The following contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 2.
The Umbrella Academy wears its influences on its sleeve. Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s original comic and the Netflix series it was adapted into pay a great debt to properties like X-Men, Doom Patrol, and even The Royal Tenenbaums.
Now for its second season, The Umbrella Academy is even more devoted to Easter eggs, references, and many other real life and pop culture homages. This batch of episodes takes the Hargreeves family back to the early ‘60s where they encounter a whole new host of inspirations.
“There are tons,” showrunner Steve Blackman says of season 2 Easter eggs. “We specifically wanted to sit down and say, ‘Here are the Easter eggs we want to put in, let’s make a list of them.’ They’re everywhere. I think the fans will get a real kick once you start realizing what we’ve put in.”
Follow along with us as we catalogue every possible Easter egg and reference in The Umbrella Academy season 2. Hopefully we can clarify a thing or two about this season along the way. And hopefully you, dear reader, can help point out what we surely missed.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 1: Right Back Where We Started
This episode takes its name from Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From.” And indeed that song plays as the Hargreeves family arrives in the ‘60s and tries to acclimate to their surroundings.
The season opens with the lunar-induced apocalypse that kills billions of people on Earth. The world’s destruction was essentially confirmed at the end of The Umbrella Academy season 1 but is re-confirmed here. In the original comic book, the planet is destroyed midway through volume 2 “Dallas” when Hazel and Cha-Cha detonate a nuke they stole from Reginald Hargreeves’s stash. Thankfully in this season, just as in “Dallas,” The Umbrella Academy makes it safely back in time and gets a chance to undo things.
For organizational purposes here is where each member of The Umbrella Academy lands in the early 1960s, along with what movie is playing on the local cinema’s marquee:
- February 11, 1960 – Klaus and Ben – The movie is Curse of the Undead.
- 1961 – Allison – The movie is The Curse of the Werewolf.
- 1962 – Luther – Movie not visible.
- September 1, 1963 – Diego – Movie not visible.
- October 12, 1963 – Vanya – The movie is Kiss of the Vampire.
- November 25, 1963 – Five – Movie is still Kiss of the Vampire.
The song playing during this latest apocalypse is Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
This thrilling series finale-esque apocalypse sequence also provides viewers with a decent reminder of what each Umbrella siblings’ power is:
- Vanya uses sound to generate enormous, explosive power.
- Klaus can communicate with the dead and in this instance is even able to summon the ghosts of U.S. soldiers to do battle against the Soviets.
- Luther is super strong. And surprisingly flame retardant.
- Ben (still dead) is able to produce monstrous tentacles from his stomach. In the comic series it is explained that he summons monsters from another dimension.
- Allison quite literally possesses the power of suggestion. Her phrase “I heard a rumor” bewitches whoever hears it to do what she says.
- Diego is super accurate with knives and seemingly takes his combat training more seriously than anyone in the Academy. In the comics, Diego is able to survive without breathing but for the second season in the row that appears to have not made it to the TV show. “You got Jason Momoa doing that a hundred times better anyway,” David Castañeda told Den of Geek during a set visit.
- Number Five can travel through time but obviously rather imprecisely. He uses that power on a smaller scale to pop through space-time during fist fights.
Hazel makes his triumphant and brief return to the series…looking somewhere between Nick Offerman and Gandalf. He likes to call Five “old-timer” because despite having his childhood body, Five is actually in his late ‘50s.
This time around, the world will end on November 25, 1963 – notably three days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
Diego trots out a Star Wars joke about Luke Skywalker’s daddy issues that obviously no one in the asylum is able to understand, with Star Wars 14 years away from release.
Diego’s friend at the hospital is new character Lila, played by Ritu Arya. Lila has no comparable character in the comic series and is purely a show invention. Arya is best known for her work in Humans and Last Christmas.
Klaus and Ben were in San Francisco for three years before heading back to Dallas. In that time, Klaus started a cult. California was a hotspot for cults in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Klaus was a little ahead of the game.
Allison is preparing to participate in a sit-in with her Black peers. As early as the ‘40s but chiefly during the ‘50s and early ‘60s, sit-ins were tactics used by Civil Rights organizers in which protesters would occupy an area and refuse to move. Some of the most famous sit-ins involved Black Americans sitting at lunch counters or tables in all-white restaurants and requesting service. As Dan Fienberg points out in his season 2 review, Civil Rights organizers had largely ceased this practice by 1963.
The song playing during Diego’s time in isolation is a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade.
The song playing as Diego and Lila escape is “Comin’ Home Baby” by Mel Tormé.
Luther is working for Jack Ruby – an unlikely important figure in American history. Ruby was a well-known nightclub owner in Dallas who was tied to mob activities such as illegal gambling, drugs, and prostitution. On November 24, 1963 (one day before the world “ends”), Ruby approached JFK’s killer Lee Harvey Oswald as police were escorting him from prison to court and fatally shot him at close range.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 2: The Frankel Footage
The title of this episode is clearly a take on “The Zapruder Film.” The Zapruder Film is footage of the JFK assassination recorded by Texas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder. It is believed to be the most complete visual documentation of the JFK assassination and was used by the Warren Commission that investigated the asssassination. It’s also become fodder for conspiracy theories.
In the reality of The Umbrella Academy, The Frankel Footage is what Hazel slipped into Five’s pocket before he died. It documents JFK’s motorcade from the perspective of Dan and Ethel Frankel on Dealey Plaza. The Frankel Footage uncovers none other than Reginald Hargreeves holding an umbrella on the grassy knoll.
Interestingly, “The Umbrella Man” is a real figure in the complicated lore of the JFK assassination. A figure holding a black umbrella appears in the Zapruder film and at one point spins his umbrella as the President’s motorcade passes by. This led to theories that, among other things, the umbrella man was a CIA plant who signaled to Lee Harvey Oswald via his umbrella to fire the fatal shots. In reality, the Umbrella Man was discovered to be Louie Steven Witt in 1978. Witt said he brought the umbrella to the motorcade to heckle Kennedy. Kennedy’s father Joe had been a fan of Nazi-appeasing British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. A black umbrella was Chamberlain’s trademark accessory.
The Handler lives! A bullet to the head doesn’t do as much damage as one would think on The Umbrella Academy. “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” from Cinderella plays as The Handler is spared from the incinerator.
The Handler’s boss at the Commission is a goldfish in a tank atop an otherwise human body. His name is “A.J.” and later on it’s revealed his last name is “Carmichael.” This comes directly from The Umbrella Academy comic where the head of the “Temps Aeternalis” is revealed to be a shubunkin goldfish named Carmichael.
“Well it finally happened – that gorilla DNA took over your mind,” Five tells Luther. This quick aside confirms that Reginald utilized gorilla DNA to save Luther’s life after a mission gone wrong.
“Who’s Diego?” Elliot (Kevin Rankin) asks Five. “Imagine Batman and then aim lower,” Five responds.
When Klaus meets one of his old followers in a holding cell and the follower asks for words of wisdom, Klaus replies with “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.” This is a lyric from TLC’s 1995 song “Waterfalls.”
All the “Children of the Prophet” have “Hello” and “Goodbye” tattooed or scribbled on either palm. This is in reference to Klaus’s tattoos of the same nature. In the comics, Klaus’s callsign is “The Seance” and those tattoos mimic the setup of most Ouija boards.
Reginald Hargreeves owns D.S. Umbrella in Dallas. We see him open this business in the enigmatic opener of The Umbrella Academy season 1’s final episode. That episode also seemed to suggest that he’s an alien.
Baby Pogo makes his first appearance! Pogo is a chimpanzee with the intelligence of a human. He was Hargreeves’s steadfast friend and probably the only positive influence in the young Hargreeves children’s lives. He was killed by Vanya in season 1.
Five finds an invitation to Hargreeves from the Consulate of Mexico and one Mr. Hoyt Hillenkoetter. Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter was the first director of the CIA in real life.
The song playing as Diego fights his father is “I’m a Man” by Spencer Davis Group.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 3: The Swedish Job
“The Swedish Job” is likely a reference to the classic ‘60s action film (and its 2003 remake) The Italian Job.
Let’s talk about The Swedes a little more. The Swedes are not present in the Umbrella Academy comic book. They fill a similar role to what Hazel and Cha-Cha do in the second volume of the comic as agents of The Commission (or Temps Aeternalis in the book). But with the show having burned Hazel and Cha-Cha on season 1, it likely needed a replacement here. Most assassins in the Commission are colorful characters so The Swede’s pale weirdness makes enough sense.
“Sunny” by Boney M. plays over the opening montage of Klaus’s time as a cult leader.
Five is tracking soundwaves at Morty’s as that’s a surefire way to find Vanya.
The man holding a “The End is Nigh” sign is certainly an homage to Watchmen. Watchmen was influential for Umbrella Academy writer Gerard Way…and just about everyone else.
The Handler’s outfit as she intimidates a child at a pet shop closely resembles ‘60s fashion popularized by Jackie Onassis Kennedy – fitting given this season’s focus.
Five’s coffee obsession continues apace in this episode.
Klaus meets Dave, the love of his life, at Glenoak’s Hardware. Klaus had previously traveled to the 1960s in season 1 where he joined the Vietnam war effort and fell in love with fellow soldier Dave. Dave obviously has no recollection of it as it hasn’t happened for him yet. Or maybe it never will…time travel is weird.
The song playing at episode’s end is “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 4: The Majestic 12
“The Majestic 12” is a real organization…or purported to be real by conspiracy theorists. It’s said that The Majestic 12 was created by Harry S. Truman in 1947 and made up of scientists, military leaders, and government officials to investigate alien spacecraft. Elliot describes the Majestic 12 as a “shadow government.” Of course Reginald Hargreeves would be a part of it.
The Handler recovered young Lila in London, England in 1993. She appears to be about four years old at that time. If so, that would put her birth year at a very significant…1989.
The music budget this season continues to be insane. The song playing as Klaus falls back into alcoholism and addiction is Styx’s “Renegade.” Obviously.
Luther is enjoying some Texas barbecue when he encounters Allison again. This leads to two relevant points.
- Texas barbecue is the best in the country.
- With Luther’s increased appreciation for food, The Umbrella Academy season 2 is paying slight homage to the comic’s “Fat Luther” storyline. Following the events of the first comic volume, Luther becomes complacent, depressed, and ultimately, obese. “There’s certainly a nod to that in this season,” Tom Hopper told Den of Geek. “There was a question mark over the fact that Thor did the whole thing already (in Avengers: Endgame.”
Diego meets his mother at the swanky Dallas party. When Diego and his siblings knew “Grace,” she was merely a robot created by Reginald. Here she is a living, breathing woman who knows her date by “Reggie.”
Harlan has a sparrow toy. Make note of this as sparrow imagery pops up a few times this season. Birds are all over The Handler’s clothing choices for instance. That ends up being tremendously relevant to the conclusion of season 2.
Sissy and Vanya share a kiss and then more. Vanya is the second confirmed LGBTQ Umbrella Academy member. “Having that be such a big part of the show and Vanya’s life is exciting for me,” Ellen Page told Den of Geek.
Luther just flat out loves drugs now. After his LSD trip in season 1, he follows that up with nitrous this season. That leads to this hilarious exchange with Elliot:
“My dad died too. He left me on the moon.” *howling, uncontrollable laughter*
The song at episode’s end is “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” by KISS.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 5: Valhalla
The episode’s title is named after “Valhalla,” a majestic hall ruled over by Odin in Asgard in Norse mythology.
Poor Pogo was a space monkey. The United States, U.S.S.R., and France launched dozens of primates into space from 1948 through 1996 (!!!) to test space flight’s effects on humanity’s close cousins. When Pogo’s space flight went poorly, Reginald appears to have resurrected him with a similar serum to which he gave Luther. Is it possible that Luther got gorilla DNA and Pogo got human DNA?
Luther took a bus trip to see his father in the ‘60s. And the map that displays Luther’s trip offers up an interesting clue as to the whereabouts of The Umbrella Academy. The Umbrella Academy is filmed in Toronto though it’s never mentioned what city Toronto is standing in for in the show. In the comics it’s known as only “The City.” Here, Luther’s bus ride seems to end around Indianapolis of all places. It seems as though The Umbrella Academy is in the Midwest.
Ambrosia was a gelatinous fruit salad popular in the ‘60s. It was and is an affront to humanity.
The team’s breakdown of the many ways they could have destroyed the timeline is amusing to say the least:
- “Diego has been stalking Lee Harvey Oswald.” – Luther
- “You’ve been working for Jack Ruby!” – Diego
- “Allison has been very involved in local politics.” – Klaus
- “Ok, you started a cult.” – Allison
- “I’m just a nanny on a farm. I don’t have anything to do with all of that.” – Vanya
“Face it. The only healthy relationship in this family is when Five was banging that mannequin,” Klaus says. This is a reference to Five’s mannequin lover, Dolores, from his time alone in the post-apocalypse future.
Klaus, Allison, and Vanya dance to Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away.”
The song playing as Five and Lila fight is a ska cover of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” by The Interrupters.
The song playing as the two surviving Swedes consign their fallen brother to Valhalla is a cover of Adele’s “Hello” by Swedish artist My Kullsvik.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 6: A Light Supper
Reginald invites his “pursuers” to 1624 Magnolia Street, Dallas. This address appears to be a parking lot currently.
“So there was a Black president?” Raymond asks Allison of the future. There was indeed, Ray.
“Hold on I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave plays as Allison and Ray have their day out on the town.
“Sixteen years in the grave and you finally turned into your father,” Klaus tells Ben. Given the Hargreeves’s 1989 birth year and 2019 current year of the show, Ben must have been around 14 when he died.
Dave has already signed up for the Army ahead of schedule, suggesting that the Hargreeves’ presence in 1963 really is altering the timeline.
The song playing as the Hargreeves approach their Tiki Lounge meeting is “The Order of Death” by Public Image Ltd.
Ben can now officially inhabit Klaus. This is an evolution of Klaus’s power of being able to communicate with the dead. Robert Sheehan said of this development: “(Klaus) can’t be as selfish anymore because (Ben) has this thing over me that he can do. We have a lot of fun with it and stuff, but it’s kind of about sobriety. I think Klaus and Ben’s relationship is entirely about sobriety versus addiction, for somebody who’s lived with addiction for so long.”
As Five will tell Luther and Diego in episode 7, Öga for Öga is Swedish for “An eye for an eye.”
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 7: Öga for Öga
A candy bar in the vending machine in 1982 Oshkosh, Wisconsin is a “Pogos-Gogos.” Pogo was likely a famous pop culture figure due to his space flight…and ability to speak English.
When Five takes an axe to the Commission executive board in 1982 Wisconsin, it’s hard not to think of American Psycho. Aiden Gallagher is a dead ringer for a young Patrick Bateman.
The song playing as Ben experiences life in Klaus’s body is “Sister of Pearl” by Baio.
We find out the name of Klaus’s cult is “Destiny’s Children.” Klaus is really working his knowledge of ‘90s R&B groups here.
The song playing as Allison battles The Swedes is “Everybody” by Backstreet Boys.
“I heard a rumor you killed your brother,” Allison tells one of the two remaining Swedes. It’s not clear why she assumes that they are brothers. But the fact that the lead Swede follows through means that Allison was correct. Otherwise The Swede would have hopped on a plane to seek out his real brother to kill.
“It was a simple task – just be here! We didn’t have to kill a giant sea serpent, fight off an army of mutants,” Five says of his team’s failure to rendezvous at the right time to escape the ’60s. The “kill a giant sea serpent” could be a reference to a brief moment in the comic’s one-off issue “But the Past Ain’t Through With You.” Sometime in the past, The Umbrella Academy defeated a sea serpent that attacked Japan because it was insulted that a toy-maker make unlicensed plush toys of it.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 8: The Seven Stages
The FBI does have an office in Dallas but it’s about 10 miles away from Dealey Plaza and not directly behind the grassy knoll as depicted here. Or at least that’s what they want you to think…(UPDATE: Apparently the FBI actually did have an office in downtown Dallas in 1963.)
Vanya is able to reflexively answer the FBI questioner back in Russian because Reginald Hargreeves was a strict teacher of foreign languages to The Umbrella Academy.
Grace finds photos of Fidel Castro, Lyndon B. Johnson, JFK, and a map of his motorcade route in Reggie’s files. This is a clear indication to her that Reggie is involved in an upcoming attempt against the President’s life. Grace also sees plans for a “televator.” This is the elevator teleportation device Reginald will one day build.
There are five stages of grief but apparently seven stages of side effects from confronting one’s self in the same timeline. Five lists them out thusly:
3. Extreme Thirst and Urination
4. Excessive Gas
5. Acute Paranoia
6. Uncontrolled Perspiration
7. Homicidal Rage
As Vanya begins her LSD trip, the song that plays is “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. Some of the lyrics are particularly apt for this season – “they were all in love with dying, they were doing it in Texas.”
Diego discovers that Vanya will be the cause of the apocalypse yet again in 1963, which makes an argument that The Umbrella Academy operates under Devs-style determinism.
Around the 23-minute mark someone holding a Cha-Cha mask can be seen off in the distance at Commission HQ. The individual’s face can’t be seen but it’s not out of the question that this could be Cha-Cha. Commission assassins appear to age in an unusual manner. Alternatively this could be an assassin who donned the cartoonish helmet before Cha-Cha. Showrunner Steve Blackman says that either interpretation is valid: “In the Commission, it’s always 1963, but it never changes time. So that very well could have been Cha-Cha holding the mask.”
In her LSD nightmare, Vanya is chastised by Reginald for wanting to live “a silly life on a silly farm.” One of the issues of “Dallas” is titled “A Perfect Life” and deals partly with Luther imagining a tranquil domestic life with Allison.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 9: 743
The episode gets its name from the case number in which Five executed Lila’s parents on The Handler’s orders.
Klaus references Antonio Banderas in complimenting Diego’s hair. Diego is legitimately touched.
Much of this episode takes place in or around Dealey Plaza – the location where John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The sections of note in Dealey Plaza are the book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald fired his rifle from and the grassy knoll where some people believe a second shooter shot JFK. The Umbrella Academy doesn’t make a trip to the book depository but does briefly show the grassy knoll with Reggie Hargreeves and his umbrella. Luther and the two Fives spend most of their time in a parking lot behind the grassy knoll.
Fittingly, the song that plays as young Five fights old Five is “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol’s band Generation X.
Much of Vanya’s acid trip is set to Bach’s “Partita No. 2 in D Minor” on violin. There is a lot of violin imagery as well. This is fitting given Vanya’s aptitude for the instrument. She receives the villainess name “White Violin” in the comic series.
“Dad treated you like a bomb before you were one,” Ben tells Vanya. The final issue of The Umbrella Academy Volume 1 is titled “Finale, Or, Brothers and Sisters, I Am an Atomic Bomb.”
Ben also tells Vanya he died “17 years ago” which seems at odds with Klaus’s declaration that Ben died “16 years ago.” Klaus and Ben have been in Dallas for three years though, so Ben died 19-20 years ago, depending on who is right. The year is also 1963 so Ben technically won’t die for another 42 or 43 years. Time travel is weird.
Luther and Young Five send Old Five back to the very start of The Umbrella Academy series, which avoids a truly mind-bending number of paradoxes.
Though it was teased in the show’s first season, Reginald Hargreeves reveals himself to be well and truly an alien in the final moments of this episode. Reggie unzips his skin mask, discards it, and then violently murders his Majestic 12 colleagues at the Tiki Lounge for them killing Kennedy against his wishes. This is a bit of information that the comic book is shockingly upfront about, casually revealing on the series’ second-ever page that Hargreeves is an alien and never addressing it further.
Before they’re slaughtered, the Majestic 12 claim that Reggie has interests on the dark side of the Moon. Perhaps Luther’s trip to the moon wasn’t pointless after all.
The episode concludes with a new song from Umbrella Academy creator and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way called “Here Comes the End.”
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Episode 10: The End of Something
This is the first time we’ve seen Ben’s funeral. His little casket is covered with squid iconography – a tribute to his power.
The Umbrella Academy are now all suspects in JFK’s death. That’s bound to change the timeline, right? Indeed it probably does based on this episode and the season’s conclusion. It’s also interesting just how inherently suspicious each member of the Umbrella Academy would be to 1963 society. Vanya has an Eastern European-sounding name and can speak Russian. Diego is Cuban. Allison is a Black revolutionary. Luther is an enormous bare-knuckle brawler. Klaus is a cult leader. All intimidating stuff.
The army of Commission goons that The Handler summons to take care of the Umbrella team is full of colorful masks and helmets a la Hazel and Cha-Cha.
On our set visit for The Umbrella Academy season 2, Five actor Aiden Gallagher revealed that several characters would discover “sub-powers” Gallagher said: “I was talking to Steve (Blackman) about this, and how it works is in season one, we sort of get hints about all the characters powers and in season two, we really see more so the extent how far that can go. How different elements of each character’s powers actually means that they have this sub-power.” Diego seems to come across a subpower in this final battle when he appears to be able to stop bullets. Blackman explains the power thusly:
“If you think about Diego’s power, he can, with his mind, control trajectory of objects. Basically he likes throwing, so he can throw his knife and he can make it go in weird, odd curvatures and directions. All of them stopped their training in their adolescence when the family broke up, and they are still learning about their powers and their powers are still evolving. As I go through seasons we’ll see more of that. But moving a knife through the air – an extension of that is then being able to manipulate bullets through the air.”
Speaking of powers, Lila appears to have…well, all of them. Lila displays Vanya’s power, Allison’s power, and Five’s power in fights with each of them. But as Klaus, likely correctly, theorizes later, Lila can only mirror one of their powers at a time. Her ability is mimicry. Diego surmises that this means Lila is one of them – one of the 43 children born on October 1, 1989. That’s why The Handler went out of her way to kill her parents and adopt her.
Allison leaves a letter for Ray in a copy of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. A fitting book for the story of The Umbrella Academy and this season.
The song playing during the closing montage is a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games” by Parra for Cuva featuring Anna Naklab.
Luther calls Jack Ruby, presumably to convince him not to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. But Jack has already picked up his gun.
Ah, The Sparrow Academy. We delved deep into what the ending of The Umbrella Academy season 2 means over here. For now, know that The Sparrow Academy is likely lifted from Volume 3 of The Umbrella Academy comics, “Hotel Oblivion.” We say “likely” because the team doesn’t have an official name but it does invoke a lot of Sparrow imagery. The Sparrow Academy turns up at the very end of volume “Hotel Oblivion.” In the show, The Sparrow Academy seems to exist in an alternate universe created by The Umbrella Academy’s actions in Dallas. In the comic, it is implied that they are simply seven other extraordinary children born on October 1, 1989. This could prove to be the case in the show as well…save for Ben Hargreeves, who we are obviously already familiar with.