Time has started to feel increasingly meaningless in the age of coronavirus, and a lot of things from before 2020 feel like they happened eons ago, in a whole different universe. The debut of the first season of Netflix's Umbrella Academy in early 2019 is no exception, and with season two 2 premiering tomorrow, you might be casting your mind back to the Before Times, trying desperately to remember how the saga of the super-powered, super-dysfunctional Hargreeves family played out. No worries—we got you covered.
Here's the elevator pitch: the show follows seven adopted, estranged superhero siblings who are all deeply screwed up in their own special ways. Reluctantly reunited after their father's death, the Hargreeves gradually realize the world is on a crash course toward disaster, and have to work together to stop the impending global apocalypse. Spoiler: They fail, which now feels a little too real.
Below, a refresher course on everything you need to remember from Umbrella Academy season 1, before you start your second season binge.
Think of the Hargreeves as the X-Men's dysfunctional, emo cousins.
Based on My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way's graphic novel series of the same name, Umbrella Academy kicks off on a mysterious day during the 1980s, when more than 40 women across the globe spontaneously give birth—none of them were previously pregnant. An eccentric billionaire named Sir Reginald Hargreeves, on a Pokemon-esque mission to collect as many of these miracle babies as he can, ends up adopting seven of the siblings and raising them as his own. Unfortunately, "raising them as his own" translates to raising them without much love, affection, or emotional support. Instead, he focuses on harnessing their superpowers with the goal of making them beloved celebrity superheroes.
You'll be astonished to hear this parenting strategy isn't effective. The Hargreeves all grow up pretty dysfunctional and resentful of one another. In the series premiere, appropriately titled "We Only See Each Other At Weddings and Funerals," the fam reluctantly reunite after Sir Reginald's funeral—and, thanks to the imminent apocalypse, are finally forced to become the superhero team he always wanted them to be.
The siblings each have their own distinct moniker and superpower.
Keeping track of this crew and their powers can get tricky, so here's a rundown:
Luther Hargreeves, aka Number One (Tom Hopper)
Although all the siblings are isolated in different ways, Luther has spent several years alone on the moon when the series picks up, so it's fair to say he's on a different level of loneliness. In the comics, Luther has the head of a human and the body of an ape, but in the show he's simply a massive, muscular human man.
Diego Hargreeves, aka Number Two (David Castañeda)
Diego's a vigilante with incredible knife skills, and he's got a chip on his shoulder about being his father's second favorite after "number one" Luther. He's also very attached to his robot mom.
Allison Hargreeves, aka Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman)
Allison has the power to alter reality through her speech, using the phrase "I heard a rumor..." to create a lie that instantly becomes the truth. In the past, she used her powers to become a famous and successful actress, but as the show picks up she's abandoned the spotlight in favor of a quiet life, and swears never to use her power again in order to have more honest relationships.
Klaus Hargreeves, aka Number Four (Robert Sheehan)
Klaus has arguably the most cursed power of all the siblings: the ability to communicate with the dead. Being a living, breathing seance takes a toll on the mental health, so it's not really a surprise that Klaus is a drug addict and all-around mess. He relapses during season 1, and spends a lot of time talking to the spirit of his long-dead brother, Ben. Like any lovable rogue worth his salt, Klaus also has a tragic backstory. He was once in love with a soldier named Dave, who died during the Vietnam War. You'll want to keep that in mind for season 2.
The Boy, aka Number Five (Aidan Gallagher)
This guy is all about time travel. He went missing in his early teens after using his ability to travel into the future and getting stuck there. Fifty years later, he finally found a way to travel back to the timeline he'd left, but he ended up permanently stuck in his teenage body. So although Five appears to be young, he's mentally in his 60s. He has the power of not only time travel but teleportation, which makes him a phenomenally effective assassin.
Ben Hargreeves, aka Number Six (Justin H. Min)
Ben has been dead for many years by the time the series picks up, but is a prominent character thanks to Klaus's ability to communicate with the dead. The circumstances of Ben's death are mysterious, but might have been linked to his horrifying superpower: the ability to conjure up monsters from other dimensions from within his own body. Hard pass.
Vanya Hargreeves, aka Number Seven (Ellen Page)
Vanya was seemingly the only sibling who grew up with no superpowers, which of course left her with plenty of resentment and feelings of deep inferiority. Her only skill seemed to be an exceptional talent for the violin. However...
Vanya, who was seemingly powerless, ended up being the most powerful Hargreeves of all.
Ain't that always the way? Far from being without power, Vanya was so powerful that her father didn't know how to handle her—so naturally, he kept her locked away for much of her childhood in a soundproof steel basement. (A metaphor for the patriarchy? We'll let you be the judge!) He also drugged her and brainwashed her into believing she had no powers, a ruse which only fell apart after his death.
Thanks to Sir Reginald's truly shitty parenting, Vanya's powers were forcibly suppressed and she never learned to actually control them. As a result, she ends up being the cause of the apocalypse the Hargreeves spent most of season one trying to avert. More on that finale below.
Luther and Allison are in love.
This weird-but-touching love story is a relatively minor part of season 1, but it's worth remembering if only for their incredibly romantic dance sequence to "Dancing In The Moonlight"—which was, unfortunately, part of a day that never happened thanks to some time travel shenanigans. Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman have so much chemistry that it's very hard not to ship these two, which forces us all to confront the inevitable question: Is this incest?
"The [writers] room debates this endlessly," showrunner Steve Blackman told The Hollywood Reporter. "We ended up, obviously, on the notion that they are not biological [relations] in any way, they were taken from their homes, they didn't grow up in a typical family, they were more like recruits to a man who didn't love them. So a love story was okay and believable, even though they really only achieved a kiss on a day that never happened. They never got far along in their love story!" But with season 2 just days away, it's probably safe to bet we haven't seen the last of this complicated sitch.
Season 1 ended with the apocalypse.
In the season 1 finale, "The White Violin", it becomes clear that all the Hargreeves siblings' best efforts to stop the apocalypse are actually what cause the apocalypse. After years of suppressing her powers, Vanya loses control in the penultimate episode of season 1 and slits Allison's throat, leaving her mute. A devastated Luther insists on locking Vanya in the basement cell, not realizing this is exactly what Sir Reginald did to her as a child. With all her unprocessed trauma re-triggered, Vanya is pushed fully over the edge and transforms into a powerful, terrifying new form known as the White Violin—and destroys everything in her path.
Realizing there is no way to stop Vanya, who by this point has just blown up the actual moon, Number Five teleports himself and his siblings out of this timeline, seconds before the earth is destroyed. The finale gives no hint about their destination, but the synopsis for season 2 reveals the siblings will end up separated in different years, scattered across a three-year period leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. And naturally, there's another apocalypse on the horizon.
Emma Dibdin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles who writes about culture, mental health, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and can find the queer subtext in literally anything.