The Umbrella Academy season 2 ending explained

(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 2. Turn back now if you want to avoid major spoilers for the Netflix series...

The Umbrella Academy season 2 went out with a bang! The Hargreeves siblings were able to prevent another apocalypse of their own design on planet Earth. They weren’t so lucky at the end of season 1 when Vanya accidentally destroyed the moon and ensured the world’s demise. Luckily, Five was able to transport them back in time to the '60s to survive another day, though his temperamental control of powers meant each sibling landed in the same spot in Dallas, Texas, at different time stamps from 1960 to 1963.

The season saw Five round up his adoptive brothers and sisters before their interference in the era caused a Nuclear holocaust, but that wasn’t without its struggles as romances, racism, assassins, and a coup orchestrated by The Handler at the Temps Commission continually threw spanners into the works. 

Not to mention a run-in with Sir Reginald Hargreeves well before he had conceived of The Umbrella Academy, or even the idea of joining the institution of parenthood,  but rather while he was helping a conspiratorial organisation in exchange for secret access to work on the moon. Of course, as it turned out, Sir Reginald did not take kindly to the organisation breaking its promise and not killing JFK, and so he revealed himself to be – or at least what appeared to be – an alien as he murdered every last one of them. That certainly explains a lot about his ofttimes inhumane treatment of his adoptive children. Speaking of...

The final episode opens with a flashback, or forward in this case, to 2006 at Ben’s funeral where Sir Reginald gathers the children round to blame them for their sibling’s death. 

“Individuals who have the strength to pull together against insurmountable odds, to face adversity with unblinking courage and not to hesitate to sacrifice themselves for another,” he says. “None of you are such people. The Umbrella Academy has failed one of its own. Hold onto this feeling children. Let it fester in your hearts so there is never a next time.” 

The scene identifies why Diego developed such a hero complex and need for his dear old daddy's approval, but also why Klaus carries so much guilt. Teenage Klaus conjures Ben’s ghost and persuades him to stick around and “not go into the light,” but as the action returns to the ‘60s, we learn that the last thing Ben said to Vanya was to let Klaus know that it wasn’t Klaus's fault that he stayed so long – it was that “he was too scared” to pass on. Klaus finally gets some closure and ghost Ben’s journey comes to an end. However, that’s not the last we’re going to see of the Number Six. 

Towards the end of the final episode, Five is able to save his siblings’ lives after they were all gunned down by The Handler by enacting the advice given to him by Sir Reginald earlier in the season. He travels back in time by seconds and is able to steal her gun just before she opens fire. The Handler, though, does not survive the last surviving Swede’s machine gun.

That leaves Lila, struggling with the truth about her adoptive mother’s deception and that she is also one of the forty-three children who were all born on the same day in 1989. Lila escapes with a briefcase, thanks to Diego tackling Luther before he was able to stop her. Diego’s in love, what’re you gonna do?

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Commission, now completely void of agents after Vanya killed them all, is under new management. Herb, who helped Diego access The Infinite Switchboard to stop Vanya blowing up the FBI and triggering the apocalypse, has been voted acting chairperson and, for now, it looks like things will be less corrupt within the organisation. 

Herb gives Five permission to use a briefcase to return the Hargreeves to their time period, and after they all say goodbye to the people they became close to in the ‘60s, the five of them go back to the future. They arrive on April 2, 2019, the day after what was meant to be the apocalypse, but with The Umbrella Academy still very much intact. It seems the disaster never happened. However, the siblings’ celebrations are shortlived when they are greeted by the still-living Sir Reginald, and a very much alive Ben along with several hidden students, who informs the Hargreeves that he has been waiting for them and that they are, actually, standing in The Sparrow Academy.

Clearly, the siblings’ adventures in the past have caused a ripple effect in the timeline and made monumental changes to their present-day, so time travel, especially the show’s rules concerning it, might be explored in season 2. Right now, though, the cast members couldn’t tell you what they are.

“On set, we're always like, ‘Hang on. Well, if we did that, then how can we do that? And why are we not doing that now? And if I'm doing that, how do I know that?’” Tom Hopper tells GamesRadar+. “Honestly, I feel bad for our showrunner Steve Blankman because we bombard him with questions about time travel.”

“There isn’t a rulebook,” Robert Sheehan adds. “It goes fairly fast and loose with interesting story turns that can be brought around and actually there’s a fair whack at the morals or at least the impression, in the second series, of time travel.”

There are plenty of time travel rulebooks The Umbrella Academy could have subscribed to – the storylines certainly nod to aspects of predestined, displaced, and tapestry timeline theories – but for now, we can speculate that Sir Reginald and Ben won’t be the only blasts from the past the siblings will be faced with in season 2.

(Image credit: Netflix)

A finale montage shows Harlan exhibiting telekinetic powers as he escapes to New Mexico with his mother Sissy, the Swede accepting a ride from Klaus’ former cult and Alison’s husband Raymond reading her farewell letter. Any one of these characters could still be alive 56 years later, not to mention Lila who is no doubt going to be making an impression in season 3. 

And the fact that we don’t see the faces of the five Sparrow Academy members looking down on the Hargreeves at the very end of the episode, could mean that some of the other 36 children born on October 1st, 1989, were taken in by Sir Reginald. 

Fans wanting a firmer hint of what is to come may want to look to Hotel Oblivion, the third graphic novel in the series on which The Umbrella Academy is based, as Blackman has used elements from the previous two, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, for Seasons 1 and 2, respectively. But as Hopper and Sheehan point out, one shouldn’t totally expect the storylines from the page to be replicated perfectly on screen.

“It's great to have that source material to just influence where we could go, what we could do,” Hopper says. “As you can see from the first two seasons, there are influences from the comic but it also allows us to deviate from that structure a little bit. I love seeing where Steve Blackman's mind can go past the comics, how broad he can take it, and what he can put these characters through, ultimately."

“The graphic novels are pure sort of comic escapism,” Sheehan continues. “There's oodles of time travel and powers, it’s very unearthly. Whereas I think, Steve's intuition is always to bring it back and couch it and make the journeys more human.”

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Freelance writer

Hanna Flint is a freelance film and TV critic who has bylines at GamesRadar+, Total Film magazine, Variety, BBC Culture, The Guardian, British GQ, IGN, Yahoo Movies, and so many other publications. Hanna has also appeared as a critic and commentator on Sky News, Sky Cinema, BBC World Service, and BBC Radio 5 Live, and can be frequently found as a Q&A host at MTV UK, BFI, and BAFTA. When Hanna isn't writing reviews, interviews, and long-form features about the latest film and TV releases, she specializes in topics concerning representation and diversity.