Although Netflix’s Umbrella Academy starts on a slow foot — so much moping, so much time — the action ratchets up to 100 by finale “The White Violin.” The final seconds alone are, as star Emmy Raver-Lampman calls them, “the ultimate cliffhanger.” Not only does Vanya (Ellen Page) fully come into her boundless powers, but she ends the world, forcing her siblings to time travel anywhere less dire, leaving them as tweens in the process.
However, that surprise isn’t “White Violin’s” sole jaw-dropper. Instead, the season 1 finale begins with an unexplained massive twist: Hargreeves patriarch Sir Reginald (Colm Feore) “long ago” on what appears to be an alien planet. He has a painful goodbye with a woman suggested to be his romantic partner, opens a jar of glowing orbs, and walks towards a window. That's when viewers realize Reginald is on a strange planet that is sending off multiple spaceships (or missiles, it’s hard to tell).
We’re left asking if Sir Reginald is an alien. The answer seems to be yes — and that shocking reveal has an even bigger effect on the Hargreeves siblings than you may think.
“I buy that he’s an alien,” Raver-Lampman, who plays movie star-superhero-guilty mom Allison Hargreeves, tells Refinery29. “It’s the only way that deep within myself I could understand and justify how he treated [our characters] as children: Because he’s not human.”
Sir Reginald, who is also an alien in the titular graphic novels Umbrella Academy is inspired by, did inflict a shocking amount of abuse on his children, all in the name of his quest to save Earth. From the beginning of “fatherhood,” he gave the Umbrella Academy kids numbers instead of names, all of which corresponded with their eventual perceived usefulness. He trapped an extremely young Klaus (Charles Cameron) in a mausoleum to improve his powers. He locked an even younger Vanya (Alyssa Gervasi) in a cage, drugged her, and made little Allison (Jordana Blake) an accessory to the betrayal. As fans learn in “I Heard A Rumor,” a 4-year-old Allison was forced into “rumoring” her all-powerful sister into believing she was “ordinary.”
“He exploited them and was so driven by the mission that he had, it just makes sense that there isn’t like a tender, understanding, fatherly bone in his body,” Raver-Lampman continues. “And it’s because he is from another world.”
As we see throughout Umbrella Academy season 1, Reginald’s literally alien parenting techniques caused a dark ripple to spread through the Hargreeves home. An obvious issue is the bitter rivalry between Luther (Tom Hopper, Game Of Thrones’ Dickon) and Diego (David Castañeda), which is so intense, the memorial statue to poor, fallen Ben (Justin H. Min) suffers collateral damage. However, the far more insidious problem comes down to the family’s treatment of Vanya. Once Sir Reginald isolated the secretly superpowered girl, the rest of his children followed suit. Upon realizing just how much damage Vanya suffered, Allison, who is estranged from her daughter Claire (Coco Assad), spends much of season 1 trying to heal old wounds.
“I had a line in the show that was like, ‘I couldn’t imagine what I would do if anybody treated Claire like this,’” Allison’s portrayer Raver-Lampman recalls. “She’s seeing the mistakes of her childhood through her daughter’s eyes now.”
While Allion’s bitter custody battle is stopping her from rewriting the terrible parenting of Reginald with her own childrearing, she can try to fix some of those problems with Vanya. “There is another female relationship in her life that she has never really had, and she wants to make amends,” Raver-Lampman adds. “That is why she speaks up for Vanya time after time after time and attempts to be the better sister she never was growing up.”
Now that Vanya is a godlike figure who can break the moon apart with a violin solo, Allison really has her work cut out for her.