They’ve got powers. They’ve got baggage. They’ve got eight days to save the world. Welcome to the Umbrella Academy. The Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba series comes to Netflix, introducing the world to the eccentric Richard Hargreeves and his superpowered progeny, who themselves have become less than superpowered adults.
The more Vanya learns about herself, the more isn’t sure how to feel. Put on a pot of coffee and let’s dive in to “Changes.” As always, spoilers within.
1. Mary Poppins: The Snyder Cut
More Twisted Mary Poppins! Our opener this week is a charming (in its own violent way) primer on the relationship Vanya (here known as Number Seven) has had with her robot nannies, taking place presumably before the events that revealed themselves at the end of last week’s episode. Like Jane and Michael Banks, Vanya has had a bit of a contentious relationship with her nannies. Possibly killed a few too. Though I would too if I had their patronizing voices singing to me in French while eating less than appetizing oatmeal.
A little bit of tinkering and the most recent model, Grace, scares Vanya straight into not only eating her oatmeal but licking the bowl. Which of course, has the Umbrella Academy logo on it, leading into our opening titles. Hargreeves is a crappy father, but he’s a pretty savvy marketer and brander. Maybe he should have done that instead of raise kids.
2. “I’m Special”
If there is one thing Harold has done right – – and trust me, he really hasn’t done a lot – – it’s telling Vanya something that no one has told her all her life: that she is special, and that he loves her and accepts her just for who she is. Now timing is everything, and maybe telling her right after she gravely injures her sister wasn’t the right time. Particularly when she is still dealing with the shock of the event and the next discovery that her lover also has her father’s journal with all the secrets to these powers. That’s . . . kind of a lot for anyone to have thrown at them simultaneously.
Harold/Leonard thought he had the key to understanding the Umbrella Academy through Vanya and finally being a part of the fraternity he wanted. He was so close.
But it seems no one truly understands Vanya, not even herself.
Farewell, Harold/Leonard. Your only redeeming grace was in death, as Five discovers that your missing eye is the perfect fit for The Eye That Is The Key To the Apocalypse, meaning that the Academy has stopped the end of days. Problem solved! Yay! (Maybe?)
Except . . . I don’t think the family is safe from Vanya now. She was mad at Harold but I figure she’s going to be madder still at the rest of her family when she finds them.
3. Takes One To Know One
In This Week in Klaus(TM), our favorite party boy/Vietnam veteran has the chutzpah to tell Five what viewers started to suspect: Five has an addiction of his own, to the apocalypse. Many recaps of the show (myself included) have suspected that Five’s visions of end times are a manifestation of some sort of mental illness, perhaps a PTSD from his time at the Commission. He’s finding it hard to relax and accept that maybe things will be okay now that Harold Jenkins has been reunited with his glass eye in the afterlife. (Though I am sure the margaritas with Dolores are helping.)
My partner, who has been watching this show in parallel with me (we don’t watch it together owing to my recap schedule), has lamented how we haven’t seen as much superhero’ing as he would have liked. For him, he wants less angst, more heroics. And I agree – – seeing the kids in action as the Academy earlier in the season was certainly a joy, and I want more of that in Season 2. (Yes, the Hargreeves family will be back for Round 2!) I argue that scenes like this show the kids’ true superpower: the ability to stand up to the status quo, to speak truth in the face of the sheer confusion of their upbringing. You see this manifest beautifully in Klaus and Luther throughout the back half of this season, but even Five’s gotten in on the speaking truth to power a few times (including this episode).Continued below
That’s a more valuable superpower than super strength or talking to the dead.
4. A Cha Cha Scorned
This episode gives us a a good ol’ fashioned Dynasty Carrington wives catfight in the way they only know how. The work wife (Cha Cha) meets the current paramour (Agnes) and all hell breaks loose. We even get a lilypond of sorts with the heart shaped bathtub in their bed and breakfast, though the dunking there is more with intent to kill rather than ruin a good feathered hairdo.
It’s the reformed Hazel to the rescue of his love, taking down his former partner set to Lesley Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” which provides a cheery dissonant juxtaposition to the punching and throwing and dangling innocent people to their deaths. Once again, the music is the secondary star of this show.
And don’t worry, Agnes ends up okay in the end. Her savior is The Handler, who’s just a little pissed off with her employees and what they’ve been doing on and off the clock. Someone’s expense report isn’t getting approved!
5. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Vanya?
Well, for the Hargreeves siblings, that’s by locking her back in the isolation chamber of her childhood, once they find out from Pogo (via a mute Allison, who survived her sister’s attack but without her vocal cords) of their father’s last secret. (Once again, Pogo turning out to be an asshole.) The kids remain divided on this decision, with Allison and Klaus showing compassion for their sister and Diego and Luther going the zero tolerance route. Luther throws his elder sibling weight around and wins the argument, but with disastrous consequences.
Because locking up the Hargreeves child whose powers were so out of control she had to be drugged and manipulated to keep them at bay, powers she is just discovering while in a state of extreme sorrow and stress, is a really good idea. Way to go on those leadership skills, Luther.
Remember when I said earlier I didn’t think Vanya’s family was safe from her? This is why. She’s mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore. And given our season finale is titled “The White Violin,” which the Internet has told me is Vanya’s superhero code name, our musician is going to be letting it all hang out.
Maybe that apocalypse hasn’t been totally saved after all . . .
– Vanya’s conversation with her younger self has me thinking she knew more about her abilities than she is leading the audience to believe.
– As part of his reformation, Hazel offers his services to the Academy to help stop the apocalypse, but upon discovering that is no longer needed, turns in his company firearms. One of those firearms killed Eudora Patch, so he’s essentially cleared Diego of those charges.
Lines of the Night:
Klaus: “You just Patrick Swayze’d me!”
Five: “Do you have my sister? If not, would you like a margarita?”
We’ll see you next week for the season finale, “The White Violin,” and let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments!