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Why this Umbrella Academy season 3 casting announcement has fans hyped

Great news for fans of the Netflix sci-fi superhero series The Umbrella Academy: the gang is all here for season 3. Kind of.

On January 11, Netflix announced some new additions to the show's cast, including one that's not very new at all. Joining Umbrella originals Elliot Page, Tom Hooper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, and Aidan Gallagher would be a new group of heroes, the members of a new, alternate-timeline version of their organization, the Sparrow Academy.

The Sparrows were first glimpsed in the season 2 cliffhanger, which saw the Umbrella Academy members return to present-day 2019 from their time-traveling, world-saving sojourns in the '60s, only to find their adopted father figure Reginald Hargreeves alive and leading a replacement group of heroes. Many of the new faces they didn't recognize –– not even any of the six faces of the Sparrow who is just a floating cube –– but one stood out. It was their brother Ben (Justin H. Min), the Umbrella Academy's Number Six, alive and well in a way he hasn't been since the series started.

What's different about this Ben?

The Umbrella Academy's Ben had been killed on a mission before the events of the show even began, though his spirit was able to contact his brother Klaus (Sheehan) and occasionally physically manifest himself. By the end of season 2, however, Ben seemed to have departed from the afterlife, drained from the effort of communing with his sister Vanya (Page) to prevent an apocalyptic explosion.

This Ben is not the same as theirs. According to a casting run-down via The Hollywood Reporter, he serves as the Sparrow Academy's Number Two and is vicious and ambitious, "a Machiavellian tactician" who dreams of hostile takeover against his Number One — basically the opposite of the Umbrella Academy's Ben, save for his power to house and manipulate extradimensional tentacled eldritch monsters. Considering he came up in a timeline where the Sparrows are his new siblings, is there any chance he recognizes that he has a history with the others? 

Who are the other members of the Sparrow Academy?

As in the case of the Umbrella Academy, Min's Ben will be joined at Sparrow Academy by six siblings. Justin Cornwell, who recently appeared in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey and the series I Am the Night, will play Marcus, the charismatic Sparrow Number One. Britne Oldford, who has had recurring roles on TV series The Flash and Blindspot, will play the brilliant Sparrow Number Three, Fei. Jake Epstein will play the battle-hardened Sparrow Number Four, Alphonso, having previously appeared on shows like Suits and Designated Survivor

Genesis Rodriguez has provided voices for Big Hero 6 and She-Ra and the Princess of Power and appeared on TV's The Fugitive. She now takes on the role of Sparrow Number Five, Sloane, who's a bit of a dreamer. Writer and actress Cazzie David will play the loner Sparrow Number Six, Jayme. Sparrow Number Seven, Christopher, will be played by a computer-generated "Existential Dread Inducing Psykronium Cube." Though it may be often mistaken for Marvel's Cosmic Cube or a shrunken-down Borg cube, the casting announcement promises the EDIPC will be like nothing we've ever seen on screen before.

How did Umbrella Academy fans and cast members react to the news?

Nobody was more excited about the news of his return to the show than Min himself, who retweeted an article announcing the casting and added, "Say hello to my new family." He also tweeted at his co-star Castañeda, who plays the Umbrella Academy's second-in-command Diego, "@DavidCastanedaJ i'm number 2 now."

Castañeda responded, "You'll always be dead to me," so it looks like the sibling rivalry is still on, even if they technically belong to different families now.

Min also responded to the show's own announcement of the news on Twitter, saying, "you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain, brelly." So if you were holding out hope that the two groups would put aside their differences and work together for the common good, perhaps you shouldn't hold your breath.

Fan reaction was strong as well, with many posting celebratory clips in response, or expressing excitement about Min's return in ways that... can't be reprinted here. But the other breakout star of the announcement was none other than Christopher. Some had questions, to which the official Umbrella Academy account worked diligently to respond with assurances that yes, the cube's name is Christopher and yes, it really is a sibling. Others were on board from the word go. "Christopher's my fave already pls," one fan wrote

Production on the third season of The Umbrella Academy is scheduled to begin next month under new COVID precautions. A premiere date for the show's return to Netflix has not yet been determined.