Note: Spoilers ahead for the “The Umbrella Academy” Season 3
Klaus Hargreeves knows a thing or two about highs and lows, and Robert Sheehan predicts there may be more turbulence to come after that shocking “The Umbrella Academy” Season 3 finale.
The fan-favorite character, played by Sheehan in the Netflix series adaptation of Gerard Way’s graphic novels, has been through the wringer since birth thanks to his mysterious, sometimes terrifying ability to commune with the dead — and thanks to his egregious upbringing at the hands of adoptive father Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). That second part is true of all the Umbrella Academy siblings, to be sure, but Klaus has always been uniquely terrified of his father thanks to a traumatic forced graveyard encounter in his childhood that also left him unprepared to embrace his abilities and live up to his potential. Until he gets some much-need guidance in Season 3 from… Reginald? Kind of.
To make sense of it, we have to go back a bit. Season 3 of the hit superhero series finds The Umbrella Academy returned to the present day after preventing an apocalypse in the ‘60s, only to realize their actions in the past altered the world as they knew it. Instead of a peaceful return, they arrive home to discover a new family living there — a different team of superheroes, called The Sparrow Academy, who Reginald adopted instead after meeting (and deeply disliking) his original group of time-traveling children in the ‘60s.
The exception? Ben (Justin H. Min), the Umbrella Academy brother who died tragically in their original timelines and, thus, wasn’t “there” for Reginald to meet in the past. He was, however, there in literal spirit thanks to Klaus’ powers, which allowed Klaus to always have his dearly departed brother by his side, like it or not, even after Ben’s death. That is until Ben finally decided to pass on and “move into the light” at the end of Season 2. The family may not have expected to see him again, but there he is with the Sparrows — alive and in the flesh — after they return to the present.
But Sparrow Ben is nothing like Umbrella Ben (and not just because he’s still alive). He’s arrogant and contentious as they come — or, as the Umbrellas concisely put it, a “dickhead” — which means Klaus is still very much without the sibling who spent an afterlife by his side.
“I think there’s a kind of underlying sadness,” Sheehan told TheWrap about Klaus’ mindset in the aftermath of losing Ben, “which I think Klaus quickly tries to kind of conceal by focusing on the fact that the siblings are all back living together again, like they hadn’t done since they was kids.”
“And also, just getting on with the business of ‘Alright, who else do I have? Who else do I have?’ [makes beeping noises] you know, to sort of stick it on the radar and seeing what other attachments in the world does he really have, other than his immediate family? And so I think Ben’s absence kickstarts Klaus into trying to find out other things about himself.”
That process of self-discovery surprisingly leads him back to Reginald. Equally surprising: Reginald actually helps Klaus. Of course, like Ben, this version of Reginald is different. Far from the imposing figure the Umbrellas knew, this Reginald cowers from his children, doped up on sedatives until Klaus comes along and sets him free. He repays the favor in kind by teaching Klaus not to fear his powers, but to control them. Together, they come to an extraordinary discovery: Klaus is immortal, and no matter how many times he dies and recedes to his “void,” he always comes back.
It’s a tremendously empowering discovery for Klaus, who begins to feel at peace with his powers — and his father — for the first time in his life; a series high for a character whose trauma has manifested over the years in a string of heartbreak, substance abuse and even starting a cult.
“I think the discovery of his immortality, or at least the conquering of his power, has everything to do with him feeling better about himself, feeling like he doesn’t have to destroy himself or distract himself, constantly seek consumption,” Sheehan explained. “He finally kind of plateaus in place where he goes, ‘No, no, I’m as good as my siblings. I’m a real person who gets a sense of self from going through this very painful trial,’ and kind of overcoming the pain to corral his power to kind of conquer that.”
But trusting Reginald is always dubious and ultimately, Klaus finds himself seemingly betrayed by his father, who doesn’t hesitate to leave him behind just as the apocalypse strikes again. That betrayal isn’t quite as grievous as it first seems; Klaus finds a way back to his void just in time to escape the end of the world, and when Reginald enacts his grand plan to reboot reality, Klaus is returned safely with his siblings — with one major caveat: none of them have powers in the new reality.
That final twist in the Season 3 finale may also prove to be another twist of the knife from Reginald. “The Umbrella Academy” has not been renewed for Season 4 yet, but if it returns, Sheehan predicts there will be another low period for Klaus now that his powers — and the Season 3 growth that came with them — have been “stripped away.”
“You can be damn sure that at the start of Season 4 — if we get one, God bless — he’ll be going back to those very destructive sorts of self-piteous mindsets. I think it’d be like, ‘You know what, screw it. I did all this work from nothing,’ and that narrative really reestablished itself in his head. So he’ll have to, I suppose just find a way to love himself in absence of the power. That’ll be the next challenge for Klaus, I think.”
“The Umbrella Academy” Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix