The more things change, the more they stay the same. The 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.
And that world of Dallas 1963 is right on the cusp of doomsday. Vanya’s powers have been let loose, and Five and Old Five are bickering about how to restore the timeline without going homicidal. We’re in the homestretch so between this episode and next, we have to resolve things. Even though there’s a lot to unpack and we could have “743” thoughts about this whole affair, we’ll stick to just five. As always, spoilers within.
Please note that this episode contains sequences with strobe lights that may be disturbing to some viewers.
1. A Brother’s Love
In the darkest hour, the quiet one comes to save the day: Ben. Unlike his siblings, he’s able to breach Vanya’s powers and tap right into her inner self, trapped in (appropriately) a large white violin, finally remembering everything about herself and her powers – – and feeling heartbroken that history repeats itself with her again causing the apocalypse.
The weapon that saves the day? Love. The love, respect, and understanding that Vanya craved all through her life, that she never received from either Reginald or (as a result of his behaviors) her siblings. He helps Vanya to understand that her current situation was not her fault, that she was a creation of circumstance.
I admit, it’s cheesy and rather melodramatic for a show that likes to subvert the superhero trope, to fall back on the whole “love as the great savior” idea. I But it gives Ben (and Justin Min) a chance to be the hero, after sitting on the sidelines for so long. If last season put the spotlight on Allison, Klaus, Vanya, and Luther the most, season 2 is letting the Hargreeves that fly a little more under the radar (Diego, Ben) time to shine.
What I and I’m sure all of you want to know is this: what were Ben’s final words to Klaus that he shared with Vanya as he slipped away from Earth?
2. A Mother’s Love
Just when you think Carl couldn’t plunge any lower, he does, threatening to institutionalize his son, now bonded on some telepathic level with Vanya. And of course, you know not to get between a mother and her child, for the mother perhaps loves the child more than anyone, including the child’s father.
Yes, yes, yes, it’s another dramatic trope – – but this one gets quite turned on its ear. Or chest. Instead of mother protecting son from the beast, son protects mother, deflecting the bullet Carl aims at his wife back to him. And thus ends the brutish, nasty, short, bigoted, and chauvinistic life of Carl. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
But it’s not going to be easy. Sissy’s a bisexual woman in the deeply prejudiced Deep South with an autistic son who now just happens to have superpowers. One threat down, too many more to go.
The “743” of the title refers to a case file at The Commission that Herb (that’s the Danny DeVito lookalike) digs up and delivers to Lila, revealing the truth about her upbringing: her parents died at the hands of The Commission. In particular, at the hands of Five.
And because The Commission acts with purpose at every step, there is perhaps still a deeper secret for us to find out about her.
The Handler tries to twist this around to reaffirm her adoptive daughter’s loyalties, telling her that because Diego and Five are from the same family, Diego has loyalty to his family — which means in turn he will eventually turn on Lila. Little does The Handler know just how dysfunctional the Hargreeves clan is. And how much of a rogue operator Diego is.
4. If I Had the Chance I’d Ask the World to Dance
With Gerard Way’s musical background, a highlight of this show has been its playlist for its diversity and pairings of music and action. Sometimes they’re moving (Adele’s “Hello” in Swedish during a Viking funeral) and sometimes they’re ironic (Backstreet Boys during a fight scene). This episode proves no exception, scoring a fight between Old Five and Five to the ever-so-appropriate Billy Idol hit “Dancing With Myself.”Continued below
So who wins? Five prevails (with a little help from Luther) and sends Old Five to 2019 with the correct calculations as he promised but there is some collateral damage: the treasured briefcase. If group projects suck, group projects with yourself under paradox psychosis are even worse.
5. The Grassy Knoll
And there it is: the gunman on the grassy knoll that Diego is so sure is Reginald. Except . . . it’s not. Oops.
History plays out as it should, with Kennedy cuts down by an assassin’s bullet, and the Majestic 12 rejoicing over champagne at JFK’s death. The only one not rejoicing is Reginald, who promised the Twelve powerful technology if they let JFK live. But didn’t we all learn from Spaceballs that evil wins because good is dumb?
Not so fast, says Reggie. Time for an eye for an eye, or however you say it in his alien language (because yes you read that right he is an alien), and the Majestic 12 meet a not-so-majestic end.
Notes Found in Five’s Old Commission Desk (our Afterthoughts section)
- Love or hate The Handler, you have to love her wardrobe, and her outfit to prepare for her first official appearance as head of The Commission is straight Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake? Let them eat cake.
We’ll see you next Tuesday to close out Season 2 with the appropriately titled, “The End of Something,”and let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments!