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How Was The Umbrella Academy's Number 5 Involved In JFK's Assassination?

Fans of Netflix's comic book adaptation The Umbrella Academy would be the first to tell you that times haven't been easy for the Hargeeves kids. Actually, given their bizarre entry into the world (they were all born on the same day to mothers who showed no previous signs of pregnancy) and a couple of decades worth of ensuing tragedies and traumas (largely related to their supernatural powers), the Hargreeves would probably tell you things have mostly sucked since their "adoption" by the mad scientist industrialist Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). Life became even more difficult after the crime-fighting team Sir Reginald tried to mold his gifted "family" into unraveled.

Still, for all the drama that's stalked the Hargreeves since they parted ways, few of the gifted siblings (those still amongst the living, at least) had it worse than the time-jumper we know only as Number 5, played on the show by Aidan Gallagher.

In the opening moments of The Umbrella Academy, we learn that Number 5 has been missing for over 10 years. We also discover that his peculiar gifts allow him to teleport (not unlike X-Men's Nightcrawler) from one spacial point to another with little effort. Unlike Nightcrawler, though, Number 5 possesses the ability to jump through time as well — and it's revealed that his disappearance was the result of an unendorsed jump into the far future.

At the point into which Number 5 jumped, an apocalyptic event has wiped out mankind. Not only that, but Number 5 also grew old in that timeline before finally finding his way back home to try and stop the coming cataclysm. As details of his isolated existence in the future start to become clear, we learn that somewhere in the future, the older version of Number 5 was approached by a seemingly omnipotent, bureaucratic entity known as the Commission — which has devised a way to send people to specific moments to make "corrections" to the historic timeline, thus ensuring certain events unfold the way they're supposed to. 

As it happens, one of Number 5 "corrections" was to occur in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 — the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Yes, Number 5 was involved in that tragic event, though his exact involvement in the melee of that day remains a little bit fuzzy.

Number 5 simply had a job to do

There are two things we know for certain: 1) Number 5 accepted his five-year contract with the Commission in hopes of finding a way to get back to his family in time to stop the end of the world; and 2) he spent much of his time traveling through time and space with the Commission, working out the math to make that jump home possible. 

In detailing Number 5's "corrective" ventures, The Umbrella Academy revealed that he had become a cold-blooded assassin along the way — one who played a hand in the Hindenburg tragedy and the start of World War I, via his offing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But it was his appearance behind a fence inside Dallas' Dealey Plaza that stood out the most. In recounting the adventures to his brother Luther (Tom Hopper), Number 5 is fairly blunt about the fact that he was merely doing his job — a point that leads him to give a business-like account of his role in the Kennedy Assassination. "Old Man" Number 5 was definitely present on that tragic day in Dallas, shown hiding behind the fence at the top of the so-called "Grassy Knoll," and was there to make some sort of "correction."

Just as a quick refresher, Lee Harvey Oswald was believed to be the lone gunman in Dallas that day, reportedly firing the fatal shots from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository Building. Historians and conspiracy theorists have debated that explanation quite intensely over the years, pointing out that several onlookers that day reported additional gunfire from said "Grassy Knoll" area. Additionally, extensive evidence supports the fact that someone may well have been entrenched in the fenced-in parking lot just at the top of that knoll. 

According to The Umbrella Academy's version of the day, Number 5 may have been that second man. We first see him clutching the same model rifle that fired the fatal bullets and listening intently to a radio broadcast of the President's tour through the streets of Dallas. As the limo approaches, Number 5 seems primed to do the job as assigned and open fire. 

But did he do it?

Of course, that doesn't happen. 

In the fateful moment, Number 5 has a breakthrough in figuring out how to jump home. Instead of popping off a round or two in the direction of the approaching motorcade, "Old Man" 5 actually tears a hole in space time and finds his way back home, arriving there reverted to the same age as when he jumped (even though time has passed and his siblings are all much older).

It's clear that Number 5 didn't fire a single shot that day in Dallas. So no, he didn't assassinate John F. Kennedy. But, of course, someone else did. The radio broadcast Number 5 listens to later confirms that Kennedy didn't escape his tragic fate. And we can assume that the "shot" those bystanders heard from the "Grassy Knoll" area was, in fact, Number 5 breaking his contract with the Commission by ripping a hole in space-time and getting back to his family. What remains uncertain is whether or not 5 was in Dallas to kill Kennedy, or if he was actually there to prevent the act from happening by taking out the potential assassin. 

That conundrum actually raises a couple more questions. If Number 5 was on hand to prevent the JFK assassination, then what sort of disasters did his inability to do so set in motion? And if he was actually there to do the deed himself, was the other shooter that day there to undo his inadvertent "correction"? Did the Commission simply double book the job to make sure it got done?

Whatever the case, Number 5's actual involvement in the Kennedy assassination remains one of the more compelling mysteries on the inaugural season of The Umbrella Academy. Here's hoping season 2 continues to bring the same savvy blend of manic, comic book action and hearty, character-driven drama.