DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Umbrella Academy episode “Kugelblitz” has spoilers. Prepare for the apocalypse, and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Hargreeves enthusiasts! “Kugelblitz” raises the stakes for The Umbrella Academy. In an already high-octane show where the stakes are perpetually in the stratosphere, I didn’t think it was possible to make an apocalypse worse than the previous two. However, The Umbrella Academy succeeds, making the grandfather paradox/Kugelblitz the apocalypse to end all apocalypses.
This episode brims with aching, vulnerable performances and macabre humor while catapulting the narrative forward in exciting ways.
Ready to delve into “Kugelblitz”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Sissy (Marin Ireland) and young Harlan (Justin Paul Kelly) driving to New Mexico on November 23, 1963. A montage shows Sissy and Harlan moving to various locations after the latter loses control of his powers. Finally, we see an older Harlan standing by the bedside of Sissy, who’s dying of cancer in the hospital on October 1, 1989.
After Sissy takes her last breath, Harlan cries out, and an immense blast of fiery energy leaves his body, destroying everything in its wake.
We’re back in the present, wherein Harlan (Callum Keith Rennie) stands over the bodies of Jayme (Cazzie David) and Alphonso (Jake Epstein). Viktor (Elliot Page) approaches Harlan and discovers that he speaks now. Luther (Tom Hopper) tries to wake Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez), who’s still unconscious. Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Diego (David Castañeda) and Klaus (Robert Sheehan) stand on the sidelines, attempting to figure out Harlan’s motives.
Diego sends Stan (Javon “Wanna” Walton) to his room, but not before the young boy embraces his father. It’s a wonderfully sweet moment.
Sloane finally wakes and flees, with Luther, Diego and Allison hot on her heels. Harlan also seizes the opportunity to run, with Viktor in pursuit. Everyone’s running away!
Meanwhile, Five (Aidan Gallagher) and Lila (Ritu Arya) wander into the seemingly abandoned Commission building, which isn’t immune to the grandfather paradox’s destructive touch. Lila decides to search for Herb while Five checks the Infinite Switchboard.
Next, Luther chases Sloane to the bathroom. We see the light emanating from her hands as she keeps him at arm’s length. Luther tries to pacify her, but Diego stokes the fires of tension by holding a blade to Sloane’s throat. Allison tries to utilize her “I heard a rumor” ability on Sloane to elicit the truth out of her. However, Sloane puts up such a front that her nose starts bleeding as she purposely resists Allison’s influence.
Luther persuades Allison and Diego to stand down so he can chat with Sloane.
Then, Allison looks at her reflection in the mirror and uses her ability on herself, saying, “I heard a rumor that you were happy.” It’s utterly heartbreaking. She punches the mirror and cuts her hair.
Later, Ben (Justin H. Min), Fei (Britne Oldford) and Christopher reunite with Daddy Hargreeves (Colm Feore) to give him an update regarding their mission. They still believe Sloane’s dead, along with Alphonso and Jayme. Reginald encourages his kids to utilize a different approach. The Umbrellas had an ace in the hole, a.k.a. Harlan. Perhaps the Sparrows need something similar.
Meanwhile, Diego tasks Stan with the undertaking of cleaning his mess, and Klaus will be his cleaning buddy. Daddy Diego is taking charge, folks. I am undone.
Five watches a video on the Infinite Switchboard featuring Herb, who explains the enormity and significance of the grandfather paradox. Said paradox incinerates everyone in the clip, including Herb himself. Five informs Lila that this situation is direr than they initially thought. It’s the reverse Big Bang — instead of the universe expanding; it’s collapsing in on itself.
Lila gives Five an official Commission manual, which may yield some fruit regarding their next course of action.
Luther and Sloane decide to tough it out and work to bridge the divide between their warring families, while Klaus turns his cleaning assignment with Stan into a therapy session. Unfortunately, fun Uncle Klaus catches Stan in the act of theft.
Meanwhile, Viktor and Harlan catch up in a hotel room. Harlan adjusts to calling Viktor “Viktor” and reveals that he struggles to control his abilities. Harlan tells Viktor that Sissy never lost hope that he’d return to them one day. Viktor changed Sissy’s life for the better and vice versa. Harlan expresses how much it hurt him that Viktor left, and the pair clasp hands. My heart grew three sizes just watching this.
Then, Luther and Sloane present their plan to Viktor, Diego and Allison. Eventually, Sloane must return to her family. What if they explain to Ben and Fei that Harlan isn’t one of the Umbrellas? Diego is Harlan’s Number 1 Fan, so that might be difficult.
Five and Lila learn from the manual that the Founder must retreat to the Operations Bunker in the “unlikely event” of a grandfather paradox. Our dynamic duo embarks on a journey to find this bunker among the ruins of the Commission. Thankfully, they find it.
Diego takes Allison out on the town for a drink. She proceeds to pour Diego’s flask stash into a slushie, revealing how painful it is to live in a world without her husband and daughter. How traumatic it was to leave Ray behind in 1963 for Claire in a present where she doesn’t exist. Additionally, Allison delves into the trauma surrounding the abhorrent racism and discrimination she received in the 60s. Good grief, I’d be struggling too.
We see they’re sitting across the street from a white supremacist bar. Diego confesses that his days as a vigilante were surprisingly cathartic, morphing into “therapy for cool people.” They could grab a drink at the racist bar, and if something goes down, they fight. Yes, put the bigots in their place!
Meanwhile, Luther, Viktor and Sloane meet Ben and Fei. The Umbrellas return the bodies of Alphonso and Jayme as promised. Viktor hopes they can all put this behind them. Ben wants Harlan, a.k.a. the man who murdered his siblings. Sloane insists that Harlan isn’t part of the Umbrella Academy; however, Ben won’t hear of it.
Next, as Lila and Five approach the entrance of the Operations Bunker, Five appears to experience symptoms of psychosis from direct contact with a doppelgänger. Once they open the door, Five’s symptoms inexplicably subside. We discover that the enigmatic Founder is Five — a much older Five living off machinery. Older Five informs the duo that the bunker is paradox-proof, so multiple versions of oneself can exist in tandem in this space.
The orb of light in the Academy basement is known as a “kugelblitz,” a black hole formed from radiation instead of matter. Astrophysics!
However, Older Five refuses to disclose how to stop the grandfather paradox from swallowing timelines and universes. He merely claims that they should let the world end. Then, he perishes.
Five asks Lila to give him the room. He stares at the corpse of his older self. Five’s eye catches a peculiar tattoo on the older man’s chest. He removes it with a quick glide of his knife.
Later, Klaus and Stan enter the “White Buffalo” room, reminding Klaus of Daddy Hargreeves’ quarters at the Academy. But when Klaus decides to revisit Reginald, Stan inadvertently shoots Klaus in the chest. No! Don’t kill Uncle Klaus, you bastards!
Meanwhile, Harlan hears a noise and wanders out of his room against Viktor’s orders. He finds newspaper clippings featuring the dead mothers of the Hargreeves siblings. Harlan confronts Viktor, asking him why they have these clippings. Harlan invites Viktor to view a flashback, wherein we return to the moment where Sissy died. Harlan’s grief-fueled energetic blast killed more than just the folks within a nearby radius — it killed Viktor’s, Allison’s, Klaus’s, Diego’s, Five’s and Luther’s mothers.
Viktor stumbles back, flabbergasted. He can’t believe that Harlan started it all. He’s the reason for the Umbrellas’ powers. Boom!
Raver-Lampman is a tour de force this season, delivering her best work in the series thus far. She imbues Allison which such depth and pathos while unlocking Allison’s inherent strength. It’s beautiful to watch her journey unfold. Sheehan is vastly underrated, and he never misses a beat as the nuanced and delightfully cheeky Klaus.
I love that we’re filling in the blanks regarding the Umbrellas’ origins this season. I hope we learn more about their mothers.
Do you think Klaus is dead (I hope not!)? What will Viktor do now that he knows about Harlan’s involvement with, well, everything? Did Diego and Allison beat up some white supremacists (Hell yes!)? Join me while I continue recapping The Umbrella Academy, only on Geek Girl Authority.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.