Major spoilers ahead for The Umbrella Academy season three.
By all accounts, the members of the Umbrella Academy have been pretty busy. The superhero siblings stopped two apocalypses, one in 2019 (season one) and one in 1963 (season two), only to return to 2019 and discover that not only did the Umbrella Academy not exist, because Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven different super-powered children (including a much more surly version of their dead brother Ben) and named them the Sparrow Academy, but that the Hargreeves we know — Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Five, and Viktor — were never even born.
Season three of the Netflix series follows members of the Hargreeves family as they deal with the fallout of existing in a timeline in which they are not supposed to — a paradox that begins with, yes, yet a third apocalyptic event, this one known as the kugelblitz. It threatens to end not just their world but all of space and time. It’s the worst one yet! After some fighting and dancing, a wedding and some murder, Reginald Hargreeves tricks his kids (by killing Luther and using his death as a rallying point) into entering a pocket reality where he plans to use their life forces to power a machine that will allow him to reset the universe. He’s thwarted in his quest to press that button by Allison, who slices his head open rather than watch her siblings die in front of her, even if old Reg had promised to get her back to her husband and daughter. And yet Allison can’t resist the temptation to hit reset.
Once she does, she finds herself back with Ray and Claire. Her siblings find themselves in a universe that has clearly been saved — one where Luther is alive (and not part-ape!), Reginald has only grown in power (and been reunited with his wife), and, in the biggest twist of all, none of them has super powers anymore. The Hargreeves siblings may be cool with simply accepting this new reality, but the rest of us have some follow-up questions. Specifically, these seven.
What are the ramifications of the universe reset for the Hargreeves siblings?
Oh yes, we’re starting with the big one. There’s no time to mess around! To be honest, this section could be a list of questions that exist within that general question, because by having Reggie and Allison reset the universe, all bets are off. Anything can happen next, and that is both exciting and terrifying. There are, of course, some major emotional implications that stem from the Hargreeves children no longer having their super powers: What do their lives look like without them? Are they better off? Will some of them love being free from those shackles while others feel lost without their identities?
But there are also questions about the nitty-gritty details — the rules of this new universe. Since it seems as though Reggie was designing this new universe (all that button-pushing inside the machine had to be for something, right?) as he saw fit and as a way to resurrect his dead wife, Abigail, why did he change some things and not others? Now Luther is alive and no longer part-ape, but Five is still a 58-year-old man in a teenager’s body. It’s not the Umbrella version of Ben who comes out of the Hotel Oblivion but Sparrow Ben. And speaking of Sparrows: Where is Sloane? She doesn’t get off the elevator, even though she was there with them.
Was all of this part of Reginald’s plan, or are some of the elements of this new reality consequences of Reggie not being able to finish what he started since, you know, Allison split his head in two? Furthermore, if this new universe didn’t turn out exactly as Reggie had hoped, will that spell trouble for the Hargreeves siblings down the road? See what I mean about all the questions within that one big question? The sheer amount of things left unexplained as the Hargreeveses go their separate ways makes me feel like it was my brain that was split in two, you know? Just, like, without all the green alien goo.
Where is Allison exactly?
Oh, Allison. She went to some deep, dark places this season after she left the love of her life, Ray, back in 1963 so that she could return to her daughter, Claire, in 2019 — only to discover that Claire doesn’t exist anymore. She stews in all of that pain and anger for a while until it leads her to make a deal with Reginald, in which she’ll help him get her siblings on board with his plan and he’ll make sure she’s reunited with Claire and Ray. Watching all of her siblings being killed to power Reggie’s machine proves too much, so she kills him — but the temptation of getting her family back is too strong, and she ends up hitting that big red reset button anyway. Immediately, we see her return to her old house, where both her daughter from the original 2019 timeline and her husband from 1963 are waiting for her.
If you’re like, Hmm, something seems fishy about that, I’d like to point out that while all of her siblings step out into the new universe looking cleaned up and spiffy, Allison looks as banged up as she did when we last saw her slicing and dicing her dad’s head. Something strange is going on here. Will Allison’s fate be a “careful what you wish for” situation?
What is the Jennifer Incident?
The Umbrella Academy has always been a bit vague on details as to how Original Ben died when he was a teenager. Up until this point, we knew that he died on a mission and that it caused the unraveling of the Umbrella Academy. In season three, however, the mission gets a name: the Jennifer Incident. Both Luther and Klaus refer to it by this name, so you know the creative team behind the show wanted to make sure you heard it. Still, that’s all we get — a name.
Where it really gets interesting is the moment in Episode 7, “Auf Wiedersehen,” when Viktor hides out in Sparrow Ben’s bedroom and finds sketches of a woman and they all have the name “Jennifer” written on them. Suffice it to say that this Jennifer person must be important to Ben in both timelines. Did Umbrella Ben die trying to save her? There are grumblings of Sparrow Ben having had a chance to become Number One and blowing it — was that because of his “Jennifer Incident”? Jennifer, show yourself!
Would someone like to give us details on that whole Five being the founder of the Commission thing?
When Five and Lila arrive at a desolate, destroyed version of the Commission looking for answers about what to do when a Grandfather Paradox occurs, all they find is a book of protocols. From that, they learn that in the (unlikely, it says, which is just so cute) case of a Grandfather Paradox, the Founder should immediately head to the Operations Bunker for safety. Five and Lila find that bunker and, it’s true, the Founder is inside of it. The Founder just so happens to be a 100-year-old version of Five, who is being kept alive in some sort of hyperbaric chamber. He lives long enough to give our Five a cryptic message about not saving the world but never gets around to explaining how, why, or when he founded the Commission. It’s very rude!
On the surface, the reveal is hilarious, since for three seasons now, Five has been trying to get out of and destroy the Commission — only to discover he created it. It’s a wild twist, and it gives us Five’s perfect summation of his current existential crisis by way of this line: “It turns out I die a one-armed nightmare inside a bureaucratic hellscape of my own making.” The reveal adds to our ever-growing list of questions about the Commission and Five’s fate. One could argue that with this universe reset, maybe this time around Five isn’t the Founder, but hopefully The Umbrella Academy won’t let itself off the hook that easily.
What does that finale’s mid-credits scene mean?
The final scene of the season occurs mid-credits, and it is some version of Ben reading a book on the subway in Seoul while wearing a suit and glasses, hair perfectly coiffed. He smiles to himself. He seems different, lighter. If I had written this immediately after watching this scene the first time, I would’ve 100 percent bet money on that being the original Umbrella Ben signifying that, somehow, there are two versions of Ben in this new universe (since Sparrow Ben was alive and well and still an asshole when the group came out of the elevator into the courtyard after the reset). I would’ve lost all of my money. In a post-premiere interview with Men’s Health, series showrunner Steve Blackman removed at least part of the mystery when he said, definitively, that the Ben in this scene “is the Ben from the Sparrow timeline. It is the Ben you’ve seen all season long.” As for what exactly Sparrow Ben is doing in Seoul, why he has a new getup, and how long after the events of the finale the scene takes place, all of that remains up in the air. Did our lonely, sad boy find his family? Or is he there for more nefarious and/or douchey reasons?
Is Stan okay?!
The last we saw of the kid Lila borrowed to test whether Diego was “father material” before telling him that she’s pregnant, he was being swallowed up by the kugelblitz. With the universe reset, one has to assume this rascal with the oozy ear from 1989 is totally fine, but could we get a visual confirmation? Maybe an adult Stanley should show up, Slim Jims in hand, and bump into Diego and Lila in the present day — just to ease everyone’s minds.
Will I ever stop watching that “Footloose” dance battle?
God, I hope not.