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The Umbrella Academy's Sparrow Academy Explained

Contains potential spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 2.

During episode 6 of The Umbrella Academy's second season, Number Five and Reginald Hargreeves have a conversation about time travel, and Reginald offers his son some interesting advice. "Start small. Seconds not decades," he says. "So much could change in a matter of seconds. One could overthrow an empire." 

He's recommending Number Five re-think how he time travels while trying to stop the apocalypse. For fans who've seen the season's ending, it's also a serious bit of foreshadowing. While The Academy has spent two seasons fighting off the Commission in an attempt to stop the world from ending, it appears that that was two seasons too many for their father. In the season 2 finale, entitled "The End of Something," the Hargreeves siblings return to 2019 after saving the world again and find Reginald in his mansion alive. That's not the strangest development, though; Reginald's return comes a new set of kids known as The Sparrow Academy.

Five and the rest of The Umbrella Academy have kept busy jumping through decades to alter the fate of the world, but as season 2 illustrated, they were somewhat reckless with the timeline — especially when it came to their father. Not only did they seek him out, but once he agreed to see them, they put on quite a dysfunctional show. Now, it appears that their rather disappointing family reunion — coupled with all those tiny timeline changes they created after landing in 1960s Dallas – was the "matter of seconds" Reginald needed to see a different collection of special children might be necessary.

The silhouettes of five people, a floating green box, and then a seventh person who looks just like Ben, have now taken the place of The Umbrella Academy. But who is the Sparrow Academy, what are their powers, and most importantly, what are Reginald's intentions with them? 

The Umbrella Academy showrunner promises a mostly brand new team

The appearance of Ben may probably be the most confusing aspect of the Sparrow Academy's arrival for fans, but it's one of the most significant clues about the team's origins. Only season 3 will be able to make it clear why Reginald put together a different group of heroes. It will also have to explain how he was able to do it, considering he was only able to get seven children the first time around. But for now, Ben's appearance in that final season 2 sequence clarifies that Reginald picked him because he'd never met him. 

"We do get to meet a new Ben who's flesh and blood," Blackman told Den of Geek. "Who he is, what his personality type is, I will not tell you — that will be something of a spoiler. But he gets to now interact with all the other characters, which is going to be a delight."

During the family meal on the episode entitled "A Light Supper," Klaus continued the season-long charade that Ben wasn't there, meaning Reginald never learned about Ben or his power. So when Reginald was going around buying up babies a second time, he didn't know to pass on Ben because he'd already been part of The Umbrella Academy. As for the other six, at least one of them is a floating box. Aside from Ben, this is a completely different set of heroes we're dealing with. In an interview with Inverse, showrunner Steven Blackman confirmed that these characters are not merely different versions of The Academy, but different people. 

"I will only say this given the fact that some of this is in the graphic novel," the showrunner says. "But they are new people. They're not our characters. They are different people, and that's all I can really say."

The Sparrow Academy are teased in The Umbrella Academy comics

So if they're not alternate versions, who could they be? In several post-finale interviews, Steven Blackman has mostly declined to get into specifics, but there is a superhero group known as The Sparrow Academy who make an appearance at the end of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy Vol. 3, Hotel Oblivion. They look identical in age — a fact that confirms they are some of the 43 other children who survived their shared birth in 1989 — with a Number One who goes by Deever and also has superstrength. As for some of the others, one can turn themselves into a flock of ravens, one shoots some sort of beam from their eyes, and another with a misshapen appearance appears to be able to harm themselves and inflict that pain onto their target. 

Perhaps most interesting is their origins, which the comics suggest have much to do with the matriarchal robot, Grace. In Hotel Oblivion, "Mother" introduces Vanya to what she describes as her "real" family, telling Vanya, "There are some very special people that have just been dying to meet you." A few days ahead of The Umbrella Academy season 2's drop on Netflix, Way announced that his comic's fourth volume would be titled The Sparrow Academy, and will explicitly focus on this team. 

"The series finally starts to answer the question: 'What about the other babies born on that day, in that moment?' The Umbrella Academy siblings are not alone in the world anymore," Way told Forbes. "[It] deals with a very big reveal in the Umbrella Academy universe, something that had been secret for a long time, and our siblings learn a lot about what was happening behind the scenes, as well as discovering the true nature of some characters that have been with them since the beginning." 

Steven Blackman wants to use Way's Sparrow Academy as much as possible on the Netflix series

Blackman told Den of Geek that he and Way regularly communicate about storylines, and that he very much tries to stick to what's in the graphic novels. That explains why fans saw the same green, floating box teased in the final pages of Hotel Oblivion during the final moments of the season 2 finale. 

"I have a wonderful collaboration with Gerard, and we talk a lot about where he wants to go with the different volumes of the comics. I had an idea for the end of this season, a little similar to what the Sparrows were. When I heard he was doing the Sparrows, I got super excited." 

But Blackman is also known to take some creative liberties, which means that fans shouldn't necessarily expect to see the same characters or powers in the Netflix series as who will be featured in Way's upcoming comic storyline. "I think it will be open for me to decide," Blackman said. "Gerard has such wonderful ideas, and if they work for our storytelling, we'll use it. If not, I'll come up with my own version of it. My goal is to keep as much as I can for the graphic novel fans for as long as it works within the setting of a 10-episode show."  

From the end of season 2, it's already clear that Reginald has taken the lead with the team, which unlike the comic storyline teased thus far, resulted in the timeline rift created by The Umbrella Academy's actions in 1963. Fans may have noticed that there were quite a few sparrows featured throughout season 2, including as toys and on character's outfits. Perhaps they can offer some clues into what Blackman has envisioned for his new team so far. 

The intentions of The Sparrow Academy are not yet clear

While Reginald has created a new team, it's unclear how he plans to use them — and whether it's for good or evil. In The Umbrella Academy comics, some of the babies are confirmed to have died during childbirth. But Reginald's original team also faces several villains. Following the release of season 2, Blackman confirmed to Den of Geek that Lila — Diego's love interest, The Handler's daughter, and an original character whose ability lets her absorb others' powers — is one of the 43 babies. Maybe it was an accident that The Handler killed the parents of a superpowered kid, or perhaps there were others like Reginald looking to raise and train their own superpowered weapons.

Coupled with Reginald's reveal as an actual alien, a twist ripped straight from Way and Bá's comics, that makes The Sparrow's role in the lives of The Umbrella Academy even more dubious. So if that sun-kissed glimpse of The Sparrow Academy made you feel a little uneasy, that's okay. According to Blackman, it should have. 

"[The Umbrella Academy] should be able to relax now," Blackman told Digital Spy. "But something's not quite right as they've come back. Because not only are these people saying they're the Sparrow Academy, but Hargreeves is still alive, and he shouldn't be, either."

There's also the fact that while Reginald mostly picked different babies, that finale doesn't explain what happened to The Umbrella Academy's new timeline counterparts or whether the original team is willing to give up their places in time or Reginald's mansion.

"I think we are all sh***** our pants, to be completely honest," Emmy Raver-Lampman told TV Guide about the season 2 finale twist. "We are all competitive by nature. I don't think it's going to be good, whatever happens in that scenario. I don't think we'll be sharing margaritas and war stories any time soon."