DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Umbrella Academy episode “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine” has spoilers. Prepare for the apocalypse, and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Hargreeves enthusiasts! The Umbrella Academy‘s second episode, “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine,” hones in on the theme of family and the ties that bind as our Umbrellas and Sparrows bond. From Klaus and Five embarking on a side quest and Viktor growing closer to Allison to Diego chilling with his son and Luther doing the horizontal tango with Sloane, this outing playfully experiments with fun character dynamics.
We also see Viktor reveal his true self to his family in “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine” and how Sissy’s relationship helped give him the confidence to live as himself. For the first time, Viktor seems incredibly happy and comfortable in his skin, something we never genuinely glimpsed in the series until now. It’s beautiful, and the writers organically incorporate Viktor’s transformative journey into the narrative, with acceptance from all his siblings.
Ready to delve into “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Luther (Tom Hopper) gleefully going on a jog through the city park. Fei’s ravens pursue him, and we see Luther through a literal bird’s eye view. Suddenly, the unkindness of ravens grows, swooping after our Number 1, with Christopher hot on their heels.
Then, Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez) utilizes her ability to suspend Luther upside down, while Ben (Justin H. Min) and Fei (Britne Oldford) join her. They knock him unconscious. We see the designs of the Umbrella Academy and Sparrow Academy on the soles of Luther’s shoes (a neat detail also in episode one — the team logos are side-by-side).
Meanwhile, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) flies to California to surprise Claire. Unfortunately, the girl she finds is not Claire, and her parents order Allison to leave. It appears that Allison’s daughter doesn’t exist in this alternate timeline.
Vanya (Elliot Page) flips through a book at The Hotel Obsidian detailing the acts of the “Kennedy Six,” a.k.a. the Umbrella Academy. Each Hargreeves sibling boasts an intricate bio featuring a list of their most heinous crimes and their part in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. So, in this timeline, they’re considered villains/terrorists.
While reading, Vanya finds a note regarding Sissy revealing that the latter passed away on October 1, 1989. Everyone’s birthday!
We see a flashback of Sissy (Marin Ireland) tearfully explaining to Vanya how she has a new lease on life. Vanya changed Sissy’s world for the better. Vanya rips a page out of the book and wanders to a barber shop. We hear Sissy say, “You don’t even notice the box that you’re in until someone comes along and lets you out.” Oof. Talk about profound.
Vanya asks a barber for a haircut.
Meanwhile, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) finds a pair of questionable underpants next to his head and tosses them on Diego’s (David Castañeda) face while he sleeps. What a lovely brother! Klaus procures a piece of paper from the heel of his boot that bears an address.
Later, Diego, Klaus and Five (Aidan Gallagher) have breakfast while watching Diego’s son Stan (Javon “Wanna” Walton) work the hotel buffet. Diego claims that Stan is “allegedly” his son, but you can tell he’s wholeheartedly a papa’s boy by how he behaves (or, rather, misbehaves).
Vanya enters the scene with a spiffy and short new hairdo, reintroducing himself as Viktor. Viktor is finally living freely as himself, courtesy of his eye-opening relationship with Sissy. Thankfully, the trio adjusts to calling their sibling Viktor. I’m glad the show wastes no time allowing Viktor to come out and that his brothers are accepting.
Viktor reveals he chatted with Marcus the night before, and the latter agreed to hand over the briefcase so they could go home. Five, Diego and Klaus protest, claiming that wasn’t Viktor’s call to make. Hey, he was taking charge — nothing wrong with that.
Five tells everyone he’s through “messing with time.” He’s officially retiring, but little does he know the apocalyptic chaos lingering on the horizon.
Next, Klaus persuades Five into joining him on a field trip to the Pennsylvanian countryside. At the same time, the lights flicker, and lobsters disappear from the potentially world-ending ball of light in the basement of the Sparrow Academy.
Meanwhile, Diego has a “Come to Jesus” chat with Stan after the kid pockets some food from the buffet. Diego orders Stan to keep his head down because, as a certified crime fighter/knife thrower extraordinaire, he’s got danger to face. He can’t have a child cramping his style!
Viktor watches while his family parts ways. Klaus and Five head on their road trip while Diego and Stan have some father/son bonding time.
Luther wakes to Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) tending to his wounds at the Sparrow Academy. Luther refers to her as “mom,” bewildering Grace, and reunites with Ben, Sloane, Fei, Christopher, Alphonso (Jake Epstein) and Jayme (Cazzie David). They invite Luther to join them for food while reintroducing themselves. However, Ben sheds all friendly pretenses when Luther inquires about Marcus, despite Luther’s affability and desire to be forthcoming.
Ben believes the Umbrellas kidnapped Marcus. Thus, in retaliation, they took the Umbrellas’ Number 1.
Viktor brings Allison food and encourages her to keep her chin up. Then, he discloses his upcoming meeting with Marcus to obtain the briefcase, and Allison decides to accompany him.
Lila (Ritu Arya) tries to make a beeline for Berlin, but her briefcase goes kaput. She smacks it around while spewing expletives loudly, hoping to get it working again.
Meanwhile, Klaus and Five take in the sights of the Pennsylvanian countryside. Five is under the impression this is a harmless, fun-filled adventure between two bros.
However, he learns about Klaus’s plan to find his birth mother. The address from his shoe is for the residence of Rachel Herschberger. Five wants to relax! When he spots signage for the “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine,” he fights Klaus for control of the steering wheel. Balls of twine take precedence over biological moms, didn’t you know?
Viktor tells Allison about his journey to becoming his true self, which Allison accepts with open arms. They embrace, and she vows that she loves Viktor no matter what. Don’t mind me; I’ve been cutting onions.
Klaus relents and takes Five to the ball of twine first. Then, he divulges what led him down the path to his birth mother. Klaus uncovered expired check stubs and information regarding his mother’s whereabouts. Diego and Stan hit a convenience store because Stan’s ear leaks pus and, quite frankly, it’s nasty times infinity.
Diego spots Alphonso and Jayme and decides to fight them in a rematch. We glimpse more of Alphonso’s powers up close, as everything Diego tried to inflict on the former only caused him pain/damage. Stan throws a knife at Alphonso, but he receives a slash on the leg instead. Diego launches into protective papa bear mode. Thankfully, our new fave father/son duo overpowers the Sparrow pair before fleeing the scene.
On an entirely materialistic side note, Diego’s haircut is the tops. He’s looking like a daddy.
Next, Klaus and Five arrive at an Amish farm where his mom is supposed to live. Klaus believes his Amish origins explain everything about him. Someone get me a “Klaus Goes Amish” spinoff and bring it to me STAT. He approaches one Amish woman, Sarah-Beth (Krista Bridges), asking about Rachel. She claims Rachel doesn’t live there, and one surly man sternly orders Klaus to leave the farm.
Meanwhile, Luther bonds with Sloane, but he wonders if she’s manipulating him when she asks questions about his family’s whereabouts. We see Sloane lock eyes with a camera perched above their heads, telling us that someone’s watching them. Luther leaves when Fei informs him that Ben wants to chat. Sloane calls after Luther, claiming she wasn’t trying to pump him for info.
Lila observes Sloane from afar, quickly copying her abilities and levitating in the air. We see the ball of light in the basement pulsate, sending shockwaves throughout the city and countryside. All the cows situated around Five vanish instantly. He wants one day off from the weirdness, folks. That’s all!
Grace feeds the pulsing ball of light while the camera pans on a famed photo of Marcus.
Klaus encounters Sarah-Beth in the woods while fleeing from a bevy of irate Amish men. Sarah-Beth reveals that Rachel died on October 1, 1989, but she doesn’t know anything about a child. Klaus informs her that that’s his birthday. As the men gain traction while armed with pitchforks and hoes, Sarah-Beth hands Klaus some files regarding his birth mother. I always expected the Amish to chase Klaus off their farm with pitchforks, so this tracks.
She tells Klaus that Rachel wasn’t the only strange death.
While they speed away, Klaus reveals an astounding discovery: Rachel perished before he was born. Five slams on the brakes, turning to his brother in shock.
Allison and Viktor wait for Marcus at a cafe, but he fails to appear. Allison experiences flashbacks from her time in 1963 Dallas and the abhorrent racism she experienced there. She also sees her daughter, Claire, in a flashback predating the show’s action. Allison’s trauma overflows, overstimulating her senses. She tells Viktor she needs air.
Then, Allison sees Lester Pocket (Callum Keith Rennie) observing her from afar while listening to a cassette tape. Here’s hoping it’s still the “Bees” tape. She pursues him, but Lester evades her.
Meanwhile, Ben tells Luther he can return to his family. However, if any of them harm Marcus, there will be hell to pay. Alphonso hands Luther a complimentary Sparrow Academy swag bag for his troubles. Swag makes the world go round.
Five and Klaus relay their findings to Viktor, Diego and Allison. We see photos of every Hargreeves sibling’s mother. Five reveals all of their moms died before they were born and on the same day (October 1, 1989). They even perished the same way: via brain hemorrhage. He explains that the Umbrellas created a grandfather paradox when traveling to this timeline.
Later, as Luther walks home, Sloane catches his attention from her room. She utilizes her powers to fly him to her window. Then, she apologizes to Luther, reassuring him that she wasn’t trying to manipulate him. There are cameras everywhere. Thankfully, nobody’s watching them right now. The pair smooch and sexy, levitating times ensue.
“World’s Biggest Ball of Twine” boasts some delightfully humorous character beats and sibling camaraderie that makes The Umbrella Academy so damn enjoyable. Raver-Lampman delivers a touchingly vulnerable performance in this episode as Allison heals from the trauma of losing her daughter and husband and the racial discrimination she faced in 1960s Texas.
This utterly immersive world is dark, profound and eccentric, with a helping of heart and charm.
On another note, I think Luther and Sloane are adorable, and I hope this show doesn’t rip my heart out and stomp on it as far as they’re concerned.
Can our heroes reverse the grandfather paradox they created? Will the Sparrows find out about Sloane and Luther’s relationship? What’s the deal with Lester Pocket? Join me while I continue to recap The Umbrella Academy, only on Geek Girl Authority.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.