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The Umbrella Academy season 1 ending explained

Generally speaking, every episode of The Umbrella Academy is dense, weird, and often intentionally confusing. It mixes genres, it deconstructs normal story structure, and it always seeks to defy your expectations. All of these are things that make the show great, but they also mean that, at the end of any given episode, you'll be forgiven if you find yourself scratching your head a little.

Nowhere is this more true than in the final episode of season one. This mind- and time-bending finale pays off multiple plot threads that have been quietly simmering in the background, drops a ton of new revelations that are going to have major implications moving forward, and also, you know, destroys the entire world. There is no shortage of material here to unpack and discuss.

This is a confusing ride, so unless you've watched it multiple times and are also intimately familiar with the original comics, it's likely that there's something you missed. As the Handler says, "I do think an explanation of sorts is owing."

Turns out Dad was an alien

Perhaps the most cryptic scene of all in The Umbrella Academy's season finale comes right at the beginning of the episode. It opens with a flashback: a still-living Reginald Hargreeves is comforting a woman who seems to be his lover, as she dies of an unnamed illness. Outside, dozens of otherworldly spaceships are exiting the atmosphere, indicating that this strange world is experiencing its last moments. Though never directly stated, we can assume from this that Reginald Hargreeves is an alien, something which is also briefly stated in the comics, but not ever explored deeper.

Also, there is one final inexplicable element. Before Reginald leaves his homeworld for Earth, he opens a jar that releases dozens of tiny firefly-like things which fly up into the air and vanish. No explanation is given, but this is undeniably setting up… something. All we have now are tin-foil hat theories, such as the idea that there were 43 of those fireflies, and these were responsible for the 43 Earth women who gave birth to superpowered children in the first episode.

If this is the case, it could mean that Hargreeves created the children as a way of giving the Earth someone to protect it, as a way of atoning for failing to protect his own homeworld. This is pure speculation of course, but it would explain why Hargreeves was so interested in adopting as many of these super kids as possible.

The world's worst musician

Once the flashback is over, we're back in the present, where things are not going well for what remains of the Hargreeves family. In the previous episode, Vanya discovers she has the ability to transform ambient sound into deadly force. After getting understandably upset at her family for — intentionally or unintentionally — belittling her and deceiving her about her powers throughout her entire life, she reflexively lashes out at Allison with these powers, gravely wounding her. The rest of the team locks Vanya up for her own good in a soundproof chamber, but she breaks out by weaponizing the sound of her own heartbeat.

On her way out of the Academy, Vanya kills Pogo, Mom, and destroys the entire house. As the rest of the team gathers together in the rubble, they realize something. Up until now, they've been trying to figure out what's going to cause the end of the world. They believed that Harold Jenkins was going to be responsible, and that his death meant the world was saved. But now they realize he was only a catalyst. The real source of the apocalypse is going to be Vanya.

You see, Vanya's St. Pluvium Chamber Orchestra has a performance later that day at the Icarus Theatre, and with Vanya's new sound manipulation powers going out control, this concert has the potential to end the world.

Who were the guys in the gas masks?

Midway through the episode, without warning or explanation, a bunch of new assault rifle-wielding baddies in red gas masks show up and start trying to kill our heroes — first in the bowling alley, and later in the Icarus Theater. It's never stated explicitly where they came from or who they're working for, but if you were paying close attention earlier in the season, you should recognize them instantly.

In episode 6, those same gas masks are hanging up in the background as the Handler is giving Number Five a tour of the headquarters of the time travel enforcement bureau known as the Commission. So much like Hazel, Cha Cha, and the hit squad that attacked Number Five at the end of the first episode, the men in gas masks are additional agents in service to the Commission.

The late arrival of these masked goons indicates that we possibly haven't seen the full array of the different types of agents and resources that the Commission has at its disposal. The level of threat they're going to be sending at the Umbrella Academy moving forward is likely to just keep escalating from here.

Hazel handles the Handler, but probably not for good

Early in this episode, it seems Hazel might be back to working for the wrong side. The Handler sits down Hazel and Cha Cha in her hotel room and tells them that if they can protect Vanya until the apocalypse hits, they will both be forgiven for their previous transgressions. Hazel agrees at first, but on the way to the Icarus Theatre, things take a dramatic turn, literally, when he purposefully crashes his car in an attempt to kill Cha Cha and escape the assignment.

After leaving Cha Cha for dead, Hazel returns to the hotel room to free his girlfriend Agnes, but The Handler stands in his way. We're expecting another dramatic conversation in which Hazel and the Handler debate the merits of their respective worldviews, but Hazel skips this part and just shoots her in the head.

You might think this means that his troubles are over, but when Number Five threatened to do the same thing to the Handler in episode five, she warned "I'll just be replaced. I'm but a small cog in a machine." So even though she acts like the one directing the entire Commission, the Handler's death means that things are probably just going to get worse for our heroes. Fingers crossed that we'll finally get a chance to meet the big boss of the organization from the comic book, an evil sentient goldfish in a robot body by the name of Carmichael.

Klaus and Ben level up

During the final battle in the Icarus Theater, Klaus exhibits a new power for the first time. He channels the spirit of his dead brother Ben, who appears in the middle of the room in a ghostly blue form. This manifestation of Ben is, however, quite corporeal, as he is able to use the superpowers he once had when he was alive to create a mass of super-strong tentacles to tenta-kill the squad of Commission agents that were attacking his siblings.

Klaus was able to achieve this new level of power because he's been sober for a while now. Drinking and doing drugs inhibits his powers, and it seems sobriety might not just allow Klaus to speak with the dead, as he could before, but also to discover new totally powers. Some of the powers we might see Klaus develop next season, if he remains sober for long enough, are telekinesis and levitation — a pair of powers he has in the comics, but lacks in the show — just to float a couple possibilities.

It's also likely that Klaus' increased ability to channel Ben into the physical world means that the second season will give us much more of Ben, who will also finally get a chance to interact with more of the cast than just Klaus — which is a good thing for Ben. Spending eternity with Klaus as the only one you can talk to? Now that's a real fate worse than death.

Diego buries the hatchet, er... knife

During the fight in the Icarus Theatre, Diego finally gets a chance to confront Cha Cha. This is a deeply personal beef for Diego, as she was the one who killed his friend, Detective Eudora Patch. At the end of the fight, however, when he has Cha Cha at his mercy, he ends up sparing her life. If you were confused as to why, this is actually a culmination of Diego's journey throughout the season.

Even before he became consumed with his quest for revenge, Diego was always one of the morally murkier Hargreeves children. The one thing that always kept him from going off the deep end, however, was his friendship with Patch. When Diego finally gets the chance to kill Cha Cha, he can't help but think about what Patch would think of him now. He remembers a conversation with Five that he had in episode nine — Five asked him "What did you like about her?" and Diego said, "She believed in people… She always saw the good inside."

Diego realizes that perhaps there was some good inside Cha Cha as well, even if she herself didn't realize it yet, and he decides to leave her alive so maybe she can also get a chance to find it someday. Does this mean that Diego is going to be less broody in the future? Here's hoping he finally lightens up his wardrobe a little from all black to including a little dark gray now and again.

Vanya goes out with a bang

One of the biggest turning points in the Umbrella Academy season 1 finale comes when Allison finally has to decide whether Vanya is beyond saving. Up until now, she has always advocated attempting to reason with Vanya. When Vanya is about to kill not just the four Hargreeves boys, but also possibly the entire world, Allison realizes that Vanya might need to be put down for good. She pulls out a handgun and considers shooting Vanya in the back of the head.

In the comics, Vanya actually does get shot in the head at this moment, but it's Five who pulls the trigger, not Allison. The comics version of Vanya ends up surviving this injury, but she is paralyzed from the neck down and also has memory loss. In the show, however, Allison opts for another way. She places the gun right next to the side of Vanya's head and fires. The sound of the gun going off that close to Vanya's ear is enough to break her concentration long enough for the Hargreeves boys to escape.

The long term-consequences on Vanya aren't clear, since she passes out immediately and doesn't wake up before the end of the episode, but it's possible she's suffered hearing damage. That would certainly make her career as a violinist more difficult, and add an unexpected wrinkle to a character with the ability to control sound.

Vanya shoots the moon

Even though Vanya falls unconscious, all the energy she's been gathering up has to go somewhere. As she passes out, an enormous beam of white light erupts out of her chest and flies into space, impacting on the full moon above. Then, as the entire moon starts to glow red hot, it suddenly becomes very clear how the world is supposed to end. As they say, shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll — OH NO! You didn't miss! Vanya, you blew up the moon!

As pieces of the moon rain down from the heavens, our heroes only have a few moments to do something to save the world. How do they manage to save the day? Well actually, they don't. Number Five makes them all gather together so they can travel back in time to try and prevent the apocalypse at an even earlier juncture.

Believe or not, in the comics, they actually did manage to save the world at this point, without needing to use time travel at all. Comics Klaus used his aforementioned telekinesis to catch a 40,000-ton chunk of moon rock when it was just a few feet above his head, single-handedly saving the world. But given that his television counterpart just barely managed to manifest any superpowers at all quite recently, stopping world-destroying asteroids is probably still a ways off.

Do the time-traveling killers have a future?

We can assume that very few people survive the end of the world, outside of our main seven heroes (if you can count Ben as "surviving"). Most of the other named characters were dead already, including Pogo, Mom, Leonard, and the Handler, but what about Hazel and Cha Cha?

It's a blink and you'll miss it moment, but a second before the blast hits Hazel and Agnes, they disappear in a flash of blue light. This implies they stole a Briefcase — one of the Commission's time travel devices — from the Handler after killing her. We don't know where Hazel and Agnes traveled to, but we can assume we haven't seen the last of them.

Cha Cha's fate is far grimmer. Despite technically succeeding at her final assignment of keeping Vanya Hargreeves alive, we see that in her final moments, she is trying and failing to contact HQ from a payphone. This could be because, as Hazel predicted, the Commission never intended to rescue them from the apocalypse, or it could be simply because the Handler is dead and there's no one to receive her call. Either way, we unfortunately have to say "ta ta" to Cha Cha.

However, since Hazel and Cha Cha had long careers as time-traveling assassins, it's possible that the Hargreeves will run into these two again at an earlier point in their lives, when they were still cold-blooded murderers. Nothing can screw up a character arc quite like time travel.

Umbrella Academy Babies?

As the Hargreeves are preparing to travel back in time, they appear for a moment to be de-aged back to how they looked as teenagers. It's possible that this is just supposed to be a cool artsy way to end the season, a symbolic representation of how the Hargreeves have finally been reunited together as a family, like back when they were children, but it's also possible that this moment is meant to be taken very literally.

Remember that Number Five himself didn't always look 13. He used to be a 58-year-old man, but his age was reset back to 13 as an unintended side effect of the method he used to time travel. If Number Five is sending his siblings back using the same method, it's possible that they'll be de-aged the same way he was. From what we've seen of Number Five's struggles with this situation, getting stuck in a body that's the wrong age is not an easy problem to fix. If this does indeed happen, then a big conflict for the coming season will probably be the team trying to find a way to return to adulthood.

There might be another possible side effect of this, however, that is more unambiguously positive. Since Ben's ghost is also hitching a ride, if everything about these characters is reversing to how things were when they were teens, it's possible that he might not just be returned to youth, but also back to life.

What's next?

When your first season ends with the end of the world, where do you go for season two?

The answer might lie in the original comics. The first season of the show was loosely adapted from the first plot arc of the comics series, Apocalypse Suite. It would make sense, then, for the second season to be based on the second arc of the series, Dallas. This story is about multiple time travelers who have all ended up in 1963, some of whom who are trying to cause and some of whom are trying to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The fact that the first season ended with the team jumping back in time could lead into the start of that story quite organically. This is backed up by an interview with IndieWire in which showrunner Steve Blackman is quoted as saying, "Things will deviate, but the goal is to try to be true to the source material."

Then again, Hazel and Cha Cha didn't appear until the second arc of the comics, and neither did several other plots that the show has already explored, such as Klaus serving in the Vietnam War. So if you want some potential previews of the second season, please do check out Dallas, but remember that if there's anything that this show has taught us, it's that there's no way of ever knowing what the future really holds.