Entertainment

The Ending of 'The Umbrella Academy' Leaves a Lot of Questions Unanswered

umbrella academy
Netflix

This post contains major spoilers for the end of Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy.

There's a point towards the end of the first season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy when the events of the finale -- meaning, the literal fire-and-brimstone end of the world -- become inevitable. It's not when Vanya (Ellen Page) discovers she has powers, or even when she uses her powers to cut her sister Allison's (Emmy Raver-Lampman) throat, preventing her from spreading one of her "rumors" and stopping Vanya in her tracks. It's when Luther, desperate to contain a threat he has no idea how to control, locks Vanya in the very same soundproof cell their father kept her in while he was figuring out how best to suppress her latent abilities.

Because Vanya, despite every member of her family telling her for her entire life that there is nothing at all interesting about her, is extremely powerful. So uncontrollable that instead of taking up the mantle of father, coach, trainer, or whatever Sir Hargreeves saw himself as, he opted instead to use Allison to make Vanya forget she ever had powers at all, drugging her with some mystery concoction to keep her vapid and malleable. When they were just children.

But, thanks to one Leonard Peabody, a.k.a. Harold Jenkins (John Magaro), whose well-being is protected by The Commission (the time travel cabal Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) work for), the cat is out of the bag, and Vanya, ruined by the revelation that her entire life is, in effect, a lie, and her own siblings worked to perpetuate it, embarks on her inevitable murderous rampage. Turns out, it's a member of the Umbrella Academy who started this whole Apocalypse in the first place.

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Leonard sinking his claws in. | Netflix

At the beginning of the final episode of the season, Vanya explodes out of her hated cell and walks through her home in a daze, her eyes gone silvery-white as her latent powers take hold. Vanya steps down the hallways of the mansion, destroying every room that holds a bad childhood memory (i.e. all of them), and ultimately killing Pogo the chimpanzee butler by impaling him on a wall ornament. When she brings the whole house down, the Academy's robot mother Grace goes down with it. (There is at least hope for her as a machine specifically built to withstand Vanya's attacks.)

Reeling from their sibling's actions, the rest of the Academy hides out in a bowling alley to discuss their next steps. The silenced Allison flat-out refuses to kill Vanya, despite what she did to her, and all five of them notice at the same time that tonight is the night of Vanya's big performance. They escape the bowling alley before they're blown to smithereens by masked goons from The Commission, and head to the Icarus Theatre, where Vanya is already preparing to channel her powers into her violin playing, sending energy blasts across the city. What follows is a battle royale where every member of the Academy finally gets to show off the full extent of their abilities, from Five interdimensionally hip-hopping all over the place to ghost-Ben wielding giant tentacles to knock some heads together.

It's worth mentioning that, in the comics, this isn't exactly how it goes down. Vanya is instead set off by the evil Conductor, a mastermind who learned of her latent abilities and injects her with a serum modified from Hargreeves' own recipe, which transforms her into a crazed killing machine, erasing all empathy from her mind and turning her skin perfectly white. She's rebranded as the White Violin, and plays first seat with the Orchestra Verdammten.

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The remaining Academy members try to figure it out. | Netflix

In the show, the Commission's directive to "protect Harold Jenkins" -- which Five discovers when he snoops around their headquarters -- is because he's the one who has to "activate" Vanya, setting the wheels in motion for the end of the world. Harold Jenkins-Leonard Peabody has spent the entire season targeting Vanya, taking away her drugs and encouraging her to embrace her newfound powers -- not out of any sense of altruism, but because he believes he can control her. He paid the men in the diner parking lot to attack him because he has Hargreeves' journal, and so he knows her powers are activated by her emotions. He isolates Vanya from her family and takes her to a quiet location in the woods, where she can work on honing her new abilities and he can work on getting inside her head. It's a classic manipulative, abusive relationship, and it works, kinda. The final straw was Vanya watching through that tiny sound-proof cell window as her family seemingly betrays her.

As the battle in the Icarus Theatre reaches its climax, every member of the Academy is taken out except Allison, whose job the entire time was to be the final one to subdue her sister if the others failed. She points a gun at the back of Vanya's head, but instead of shooting her in the skull, she shoots the gun right next to Vanya's ear, throwing off her momentum and temporarily deafening her. Vanya's accumulated energy shoots way up into the sky, blasting a giant hole in the surface of the Moon. All seems well, until chunks of the Moon come crashing down to Earth, and the Academy realizes the one thing they were trying to prevent had just happened. Harnessing the last reserves of his strength, Five transports the entire Academy, including the unconscious Vanya, back in time to some unknown decade.

Hopefully this means that they can fix things a second time around. The final episode also reveals that Hargreeves is actually an alien from a dying planet, who released DNA from his people into space, following it to Earth, where it caused those 43 women to spontaneously give birth. Hargreeves managed to collect seven of "his" children, but are there more out there? Can the Academy convince Vanya to give up her villainous ways? Will Hazel ever get his happy ending? When you've got this many people with weird abilities working together, anything is possible.

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.