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The Umbrella Academy: 743

Klaus: “If you don’t make it back, there’s one thing that I need to tell you.”
Diego: “I don’t have time for this.”
Klaus: “Please.”
Diego: “What?”
Klaus: “You look like Antonio Banderas with the long hair. I just thought you should know.”
Diego: “Thanks, man.”

As the Fives plot against each other, Ben makes a great sacrifice to help Vanya. Plus, Lila learns the truth – at least some of it – about the deaths of her parents.

2, 3 and 4 join forces to save the world from Vanya, who is sending out lethal waves of energy. Allison is the first to make the attempt (Diego, self-proclaimed hero, ought be the first, but he and Klaus are arguing). Allison has no power that would help her, and she is pushed back. Diego uses his knives, and although he makes more progress than Allison, it’s not enough. Klaus, despite an assist from Diego, who throws a line, also fails. Finally Ben, who, as a ghost, is not affected by Vanya’s waves, makes his move. In a rather protracted scene (well, several, as this is chopped up in bits across the episode) Ben finally makes contact with Vanya, entering her mind and helping her calm down. The recall of her memories in the prior episode and all the guilt she feels are the source of the lethal waves. Ben reassures her a lot – and although calming her down is necessary to stop a repeat of doomsday – I agree more with Vanya’s self-condemnation than with Ben’s forgiveness.

Ben finally really dies. I liked how the idea of “going into the light” is portrayed. Instead of moving into the light, he sort of dissolves into light. Note that I liked the idea and I am not so keen on the actual execution. However, there’s no way I could know how to do it better.

The fighting Fives are a lot of fun, especially as they have the same opinion of Luther. The farting joke is getting rather old. Their arguments and their battle are protracted and chopped to get to the point where mustached Five is pushed into the vortex, returning to 2019. And, as mustached Five doesn’t do anything to make sure JFK dies, it feels as if a plot thread may have been dropped. What was his role supposed to be?

The Umbrella Academy has been really clever about how A.J. the fish communicates, by moving around the colored gravel in his fishbowl. As I don’t think you can train fish, this must all be CGI. Very well done! However, I expect we won’t be getting more of this special effect, as the Handler swallows the fish. On the other hand, so many characters don’t die permanent deaths in shows, that we can’t be sure the fish is gone. Of course, the fish, being CGI, may not have an actor and an agent working to keep a job.

Herb – played by Ken Hall, who is only 4 feet 7.5 inches tall – makes the most of his ability to be overlooked. He receives the communication from the fish about case 743, something he can do because his appearance is so nonthreatening. Herb, however, is going through tense times, as people keep holding knives to his throat. Through a scene with him we learn that Lila loves Diego. I admit that Herb is, oddly, the sort of person you would confide in. Why is that?

Harlan, connected with Vanya and freaking out while Vanya is still suffering from her nadir with respect to getting her memories back, finally speaks. This matters, because it is his only speech throughout the ten episodes of Season Two. Unfortunately, the young boy says “Vanya;” this alarms and offends Carl. He plans to take Harlan away to a place that can help him. Now, those institutions back in the early 1960s were probably doing more harm than good, but Carl is desperate. In his mind – and according to the values of the time – he is attempting to do the right thing. It all goes horribly wrong and Carl dies.

Harlan’s killing of his father – in self-defense; he just shields himself from the bullet – is a reminder of the fact that Vanya, too, has caused many deaths. But really, I blame Sissy. She brought a gun. Guns are dangerous! I don’t blame Carl for trying to wrestle it from her. And yet – she was right, also. She knew that the place Carl was planning to send Harlan would probably have damaged him further.

This episode gives us some big reveals about Sir Reginald. He is furious with the Majestic 12, who seem to be responsible for the death of JFK (at least they are rejoicing), which means we can like him a lot more. His position on the good versus evil scale has always been rather ambiguous, especially as he has so little empathy. Reggie turns out to be an even more efficient assassin than his adopted son, Five, as he takes out the entire Majestic 12. I guess they won’t be returning in Season Three, but as this is fiction, you never know. Of course, only one of them had a speaking part, so it seems unlikely.

Oh, and we also learn Sir Reggie is an alien from some other planet. Now, we already knew Sir Reginald was much longer-lived than most humans, but we did not know the alien stuff. This may explain his interest in the Moon – he’s got stuff up there, and that may be why he sent Luther up to the Moon back in Season One. It explains, too, why he said, “Worlds end,” in his earlier conversation with culotte Five. I expect he has had experience of worlds ending, especially his own.

The Handler fiddles with a knife at several points during the episode. The episode, à la Chekhov, finally has her use it, by inserting it into the heart of an employee at the Commission who has detected something strange going on at the farm outside Dallas.

Title musings. “743” is the title of the episode. It refers to the case number of mustached Five being sent to murder Lila’s biological parents. It is a moderately interesting number, in that it is prime and that the sum of the last two digits equal the first digit. Yeah, I’m stretching. I don’t think there are hidden meanings. In fact, I expect the number is meant to be as nondescript and overlooked as dear Herb.

Bits and pieces

Ben claims that their father treated Vanya like a bomb before she was one, but that is not true. Four-year-old Vanya was killing (or at least seriously maiming) nannies; that was why Sir Reggie chose to repress her abilities.

I always appreciate it when shows with larger casts use actors of all shapes and races. I know sometimes it’s done in the spirit of diversity, but that’s not why I like it. I am not a visually-oriented person, and I have trouble keeping characters straight unless they are extremely different from each other.


The Handler does have the neatest outfits. I also like Mazikeen’s from Lucifer, but the Handler does not have to be able to fight in hers.

In 1939 there was a great goldfish-swallowing craze. These fish tended to be smaller than the one we see in this episode. On the other hand, they were real and not CGI.

Klaus shows, over and over, that he knows how people feel. With the possibility that Diego might be going to his death, he gave him a great compliment. And he immediately thinks of Jackie when they learn the JFK assassination is on.

This episode is considerably shorter than the others this season, with a total of 40 minutes. I appreciate how, with shows that don’t have to fit into the regular scheduled programming, have so much more flexibility. It also makes me wonder if there was a storyline that didn’t work out. Most of the episodes run about 47 minutes, and a reduction of 7 minutes is a lot.

Quotes

Klaus: Listen, listen, Vanya would understand, ’cause she has realistic expectations of what I am. And what I am is sexy trash.

Lila: Is this a swearing in – or a coronation?

The Handler: Everything is a test, darling. The question is – why are you failing it?

Vanya: I killed Pogo. I almost killed Allison. I destroyed the world. I’m a monster.
Ben: Dad treated you like a bomb before you ever were one.

Carl: I did right by you! I worked hard. I was faithful. I never blamed you for the boy. I stayed! You don’t get to ask for more than that.

Lila: No, no, no, no. I was playing Diego, he was not playing me.
The Handler: Is that why you’re in my office, crying, while he’s out roaming free, laughing at you?

Allison: It’s happening again.
Klaus: Oh, Jackie.

Overall Rating

Enjoyable, but I have to wonder why it was shorter. Three and a half out of four case files.

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

1 comment:

  1. Ben has taken a back seat for so long (understandably, since he's incorporeal) that it was sweet to see him save the day and sacrifice himself. I didn't want to see him go. And I am again trying not to dislike Vanya, who didn't ask for all of this to happen.

    I am also confused about exactly what was supposed to happen on the grassy knoll.

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