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The Umbrella Academy: Run Boy Run

After a very lively and fleet-footed pilot, 'Run Boy Run' is a more slowly-paced entry, choosing to supply the viewer with additional details pertaining to the Hargreeves siblings' lives through imagery rather than exposition, and introduce the series' supporting cast outside the Hargreeves family.

The opening of this episode stupendously manages to showcase a variety of new details all in just under four minutes: we're shown what Five was like before getting stuck in the future, why he got stuck in the future, the subtle bond he held with Vanya when she was his age, and even a further look into the rigidity of Sir Hargreeves that seems to persist even during the children's' breakfast. Child actors can often be perceived as either a hit-or-miss, but the general consensus is simply that Aidan Gallagher as Five is anything but a miss. Credit is given where credit is due, and when an actor of his age can hold his own in a heated argument with Colm Feore, it warrants major credit.

A slew of new characters make their way into the spotlight, starting with Hazel and Cha-Cha, two time-traveling assassins sent to collect Five for reasons unknown. They look a little like Men-In-Black type agents, while their personalities actually more reflect many buddy-cop film characters – Cha-Cha appears to be the dedicated and level-headed one, while Hazel comes off more as the simpleton with his head up in the clouds half the time. Their relentless interrogation though of a truck driver Five crossed paths with in the last episode show that for the time being, they do indeed mean business.

Other new characters, while intriguing in their own right, serve additionally as being one half of a coin to flesh their other side out more: Eudora Patch for Diego, and Leonard Peabody for Vanya. Patch is a police detective investigating the shootout that Five took part in and happens to be Diego's ex-girlfriend as well. Due to Diego's arrogance and tendency to operate as a freelance vigilante, Patch ended things between the two of them and is now more than anything constantly irritated with Diego's interference in her work. Peabody is an amateur violinist seeking tutoring from Vanya, and evidently seems to be the only other character besides Five that enjoys Vanya's company; Klaus is off scrounging for drug (and food) money, Luther is still investigating Sir Hargreeves' abrupt death, and Allison has rebuffed any attempt at consoling by Vanya after she is denied an opportunity to see her daughter.

As groundless as Allison's outburst to Vanya seemed, Allison as a character has already begun to grow on me more during my second viewing, and I do think there's something to be said about her line to Vanya while she's in the midst of chiding her; "You're an adult now Vanya, you don't get to blame your problems on anyone but yourself." During my rewatch, I began to realize that Allison may not be as hateful towards Sir Hargreeves as I initially believed, and, as we will see throughout all of Season 1, Allison (along with Five) seems to be one of the only siblings that refuses to cast blame on her father for her own issues. She instead takes as much initiative as she possibly can to move towards her own future and endgame, which is making amends for losing custody of her daughter. The others – Luther, Diego, Klaus, Vanya – all seem to have great difficulty with letting go of the past, and this is not to say that it is a fault of their own or that what their father did to them growing up is excusable or permissible, but if there were someone I could point out and say is trying to be the most emotionally mature, this episode showed me it was Allison.

Meanwhile, Five's attempts to learn what triggers the apocalypse begin with a prosthetic eye he believes originated from the individual that will unleash the imminent disaster. He enlists Klaus to blackmail an employee of the corporation the eye was manufactured at to learn who it belongs to, only to be told that the serial number on the eye hasn't even been applied yet. With his only lead dashed, Five (after uncivilly stiffing Klaus on the $20 promised for his zany performance as Five's father) heads next for a department store to reunite with Dolores, the woman Five has claimed multiple times before he was married to in the future. In a setting where sentient chimpanzees, super-powered beings, and time travel exists, I confess sheepishly that what took me the longest time to wrap my head around was that Dolores is in fact just a mannequin that Five ultimately bonded to in a manner not unlike Chuck Noland and Wilson in Cast Away.

While we're on the subject of Klaus too, an interesting spin on the addicted component of Klaus' character is that he doesn't just need to obtain a high to avoid nasty withdrawal symptoms; what's more crucial for him is that he needs the narcotics to block out the sounds of the deceased he can't help but take in as a result of his power. I also enjoy the notion of Ben at times acting as Klaus' conscience who wants to break Klaus away from his unhealthy habits. As opposed to other shows where, for the viewer's benefit, a manifested fragment of the hallucinating individual's mind argues with them through mirrors, it's refreshing here that Ben is not that, and instead is someone (albeit deceased) who will verbally spar with Klaus with his own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.

Name That Tune:

Appropriately, 'Run Boy Run' by Woodkid is the tune being played as Five jumps further and further through time. Its grandiose instrumental not only kicks off as Five first takes in the desolation of the apocalypse he's just jumped into, but it's also a worthy track to exercise to.

Hargreeves Humor:

Five: "You know that rumor that Twinkies have an endless shelf life? Well, it's total bullshit."

Klaus: "Drop dead!"
Ben: "Low blow!"

Klaus: "There's been an assault in Mr. Big's office, and we need security, now! Schnell!"

Five: "I told you to put on something professional!"
Klaus: "What? This is my nicest outfit."

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

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