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The Umbrella Academy: A Light Supper

White manager at Stadler’s: "Oh, no, we are not doing this again. You get your black ass outta here before I call the police."
Allison: "I heard a rumor that you shut your damn mouth."

Sir Reginald invites his pursuers to a light supper, and they finally have a real conversation with him.

We’re treated to a montage of Allison’s arrival. Hers is the most suspenseful, because she is an attractive black woman being dropped in such an overtly racist time and space. Moreover, she cannot talk, because just before the 2019 apocalypse, Vanya damaged her vocal cords. Allison still knows how to fight, though, and she makes it to safety. We get a lovely set of scenes of her working at that beauty parlor and meeting Ray. She speaks again, in a scratchy voice (but we always knew she would speak again; you don't permanently silence one of your stars).

The Handler and Five meet; it's always fun when the Handler and Five get together, and Five discovers that Lila is the Handler’s adopted daughter. The Handler wants Five – one of the best assassins – to take out the Board of Directors of the Commission.

Diego decides they are no longer Number One, Two, etc. (although we never learn Five’s other name) and comes up with Team Zero. Even though zero is my favorite number, for all sorts of reasons, this gag was a dud. A goose-egg. Yeah, a zero. The rest of his family show this idea all the enthusiasm it merits. If you are trying to get rid of numbers, why go with another number?

Given that the world may be about to end, Klaus and Ghost Ben have some heated discussions about what to tell Klaus’s followers. Ben wants Klaus to be honest. Klaus, clad in only his loincloth, goes out and announces that he is a fraud. (Note that I think Klaus is less fraudulent than most. He really does have knowledge of the future. And with the assistance of the dead, he can appear to do some really cool things. However, he doesn’t offer enlightenment.) Anyway, as we see, even conmen have trouble deprogramming their mark. Shortly after Klaus tells his followers he’s a fraud, they all proclaim that they’re frauds too. Sigh.

Ray and Allison have had their talk, and we get Ray’s reactions. He, still dubious, wants to see her powers in action. Allison warns him that it comes with a cost. Nevertheless, they go out and have fun with it, and how can anyone feel anything but delight as they, despite being black, are finally allowed to try on the merchandise? (Don’t answer that; I know the world is still brims with prejudice.) But – Allison can’t completely control herself, and she makes the white manager at Stadler’s pour coffee on himself, just like he poured boiling hot coffee on her.

I loved the Bingo playing scene. The Handler would adore Bingo. Bingo is so 1960s, when the TV only offered three to five stations (but if there was something you wanted to watch you had to stay home or wait for the re-runs). But what will the Handler do with the patio set? I guess she has a home, someplace in time, unlike poor Hazel and Cha-Cha who spent their lives in cheap motels.

I don’t quite get Lila’s interest in Diego. Certainly he’s handsome. And he’s actually a good person, with a code and with ideals, and she hasn’t been around many of those. I guess after a life with the Handler and the weirdos in the Commission, Diego’s fairly attractive. (Note that David Castañeda, the actor, is very attractive, but I don’t like this season’s shaggy look).

Not only does Allison come clean with Ray, but we also get a reconciliation of sorts between Klaus and Dave. Dave apologizes for having punched Klaus the other day. Klaus tries to convince Dave not to ship out to Vietnam, as he will certainly die if he goes. Again, poor Klaus is frustrated in never being able to convince people (not even Ben).

The Handler goes into a sauna naked to have a conversation with what’s left of the IKEA mafia. A naked woman is vulnerable, true, but so is a naked man, and she goes straight for the sausage. She’s trying to get them to murder Diego, as she doesn’t like Lila’s affection for the guy.

They have all received invitations to the light supper, where they finally have some exchanges with an earlier version of the man who raised them. Sir Reginald is generally not impressed, and especially hard on Diego (who gets even by talking to Grace afterwards and getting her to doubt her date). However, Sir Reggie does talk to Five – “you in the culottes” – and they have a meaningful exchange. In Five’s opinion, it’s not sufficiently helpful and he goes to the Handler afterwards.

The two remaining members of the IKEA assassination squad – looking for Diego because they think he murdered their brother – end up at Elliott’s and kill him. That bothers me. I liked Elliott, and I didn’t want him to be killed.

Title musings. “A Light Supper” is the title of the episode, and for once I have a few musings to go along with it. First, in the literal meaning, the supper truly is light, because I don’t think anyone actually eats anything (although they do drink), especially not after Vanya explodes the centerpiece. Second, the evening sheds some light on the situation. Sir Reginald finally acknowledges his pursuers. And, the title reminds me of “The Last Supper” of Jesus Christ which was also revelatory but otherwise has little resemblance. For once, a decent title.

Bits and pieces

The unsung hero in this episode is Odessa, the black woman who owns the beauty parlor. Not only does she wave her scissors at the white guys chasing Allison, she takes Allison in.

They must have had fun dressing up Emmy Raver-Lampman in the fashions and especially the hairstyles of the early 1960s.

More on the number zero. My belief is that anyone who loves math has a favorite number, as well as one or more reasons for their choice. I have chosen zero. Even though in an infinite set of numbers, there is no middle, zero sure looks like the middle of the number line, doesn’t it? It's where all the properties change, as you go from negative to positive. It has a cool other name: origin. And zero is what enables the decimal system, what allows us to use bases instead of roman numerals. It’s strictly forbidden to divide by zero, but if you trick the equations to almost divide by zero, you get calculus. OK, thanks for tolerating this tangent.

Another almost nekkid scene with Klaus (the actor is Robert Sheehan).

The hot coffee scenes remind me of the case, Liebeck v. McDonald’s, in which a 79-year-old woman injured herself by spilling hot coffee on herself. The injuries were fairly severe, but the initial punitive damages of $2.7 million sent shock waves through the insurance industry and was reduced eventually to a much smaller, albeit substantial amount. McDonald’s did not lower the temperature of its coffee but it has put up warning signs.

What’s Irish and comes out in the spring? Patty O’Furniture.

Dune, by Frank Herbert, was published in 1965, two years after this episode takes place.

Klaus may be frustrated by not being able to convince people, but that’s how it works in real life, too. If you are trying to persuade someone to change course, don’t expect the instant gratification of someone saying: “Of course! I see that you’re right.” Give your words time to sink in.


The Handler: Do you like jazz, Five?
Five: I’d rather lick a cheese grater.
Ed. Note: What do people these days have against jazz? Eleanor of The Good Place is also a jazz hater.

Klaus: I’m a fraud.
Keechie: I’m also a fraud.

Ray: So, there was a black president?
Allison: We’ve been through this.
Ray: Like, black, black? In the White House?

Allison: Excuse me. My husband would like to try on this suit.
Salesman: Colored folk can’t try on the merchandise, but if you’d like to make a purchase –
Allison: I heard a rumor that you let him try on anything in the store.

Lila: I would kill for an assignment like that.
The Handler: In any coup, you need a scapegoat, all right? We need deniability. You and me both.

Otto: Unarm my wiener.

Sir Reginald: My reconnaissance tells me you’re not CIA, not KGB, certainly not MI5, so – who are you?

Sir Reginald: Maybe your appetite is disproportionate to the size of your abilities. Start small. Seconds, not decades.
Five: Seconds? Look, no offense, but I need a bit more time for what I’m trying to accomplish.
Sir Reginald: So much can change in a matter of seconds. One could overthrow an empire. One could fall in love. An acorn doesn’t become an oak overnight.

Overall rating

This episode had really good bits and some not so good bits. I did not like the death of Elliott. In fact, I dislike it so much I had trouble watching that part again and keep stopping the episode there. On the other hand, I enjoyed most of it a lot. So I don’t know how many Bingo squares to give the episode. Let’s say, three out of four, and if you have a different opinion, make your case in the comments.

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

1 comment:

  1. Three out of four Bingo squares is fair. I loved a lot of it, most particularly the Allison and Ray scenes, the dinner with the exploding centerpiece, Ben desperate to speak to his siblings (why won't Klaus translate for him?), the Handler and Five. And I didn't like Elliott's terrible death. I also didn't like Allison making that man pour hot coffee on his own hand, even though he did it to her. It was like descending to his level, and I think Ray saw it that way, too.

    Interesting opinion about zero, Victoria. I don't really have a favorite number. Okay, maybe three.


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