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Why Vanya's Bathtub Scene In Umbrella Academy Is So Important

The inaugural season of Netflix's wildly unconventional superhero series The Umbrella Academy was fraught with all manner of intense personal tragedies and fateful overarching dramas. But of all the unexpected narrative turns to arise on season 1, none was quite as unexpected (or as heartbreaking) as the transformation of Vanya Hargreeves (Elliot Page) from mousy, overlooked sibling into the powerful, world-ending villain the White Violin. Of course, looking back at that season 1 narrative, Vanya's transformation also seems as utterly plausible as it does patently inevitable.

As fans of The Umbrella Academy no doubt recall, Vanya's startling metamorphosis was spawned by the news that — after years of being shunned for not having super powers — not only did Vanya have powers, but she was also the most powerful of all the Hargreeves kids. Further complicating matters was the shocking revelation that her own sister had taken part in suppressing her abilities. That last little nugget helped push Vanya over the edge, and led her to savagely attack said sibling in that familiar-looking cabin in the woods.

The aftermath of that act left Vanya a bloody mess. It also left Vanya an emotional wreck unable to process her actions, and being lovingly cleaned up in her own bathtub by the duplicitous Leonard Peabody (John Magaro). Obviously, there was a lot going on in that scene between Vanya and Leonard, but it seems there was a bit more there than initially met the eye — chiefly a sly little The Umbrella Academy Easter egg. That Easter egg on the season's ninth episode was recently spotted by a savvy Redditor, who caught sight of three distinct trails of blood running down Vanya's throat in the scene — a clear callback to the comic book depiction of Vanya's destructive alter ego.

Vanya's bathtub scene offered a brilliant callback to The Umbrella Academy books

We'll assume that many of you who have deliriously binged the first season of The Umbrella Academy in the past year are keenly aware that the series is based on an award-winning series of graphic novels by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. But if you hadn't read the graphic novels prior to watching the Netflix series, you may not have had a chance to catch up yet. The books are beautifully bonkers in ways that the series simply just cannot capture — and the show actually made quite a few changes in adapting the them to the screen.

That has a lot to do with the series' more grounded approach to the story, which inevitably led to slightly different character representations throughout. While the Netflix series does render each character with serious TLC on season 1, it still doesn't do full justice to a couple of key players. That's particularly true of post-transformation Vanya. While her conversion to stark white and glowing in the show is quite impressive, the books see Vanya transform into a figure resembling a literal walking and talking violin complete with strings running down the front of her body.  

The grounded Netflix adaption was obviously limited in how far it could take that depiction. But one peek at three streaks of blood running down Vanya's neck in the picture included with the initial Reddit post is enough to confirm beyond a doubt that series creators Jeremy Slater and Steve Blackman were indeed paying loving homage to the source material in that bathtub scene. It also confirms that Slater and co. are more than a little bit devoted to bringing the spirit of the books to vivid life on screen — even if they can't always do it with quite as much visceral creative license.

Vanya's transformation into the White Violin

As mentioned, Vanya's dark metamorphosis from the woman she'd always been — mild-mannered, timid, perceived to be lesser than her siblings in more ways than one — into the White Violin shattered not only her personal world, but also the world around her. On episode 8 of The Umbrella Academy season 1, at the cabin where Leonard and Vanya are working together to hone her supernatural abilities, Vanya's sister Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) appears and confesses that she knew their adoptive father Reginald (Colm Feore) was medicating her to suppress her powers when he realized their strength, and admits that he asked her to use her mind-controlling abilities to convince Vanya that she was nothing special. An argument ensues, and ends with Vanya slashing her sister's throat. Though Allison survives, she's unable to speak, rendering useless her powers that can only be spurred by her uttering the phrase "I heard a rumor..."

Things only get worse from there. Following that incident is the all-important bathtub scene that teases Vanya's transformation into the White Violin, and by the end of episode 9, Vanya has given into her dark powers and allowed them to take her over completely. The season 1 finale of The Umbrella Academy is an all-or-nothing fight between Vanya and her siblings. There's death (Vanya kills the Reginald's chimp assistant Pogo), destruction (Vanya destroys the Hargreeves family mansion and the freakin' Moon), and the onset of the Apocalypse when bits of the Moon fall to Earth.

What will happen with Vanya on season 2 of The Umbrella Academy?

It goes without saying that the season 1 finale was intense, but it's left many fans wondering what Vanya's story will be on season 2. On the series, the time-traveling Five (Aidan Gallagher) suggests to his siblings that they all rewind the clock and try to prevent the Vanya-spurred Apocalypse together, since their separate efforts failed this time around. As Five explains, Vanya will never not be the cause of the Apocalypse, and it's up to them to "fix" her.

Though we don't have any concrete details about the plot as of this writing, season 2 of The Umbrella Academy will likely follow the now-teenage Hargreeves on their mission to keep Vanya from turning into the White Violin and bringing about the Apocalypse — at least for the first few episodes before the story inevitably shifts into new territory and introduces new villains for the super-powered family to defeat. 

This is a bit different to how things play out in the Umbrella Academy comics. The first collection, subtitled Apocalypse Suite, does see the some of the same things happen in its final issue: Vanya slices Allison's throat, leaving her vocal chords severely damaged; the Hargreeves' mansion (a.k.a. the Umbrella Academy) is destroyed; and meteors fall to Earth, signaling the Apocalypse. However, in the comics, the Apocalypse is stopped in issue 6, but Vanya is left paralyzed after Five shoots her in the head. The following collection, Dallas, sees the team taking on a whole new mission (involving the serial-killing Hazel and Cha-Cha) and touches on Vanya's paralysis and amnesia.

Since the source material and the Netflix series are fairly different, it's safe to say that what will happen with Vanya on The Umbrella Academy season 2 is pretty unpredictable. At the very least, we probably haven't quite seen the last of the White Violin, and may learn more about Vanya's upbringing on subsequent episodes.