THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Season 3 Brings Harlan Back for a Critical Storyline

Spoiler Alert

Episode Three of The Umbrella Academy season three establishes two key things: 1) The Sparrows are disposable. It’s a disappointing—though not wholly unexpected—turn of events for the new Hargreaves family. Ever since Marcus’ death at the end of episode one, we’d been wondering if the rest of the team would meet the same fate; the deaths of Jayme and Alphonso begins to confirm that. 2) Harlan returns to The Umbrella Academy, he’s all grown up with very strong powers, and he’s come to find Viktor.

Speaking of those immense powers, they’re what help the Umbrella Academy survive their superpowered siblings’ attack. It’s a huge moment for both teams, but for Viktor it’s a paradigm shift, as he thought he’d lost Harlan and Sissy forever. So let’s dig into who Harlan is, why his return to The Umbrella Academy matters, and what it all means. 

Who Is Harlan?
An image from Umbrella Academy Season Two shows Harlan a young non-verbal child sitting looking sadly towards the camera

If you’ve watched season two of The Umbrella Academy, you’ll remember Harlan as Sissy’s non-verbal autistic son. When Viktor was taken in by the family, the pair soon grew close. After Harlan drowned in a lake, a devastated Viktor brought him back to life using his powers. Soon afterwards, Harlan began to display his own special skills. But they were far too much for the child and eventually Viktor had to take them away. As Harlan’s last scenes in season two hinted, that didn’t stick. And in modern day, those powers are more dangerous and terrifying than ever.

What Does Harlan Want From Viktor?
viktor's powers coming to life in umbrella academy season three trailer

In an upsetting turn of events, we learn that the plan to keep Harlan safe by removing Viktor from his life backfired. Instead, it left Sissy alone with her overpowered son. Through a series of flashbacks we see that as he grew up the pair had to move around constantly so he wouldn’t be discovered. In what’s only been a few days for Viktor, Harlan has lived an entire life and even lost Sissy. Sadly, the woman Viktor loves died of cancer in Oakland during the ’80s. Harlan moves on with his life and eventually starts to go by Lester Pocket. And, of course, Harlan is the old man that we see very early in the season who is listening to music.

Through his ever-growing powers, Harlan learned to sense other powered people. It’s how he located Viktor, and what leads to one of this season’s biggest and most shocking twists. Understandably, Harlan is there seeking Viktor’s help to get rid of his powers. But there’s another far darker truth that only comes out after Harlan stumbles on to Klaus’ newspaper clippings about the Academy’s murdered mothers. It turns out that Harlan losing him mom is what sparked the Umbrella Academy mom killings. 

How Does Harlan’s Return Affect Season Three of The Umbrella Academy
Tom Hooper as Luther stands next to Elliot Page as Viktor in The Umbrella Academy Season Three

Well, that’s the biggest question and it’s answered in episode four. After the death of his mother, Harlan’s powers went into overdrive and he managed to psychically connect with and kill the mothers of the Umbrella Academy. It’s the inciting incident that sparked the Grandfather Paradox and the Kugelblitz. Basically, Viktor’s right when he says “you caused all of this.” 

So why did Harlan do what he did? And how did it cause the Kugelblitz? After years of waiting for Viktor to return, on the day his mother died, Harlan felt Viktor’s presence again. But what he was actually feeling was the mothers of the Academy kids and their quickly growing powered children. In that moment of connection, the women all died. It was, as Harlan explained to Viktor, an accident. Without Viktor alive in that timeline to give Harlan his powers, Harlan created the Grandfather Paradox.

But despite the whole end of the universe thing, the most damaging impact Harlan has is arguably the one his past—and Viktor’s choice to protect it—has on the Hargreeves siblings.

Does Harlan Die in The Umbrella Academy Season Three? 
Umbrella Academy first look images, members of the team looking suprised

The Umbrellas want to give Harlan over to the Sparrows in order to speed up their fight against the Kugelblitz. But Allison helps Viktor sneak him out of the Hotel Obsidian and to safety. Once there, Viktor and Harlan work together to transfer the latter’s power back where they belong, and they achieve their goal. But as Viktor recovers, Harlan reveals the truth of what he did to Allison, assuming she already knew. In her anger and pain Allison kills Harlan and then turns his body over to the Sparrows. Allison’s journey this season has been a tragic one and this act sends her on an even lonelier path. Harlan’s murder does help the Umbrellas and the Sparrows join forces to end the Kugelblitz. But Allison’s actions create a rift between her and her brother that seems insurmountable. 

Why Did Allison Kill Harlan and Give Him to the Sparrows?
Umbrella Academy season 3 or three offer a closer look at the Sparrows

After years of being the kind, caring, and forgiving sibling, Allison finally loses her patience. The loss of her daughter Claire in this timeline is too overwhelming. And while we cannot condone her use of powers against Luther—or you know, murder—Allison’s anger against Viktor isn’t unfounded. Throughout the three seasons we’ve seen Allison put her own sadness, emotion, and happiness aside time and time again for the sake of the universe and/or Viktor. And in this moment though she’s acting on hurt, she’s also doing what she believes is right for the family, allowing them to align with the Sparrows.

It feels like there’s a version of events here where if Viktor had told Allison the truth, Harlan could have survived and they could have worked together to end the Kugelblitz. But Viktor put his love for Sissy and Harlan’s safety above his relationship with Allison and the other Hargreeves’ kids.

Will Allison and Viktor Reconcile in The Umbrella Academy
Umbrella Academy season 3 or three reveal the Hargreeves walking

While the ninth episode seemed to hint at a happy ending for the two, Allison had her own ulterior motivations that saw her making a deal with the devil. That terrible choice created a bodycount that Allison will likely not be able to outrun. Despite a last minute change of heart, this will surely make it harder than ever for Allison and Viktor to reconcile. But the team has been through worse, so we’re hopeful. 

The return (and death) of Harlan alongside the fallout between Allison and Viktor has been one of the most heartbreaking arcs we’ve seen yet in The Umbrella Academy. Now we’ll have to wait and hope that The Umbrella Academy gets a season four renewal to see what happens to the estranged Hargreaves siblings.  

Featured Image: Netflix

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