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The Umbrella Academy: The Frankel Footage

Elliott: Are you or are you not an enemy of the people?
Diego/Five, overlapping: Such an open-ended question, yeah. / Really depends on the people.

The siblings start connecting with each other, while the Swedes keep after them, so that we never know when bullets could be flying.

The open is fun. It reminds us that in the last season, Hazel shot the Handler, who ought to be dead. But the Handler is too necessary a villain to kill off, and the scene where she is about to be put into the flames is a riot. Then, they had fabulous staging as she returns to work, where she is wearing brilliant red while everyone else is in corporate blue. The director, AJ, is literally a fish; I love it when he smokes. The Handler has been demoted and she is not pleased about it, especially when she assigned to Five’s old desk.

Luther, after discovering Vanya picking up a drunk from his boss's bar, tracks her down on a farm and apologizes. The show needed Luther to apologize, because his treatment of Vanya at the end of Season One was beyond the pale and may have triggered the apocalypse. Not that he trusts her (he shouldn’t); he comes with a handgun. However, as Vanya doesn’t remember him, there’s no emotional connection.

Klaus, who is white and has friends in high places, gets let out of jail quickly, even though in the last episode he stole a truck. Ray Chestnut, who has committed no crimes, is kept without charge, because Ray is black. Before that, however, there are pleasant Shakespeare-based exchanges between Klaus and Ray – whites and blacks are in separate holding areas, but those holding areas are next to each other – and the brothers-in-law connect without realizing they are brothers-in-law.

Diego, who has escaped from the asylum, wants to stop JFK’s assassination but he won’t kill Oswald to do it, because Oswald has not yet committed any crimes. He’s OK with maiming, though. In many ways, Diego is the most idealistic of the Umbrella Academy members. He really does want to be a hero.

Regarding the assassination, when the Frankel Footage is developed (fortunately Elliott, whose digs the Umbrella Academy has commandeered, has a little dark room), they see their father, holding an umbrella, on the grassy knoll.

After seeing that their father is in Dallas, Diego and Five decide to track him down (using an old-fashioned phone book). They find him, but it does not go well. Sir Reginald stabs Diego, and even young Pogo injures young Five.

Basically, this episode shows the imperfect connections between the members of the Umbrella Academy. The only pair working together now are Diego and Five. Luther turned Five down; Vanya doesn’t remember Luther. Klaus and Allison, who arrived earliest, had basically stopped looking for their siblings (but Allison, in seeing Klaus’s tattoos on a prisoner, finally has a lead).

This episode, alas, is a little too guilty of repetition. We have seen windows smashed before, when windows did not need to be smashed. It happens twice in this episode, once with Lila and another time with Klaus, making it less funny, at least for me. Another trope I’ve seen before: violent guys throwing knives at each other. I saw this in one of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes, “Bar Association,” with the Nausicaans. However, many people will not have seen that. At least in this case, there’s a twist, in that a knife injury gives the middle brother (whose name is probably Oscar, not that you would know that, as the Swedish trio rarely speak, and then only in Swedish) reason to open the freezer in order to fetch a piece of ice. And this gives us the opportunity to see what else is in the freezer, the head of the woman who owned the place. The Swedes wander through the episode menacing the various members of the Umbrella Academy, so that whenever we need some tension, bullets fly.

Title musings: “The Frankel Footage” refers to the film slipped by Hazel into Five’s pocket before the Swedes shot Hazel in the previous episode. The film is of the JFK assassination (and reminds us of the Zapruder film, the most famous real reel of the JFK assassination).

Bits and pieces

It’s amazing how important the little things are to most people. The Handler is most upset to learn that her parking spot is now in lot C. Once when I was speaking to a Nobel prize laureate at a reception, I asked him what the best thing was about winning the Nobel prize. He said it was the parking space at his university.

The young actor who plays Harlan is excellent. His name is Justin Paul Kelly, and in his picture on IMDB.com he’s all smiley, not at all like the autistic character he plays.

I think that Carl, Sissy’s husband, is not meant to be sympathetic, but I feel pity for him. Men, in 1963, could be as trapped in the roles assigned to them by society as women were. He wants his wife to love him but he senses she does not.

If they put the head of the landlady in the freezer compartment, what did they do with the body? She was not a small woman.

It’s rather sweet how much the Swedes dote on the cats of the landlady who they killed.

In the episode, Klaus, while in the lock-up, is approached by a guy called Keechie. Klaus does not know Keechie, and Keechie seems to think that’s understandable. But in future episodes we will have flashbacks where they spend some time together, so I think this was a mistake.

There are many reminders of how deeply feared the Russians were at the time. Carl talks about them; Keechie, who is far left instead of far right, speaks about them too.

1963 was a time of great prejudice; I am surprised that Lila, who is dark skinned, does not experience it.

"Originality is nothing but judicious imitation." Voltaire.

Diego and Five react to a phonebook as if it is old-fashioned, but in Season One, which supposedly took place in the year 2019, I don’t think I saw any cell phones or even computers. It felt like the 1980s.


The Handler: I’ve dropped turds bigger than Herb.
Herb: Someone needs fiber.

Five: What the hell’s wrong with you, Luther? I just told you the world’s going to end in ten days.
Luther: Yeah, well, you’re always saying that.

Lila: Come on, we’ll take my car.
Diego: What car?
Lila (smashes window and gets in): This one.
Diego: Hey!
Lila: What? You don’t like the color? Stop being a princess and get in.

Carl: You’re lucky, you know that? You got a blank slate. Start over. The rest of us are stuck with who we are.

Elliott: Who’s Diego?
Five: Imagine Batman, then aim lower.

Lila: You are an open book written for very dumb children.

Lila: I love old couples. I’m always so proud of them for not murdering each other.

Ray: You have some very powerful friends, Klaus.
Klaus: Yeah, well, I don’t even know the guy, just some of his wealthier benefactors. Oh, thank God.
Ray: Well, I tell you what, if you ever do meet him – the governor – tell him me and my brothers here are being held without charge.
Klaus (to officer): Is that true?

Five: You know, when I was stuck out there in the apocalypse, there wasn’t a day I didn’t hear his voice in my head.
Diego: What was he saying?
Five: I told you so.

Overall Rating

An enjoyable romp, but I’m downgrading a bit due to injudicious imitation and repetition. Three out of four umbrellas.

Victoria Grossack loves math, birds, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

  1. Victoria, I loved that Nobel laureate anecdote. :) Totally believed it. I've worked at a couple large universities and at a prestigious research institute where parking spaces were unbelievably important to some people.


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