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The Umbrella Academy: Seven Bells

Luther: “You know, I, um, really wish you wouldn't have done that.”
Sloane: “How does it hurt to hear what he has to say?”
Luther: “Ah, don't underestimate the damage that man can do at a family meeting.”
Sloane: “That is not the same man. And you aren't the same boy you were. You're my husband. And whatever you decide, I'll be by your side.”
Note that she just didn’t support what he decided. And, given what Reggie does to Luther in the episode, Luther’s attitude was completely justified.

Reginald goes all out to convince the children to sign on to his plan. Five tries to recover a drunken memory.

This episode begins with a montage on the Moon, finally giving us some backstory with respect to Luther’s years there. He was sent by his father, ostensibly to gather samples (where he got the rock for his wife Sloane). He’s obediently fulfilling Reggie’s wishes, because Luther is really a get-along-with-others type, even though he knows his father doesn’t welcome displays of affection. The saddest moment is when Luther writes the word “love” on a note to his father, and then crosses it out, knowing it won’t be appreciated.

The Moon scenes are kind of filler, reminding me of the movie Passengers as Luther’s psyche deteriorates from too much solitude. He goes from exercising, even moonwalking (another example of Tom Hopper’s dance skills) to sobbing on the floor in his underwear, where we finally see his hairy, simian limbs. The obvious moment of importance to future plot happens when there’s a part of the moon that Luther cannot access. However, we – if not Luther – get a glimpse of a woman frozen in some cryochamber on moon. We have seen her before, when Reggie said goodbye to Abigail (more than a hundred years ago) as she was dying. Just after that, Reggie left the UK for the US. Obviously, she matters.

The episode returns to the present, where people in the Hotel Obsidian are waking up, either by themselves or in pairs. Klaus and Ben are together, implying they spent a lustful night together (Klaus is fine with it, prancing around in his underwear, but Ben seems uncomfortable). Five wakes on a shelf in the kitchen with a massive hangover. Reggie arrives at Viktor’s room with breakfast, which seems out of character, and even makes a Jesus joke (which I did find funny). The newlyweds, of course, are together.

Too much time is spent with Five’s wondering who Reggie was speaking with the night before. It’s Allison, and she should have been at the top of Five’s list of suspects. Allison left the wedding early. Allison has been suffering from PTSD for the entire season. And, suddenly, Allison is supporting Reggie’s plans.

This episode is mostly about fulfilling Reggie’s main goal: to get everyone to go into the tunnel. The first step is to get everyone to come and listen to his plan (to go the other dimension) and the second is to actually go into the other dimension. The first step doesn't defy expectations much. Although the Umbrellas are reluctant, it’s obvious that people will eventually go to his meeting, because without the meeting, the plot can’t move forward. The most enjoyable interaction is Luther and Sloane, because the bride does such a lovely job of manipulating the groom into going.

Anyway, in the meeting, Reggie tells them a story about seven bells, and how it’s always seven who come to the rescue in various stories. That explains why he adopted seven kids in both timelines; he was always working toward this mission.

Reggie’s second step is to get them through the tunnel, but this is harder. Even the Universe being sucked away by the Kugelblitz isn’t enough to convince them. Reggie gives them time (when there really isn’t any) and says he’ll be in the courtyard – but he actually goes to the White Buffalo room. And then we get first real twist. Reggie is waiting like a spider for someone to walk past, and the first someone turns out to be Luther. After praising Luther (!) and hugging Luther (!!), Reggie’s alien attack limb comes out and he kills Luther.

After all, the family only gets together for weddings and funerals.

I wonder, was everything Reggie said to Luther before he killed him a lie? He’s not totally incapable of affection, and Luther was the most loyal of Reggie’s adopted kids (the other number one, Marcus, saw through Reggie and started slipping him pills after Pogo’s departure).

The ploy works. Reggie pretends to be shocked, horrified to see that Luther has been murdered, and Diego, who knows knives, confirms that Luther was killed by a long, curved blade. The family comes together to mourn, widow Sloane weeping over her husband’s hairy body. Unaware that Reggie murdered Luther – after all, he was supposed to be in the courtyard – they agree to go into the other dimension.

They start going through the tunnel. It’s the last moment to do it, as the Hotel Obsidian is being swallowed by the Kugelblitz (good-bye, Chet the manager). But then, in a second surprise, Reggie refuses to allow Klaus to enter, pushing him out – with the last words being “You’re just too much trouble,” instead of the praise as he gave Luther.

Klaus kills himself in order to escape being swallowed by the Kugelblitz. I guess that’s what all those sessions of bus-ball were about.

I don’t really understand how going through the portal is going to save the universe. I suppose we’ll learn the answer in the next episode.

Title musings. “Seven Bells” is the title of this episode. It’s true that the number seven plays an important role in many stories. This is probably because humans are generally able to remember seven objects in short-term memory. No other bells that I noticed in this episode (although we know there’s a very dangerous bell in the mirror Hotel Obsidian) but seven of the superheroes enter the mystery tunnel: Ben, Sloane, Lila, Five, Viktor, Allison and Diego. Did it have to be exactly seven and that’s why Reggie stopped Klaus? Anyway, the word seven was certainly earned by the episode, but I’m not sure about the word bells – except for Reggie’s story.

Bits and pieces

Klaus (Robert Sheehan) really wears the skimpiest outfits. No other actor shows as much skin.

If considering the handwriting, the same makeup artist did both the tattoos on Klaus’s hands and the insult on Ben’s back.

Simian Luther has a lot of hair. I don’t think Sloane will want to share a razor with him. However, if you marry for what you know will only be a tiny amount of time because the universe is ending, this does not matter.

Here’s a link to an article about the magic number seven. And, if you don’t feel like clicking on the link, here’s are some pertinent sentences: “The Magic number 7 (plus or minus two) provides evidence for the capacity of short term memory. Most adults can store between 5 and 9 items in their short-term memory. This idea was put forward by Miller (1956) and he called it the magic number 7.”

Quotes

Reggie: Such a shame to see a family struggle so.
Viktor: Family. What does that even mean?
Reggie: Family are the only people who know us whilst we endure our most epic trials. I think that should count for something.
Viktor: Why don't you tell Allison that?

Five: All the ways we could have screwed the pooch, this way is the most complete. I'm relieved, actually. This time, everything goes. There's no Commission, no leaping away. No life spent going mad with the desperation to see a familiar face.
Reggie: I've seen worlds end in ways that would knock your socks off, old man.

Reggie: You are an arrogant son of a bitch, aren't you? "Future you." "Present you." The past is as much a mystery as the future. You ruined your life once before by not listening to me. Are you prepared to do that again?
Five: Fine, I'll attend your stupid meeting.

Lila: Whatever. "Lila should stay back." Since when do you make decisions for me?
Diego: I was just trying to make sure—
Lila: Is this about the baby?
Diego: Of course it's about the baby, all right? I go in there, I may die. But if we go in there, succeed, and things go back to normal, I want you here with our baby.

Reggie: You're a remarkable man, Luther. Despite what I put you through, I hope that you can forgive me. Will you? Will you forgive me, son?
Luther: Yeah. Yeah, of course.
Reggie: Thank you. Thank you. I only wish your self-actualization could have come at a better time for the universe.
Luther: I... I don't understand. Dad...
Reggie: There's an old saying, Luther. The best way to bring a family together is at a wedding or a funeral. We tried the one. Now it's time for the other.

Chet: We had a good run, old girl.
As the Kugelblitz gets him…

Reggie: You've done a fine job bringing me back into the family fold. You're just more trouble than you're worth. Sorry, Klaus.
Klaus: No, Dad! Shit!

Overall rating

Two and a half out of four bottles of whatever Five is drinking on the edge of the Universe.

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

1 comment:

  1. The visuals as the end of the world approached and surrounded the hotel were really something. And I was shocked at those two unexpected deaths. I think you're right that Reggie was just eliminating two of his kids so that the final number would be seven. Cold much?

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