The Umbrella Academy Is Back, Here’s What to Remember Before You Binge Season 3

The Umbrella Academy Is Back, Here’s What to Remember Before You Binge Season 3
Gang's all here... except Luther! (Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix)

Born on the same fated day in 1989 to mothers who weren’t pregnant when they woke up that morning — then raised by an eccentric father figure keenly interested in their various superpowers — the Hargreeves siblings have been through a hell of a lot. Season three of The Umbrella Academy arrives on Netflix today to send them on more wild adventures. Are you ready? Keep reading for a quick refresher!

Who are the main characters on The Umbrella Academy?

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

The Hargreeves siblings are the main characters of The Umbrella Academy, which is based on the Dark Horse comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá and is showrun by Steve Blackman. In no particular order, they are: Diego, played by David Castañeda, a self-styled superhero in season one (obsessed with fighting bad guys — season one is set in 2019) and an escaped psychiatric hospital patient in season two (obsessed with stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy — season two is set in the early 1960s). His superpower is the ability to curve the trajectory of knives, bullets, and basically any weapon flying through the air.

Number Five, played by Aiden Gallagher, can teleport and time-travel; in season one, he returns from an accidentally long stint in the post-apocalyptic future, which explains why he still looks like a young teen when his siblings are all 30. While away, he was employed by a group called the Commission (maintainers and policers of the space-time continuum) as an assassin, travelling around eliminating people who threaten the timeline. In season one, a pair of assassins target Five because he’s returned to 2019 to convince his siblings to help him stop the pre-destined apocalypse. The Hargreeves end up not stopping it, but they survive because Five uses his powers to transport the group to the past. In season two, he has a new apocalypse and new Commission headaches to deal with.

Who are the main characters on The Umbrella Academy?

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan) is a recovering drug and alcohol addict (with occasional relapses) turned cult leader who can communicate with the dead, most importantly the deceased Ben Hargreeves (Justin H. Min). Ben perished on a mission when the siblings were kids but occasionally flexes his powers (including manifesting giant tentacles from his body) with Klaus’ help, though during season two he ends up leaving the ghost life behind to fully enter the afterlife. Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is a famous actress when we first meet her in season one and a civil rights activist in season two; her power, which she tries not to deploy, is a form of mind control that begins with her uttering the phrase “I heard a rumour.”

Meanwhile, Viktor Hargreeves (Elliot Page) was raised believing that unlike his siblings, he had no special powers — only to discover he was the most powerful among them, able to transform sound waves into devastating physical force. Viktor’s anger exploded at the end of season one, and his frustration toward his siblings, his father, and the world in general caused the moon to shatter, in turn causing the first apocalypse. In season two, an amnesiac Viktor has to re-learn about his relationships with all the other Hargreeves, as well as the scope of his powers.

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

The hulking Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper) once suffered a near-fatal accident and was saved by an experimental treatment that means he now has the torso of an ape. Prior to season one, he spent four years on the moon conducting “research” for his father, which he later learned served no purpose; in season two, he’s an underground fighter and also works security at a club owned by Jack Ruby. A sensitive guy despite his giant size, he’s also in love with Allison — a feeling that’s mutual but proves perpetually inconvenient to act on for a variety of reasons.

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Mysterious billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopted seven of the 43 children born that fateful 1989 day and founded the Umbrella Academy in his sprawling New York City mansion to study them and train them into being a superhero team. Emotionally cold and even cruel, especially to Viktor, he wasn’t exactly a source of comfort to his family, something we see in season one’s extensive flashbacks. The nurturing was left to the kindly robot Grace, aka Mum (Jordan Claire Robbins), and Pogo (Adam Godley), an intelligent chimpanzee who’s Reginald’s assistant. We meet younger versions (or in Grace’s case, the human woman who inspired her appearance) of all three in season two. In the 1960s, we learn Reginald is part of a group called the Majestic 12 that’s plotting the Kennedy assassination, an event that ties into The Umbrella Academy’s second apocalypse.

Meanwhile, season two introduces us to another one of those 43 kids: Lila Pitts (Ritu Arya), who was raised by the Commission’s devious, flamboyantly stylish Handler (Kate Walsh) after her parents were murdered (by Number Five, while he was working as an assassin for the Commission). Sent on a mission by “Mum” to keep tabs on the Hargreeves, Lila — whose superpower is revealed to be that she can imitate anyone else’s superpowers — has a love-hate relationship with Diego. At the end of season two, Lila learns the truth about her mother’s hand in her tragic past, and manages to escape with one of the Commission’s time-travelling briefcase devices; as The Umbrella Academy’s marketing has made clear, Lila returns for season three.

Who are the new characters on The Umbrella Academy?

Image: NetflixImage: Netflix

In the alternate 2019 the Umbrella Academy finds themselves in at the end of season two, they get a glimpse of what’s to come in season three: the similarly super-powered members of the Sparrow Academy. They are Ben Hargreeves (a different version of the one we’ve come to know and love, but still played by Justin H. Min), Marcus Hargreeves (Justin Cornwell), Fei Hargreeves (Britne Oldford), Alphonso Hargreeves (Jake Epstein), Sloane Hargreeves (Genesis Rodriguez), Jayme Hargreeves (Cazzie David), and Christopher Hargreeves… that floating cube you see in the image above. (These are just the characters we know about already — no doubt there’ll be more introduced as season three progresses.)

What happened in season one of The Umbrella Academy?

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

In 2019, Sir Reginald Hargreeves dies, and the estranged siblings have their first reunion in years — coinciding with the time-travel return of Number Five, who brings with him news of the apocalypse and his scheme to prevent it (as well as those assassins who’ve been instructed to make sure doomsday proceeds as planned, though that all gets very complicated). For the viewer, it’s 10 episodes that introduce us to all the main characters, their variously damaged lives, and their variously fraught relationships with each other. The big conflict arrives when Viktor’s long-dormant powers are awakened and are revealed to be the cause of the apocalypse.

What happened in season two of The Umbrella Academy?

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NetflixPhoto: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

To escape season one’s apocalypse, the siblings time-travel with Number Five, but the plan — like virtually all Umbrella Academy plans — doesn’t go off without a hitch. In this case, the Hargreeves are scattered across the first few years of the 1960s, though all land in Dallas, Texas. Eventually they reuninte. Once again, Number Five comes bearing news of the apocalypse — caused by World War III, which breaks out in the wake of Kennedy’s non-assassination, due to the Hargreeves’ intervention — and once again Commission assassins are dispatched to try and keep them from meddling with the timeline. And once again, the relationships between the siblings aren’t exactly harmonious, though there’s a tiny bit more teamwork and understanding this time around.

Where did we leave off at the end of season two?

Image: NetflixImage: Netflix

Eventually it’s revealed the second apocalypse will be triggered by Viktor (again), who’s tortured after he’s captured by the FBI; his powers flare and cause him to blow up the FBI office where he’s being held. Kennedy escapes assassination, but the Soviet Union is blamed for the explosion, and World War III breaks out. With nukes.

Ghost Ben is able to enter Viktor’s mind and talk him off the ledge to prevent the building’s destruction, but as a result Kennedy is killed. A furious Reginald outs himself as an interdimensional being (by removing his human face to reveal a decidedly alien visage) to the rest of the Majestic 12. Suspected to be terrorists by the U.S. government, the Umbrella Academy regroups for one last confrontation with the Handler (who is killed) and a renewed chance to return to 2019 using one of the Commission’s time-travelling briefcase. However, the 2019 they portal to is… not their 2019. Reginald is still alive and the Sparrow Academy exists in the Umbrella Academy’s place.

What will happen in season three?

Alternate timeline hijinks! Paradox hijinks! Parallel-self hijinks! And… another apocalypse? “Essentially, we’re screwed,” according to Number Five. In other words, classic Umbrella Academy problems, now with several more characters whipping superpowers around.

Netflix also posted the first three minutes of season three — introducing some of those new faces:

Why should you watch The Umbrella Academy?

Image: NetflixImage: Netflix

The previous slides are intended as a quick-and-dirty refresher on seasons one and two, but there’s so much more to this show than superpowers and apocalypses. The Umbrella Academy has plenty of humour, nuance, and wacky weirdness packed into its plot threads — which are, incidentally, incredibly user-friendly. The story beats are easy to follow, and the stakes are too (that ticking clock leading up to doomsday!); it’s the perfect show to enjoy while letting your brain zone out a little. That doesn’t mean it lacks depth (it gets into some decidedly heavy topics, including racism, homophobia, gaslighting, child abuse, and more; its cast across the board is equally convincing in moments both fantastical and dark), but it pushes forward with an upbeat tone even when all seems completely lost. Also: outrageous fight scenes and a soundtrack that packs in a seemingly endless string of toe-tapping (and often surprising) needle drops.

The Umbrella Academy seasons one, two, and three are now streaming on Netflix.

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