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The Umbrella Academy: Kugelblitz

Allison: “I am so angry. I don't know where to put any of it.”
Diego: “You remember that vigilante shit I used to do?”
Allison: “Yeah. Bargain Batman.”
Diego: “Smartass. You know, you guys all laugh, but that shit helped me, man. Kicking assholes in their assholes is like therapy, but for cool people.”

Connections are made, but Diego's kid... (spoiler for the episode below the break) kills Uncle Klaus.

The episode starts with a montage of the lives of Sissy and Harlan, after they leave Dallas. Harlan, whenever he gets attacked, acts out. When his mother dies – and we see Callum Keith Rennie made to look young, but not that successfully – Harlan sends out waves and that’s the source of the grandfather paradox as he has killed the mothers of people who still exist. What happened here is slightly more complicated than the original version of the grandfather paradox, but it still fits.

Five and Lila are at the Commission, which, although it exists outside of time, is falling apart. This, apparently, it what happens when a grandfather paradox is set in motion. They find a message from our dear friend Herb, who says everything is disappearing, and then vanishes himself. They consult the handbook about what to do. It tells them to go the Operations Bunker, which has been constructed to preserve the Founder. We didn’t even know the Commission had a Founder, and only the Founder can enter the Operations Bunker. Of course, the Founder turns out to be an aged version of Five, so Five can open the door. We were clued in earlier: Five was scratching himself because he itched and farting a lot, both symptoms of being in the vicinity of a doppelgänger. This is only a mild surprise, as is the fact that aged Five dies before he can tell our Five everything that needs to be done. However, a clue remains: a tattoo on aged Five’s chest. Five cuts it away from the corpse and carries it with him. That was unexpected. Not telling us how Five became the Founder is back story I would like to see, but I think the writers don’t ever plan to reveal this.

However, in this episode the writers stop playing dodgeball and let our characters truly connect, communicating instead of lying and prevaricating. One example is the connection between Harlan and Viktor, where Harlan lets Viktor know what he did all these years, and that he – or rather they – are responsible for tripping the grandfather paradox and apparently the Kugelblitz in the bottom of the Sparrow Academy.

Another obvious connection is Sloane and Luther, who have plenty of reason to be suspicious of each other. Sloane is illogical and unreasonable – Luther points out the Sparrows came to attack the Umbrellas – but as she says, she just lost half her family.

However, Luther and Sloane, although I’m happy to see them together, are not very deep. I have the sense they were both very lonely people waiting for anyone close to Mr./Ms. Right to come along to make a couple. The real connection of the episode takes place between Diego and Allison.

Diego has really stepped up this season, first with the kid Stan, and now with troubled sister Allison. He takes Allison out for a drink – Slushees, but they spike them – and gets her to open up. This is an especial kindness as Allison has lost her only sister.

Allison finally speaks. Dallas in the 1960s was hell for a black woman, especially when she had no voice. The 1960s is only days in the past, so her PTSD is overwhelming, especially as the changing timelines have cancelled both her husband and her child. No wonder she’s lashing out! Diego gives her an outlet. He’s Hispanic; she’s black; when they walk into a bar sporting a confederate flag, they expect a fight. The battle is not shown, but it is satisfying.

Klaus and Stan are cleaning rooms in the hotel. Well, Stan is squirting a little cleaner and attempting to steal things while Klaus supervises. Stan has been told to do this in order to make up for all the damage he has done to the Hotel Oblivion. It’s a nice touch, because the Umbrellas do leave a lot of destruction in their wake and, even though they offered Chet the manager something when they checked in, it’s not clear what they’re doing for funds. Besides, given that people are disappearing, Chet is probably short-staffed. Still, I have to think it’s inadequate, but Chet is remarkably easy-going.

Klaus and Stan have a pass key, and enter the white buffalo room that is not on Chet’s list. Klaus, staring at the white buffalo’s head on the wall, connects it with Reggie as he recalls a painting of a pale buffalo at the Sparrow Academy. Stan starts fooling around with an arrow launching system in the room – and sends one through Klaus in what appears to be a lethal injury. We’ve had a number of characters truly die this season; is Klaus actually dead? Stay tuned to find out!

Title musings. “Kugelblitz” is the title of the episode, and as they explain, this means ball of lightning in German. Literally it refers to the actual ball of lightning in the Sparrow Academy basement. Figuratively we could think of many metaphorical balls of lightning: Five and Lila’s time at the Commission; Harlan’s confession of having created the grandfather paradox; Allison being a furious ball of lightning; the sexual sparks between Luther and Sloane. On the other hand, it’s too similar to the title of the previous episode, so I am perversely not pleased.

Bits and pieces

This time Sloane is the one who feels betrayed by Luther.

Rachel Herschberger, Klaus's birth mother, is played by Laura Hopper, wife of Tom Hopper, who plays Luther.

Allison is so emotionally desperate that she tries to rumor herself. As that falls flat, she changes her look by chopping off her hair.

I don’t think Klaus has had any encounters this season with dead people. Why they did not include that? Have I missed something? Is Klaus drinking and drugging himself enough to stop it? It would have been fun for him to encounter some Amish ancestors. Or perhaps, because he’s in a messed-up timeline, it doesn’t work?

The Operations Bunker has several of white swivel egg chairs with red cushions inside. So did the library I frequented growing up. They were the best reading spots.


Lila: Holy shit. I was just here. How long was I bloody gone?
Five: It seems the grandfather paradox is affecting everything. Even places out of time.
Lila: Is that possible?
Five: I stopped tracking what was possible a long time ago.

Klaus: It doesn't alarm you at all, the fact that they're drսgging their father?
Diego: Wish we would have thought of that.

Klaus: Oh, you know the luggage room in the basement of the Academy where we used to huff paint?
Diego: Yeah, vaguely.
Klaus: Do you recall this blinding orb of light?
Klaus tries to tell Diego but Diego ignores him.

Harlan: There's no hope for me. I'm... not special like you. I wasn't made for this... power. I can't control it.

Reginald: What have I missed? Sounds juicy.
Ben: Dad, we lost Jayme, Alphonso, and Sloane.
Reggie: Oh! Well, then we should be out looking for them. Fetch my jacket.
Fei: No, Dad. He means they're dead.
I get the feeling Reggie wants to get out more. And of course Sloane isn’t dead.

Sloane: I hate your family.
Luther: That's cool. Not a super fan of yours right now.

Luther: Sloane, you need to know something about me. I don't really have any friends. Or... romances. I just have my family, and I would do anything to protect them except betray you, because that's not who I wanna be. So, if you're playing me right now, you win. But if this... if this is for real, we have to trust each other because we're not our families.

Diego: Harlan saved our asses. He can stay here as long as he wants. You know what, Luther? He can take your bed. Since you're sleeping with the enemy.

Overall rating

Occasionally this episode defied expectations, which is what The Umbrella Academy so often does so well. But what I found compelling was the conversation between Diego and Allison. Three and a half out of four spiked Slushees.

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

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed Five and Lila's interactions- from their fight to their uneasy partnership getting to the Commission. I think we were able to figure out who was in the bunker because of his symptoms, but Lila thought Five was just "essential personnel," which is why she laughed when he identified the founder.

    Allison looking in the mirror and cutting her hair reminded me of Viktor doing the same thing. My question is did Allison do it because she could no longer recognize herself or because she didn't like the person she was or both? She was losing control with Sloane.

    I was amused that Klaus was aware of everything Stanley was pocketing since it seemed like he wasn't paying attention at all. Why did he have to pick the lock to the Buffalo suite, though, when they had all those keys? I was shocked when he got the arrow through the heart!

    Btw, up until I saw this episode again (or the previous one? ) I thought it was the Hotel Oblivion, too, for obvious reasons, but it's actually the Hotel Obsidian.


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