The Umbrella Academy Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
The impact of Marvel’s exodus from Netflix got a little bit lighter with the debut of the streaming giant’s adaptation of the recent cult classic comic The Umbrella Academy. Co-created by comics veteran Gabriel Bá and longtime My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way introduced the world to the Hargreeves family, one born out of and ultimately fated to return to fragmentation. The product of a mass immaculate conception in 1989, the patchwork siblings, spread to the wind after the disintegration of their teenage superhero squad, were brought back together by tragedy. The uniquely quirky and emotionally engaging Hargreeves children now have to deal with family tensions alongside the imminent end of the world. That’s some triple distilled holiday dinner material.
The ball starts rolling in 1989 when 43 women across the world are mysteriously impregnated and begin going into labor. Dr. Reginald Hargreeves travels the globe in search of these children, offering money to acquire them. He winds up with seven of them and raises them while experimenting and examining them as they develop.
Six of them display superhuman abilities. Luther, Number 1, possess superhuman strength. Diego, Number 2, throws knives with otherworldly accuracy. Allison, Number 3, is able to force anyone to do or believe something by spreading rumors. Klaus, Number 4, possesses telekinetic powers and is able to communicate with the dead. Number 5, who has no name, can teleport. Ben, Number 6, can transform into a monstrous, tentacled beast. Vanya, Number 7, remains completely normal much to the dismay of Reginald.
The years of training finally pay off when the Umbrella Academy use their powers to avert a bank robbery. Reginald watches from a rooftop with Vanya. She expresses her desire to play like the others, but Reginald crushes those hopes by telling her there isn’t anything special about her. Reginald forces the teens to get matching tattoos of the team’s logo on their arm. Vanya watches from the staircase, drawing the logo on her arm in marker.
The Hargreeves’ time as the Umbrella Academy comes to an end as multiple children leave the group, splintering the family. Luther lives in a space trailer overlooking Earth. Diego continues to operate as a vigilante hero. Allison, now an acclaimed actress, walks a red carpet. Klaus is now a drug addict exiting rehab yet again. Number 5 disappeared almost 17 years prior. Ben died while still a teen. Vanya wrote a tell-all autobiography that put the family’s secrets on full display to the masses. None are in communication with one another. Everything changes when they each learn of Reginald’s death, bringing them all back to their childhood home.
Being around each other again opens old wounds, especially between Diego and Vanya. Diego resents her for writing the book, but his ire quickly shifts to Luther when the two discuss the nature of Reginald’s death. Luther believes there to be foul play despite no evidence of such, centering his theory around their father’s missing monocle. Diego doesn’t believe Reginald is worth avenging anyway. He deservedly died alone. Vanya and Pogo, Reginald’s anthropomorphic monkey assistant, discuss Number 5, continuing to hold out hope of his return.
The mood lightens when Luther puts on a Tiffany record that echoes throughout the mansion. Each Hargreeves child dances along in separate rooms until the solo-collective dance party is interrupted by a clap of thunder. They all rush outside as Number 5 returns through a temporal anomaly, looking like he hasn’t aged a day since puberty. Apparently he’d been time traveling this entire time.
The reunited children, Pogo and Mom assemble in the mansion’s courtyard to memorialize Reginald. Pogo’s heartfelt eulogy is followed by more vinegar from Diego. He labels Reginald a monster, pointing to the fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to name his children. His words incite Luther and the two fight until they break the statue of Ben. The act causes Vanya to lash out and everyone returns to the mansion, leaving Reginald’s ashes and Klaus’ cigarette in a neat pile next to the broken statue.
Diego and Klaus leave together soon afterward. The two stop at the harbor so Diego can brood. Klaus speaks to a figure only visible to him as Diego reveals he took Reginald’s monocle. He stares longingly at it before dropping it into the water.
Vanya decides to leave the mansion soon after Number 5 leaves to get a cup of coffee. Pogo comforts Vanya and sees her out the door. She might not believe that her family wants anything to do with her, but Number 5 soon disproves that. He is in Vanya’s apartment, showing signs of an earlier battle with an team of unknown pursuers, when she arrives home. Vanya is the only sibling he can trust with what he learned in the future: there is nothing there. The world will end in eight days without intervention. What’s worse, Number 5 doesn’t know how it happens or how to stop it.
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