By Stephen Clark
The Umbrella Academy returns! After a brush with armageddon, the family time hops to the past to try to stop it again. Pitching the idea of “we screwed it up the first time we time traveled to so we’re doing it again for season 2” is a BOLD decision to make. But, as of this episode, it’s paying off well.
The Hargreeves siblings joined hands at the end of the last season and poofed away as a chunk of the moon hit the Earth. Moving that many people in time isn’t something that Five has ever done before and we see each of them get deposited in a different time in the 1960’s, all alone, save for Klaus, who’s joined by ghost Ben and Luther, who shares a tearful cry in the rain with a homeless man in the alley he’s dropped in.
Five is deposited last in time, just before this season’s apocalypse. We see the team in full control of their powers, collectively fighting off a Soviet invasion of Dallas. Correlation isn’t causation but I do want to point out that cataclysms seem to follow the Hargreeves siblings wherever and whenever they go. Hazel, the sweet donut-lady-loving time agent from the first season, appears and offers Five a briefcase and a chance to stop this fresh new end of the world and we reset the “just a few days to stop it all” clock.
After a brush with white haired bad guys with guns (if pop culture has taught me anything, never trust anyone who looks like Anderson Cooper. They probably have a twin and they’re out to kill you), Five escapes without the briefcase Hazel gave him before being killed and meets a conspiracy theorist who’s been witness to the arrival of the siblings over the years. He provides Five, who he believes is an alien, with the first clue to get the band back together with a mugshot newspaper clipping of Diego.
Diego’s been stuck in a mental institution after attempting to take out Lee Harvey Oswald and prevent the JFK assassination. He does seem to be making friends, though, and that’s a nice change for him. Five tracks him down but, after a conversation where Diego refuses to help save the world without first saving JFK, seems to decide that Diego might not be the right piece of the puzzle to start with and leaves him to his padded room.
Vanya, fresh off having been the instrument (I swear that isn’t a violin pun) of the Earth’s destruction, has been taken in by a family who accidentally hit her with their car as she ran out of the alley she was deposited in by the time portal. She’s helping care for a boy who doesn’t speak and she has no memory of what happened before she walked out of the alley. She seems happy with things but still has the self-deprecating streak that her adoptive father instilled in her through his years of intentional neglect.
Ghost Ben and a gussied up cult-leader-lookin’ Klaus are stranded on their way back to Dallas after having spent some time in San Francisco. Ben wants to go back to finish up something that he feels he needs to do but Klaus is dragging him along, what with Ben not having a body of his own. The two brothers are on the outs and, in this middle of nowhere town, Klaus tries to use Ben’s ghostly abilities to cheat in a bar poker game. But Ben isn’t over Klaus’ dickish behavior and tricks him into losing the card game. Klaus sprints from the bar, stealing the keys to a truck, narrowly getting back on the road to Dallas.
Allison, it turns out, has also made new relationships in her time in the 60’s and has gotten married to a kind man who has a lot of hope invested in the possible social changes that JFK might usher in. With her knowledge of the future, Allison is trying to temper those hopes in the could-be-dead-soon president.
Luther is far from his days living on the moon as Spaceboy and looking out for space invaders. He’s fighting in an underground boxing ring of some sort, possibly under the thumb of less-than savory types. He wins his fight handily and immediately hands over a sizable amount of money to the apparent leader of this group and leaves with them.
While planning a peaceful sit-in protest in the days leading up to JFK’s arrival in Dallas, Allison and several other Black people in the area are interrupted by a racist businessman in the area who doesn’t like the notion of colored people meeting up in the area. He attempts to “911 Karen” Allison’s husband by shoving his foot in the door as the door is closed after a plenty peaceful conversation. He asserts that this amounts to assault and raises his hand to Allison’s husband but Allison catches his hand and shows him what assault (in this case self-defense) looks like, shoving him unceremoniously out of the doorway. The businessman clearly isn’t going to let this be the last of things.
Back with her new adoptive family, Vanya is up late at night and catches Sissy, the mother of the house, smoking in the kitchen. The two share a cigarette outside and Sissy talks about another of the time’s societal chains: sexism. She’s keeping a nest egg for the time when she either has to escape her marriage, should it become unlivable, or that her husband dies and she’s forced to make ends meet in a world of so little opportunity for women. Sissy’s aspirations to be a Neiman Marcus counter girl is indicative of a time where settling for your situation being anything less than bad was sometimes the most you could hope for.
Diego awakes from sedation after his conversation with Five in a solitary confinement room. He escapes the room just before the Anderson Cooper squad arrives at the mental institution, presumably there to kill him after failing to take out Five. Diego is aided by the friend he made during his time there who seems plenty capable to take care of herself, helping him to take out the different security people in the facility who try to stop them leaving. After a lot of shooting by Anderson and the Coopers, the pair ride off into the night.
In a nightclub, Luther is being treated after his fight by the man who he gave the money to after his fight, who we learn is none other than Jack Ruby, the man who would shoot Lee Harvey Oswald after the assasination of JFK. Worlds are coming together and Jack Ruby is being given a drunken pitch by Sissy’s husband while Five sits at the front of the club, watching a dancer.
During a heartfelt plea of familial understanding from Five, we’re shown snippets of the separated family members, now spread across Dallas. Klaus has been arrested for the theft of the truck, Diego is slinking around with his escape buddy, Allison is snuggling with her husband and Vanya is enjoying peace with someone who truly values her friendship. Five implores Luther to help him save the world because he has absolutely no idea how to stop the events he saw in the future. But Luther is done with it, simply saying “I don’t give us a shit” and walking away.