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The Umbrella Academy: Öga for Öga

Desk clerk: “You’re going to pay for that vending machine, little mister!”
Five: “Yeah? I don’t want to hurt you, all right?”
Desk clerk: “Hurt me? Oh, I ain’t afraid of you, you little pus ball.”

Fulfilling a deal to get much-needed help from the Handler, Five travels to 1982 to kill the board of the Commission, and then learns he only has 90 minutes to gather his family together in order to return to 2019.

The board of the Commission is meeting during a Polka Association gathering in Wisconsin, where the patina of bourgeois banality serves as excellent camouflage for the power brokers of the timeline. Five shows up, and as he looks like a kid he gets treated like a kid and is told the cookies will only be available later. Five apparently does want a sugar rush, preferably a Fudge Nutter, and when the vending machine doesn’t work he vents his frustration on the machine. We get to see what a skilled assassin he is, as he improvises by grabbing an axe and swinging away at the board. The best parts are the exchanges between him and the cheery desk clerk, who is furious when she discovers he has broken a vending machine.

Five’s murders are successful and then he meets with the Handler back in 1963. He has completed his end of their bargain and hands her proof in the form of the goldfish (AJ). The Handler gives him a briefcase which will allow him and his family to return to their timeline in 2019. The problem is there’s a deadline; the briefcase will only work for 90 minutes. This is grossly unfair. The Handler’s argument that his family’s removal needs to be done quickly seems reasonable until you remember that the Commission (which she will now control) can influence the timeline. At any rate, Five acts as if he's not in a position to argue and the ticking clock is what gives the artificial urgency to the episode, as he attempts to gather his family together.

Luther and Diego discover the murdered Elliott and the “Öga for Öga” message. The Swedish assassins murdered Elliott because they thought Diego was responsible for the death of one of their brothers. This is sort of unreasonable, because they have been trying to assassinate the Umbrella Academy siblings, so the Umbrella Academy siblings taking revenge (although they did not; the death of the Swede was orchestrated by the Handler) is to be expected. But, I get it; fraternal love can be important and the death of a brother can make you angry. However, as Luther and Diego don’t know Swedish, they assume the message is a name, and place a call to an actual Olga Foroga. I loved that. I also like the fact that Luther is showing some intelligence this season, as he talks Diego out of blaming the feds for Elliott’s death. I don’t appreciate Diego’s being so stupid, however.

Carl caught Sissy and Vanya kissing and now he wants Vanya to leave. I know many people would condemn his attitude now, but for the times, his actions would have been viewed as fairly reasonable. Humane, even. And although I completely agree that who Vanya is, is not a disease, I agree with Carl that you sometimes need to take drastic action to stop the spread of disease.

Ben borrows Klaus’s body and finally gets laid. And, what is emotionally more important, he lets his siblings know he is there. I guess that’s why Klaus denied Ben’s presence in a prior episode – which was uncharacteristically dickish of Klaus – so we could have this sweet moment.

Vanya and Allison want to bring their loved ones with them to the future (Klaus, however, yearns to get away from his cult). Vanya has an excellent point: autism in 2019 is understood much better than it was in 1963; for Harlan it would be a godsend. Allison tells Ray he could be an activist in 2019 as well as in 1963, but Ray knows he’s needed in his own time. Ray knows saying good-bye to Allison will be painful, but he refuses the anodyne of having his memory wiped.

Allison is emotionally ready to go but the two remaining Swedes show up. There’s a fight, and for a while she can’t talk, but then she gets her voice back and gets one brother to kill the other. An eye for an eye: Elliott is avenged.

The honorable and romantic Diego, in the time he has before the scheduled return to the future, works to bury poor Elliott. Diego is then shanghaied by Lila, who is now head of security at the Commission. The Handler objects, and Diego objects as well. I have to wonder at Lila, who may have the hots for Diego (and David Castañeda is handsome) but who seems really unintelligent in her decisions. Not only does Lila not see through the Handler’s manipulations, drugging someone is not the best way to recruit them. Oddly, however, her poor decisions are only matched by Diego’s, who does not drop her like a hot potato. I guess physical attraction accounts for a lot of poor decisions, but I don’t like it so much when characters are stupid.

Although Five Luther and Klaus reach the alley by the deadline, Allison, Vanya and Diego do not. They are all thwarted. Allison is dealing with assassins; Vanya has been taken in by the authorities, and Diego has been captured by Lila. As they really don’t know which one of the Umbrella Academy was/will be responsible for the doomsday – they didn’t reach a conclusion when they discussed it in Valhalla – Five aborts the escape attempt and tosses the briefcase away.

In a way it is frustrating, all the efforts for naught, but that’s how things work. You try, and then you have to try again.

Title musings. “Öga for Öga” is the title of the episode, and as Five tells us, it means Eye for an Eye. In ancient Babylonian, biblical, Roman, and Islamic law, it was a principle operative in private and familial settlements, intended to limit retaliation, and often satisfied by a money payment or other equivalent. I can see the Swedes writing this, even though, as they have been attempting to assassinate the siblings, it's unfair. As it led to the phone call to the unsuspecting Olga Foroga, I rather enjoyed this title choice. As for other paybacks, I guess they're moving the plot along, especially Carl's warning to Vanya. It would have been nice if some actual eyes had been emphasized in the episode.

Bits and pieces

I understand Aidan Gallagher was too young to be on the set when they were filming scenes with guns in them. I am not aware of the rules, but that may account for his choosing an axe for his excution of the board.

This is one of the many stories that had to be set before the invention of cell phones. Although, I will remind you, in Season One (set in 2019), no one used cell phones either.

Although Allison offers to rumor Ray into forgetting her, I don't see how that would work. She can't rumor their friends, and someone would remember that Ray was married.

Allison should get a throat guard.

Oddly enough, before having watched any of The Umbrella Academy, I came up with the same trope in my series the Crow-Nickels (chronicles about crows). Sol, my protagonist, is such a gifted thinker-linker that his dead brother Peeps takes residence in his brain.

Quotes

Ben: You’re always going through a lot.
Klaus: The love of my life is gonna die, and I can’t stop it.

The Handler: You know you’re really starting to fill out those tight little shorts of yours.
Remark: Five is only supposed to have lived about a month since the series began. However, the actor, Aidan Gallagher, must have aged at least a year and a half since the series started filming, and he’s at the age when males grow a lot.

Diego: It smells like the feds.
Luther: What? Are you out of your mind? Diego, if this was the federal government, they would take him somewhere and question him. They wouldn’t – do this.

Carl: See, they didn’t catch the sick cow in time. So, the disease spread. You gotta fight the disease before it spreads. Before it gets outta hand.
Vanya: Who I am is not a disease.
Carl: Well, call it what you want, but it ain’t natural. And it ain’t happening under my roof. Not with my wife.

Diego: When we were little, what did you reprogram Allison’s teddy bear to say?
Ben inside Klaus: Luther sniffs Dad’s underwear.

Allison: I can rumor you. Take the pain away.
Ray: No. We’re not going to do it like that. I don’t want to forget you. I don’t want to forget us. I would take my year with you over a lifetime with anyone else.

Overall Rating

There were some excellent bits in here – I love Allison and especially Ray – but some of the obvious plot manipulations were hard to swallow, from the previous uncharacteristic dickishness of Klaus toward Ben to the whole set-up for the episode of the 90 minute deadline. At least the latter was in character for the Handler, but it seems unlikely that Five would not have figured it out beforehand. Two and a half out of four Fudge Nutters.

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

2 comments:

percysowner said...

Alison offered to Rumor the pain away, she could have meant she would Rumor Ray into believing they had fallen out of love and that is why she left. It's been a long time since I watched the episode, so I could be wrong.

Carl used the MOST homophobic language possible, and did it so the audience would see him as a villain, but if he had come upon a male Vanya kissing Sissy, he would have thrown him out of the house as well. I mean Vanya is romancing his wife and in those days, that was bad. In fact, Sissy could not have divorced Carl at this point. No fault divorce didn't became law in the U.S. until 1969 and that was only in California.

From Wikipedia

The adoption of no-fault divorce laws by the other states
By 1977, nine states had adopted no-fault divorce laws,[45] and by late 1983, every state but South Dakota and New York had adopted some form of no-fault divorce (although some forms were not as easy to obtain as that in California).[53] South Dakota adopted no-fault divorce in 1985.[54] Until August 2010, New York still lacked a unilateral no-fault divorce statute; under New York divorce law, only if both parties executed and acknowledged a separation agreement and lived separately for one year could a judge convert it into a divorce. New York governor David Paterson signed a no-fault divorce bill on August 15, 2010. As of October 2010, no-fault divorce is allowed in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.


So Carl was protecting 'his' property from someone violating norms all over the place in 1964

Victoria Grossack said...

Thanks for the information, percysowner! In 1963, homosexuality was considered completely unnatural, so Carl's just telling Vanya to leave his house would be a humane way to go about it. Still, my stomach turns and churns when I remember how few rights females had when I was a kid (and how hard it for so many in so many other parts of the planet).