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Umbrella Academy: Why The Klaus Shaving Scene Means More Than You Think

There's plenty of reasons why The Umbrella Academy fans love Klaus, the hedonistic rebel-with-a-heart played by Robert Sheehan. Chief among them is his impressive ability to rebound from just about anything. Whether returning to the home of his childhood trauma or from an accidental trip to the Vietnam War, Klaus has somehow managed to carry on — even if he's not always calm. His journey through The Umbrella Academy season 1 is all about bouncing back — with Klaus coming to terms with his powers, family, and the various addictions he has used to avoid dealing with both. But resilience was never enough to kick the habits Klaus struggled with for the better part of season 1. So what did?

One fan on Reddit thinks it was a single scene from The Umbrella Academy's seventh episode. 

After a series of torturous days reluctantly grieving the death of his father alongside his equally scarred siblings, Klaus is kidnapped by Commission agents Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige). He finally escapes after being tortured for hours, and snatches Hazel's time-machine briefcase on the way out. Thinking it may contain something he can sell for drugs, Klaus opens it — hurtling himself back to the Vietnam War, where he not only fights but also manages to find love and get sober before sadly losing his partner.

Upon his return to the present day, his grief edges him towards drugs and alcohol. Klaus finally caves at a rave, before tossing a pill to save his brother Luther (Tom Hopper) from an attack. In the process, Klaus is "killed" and wakes up to a post-life shave and chat with his adoptive father, Sir Reginald (Colm Feore), in a barbershop. It's this scene that Redditor u/SidonieFalling says is the key to Klaus finally kicking his addictions, resulting in his big season 1 development turn.

Sir Reginald's clean shave is about getting Klaus clean from drugs and alcohol

While it's clear Klaus was trying to kick old habits after returning from the war, falling to his knees for a pill on the dirty floor of a club indicates he was losing that battle. But after "coming back," Klaus has seemingly turned over a new leaf. Redditor u/SidonieFalling argues that what happens during Reginald and Klaus' exchange in the after-life is actually the thing that finally gets him clean.

During the scene, Klaus squabbles with his dad about how he raised his children before Sir Reginald reveals that he staged his death to bring them back together. The conversation is also a chance for Sir Reginald to get in a dig about Klaus' inability to commune with him post-death. Being locked in a mausoleum and forced to face screaming specters was hard on him, Klaus states, and the drugs were merely a way to keep both the trauma and his unique power at bay. But that spiritual sedative also prevented him from uncovering the truth about his father's suicide earlier, as the monocled man quips while lathering his son's face.

With each swipe of the blade, u/SidonieFalling says Reginald "cleaned him up." Looking at the scene again and in context of what happens after, the theory — or really, metaphor — makes sense. Klaus and Reginald put to rest traumas and secrets during that brief conversation and shave, so when Klaus begrudgingly awakes, he's addressed enough of his grief to move on. He even remains clean enough to slowly manifest his brother Ben — a development that becomes integral to the Umbrella Academy almost saving the world by season 1's end.

In the universe of The Umbrella Academy, Sir Reginald getting his son rapidly clean from drugs and alcohol by shaving his face with potentially mystically powered tools and products wouldn't be the most inexplicable thing he's ever done.

The emotional significance of the Klaus shaving scene on The Umbrella Academy

This scene has been a hot point of discussion amongst Umbrella Academy fans — some of whom have viewed the moment through a different, though still tangentially related, lens than that of Sir Reginald's shaving of Klaus' face being a catalyst for his recovery from substance abuse. There's also a deep emotional significance that permeates the scene, as the intimate gesture of shaving another person's face highlights the nuances of the relationship between Klaus and his adoptive father.

Another Redditor, u/WhyRtheresomanyofU, noted in a separate forum post, "Shaving is a pretty intimate gesture, especially between non-strangers and certainly between a father and son (where there is added cultural significance). I think this scene is partially designed to establish the fact that there is more depth to the relationship between Hargreeves and the kids then the kids are want to admit. The manner in which they are speaking to each other, the intimacy and physical closeness of the act of shaving, belay the familial dynamic between them."

Others, like Reddit user u/xXCaliciferXx, believe this scene between the two Hargreeves men also shows Sir Reginald's attempt to be more of a father to his son, even in death and particularly after Klaus' devastating setback in his road to recovery. "I always assumed it was more of him trying to be a father in a small regard or something," they wrote. 

Any way you dice it, this moment is impactful, resonant, and certainly one that Umbrella Academy fans won't soon forget.