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With the majority of Season 2 of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy focused on the Hargreeves siblings pursuing their own character arcs with the shared goal of returning back to their time period, executive producer and showrunner Steve Blackman knew he had a lot of story to land in the final two episodes of the season.
With “743” and “The End of Something,” Blackman and his writers had to tie up loose threads in ‘60s Dallas, give the audience a massive battle between The Handler/Lila and the siblings, and get those crazy kids back to the Umbrella Academy in their proper time period. SYFY WIRE talked to Blackman and his cast about bringing the last two hours to life, their favorite moments, and how the final cliffhanger will turn the show on its head again if Netflix picks up Season 3.
**Spoilers for the finale episodes of The Umbrella Academy Season 2.**
Episode 9, “743”
With Vanya facing down a crisis inside her own head in the mental hospital, the episode focuses on the rest of the family’s attempts to save her. After Diego and Klaus fail, Ben realizes that his destiny and purpose in the family is now clear. However, the audience doesn’t know until the fateful moment arrives inside the metaphorical violin inside Vanya’s mind.
Justin Min (Ben): I saw lines for Ben and then I saw lines from Vanya and I was like, "Oh, my gosh, Ben gets to speak to another sibling!" I was so excited to finally be able to play with Ellen, whose work also I've admired for so long. And then I started to read the meat of the scene, and I read it in my Toronto apartment late one night. I just had tears streaming down my face. It was incredible, moving, and emotional to finally allow Ben to say things that he's always wanted to say.
Ellen Page (Vanya): It was definitely quite a day because Vanya is having an extreme emotional surge. As an actor, getting to work with Justin was so fantastic because even though we’re around each other all the time, we’re not working together.
Min: That day was really, really somber. I remember walking into that living room that had been completely transformed. It was painted all white, and I actually got goosebumps when I walked inside for the first time. And before you shoot a scene you do a small, quick read-through with the camera crew and the director to make sure that everything is there and everyone knows how to light. I remember in that first read-through, you could hear a pin drop in that room because it was just so moving and powerful. Ellen and I were already starting to get emotional because it's such a heart-wrenching scene.
Page: He’s so phenomenal in the scene. He’s offering this love and compassion and empathy to Vanya and is there for her when she is in this dark space. He’s risking so much to help her understand her pain and why it’s manifested in the way it has. When he says, “You’re not the only one at the table anymore, Vanya,” it just crushed me.
Min: For me personally, none of us knew what was gonna happen. We had received a draft of Episode 10, but the last three pages had been omitted. So, I actually thought that that was my last day of filming forever on the show. It was a goodbye for Ben, but it also felt like a goodbye for Justin, as the actor. So, there were a lot of tears that day, a lot.
Episode 10, “The End of Something”
All of the siblings (sans Ben) arrive at the farm to face off across the field for their huge battle against the agents. Blackman knew they needed to sell the action, as well as weave in the smaller moments that would end in the huge twist he’d been planning since the start of Season 2.
Steve Blackman (executive producer): It was really tricky to get to that endpoint. I knew very early on when I did my pre-pitch to Netflix I wanted to end [with the Sparrow Academy]. But the journey of getting there was the battle. And Episode 10 was a struggle for many, many reasons, including that it snowed halfway through the episode for only half the episode.
Tom Hopper (Luthor): The physical side of Episode 10 was good. It worked out all right. The physical stuff is actually what I find the least challenging, 'cause I'm used to doing a lot of it. But I also really love it. And whenever I get to do any action stuff, I want to be thrown around getting kicked at, and beat up. I was stoked. It was great 'cause I got to do some good falls and stuff.
In the battle, Allison is brought down, and it looks like she’s going to be the next Hargreeves to go until Luthor brings her back with CPR.
Hopper: That moment was one that me and Emmy talked about a lot because we didn't want it to feel in any way romantic. We wanted it to feel like he was literally trying to save her life. We added in this bit — which you see is written in the script, but we wanted it to be really clear — where [Luthor’s] like, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to kiss you." It turned out really well, that moment, actually.
After Number 5 uses his powers to go back in time just enough to prevent The Handler shooting his siblings dead, the Swede fixes the problem and allows Lila to blink out after finding out she’s also one of them.
Blackman: I knew in Season 2 that I wanted to sort of lean into that 43 women gave birth [to superheroes on the same day as the Hargreeves siblings were born]... So, the idea of combining the complication that there is another of the 43, and she happens to be related to The Handler, was delicious from a storytelling point of view. And if we're lucky enough to have a Season 3, I’d love to explore those new dynamics.
With everyone saved and the path back home clear, Allison’s letter to Ray is read as the brothers and sisters say goodbye to their lives in Texas.
Emmy Raver-Lampman (Allison): I think [the letter] is a further example over the season that Allison has found her voice. It’s over the final montage of the family and summing up everybody’s emotional journey into one common thing is really cool. It’s also sad. Her biggest priority is always Claire. I think she and Ray have an understanding that if she can get back to her daughter, she has to take the opportunity. She also knows the work that he is doing is so important and necessary. He has the opportunity to become another version of Dr. King or be a voice of the movement. It needs him.
Blackman: I think one of my favorite moments is when Vanya just leans her head on Diego. That's her brother, and she loves him. And there's a moment of closeness there that's really touching.
Page: That was a really beautiful moment to shoot and to see these characters, who from the first season, they haven’t connected on any level whatsoever. To see them both in that vulnerable place, and that Vanya is even able to feel emotion now in a way that is healthy.
Blackman: The last Swede getting on the bus with the cult got notes that we don't need that moment. But I'm like, “We sure need that moment!” I wanted to see, is he reformed a little bit as he's lost his brothers? Is he going to accept this movement or is he gonna kill everyone on the bus? That's what you're left wondering. And I’m like, "We have to give them the end story." The Swedes were fun to me.
When the Hargreeves return to their own “timeline” and the Academy, they quickly realize that this place is not where they are from. Sir Reginald is alive and he has another brood of children, including a fully corporeal one that looks similar to Ben.
Blackman: As a showrunner, I wanted to set up a great Season 3, if we get one, where I know what Season 3 will be. I also wanted to give you an amazing cliffhanger, which is that it's not their house anymore. Dad is still alive. And who the hell are these people up there on the balcony looking down at them on the second floor? There's a lot of detail in that scene. We changed the emblems on the wall. I mean, everything is Sparrow now in that house. That was really important to us.
Hopper: I love that sort of stuff because I'm a big fan of Back to the Future. And what I love about Back to the Future is how many different versions there are of a timeline. A simple thing you do in the past can alter everything in your life. So, we did something! We stopped something happening. We pissed someone off, and it has completely skewed the timelines.
Robert Sheehan (Klaus): Justin is back in a big, sexy sack of flesh for a change! We definitely had thoughts toward, “Well, if we've come back here and meddled with the timeline, what's it gonna result in back in the present?” We certainly were intrigued to find out. But I didn't know that Ben was gonna be back in that way. I really didn't know. It was quite fantastic to find that out.
Min: That evil Steve Blackman kept me in the dark! I was pretty much starting to pack my bags to leave Toronto, and then suddenly, a couple of weeks later, I got a ping on my phone that we've gotten this top-secret email from Steve Blackman just to the seven siblings. And I think the email said something like, “Here's the last scene, enjoy it.” And I was just screaming at the top of my lungs inside of my Toronto apartment alone. I had no idea, and I was just gobsmacked and overjoyed that they would bring Ben back in this way.
Hopper: The most exciting thing is that Ben can exist in that world but could be completely different because of the upbringing he's had. He may not be the Ben that we know. He might not even be called Ben anymore. We don't know.
Min: What's funny is I'm not in Episode 10 except for that last moment. So, while everyone was dealing with the craziness of shooting in a snowstorm and shooting all those intense action sequences, I was literally in hair and makeup and wardrobe almost every day trying different iterations of what this new Ben would look like. It would establish a completely different character, so we wanted to make sure that we got it right. For the hair, I think that was like the 20th iteration. There were so many discussions about how big the scar is, and where the scar is. We tried it in so many different places. And I actually even wore a mini bodysuit to make my shoulders look bigger. And Steve was like, “You're gonna have to start working out a little more, Justin.”
So, it's gonna be very different. But what actor gets to say that they get to be two completely different characters on the same show.? You almost never get that opportunity, so I'm super grateful. I got to build ghost Ben from the ground up because he wasn’t really in the comic books. And here I am again with the opportunity to do this with Sparrow Academy Ben.
Blackman: It’s a whole new evolution of this character, and Justin’s gonna make it really great. Justin’s so good at that stuff. So, it's a lot of fun to see him evolve again.