My first attempt to watch Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” ended in failure quickly. I just didn’t get it, or get into it. I was told that it was a superhero show, and what I watched of that first episode didn’t give me any real insight into the characters’ superpowers. I think it was titled “We Only See Each Other At Weddings and Funerals” or some version of that. The event that brings them together was a funeral — that of their adoptive father.
I think I turned it off before it was past the halfway point.
The second time I made it through the entire episode. Then the beginning sequence of a girl giving birth in a swimming pool in Russia set up the strangeness of the entire show. The thing was, she wasn’t pregnant when she dove into the pool. I then met Reginald Hargreeves, a wealthy and eccentric scientist and businessman, who I was told endeavored to collect “as many of the 43 (? or what it 46?) children born under similar circumstances” as he could, and that he got seven of them.
We see seven nannies pushing seven purambulators along the street, following Sir Reggie, then entering a large house in the center of a city. I took it to be New York City, but am I confident in that location? I am not.
As I watched the show, I found out that Luther, AKA #1, was on the moon when Sir Reggie died. Luther, a huge, strong man, receives the news and immediately makes plans his return to Earth. What’s he doing on the moon? No clue at this point. One by one, the seven pseudo-siblings return. #2 is Diego, and we learn that he can control the trajectory of knives. Can he do more? No clue.
#3 is Allison, and we eventually learn that her power is influencing people by saying “I heard a rumor…” and following it with her wish. What she wishes for happens. Again, how can she use this power? It does seem like a useful superpower. But we are led to assume that it is limited to the people in her general vicinity. Is this the case? No clue.
#4 is Klaus, and he seems to be comic relief at this point. Drunk, high, or both, Klaus is irreverent and willing to say stuff that the others won’t say, whether it’s for shock value or for something else, I don’t know. We also don’t have a clue what is power is.
#5 is — well, he’s not present. And this is part of where I messed up the first time. Because by the end of the episode, we DO meet Five, who goes only by his number designation. No name. He’s “Five.” And his power is…well, best I leave that for viewers to see for themselves. And I didn’t know that. Didn’t see Five on my first viewing.
#6 is also not present. His name is Ben, and he’s dead. We do meet him, however, and it’s related to Klaus. What was Ben’s power? No idea. Not yet, anyway.
#7 is Vanya. Vanya, we learn, has NO powers. She plays violin for the local symphony, and she wrote a tell-all book about the Umbrella Academy about their childhood and being raised by Reginald Hargreeves.
We also meet the household staff. Mom looks perfectly normal, until it’s revealed that she’s actually a robot! And the chief of staff, or whatever the title is, is an intelligent chimpanzee who speaks with a refined somewhat English accent, named Pogo.
Interesting cast of characters, no? And there are more coming! The Umbrella Academy ends up being a multiverse story, a time travel story, an alternate reality story. If and when I write more about the show, I will be doing spoilers. (I don’t think anything in this post is a major spoiler, yes, I spoil some of the powers and I spoil the fact that time travel plays a role in the series over its 3 seasons, but I dont give any specifics.) I want to dig into some of those aspects of the show deeper, because there are paradoxes aplenty, and layers of events affecting other events and changing things. And as Season 4 approaches, I want to work out some of these ideas for myself.
So stay tuned if you’re a fan, or if you have no intention of ever seeing the show but want to talk alternate realities as a result of time travel that aren’t related to the MCU.