The following contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 2.
The ending of The Umbrella Academy season 2 upends the story’s continuity in a major way. That’s right: Jack Ruby picks up a gun to go kill Lee Harvey Oswalt.
We kid, we kid. The major development from the season 2 finale, “The End of Something”, is clearly the sudden introduction of a brand new superpowered crime-fighting team! When The Umbrella Academy arrives back at their headquarters in 2019, everything seems to be in order…until their dead father Reginald Hargreeves shows up. Not only that, but Reggie reveals something shocking. This isn’t the home of The Umbrella Academy, it’s the home of “The Sparrow Academy.”
At that moment the silhouettes of five individuals and a green cube appear on a balcony. Below them arrives the long-dead Ben Hargreeves, who is seemingly a member of this new Sparrow Academy and has no memory of his original siblings.
Confused? So are the Hargreeves. The introduction of The Sparrow Academy creates fascinating new questions for season 3 to answer. Chief among them is the obvious: what is The Sparrow Academy? Well there’s no need to wait for season 3 as we have some answers already.
Like many things in The Umbrella Academy, The Sparrow Academy traces its origin back to the comic created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. Though season 2 of the show draws from the second volume of the comic, “Dallas”, The Sparrow Academy is actually introduced in the final issue of the third volume, “Hotel Oblivion”. The Sparrow Academy isn’t named in the comic but their costumes do utilize sparrow imagery. Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman confirms that the Sparrow Academy is indeed the same bird-centric team from the source material.
“Yeah. They were introduced in volume three. I have a wonderful collaboration with Gerard and we talk a lot about where he wants to go with the different volumes of the comics. I had an idea for the end of this season, a little similar to what the Sparrows were. When I heard he was doing the Sparrows, I got super excited.”
Even with Blackman’s helpful clarification, there really isn’t that much we know definitively about the Sparrow Academy. The new team is introduced in a very gradual fashion through “Hotel Oblivion.” In that arc of the comic, Vanya is still recovering from her injuries sustained in the first volume and her “Mother” (called “Grace” in the show) takes her out to introduce her to a new “family.”
On this journey, Vanya meets “Deever,” a man who strongly resembles Reginald Hargreeves…though he doesn’t seem to be as big of an ass.
Vanya is then ushered off to Norway of all places where she encounters the Sparrow Academy’s base of operations. The interior of the base is highlighted by an enormous cross. This combined with Grace’s gifting of a cross necklace to Vanya earlier suggests that the Sparrow Academy is at least somewhat religious.
At the end of “Hotel Oblivion”, The Sparrow Academy arrives to help The Umbrella Academy round up dozens of escaped supervillains and save the day. Here they display some of their powers.
One member (Number One) has Luther-like super strength.
Another can turn into ravens.
One can even channel their own pain into another person, Voodoo-doll style.
That leaves three Sparrow Academy members whose powers are unknown…four if that floating green cube is an actual member and not another Sparrow’s prop or familiar. Blackman says that he may or may not use the Sparrow Academy’s powers from the comic in season 3.
“I think it will be open for me to decide. Gerard has such wonderful ideas and if they work for our storytelling, we’ll use it. If not, I’ll come up with my own version of it. My goal is to keep as much as I can for the graphic novel fans for as long as it works within the setting of a 10-episode show.”
That’s about all that can be gleaned about The Sparrow Academy from the comic series. Even with that context, many questions remain. Are members of The Sparrow Academy also Hargreeves “siblings” in the sense that they were part of the 43 extraordinary children born on October 1, 1989? That seems extremely likely.
Given that The Sparrow Academy now resides in the building that was once The Umbrella Academy, it also seems likely that the Hargreeves have entered into an alternate timeline. They did muck around quite a bit in the early ‘60s after all. After President Kennedy was assassinated, all six living members were targeted as conspirators in the assassination plot. That’s bound to have some ripple effects through the timeline.
Perhaps Reginald Hargreeves knew that he couldn’t adopt Luther, Diego, et. al after the events in Dallas. So when October 1, 1989 rolled around he went and found the six or seven next best options. Where does that leave the members of The Sparrow Academy in the original timeline? Who knows! Maybe in Norway like in the comic series.
It’s also possible that the team could be made up of a couple of familiar faces besides just Ben. Lila (Ritu Arya) was confirmed to have supernatural abilities this season and was born on October 1, 1989. Harlan was obviously not born in 1989 but he does appear to have retained some of his Vanya powers. Perhaps he could find himself at an adolescent age in 2019 through some time travel shenanigans.
Of course, the real “star” of this new team is one of our own. In the “normal” timeline Ben Hargreeves died in his teens (as evidenced by Klaus mentioning he died “16 years ago”). This Ben has a rad scar on his face but is none the worse for wear considering he should be dead. At Ben’s funeral, Reginald cruelly chastised his children for not being able to save their brother. Perhaps The Sparrow Academy did.
And that’s the real exciting storytelling possibility for season 3. Despite having successfully averted the apocalypse finally, The Umbrella Academy has never been known for their success stories. Thanks to their awful father, they are both a dysfunctional family and dysfunctional superhero team. Given what little we know about The Sparrow Academy from the comics, Blackman’s insights, and Ben’s status among the living, it appears as though they could be much more competent than their Umbrella Academy counterparts.
When The Umbrella Academy encounters The Sparrow Academy at the end of season 2, it’s possible that they’re not just meeting a new team – they’re meeting what they could have been.