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The Umbrella Academy Season 2's Final Battle Could Have Been Much Different

The members of the Umbrella Academy have a tendency to stumble into trouble. That includes experiencing two apocalypses, fighting in the Vietnam War, getting kidnapped by time-traveling assassins, and working in an underground fight club for non-time-traveling assassin Jack Ruby (John Kapelos). All of that was in the script for Netflix's hit series The Umbrella Academy, but life imitated art on the set of the show's second season, when an unexpected event threw a wrench into the epic final fight scene.

In case you binged the season when it came out on July 31, 2020 and need the ending of Umbrella Academy season 2 explained again, here's a summary. The day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Academy accompanies Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) to Sissy Cooper's (Marin Ireland) ranch, where her son Harlan (Justin Paul Kelly) is struggling to control the powers he inherited when Vanya saved him from drowning. They find that the farm has been engulfed by a freak snowstorm in the middle of an otherwise sunny day.

As Vanya tries to talk Harlan down, the Handler (Kate Walsh) and Lila (Ritu Arya) arrive, summoning an army of Commission agents to finish off the Academy. A battle in the snow ensues, and the Academy eventually wins, with some time-traveling and intervention from the remaining Swedish assassin, played by Kris Holden-Ried.

However, while the Academy has gotten used to taking things like random weather phenomenons in stride, all that very, very real snow presented the cast and crew with much more of a challenge. Here's how The Umbrella Academy season 2's final battle could have been much different, and how the team dealt with it.

That freak snowstorm wasn't in the script

Seeing Sissy's ranch covered in snow in the middle of a sunny field symbolized Harlan's loss of control over Vanya's powers. But as cool and fitting as it ultimately ended up looking, the snow wasn't part of the plan for that final battle scene — and it made for some extra problems.

The Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman told Netflix's podcast Behind the Scenes that the team hired meteorologists to help them schedule outdoor scenes. They were shooting in and around Toronto, where The Umbrella Academy is filmed, through summer and into fall — and at first, it seemed like everything was going to work out. As Blackman said, "The first couple of days [shooting on the ranch] it was cold, but it was blue sky, not a bit of snow. We went away for a day. We came back, and there's four feet of snow on the ground."

Since they were right at the end of the schedule and the scene involved all of the main cast, it was too late and would be too expensive to wait until the snow melted to shoot. Instead, the show's visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell told Blackman they would have to write the snow into the scene. "The idea was that Harlan's power creates this weird little storm system around the ranch, but only around the ranch," he told Behind the Scenes.

But this didn't solve all of their problems. Since the snow only formed around the ranch, Burrell explained that the VFX team spent a long time taking shots of the actors in the grass and putting them in snow, and vice versa. "They called it Snowmageddon," said Blackman. "And it was a pretty good nickname... It was a really tough situation."

The actors struggled in the snow

If you think digitally manipulating snow is hard, spare a thought for the actors who arrived on set to find that they had a new weather feature to work into their performances. And that applies to the extras too.

In the scene, it looks like there are hundreds of Commission agents ready to battle the Academy. But as Burrell explained to Behind the Scenes, it was closer to 40 — and that number dwindled throughout the day. "By lunch, you have 10. Because they've all bailed," he said, adding, "I don't blame them: take after take in the snow for 50 bucks — who wants to do that?" Luckily, VFX stepped in again. The team scanned every single actor to create what Burrell called "our library full of CG doubles," which they used to create a digital army.

The main cast didn't get off lightly either. In an interview with Collider, Emmy Raver-Lampman, who plays Allison Hargreeves, pointed out, "None of us were dressed for a blizzard in Toronto." Specifically, she was wearing Allison's high-heeled boots during that scene — not a great combination with the snow. The crew was trying to find her some snow-appropriate alternatives for wide shots, but Raver-Lampman figured she'd be fine "after dancing on Broadway in four-inch heels for eight years."

However, the ice proved a challenge too far. "I took three steps and ... skidded ten feet down this gravel driveway, and ripped open my pants and twisted my ankle." Fortunately she was okay, if a bit embarrassed. "Everybody got a really good laugh," she told Collider

Ultimately, Raver-Lampman thought the snowy surprise was a win: "It added such an amazing element to the season, but it was such a beautiful mishap." As they say, the snow must go on.