role in the dinner, but I would frankly be a bit disappointed if he stuck around heavily this season.

The Handler’s scheming seems like it’s going to be one of the big drivers of the finale, which I am not overly thrilled by. She’s doing something with the Swedes, and if I don’t care about Hargreeves or the cause of the apocalypse, I care even less about whatever the Handler is doing. Just looking at this episode, I would kind of worry that the Handler would draw out the finale with a lugubrious monologue taunting Five once he helps her back into a position of power. Honestly, if you want to keep her as a background villain throughout the series, fine, I can deal with that, but she should stay in the background pulling the strings. In this episode, she’s pulling, but there are no strings – Five is just agreeing to her nonsense to progress the plot.

I don’t expect much of Five killing the board of directors. There’s potential for this to be something his family confronts him about, given he’s an assassin and I doubt many of them are proud of him for it. However, I’ve noticed this season is big on the overdrawn action scenes with flips and dramatic choreography, so I’m expecting more of a Jason Bourne meets Mission: Impossible, but much lower quality. Hargreeves’ advice about jumping back seconds is likely to come in during the climax when the characters need just a few seconds for something, like to stop a bomb going off or save someone’s life. That’s one of the more heavily broadcast plot points in this episode.

Diego still doesn’t know about Lilah being the Handler’s daughter. I genuinely can’t imagine that scene lasting more than a few minutes, but given we have four episodes left, I worry it will become a bigger deal than it needs to be. Then again, I genuinely can’t remember if any of the other Umbrella Academy members has even met the Handler. I suspect they haven’t – maybe that’s why she’s so underwhelming.

Oh, on the topic of the Swedes, they’ve gone and murdered our conspiracy-loving Elliot. Not cool, show. I liked that guy, he was fun.

I imagine the next episode will lead at least Luther and Diego to try and find them. I do like the idea of Diego and Luther off as detectives. They need some buddy bonding time, and it’s been good this episode so far. But again, I don’t see the Swede subplot going anywhere. It will clearly take them longer than they need to find them, and then… ?

Oh, and we also have the end of the world to contend with – its cause, as of yet, still a mystery. As I mentioned, this isn’t a mystery I’m interested in solving, but I imagine the show will solve it regardless. There are a few contenders – Vanya, for one, who still has amnesia and is playing around with her powers without a real understanding of their danger. Harlan is another likely source; we still don’t know what that glowing light Vanya gave him was, but we can guess it’s power-related, and given the characters are set to leave the 60s by the end of the season, it would be exceedingly odd if the glowing light didn’t pop back up at least once. Hargreeves is another option, though again, I think he’s best left to his own machinations, assassinating Kennedy or whatever he’s doing. And finally, we have the possibility that it’s some sort of cosmic thing, that the apocalypse is following Five, and no matter what he does, it’s going to follow him, either as a literal shockwave travelling through time or some other fated phenomenon.

While I remain interested in a third season, I have worries for the rest of this one. There are minor things the show has yet to resolve, and while there is still wiggle room to throw in something new for the last few episodes, the trajectory of the current plots (especially those revolving around the Handler and the Swedes) seems to require the weaker ones be artificially extended in order to meet the expectations for a superhero show finale structure. Oh dear.

___________________________

Series Breakdown Rating:

Characters and Character Development: 8
Aesthetics and Style: 6
Creativity: 6
Overall Plot: 5
Subplots: 7
Sum: 32/50

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