On July 31st, fans finally caught up with The Umbrella Academy in season 2, after the super-powered siblings hopped back in time to try to stop the apocalypse. The story of this quirky, troubled family created by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance fame) was a quick Netflix hit, and people couldn’t wait for more when its first season ended.
Well, now The Umbrella Academy is back and to say there was some serious time-travel related shenanigans is putting it lightly. While this season seemed to overjoy a lot of fans with its comedy, drama, and bold choices, there is some time-travel related contention when it comes to its finale (and rightfully so).
The Ones The Umbrella Academy Left Behind
Getting straight to the point, The Umbrella Academy did better by Vayna this time, giving her a woman of her dreams (and not a serial killer). Granted, they still almost made her cause the apocalypse again, but that’s a different conversation. At least the most dangerous violinist in the world was getting some sort of a happy ending, right?
However, just as the show was reaching its final hour, the writers threw a curveball at fans. Even though it seemed obvious that Vayna’s girlfriend, Sissy, and her autistic son would have a better time in 2019 than in 1963, Sissy said no to traveling into the future with her new lady love.
The reason she gave made decent enough sense: that Vayna would always be in danger and she needed stability for Harlan. Fair enough. But she’s also a queer woman and he’s autistic. In 1963. Life in the 60s wasn’t exactly friendly to them before Harlan blew Carl to bits. How would people treat them now? They would have probably been much safer, healthier, and happier hopping onto the Five-time travel express with the rest of the Umbrella kids.
But no, they’re going to California. It’ll be fine. It’s fine. Ignore Harlan’s telekinesis. Everything’s fine.
A Writer’s Perspective
When it comes to story-writing, it’s easy to understand why they’d write Sissy and Harlan out. Not only is taking past characters forward in time a huge ordeal but having them react organically to the future can often distract from the rest of the characters. Considering there are already 7 main characters with one hell of a different future to cope with, there isn’t space for Sissy and Harlan (or Lila, for that matter).
However, despite the chaos happening at the end of season 2 cliffhanger, The Umbrella Academy deserved to try. It’s a pity that it didn’t.
Well thank you for asking, that’s exactly the question that I wanted to answer.
Why Sissy and Harlan Should’ve Joined The Umbrella Academy
To start, bringing Sissy and Harlan to the future would have given them a glimpse into their world’s brighter future. They also could get Harlan the care that he needs instead of Sissy just doing her (very loving) best. In the 60s, people still violently institutionalized kids like Harlan. Nowadays, our culture treats mental health with more kindness and nuance, however problematic it still is. At the very least shock treatment and casual lobotomies have gone out of style, so that’s an upgrade. Amidst the gloom of the other characters, Sissy and Harlan finding hope in 2019 might have helped balance the group out.
Also, Sissy and Harlan were grounding for Vanya. Everyone can stop playing the “Vayna ends the world” game. The writers could have given the story a rare, solid family unit. As the Umbrella Academy siblings are still struggling to figure out their dynamics, Harlan and Sissy could be a good rallying point for all of them. In the context of the implied next season: Allison could have bonded with Harlan in her grieving Claire. Klaus could have bonded with Harlan about being misunderstood. Five could have bonded with Sissy over taking care of other people. Sissy could have even proven a wildly effective parental foil against the cold Dr. Hargreeves.
Writers would just have to be careful to balance the “fish out of time” vibes and it still could’ve worked. Likely to the show’s benefit, too.
The Hopeful Ones
And even ignoring the time travel issue, Sissy and Harlan were effective and representative characters. She was a kind and caring closeted Southern mom and her autistic son. One who wasn’t “magically fixed” by having powers, which was refreshing from other narratives. Too many lean into disability erasure to make characters “whole” and “better”. They both offered more diversity to the show, the meaningful kind, and they deserve better than to be swept away with time.
Even if the siblings still have a lot to work through, keeping them around would have been for the better. The writers just played it safe with Harlan and Sissy and that seriously sucks. Maybe season 3 will surprise us and have the duo come back as they deserve, but until then, all we know is that The Umbrella Academy was robbed of these fantastic new family members that could have given them hope in a dark, changed timeline. It’s disappointing.