“What do you mean by, ‘Something was up with Lila?’” Umbrella Academy newbie Ritu Arya asked with a conspiratorial arch to her voice during a recent phone call with Refinery29. The answer — as everyone who has watched season 2 finale “The End of Something” knows — is that Lila is superpowered. Not only is Lila superpowered, but she has one of the most useful abilities in all of Umbrella Academy: Mirroring someone else’s powers right back at them. On top of those revelations, we learn early in Umbrella Academy season 2 that Lila — love interest to the Umbrella Academy’s broodiest member, Diego (David Castañeda) — is also the daughter of campy antagonist The Handler (Kate Walsh).
So, yeah, quite a few things are up with Lila. Despite the daunting task of taking on Umbrella Academy season 2’s most layered new character, Arya still managed to make Lila all her own.
“When the audition came through, I fell in love with Lila. She’s so unpredictable and unhinged and just amazing,” Arya admitted. Those adjectives certainly capture Lila, who gleefully punches a cop, escapes a mental health facility, and shatters a car window all within the 45 minutes of her introductory episode. It is immediately clear in season 2 premiere “Right Back Where We Started” that there is more to Lila than meets the eye. Although her late-in-the-game superpowered backstory might be a shock for even the sharpest viewer.
“I had no idea that she had powers or that she was a ‘sibling’ or that was related to the Handler until after I booked the job,” Arya explains. Instead Arya found out about Lila’s “fun” secrets during production.
While it may not be obvious during first-time viewing, the fifth episode “Valhalla” gives fans their first taste of Lila’s mirroring abilities. The centrepiece of the episode is a fist fight between Lila, a mid-level Commission employee, and Five (Aidan Gallagher), the agency’s former star assassin. Somehow, Lila is able to repeatedly vanish on Five every time he uses his own teleportation powers. That’s because Lila was using her powers the whole time.
“Then you watch it a second time around and you’re like, ‘How did I miss that?” Arya says. “It feels so obvious now.”
While Lila’s past now makes total sense — Lila was stolen by the “power hungry” Handler to ensure her adoptive mum would have an extra powerful “right hand man,” Arya clarifies — it’s her future that is a huge mystery by the end of Umbrella Academy season 2. In the finale, Lila learns that her adoptive mother killed her biological parents with the express purpose of abducting Lila. Then, the Handler is brutally murdered mere feet away from Lila before she has any time to process her “mother’s” betrayal. The last time we see Lila, she has taken the Handler’s fallen briefcase and disappeared out of 1963. Despite the fact that Diego admits he has real feelings for Lila and and his siblings agree she is technically “family” as a fellow superpowered October 1st baby, the Umbrella Academy confidently leaves 1963 without Lila.
“Bless her. She’s not having a good ride, is she?” Arya said, pondering Lila’s great escape. “She’s gone through a lot in not very much time. It’s very hard to process that. Firstly, she’s devastated — it doesn’t matter what she’s just heard about her mum. Your mum is murdered in front of your eyes. I can’t think of anything more horrific. So she just thinks, ‘I need to get the hell out of here.’”
The Handler’s death is doubly painful for Lila, since it marks the second time a parent has been murdered in front of her. Both times, at least one member of the Umbrella Academy was present, if not all six living members. “I think she wants to get away from those guys,” Arya explained. After all, they do bring a lot of death to her life. “Yeah, and a lot of shocking news,” she added.
That’s why, looking forward to a possible Umbrella Academy season 3, Arya isn’t particularly worried about whether her character will reunite with her superpowered frenemies. “As an actress, it’s more about just having a great story and development for my character,” Arya said. “Whether that’s with them or without them, that’s not the point. It’s more: Has she grown? What has she learned? And what does she want?”
Well, does Arya still want to see Lila and Diego together after realizing they very easily could have been Umbrella Academy siblings? “I think it’s fine. It’s not biological. They’re going to be alright,” she teased.