The wild and addictive first season of The Umbrella Academy featured more shocking left turns and jaw-dropping moments than any season of a show ever should. Even fans who had read Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s comics upon which the show is based had no idea what to expect, as the series deviated in so many ways. In fact, one of the most infamous villains from the comics turned out to be someone extremely different and surprising. Instead of watching The Conductor, the terrifying leader of the Orchestra Verdammten, drive Vanya (Ellen Page) mad enough to become the White Violin, viewers saw the very human and flawed Leonard Peabody aka Harold Jenkins (John Magaro) befriend her, make her fall in love with him and then force her to discover her latent powers by using her father’s secret experiment notebook. Harold’s entire arc was a surprising one full of deceit and a sad desperation new to both fans of the comic books and new Umbrella Academy fans, but the actor himself should be very familiar to fans of Netflix series.
Magaro has been working steadily as an actor for almost 15 years with roles in major movies like Marshall and The Big Short, but his best known role has been on Orange Is the New Black. He’s played Vince Muccio, Lorna Morello’s (Yael Stone) loving husband and father of her unborn baby for three seasons so far. His thick New York accent is one of his most recognizable traits, and helped him fit right in as Morello’s love interest who fell in love with her after being her prison pen pal. But on The Umbrella Academy, his relationship with Vanya was much more sinister than Vinnie and Morello’s sweet, if unconventional, romance.
When Harold first appeared on The Umbrella Academy, he seemed innocent enough. Back then, he was known as Leonard Peabody, and he just wanted to learn how to play the violin from lessons with Vanya. He then began to help Vanya come out of her shell as they seemed to fall in love with each other. But soon it became clear that he had been manipulating her the entire time, telling her fake stories and stealing her medication so her latent powers would emerge.
Harold set Vanya on the path to becoming the White Violin, a major villain from the comics and the reason why the apocalypse happens. His past was finally uncovered: it turned out that he was actually a convicted murderer, who had gone to prison after killing his own father. After his release, he changed his name and his childhood obsession with Vanya’s siblings, the Umbrella Academy superheroes, turned into something much darker. Although he was born on the same day as the superpowered kids, he had been spurned by them for not having powers of his own. He was their No.1 fan turned greatest villain (well, that is, until he tricked their sister into becoming the reason why the world ends).
He didn’t live long enough to see his work come to fruition, however. Despite the changes made from The Conductor to Harold Jenkins for the television adaptation, both characters suffer the same fate. When Vanya realizes everything Harold did to her, she unleashes her full energy, completely obliterating him in the same way she rips The Conductor apart in the comics. There’s no chance at redemption for this angry man, but Vanya still has a shot at not becoming the White Violin, thereby saving the world, if her siblings successfully rehabilitate her in the past.
Hopefully Netflix renews The Umbrella Academy for a Season 2 so fans can see that happen. But while Harold Jenkins has definitely reached his expiration date on this show, he can (and probably will) show up for Orange Is the New Black’s seventh and final season later this year, so Magaro isn’t gone from the streaming service just yet.