Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Umbrella Academy season 2.
There’s an interesting shift halfway through season 2 of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy. Suddenly, instead of constantly rolling your eyes at Diego (David Castañeda), aka Number Two, you’re suddenly... rooting for him? Out of all the Hargreeves siblings, he’s the one who really comes into the season with guns, er, knives blazing ready to take down anyone, and anything, standing in his way. By by the end of episode 10, gone is the angry, vengeful Diego and instead, he’s got a heart that’s grown two sizes.
Diego starts the season off on a different foot than the rest of his siblings. While everyone else spends their time trying to figure out where they are and how to survive in the 1960s, Diego decides he’s going to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As soon as he arrives in 1963 he happens to see Kennedy on television and clearly gets an idea in his head. Because he's always trying to show that he’s a hero, and just as good as his brother Luther (Tom Hopper), aka Number One, Diego seizes this JFK "opportunity."
Along the way, though, Diego meets Lila (Ritu Arya). He thinks their meeting is by accident, but Lila’s actually on a mission of her own — to get close to the Hargreeves children, on orders from her mother The Handler (Kate Walsh). Weird circumstances have brought these two together, but it quickly becomes apparent that they both need the other, though they don’t say it outright. Diego and Lila constantly struggle with making their respective adoptive parents proud and feel as if they’ll never be good enough. Diego lives in the shadow of Luther, as well as those of his other siblings; while Lila is unsure if she even means anything to The Handler.
The two never actually discuss their shared inner turmoil and troubling childhood, but slowly a lot of it comes out. As Arya told Entertainment Weekly, “Even though subconsciously [Lila] thinks she’s being fake, actually a lot of truth is coming out to him. So then he becomes this person that she gets feelings for accidentally because of that reason. It’s so much easier to lie from what you know, and she accidentally connects with him.”
His siblings all had someone to turn to — Luther had Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan) had Ben (Justin H. Min), Vanya (Ellen Page) had her inner thoughts and resentment. Diego, however, never had someone on his side. With Lila that’s different. They’re not necessarily on the same team (she does literally drug and kidnap him at one point), but they slowly come to realise they’re more alike than they previously thought possible. In the season 2 finale, it’s also revealed that Lila was also born on October 1, 1989, making them semi-siblings and giving them a Luther-Allison vibe ("I think it’s fine. It’s not biological. They’re going to be alright," Arya recently specified to Refinery29). But it's also sad, because we now know that Lila could have been been there for Diego, and vice versa, all along if circumstances were different.
Up until the very end of the second season, Diego is hellbent on trying to save JFK — an effort that proves fruitless. However, the person he really needs to save is himself and he manages to do that with Lila’s indirect help. He realises that there’s more to life than just being a hero in his father’s eyes and as soon as he lets go of that idea he can finally let other people in. For the first time in forever, he's there for his siblings when they need him. He then goes so far as to save Lila, let her get away, and then tell Luther he loves her. The Diego we met back in season 1 wouldn’t do any of that.
Diego goes from only caring about himself to finally caring about everyone else, a move that redeems his past boorish behaviour and makes him someone you actually want to root for. He still might have a tough exterior and a bunch of knives at his disposal, but Diego is now softer, sweeter, and someone you badly want to succeed. Who knew all it would take was a trip to 1963 and an unhealthy obsession with saving JFK?