Five Six Thoughts on The Umbrella Academy‘s “The Swedish Job”

By | August 11th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The Hargreeves kids are still their same weird selves, but the world around them? Even more weirder than before.  Welcome back to the world of the super dysfunctional superheroes of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s The Umbrella Academy. 

Separated by time and space and the lives they’ve created in their new world, the Hargreeves kids are slowly finding their way back to each other, but danger is one small step right behind them. Pull up a plate of meatballs and put some ABBA on the Spotify, it’s time for “The Swedish Job.” As always, spoilers within.

(This episode comes with a trigger warning for police brutality against several Black men and women.)

1. The Church of Klaus

Last season, I made no shame about my love of Klaus, to the point that we had a recurring “This Week in Klaus” segment with the recaps.  He’s been a bit absent from these first two episodes but the opening sequence shows us how his following came to be, thanks to a wealthy socialite.  It’s a quick vignette of the rapid growth of his following, culminating in an amazing aerial shot with him at the center and followers fanning out like a big beautiful flower.

But he’s certainly getting restless.  The headaches of fame and fortune.

2.  Child of the Corn

When we last left Vanya she was driving back towards Dallas to find Luther. But someone else is finding her: our Swedish assassins.  Last week they received a communique from The Commission with just her picture, so they want her for some reason, be it their own ends or a means to get to Five. They see why when Vanya comes face to face with one of them and she uses her power to deflect a bullet right in her direction.

Did Vanya know consciously what she was doing, or will this moment trigger even more of her memories of her past life?

We also see later as Five and Vanya exit the cornfield the corn stalks flattened in a circular pattern to reveal an eye. It’s an amazing contrast to the opening scene of Klaus with his followers, only this time more sinister when you consider what Vanya just escaped.  Who is watching them?

3. Reunions! Reunions! Reunions! 

Five and Vanya. Allison and Luther. Allison and Klaus.  Despite all their best efforts to build lives for themselves and away from the trauma of being superpowered beings, they manage to find their way back to each other. The reunion between Klaus and Allison was touching to see, especially since you didn’t see too much of them together the previous season.  Such warmth and respect they radiate for each other.

And then Klaus being Klaus, he has to go and make it weird when he runs into Raymond and calls him his literal brother. Raymond is going to have a LOT of questions (and later on, he certainly does)!

As for Allison and Luther, last season’s will-they-or-won’t-they couple, you can see the heartbreak all over his face when he finds out Allison is married.  He didn’t want anything to do with the old Hargreeves life, but she was that last tenuous link to bring him back.  And now that’s gone, he has no reason to care, allowing himself to get beaten to a pulp in his latest fight.

4. Harlan

From the way Harlan behaves with the record player skipping (his meltdown), I do believe he is on the autism spectrum.  While everyone’s autism is as unique as a fingerprint, there are some commonalities that I notice, as my niece is on the spectrum. The reaction to disruption to routine and normalcy, the outburst, the overload, the meltdown.  The way Sissy works to calm him is certainly something I have seen my sister do to calm my niece.

Although autism first took its modern clinical definition in 1938, it wasn’t really until the late 1960s it was recognized as such, especially in children.  Most likely Harlan was diagnosed with infantile schizophrenia.

It will be interesting to see how the show addresses this topic of the time period, and if Vanya uses any of her modern knowledge to help Sissy understand her son better (and inevitably, what that could do for their budding relationship).

Continued below

5. The Heartbreak of Diego

Well, shit on a shingle. Lila is working for the Commission. Or at least for The Handler as she ends up moving from Diego’s bed to a very lush hotel room and asking “Mom” for room service.  Last season it was the double losses of Grace and Eudora Patch that put up those walls around his heart.  Now that he’s starting to break them down to let Lila in, it turns out she’s making bedfellows with the agency that wants him and his entire family dead.

You have to feel sorry for Diego because he certainly doesn’t deserve any of this.

6. Good Trouble

Luther may claim he’s left the family behind, but it’s Allison who shows this in word and deed, putting herself on the line at a local sit-in and deftly avoiding her husband’s questions about his newfound brothers-in-law.  But in a way, that’s how Allison was last season, more focused on her acting career and her daughter and the world outside of the Umbrella Academy.  This just brings a higher risk as she is putting her life on the line for that good and necessary trouble.  I’m pleased that the show is taking this aspect of the early 1960s head on, and not trying to sanitize or sugarcoat it.  (Hence the trigger warning.) And viewing it in 2020, in the context of George Floyd’s murder and the death of Congressman John Lewis and the Reverend C.T. Vivian reminds us of just what risks these brave Black men and women took for equality in the eyes of the law . . . and a reminder that we’re still very far away from that.

We’ll see you next Tuesday for “The Majestic 12” (which sounds like a movie theater — remember movie theaters?) and let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments!

//TAGS | The Umbrella Academy

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski is your Multiversity social media manager, a librarian by day and a comics geek...well, by day too (and by night). Kate's writing has also been featured at PanelxPanel, Women Write About Comics, and Geeks OUT. She spends her free time spending too much money on Funko POP figures and LEGO, playing with yarn, and rooting for the hapless New York Mets. Follow her on Twitter at @librarian_kate.


  • -->