Before The Umbrella Academy reopens, catch up on season 1 with The A.V. Club’s character guide

Before The Umbrella Academy reopens, catch up on season 1 with The A.V. Club’s character guide

Illustration for article titled Before iThe Umbrella Academy /ireopens, catch up on season 1 with iThe A.V. Club’/is character guide
Graphic: Allison Corr, Photo: Netflix

Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy ushered in a new dysfunctional family for viewers to bond with and despair over: the Hargreeves, or, as they’re known to their enigmatic father, Reginald (Colm Feore), Numbers One through Seven. These adopted siblings share the same miraculous birth and birth date, a withholding parent, and superpowers, but they bicker just like every other family. Some members, like Diego and Allison, left the Umbrella Academy to forge their own paths; others, like Klaus and Vanya, had to self-medicate to deal with the emotional wreckage of their upbringing. And then there’s Luther, who only wised up after multiple fruitless years spent guarding the moon.

Steve Blackman, who adapted Gerard Way and Gabriel Bà’s comic book series of the same name, plays up the fraught family dynamic to set his stylish series apart from the plethora of other superhero offerings. The first season opened with most of the living siblings reuniting at their family home for their father’s funeral, which was crashed by their brother Five, whom they thought they’d lost to some freak accident in time travel. Five tells his brothers and sisters they have more pressing matters than closure: The world is ending in a week. As the siblings try to stave off the apocalypse, old wounds are reopened, new wounds are acquired… and the world still ends up exploding. But The Umbrella Academy will get another shot in season two, which premieres July 31 on Netflix. To prepare you for another season of time-traveling and sibling rivalry and bonding, The A.V. Club has put together this roll call for the show’s characters, extraordinary and otherwise.

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2 / 10

Luther Hargreeves (Number One)

Luther Hargreeves (Number One)

Tom Hopper as Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Tom Hopper as Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

When the Hargreeves family first reunites after the death of their father, Luther (Tom Hopper) is the only member of the team who is actually still a member of the team. For one thing, he had been on the moon for several years completing a pointless mission from his father, so he wasn’t around to quit. Plus, he was always more or less their father’s favorite—he was named Number One, after all. Before the events of the first season, Luther was injured on a mission and had to be injected with a serum that also partially gave him the body of a gorilla, a fact that he hid from his siblings due to the romantic feelings he has for Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who (as he is quick to remind everyone) is only his adopted sister. Given his loyalty to superheroic ideals, Luther is also one of the first to get on board with the investigation into the cause of their father’s death and Number Five’s attempts to prevent the coming apocalypse; when it becomes clear that Vanya and her previously unknown powers are to blame, Luther locks her up. This drives Vanya to give in to her destructive abilities and go on a rampage that ends up causing the apocalypse, but by the time moon debris is actually falling on the planet, Luther recognizes how he hurt Vanya and agrees to bring her with as his siblings decide to go back in time and take another swing at saving the world.

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3 / 10

Diego Hargreeves (Number Two)

Diego Hargreeves (Number Two)

David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

As the second-ranked member of the Umbrella Academy, Diego Hargreeves was living in Luther’s shadow long before his brother took on his gargantuan size. His ability to curve the trajectory of anything he throws—mostly, but not exclusively, knives—so that it hits his target made him a valuable part of the team, but Reginald’s obvious preference for Luther left Diego roiling with insecurity for much of his life. After the Umbrella Academy disbanded (following Ben’s death), Diego struck out on his own as a vigilante; based on the snark from his family members and his ex, Detective Eudora Patch (Ashley Madekwe), he hasn’t been terribly effectual. Being back in his childhood home for Reginald’s funeral causes Diego to regress; he struggles to put aside his resentment to work with his siblings to fend off the pending apocalypse, frequently demanding that Luther justify their father’s belief in him. To make matters worse, he has to “decommission” their robot mother Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins), who always shored up his confidence, when the siblings learn of the role she played in Reginald’s death and her diminished faculties. Detective Patch’s murder sends him spiraling out further; Diego becomes more focused on getting revenge than helping his family, but a heart-to-heart with his time-traveling brother snaps him out of it. And by the end of the season, he’s actually working with the rest of his siblings as a team again. It’s not enough to prevent the apocalypse, but they’ll all get another shot at it—this time, from the 1960s.

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4 / 10

Allison Hargreeves (Number Three)

Allison Hargreeves (Number Three)

Emmy Raver-Lampman stars as Allison Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Emmy Raver-Lampman stars as Allison Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

Allison’s power of suggestion, in which she prefaces a command with “I heard a rumor,” let her fight crime without getting her hands as dirty as, say, Diego or Ben. But as the season unfolded, we learned just how selfishly she used those abilities after leaving the Umbrella Academy: Her husband caught her manipulating their daughter with her abilities, which led to her divorce. It’s also implied that Allison “rumored” her way into a highly successful (though now waning) career as an actor, as well as the same marriage that’s now in ruins. She’s clearly made mistakes, but Allison shows more faith in her siblings than most. Being under the same roof again with her adopted brother Luther rekindles a romantic spark, which makes things alternately weird and sweet. And as hurt as she and her brothers are by Vanya’s tell-all book, Allison still tries in earnest to reconnect with her sister. She even warns Vanya about Leonard Peabody, a.k.a. Harold Jenkins, who’s manipulating Vanya to get revenge on the Umbrella Academy. That’s not the only revelation she has to share: Allison also admits she “rumored” Vanya into believing she was “ordinary,” thereby subconsciously suppressing her powers. The confession doesn’t go over well, as an overwrought Vanya lashes out at Allison for lying to her, slashing her vocal cords and leaving her bleeding on the floor. Allison’s rescued by Luther, Diego, and Five, who are willing to kill Vanya to prevent further harm. Though she can’t speak, Allison still holds out hope for her sister in their big confrontation, discharging a weapon to break her concentration after she goes all White Violin on everyone.

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5 / 10

Klaus Hargreeves (Number Four)

Klaus Hargreeves (Number Four)

Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

The black sheep in the family, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) is a drug addict and hedonist, refusing responsibility and his upbringing as a hero. However, his lack of sobriety stems from his powers: Klaus can see and communicate with the spirits of the dead, and sometimes even manifest them in the real world. Drinking and drugging is the only thing that silences the nightmarish voices and ceases the horrific visions, a realization he discovered at 13 years old; he has since rarely been clean long enough for his powers to resurface. The only spirit he can still commune with while intoxicated is his long-dead adopted brother, Ben (Justin H. Min). Shortly after learning about the impending apocalypse from his brother Five, Klaus is kidnapped by Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige), the agents tasked with neutralizing Five to ensure the end of the world proceeds as scheduled. However, when Klaus escapes by stealing their suitcase, he is transports back to the Vietnam War for 10 months, where he cleans up, serves in the military, and falls in love with a man named Dave. When he returns to the present after Dave’s death, he maintains his sobriety in an effort to reconnect with his beloved’s spirit, though his siblings largely refuse to accept that he’s any different. But by the final confrontation, Klaus not only joins the team in their fight to stop Vanya, he manifests Ben’s spirit, unleashing his brother’s ability of summoning eldritch monsters to take down the entire team of soldiers trying to gun them down—just to leap backward in time with the rest of his family right as the world ends.

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6 / 10

The Boy (Number Five)

The Boy (Number Five)

Aidan Gallagher as The Boy in The Umbrella Academy
Aidan Gallagher as The Boy in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

Despite looking like a precocious young man in his cute little jacket and shorts, Number Five is actually the oldest member of the Umbrella Academy team—or at least he is now. When he suddenly appears at the Hargreeves mansion after the death of their father, having not visibly aged since he last saw his siblings as a kid, he’s actually 58 years old and has spent decades living in a post-apocalyptic future (Five has the ability to teleport through space, and if he really concentrates, he can travel through time as well). That dark future is where he met a woman called The Handler (Kate Walsh) who works for an organization called The Commission, which is tasked with making sure historical events happen the way they’re “supposed” to happen. The Handler gives Five a job as a time-traveling assassin, which gradually loses its appeal, and he eventually uses his powers to try and return to his family so he can prevent the apocalypse he saw. He manages to get back, but doing so turns him into a kid, and he proceeds to follow what few clues he has in hopes of finding what destroys the world in 2019. He and his siblings realize too late that “the bomb” is their sister Vanya, and while they fail to stop her from blowing up the moon and killing everything on Earth, Five manages to use his time-travel powers to pull his siblings into the past at the last second.

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7 / 10

Ben Hargreeves (Number Six)

Ben Hargreeves (Number Six)

Justin H. Min as Ben Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Justin H. Min as Ben Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

As a young boy, Ben Hargreeves (Justin H. Min) was able to summon eldritch creatures at will from a portal… in his stomach. But he never seemed that thrilled to be in possession of such a power, which might be why, despite his—we repeat—ability to control tentacled monsters, he was only Number Six in the original team (Reginald, ever the loving chap, ranked his adopted children by usefulness). When the series begins, Ben has been dead for some time, though we don’t know exactly how or when; the fact that he appears as an adult in a great leather jacket to Klaus suggests it happened when he was already an adult. But whether or not it was on a mission, Ben’s death was one of the reasons the Umbrella Academy disbanded, so it clearly weighs on the group—especially Klaus, who, despite having trouble early on communing with any spirits, has had Ben as his psychic friend for a while. Ben has experienced much of what Klaus has been through, even his brother’s time in Vietnam. By the end of season one, they’ve strengthened their bond so much that Klaus now serves as a kind of conduit for Ben’s powers, which is how they’re able to fend off The Commission’s death squad (though the end of the world still comes about). Ben’s is not the most extensive backstory, but promotional art and trailers suggest we’ll get inside of Ben’s head a bit more in season two.

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8 / 10

Vanya Hargreeves (Number Seven)

Vanya Hargreeves (Number Seven)

Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

Despite being one of the seven children taken in by Reginald Hargreeves as part of his plan to train a team of superheroes to save the world, Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) spent her youth being repeatedly told she had no powers, and was therefore less important than the other children. She became a violin virtuoso, trying to find her own way while living in the shadow of her siblings, and even wrote a book about what it was like to be the “normal” one in the family. Unfortunately, her life turned out to be a lie. When Vanya’s new student Leonard Peabody (John Magaro) convinces her that she doesn’t need the medication she’s been taking since childhood, she discovers awe-inspiring abilities: She can transform the sound around her into powerful energy. It turns out, Reginald had suppressed her abilities as a child, and then used young sibling Allison’s power of suggestion to make Vanya forget she ever had them. After killing Leonard when she learns he secretly knew about her abilities all along (and severing Allison’s vocal cords in an impulsive rage), Vanya is imprisoned by her worried family, though she quickly escapes, destroying the mansion in the process. The season ends with everyone confronting Vanya at her violin performance, where a potentially world-destroying beam of energy she creates is diverted into space and hits the moon instead—sending chunks crashing down into earth and destroying the planet anyway. But her brother Number Five uses his time-travel powers to take the now-unconscious Vanya and the rest of the clan into the past, in an effort to save both her and the planet.

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9 / 10

The father, the mother, the assistant, the assassins, and the Handler

The father, the mother, the assistant, the assassins, and the Handler

Top: Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton; bottom left: Kate Walsh; bottom right: Colm Feore
Top: Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton; bottom left: Kate Walsh; bottom right: Colm Feore
Graphic: The A.V. Club; photo credits: Christos Kalohoridis (Netflix

“Eccentric billionaire” doesn’t begin to cover Reginald Hargreeves, a man with his own mysterious origins (Is he an alien? Is he from the future?), who raised superpowered children to be a group of superheroes. His harsh ways resulted in a bunch of pissed-off adults (except Luther). But Reginald really did know his children—at least, well enough to know that only his death would reunite them in time to save the world. Grace or “Mom” made up for their emotionally distant father, but even she was keeping secrets from her children, including her involvement in Reginald’s death as well as developing a real consciousness of her own. She dies twice while still trying to look after the Umbrella Academy. Reginald’s assistant Pogo (Adam Godley) is every bit as committed—and secretive. Though he urges the team to work together again, he keeps a lot of important information to himself until the very end. That’s no justification for Vanya impaling him on some antlers, but this family really needs to work on their communication.

Hazel and Cha-Cha, at the behest of The Handler, travel to the past (or rather, the show’s present) to take out Five and preserve the timeline, which includes the apocalypse. Though they’re both fed up with the bureaucracy and dwindling support of the Commission, only Hazel is disillusioned enough to try to make a new life with Agnes, the doughnut lady (Sheila McCarthy). Their disparate worldviews inspire Hazel and Cha-Cha do what they do best, which is try to kill each other under forged orders from Five. The Handler, knowing that Five can outsmart all of her agents, tries to bring him into the fold and gets a grenade for her troubles. But by the end of the season, Cha-Cha and The Handler appear to be dead, while Hazel and Agnes use one of the time-traveling briefcases to escape just as the wave of destruction hits.

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10 / 10