Obviously, there are spoilers below for Umbrella Academy's Season 2 finale, so be warned!
From its opening scene, The Umbrella Academy Season 2 came out of the gate with a mission to deliver as many major shocks and surprises to audiences as possible across its ten episodes. Sometimes those surprises were fantastical, such as the Reginald-is-an-alien reveal, and sometimes they were ripped from history, as it went with the sit-in riots. But I believe everyone can agree that the season finale's last scene was the biggest jaw-dropper of them all, as it set up a completely different timeline for a potential Season 3, in which a still-living Ben leads his still-living father's Sparrow Academy team.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Umbrella Academy comic books, that last-second reveal likely came completely out of left field, and even those who have read the comics probably didn't see it coming after Episode 9 seemingly killed off Number Six, Ben. When CinemaBlends poke with Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman, I asked about the decision to set up Ben's exit only to have him return in a new form, and here's how Blackman answered:
What's great about Ben is we love Justin. He's such a great actor. You know, he's been with Klaus, with Robert Sheehan, for so long and not really interacting with anyone else, and we wanted to keep him around and find another life for Ben. So I was very careful to let him know that his death scene would be coming up, but there would be a surprise in Episode 10. Clearly, without giving anything away, the Ben we meet at the very end of 10 is corporeal. He's of the real world, and he's somebody that I think we're gonna get to know if there's a Season 3.
In case any fans thought that the Sparrow Academy in Season 2's finale would get immediately reversed in Season 3 (if it happens) by more of Number Five's time-travel shenanigans, Steve Blackman basically confirmed that won't be the case, and that Justin H. Min's flesh-and-bone Ben Hargreeves will be around. While the rest of the Sparrow squad that Reginald hand-picked weren't in focus, it's probably safe to assume that Ben is the only shared member across the timelines, quite possibly because he was the only O.G. Umbrella Academy sibling that wasn't visibly present during the family's tiki dinner with Reginald in the '60s.
Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's third arc for the Umbrella Academy comic series is called Hotel Oblivion, which is where the Sparrows are first introduced. (The fourth comic arc, titled accordingly as The Sparrow Academy, is set to be published in the near-ish future.) Though the critically acclaimed Season 2 seemed to have partially side-stepped Hotel Obvlivion's other plot elements altogether, I did ask Steve Blackman if he had plans on covering that story for the TV show.
I don't want to give too much away. But if we get a Season 3, I've already worked out in my mind what it is. I know what Season 3 is. I think clearly we're in the world of The Sparrows. Hotel Oblivion is obviously something that's really exciting, but I don't want to give too much away. But if there's a Season 3, I think it'll be a very exciting Season 3. Both the graphic novel fans and our new fans will love it.
That's about as vague as vague gets, but it does sound like The Umbrella Academy Season 3 will bring other Hotel Oblivion narrative details to live-action if Netflix does indeed order up a new season.
As much of a shock as it was to audiences to get to see a completely different form of Ben Hargreeves, it was an even bigger surprise for the actor himself, who was kept in the dark about that particular reveal until he read it in the script, having already thought his character was gone for good. (Which I suppose wasn't an entirely wrong presumption.) During The Umbrella Academy's panel for the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, Justin H. Min was asked about playing "non-ghost Ben," and he offered another slight tease about what's coming if Season 3 happens.
He’s not a ghost. I can tell you that. He’s alive. I think one of the biggest things that we really wanted to do was create as much of a contrast from ghost-Ben to Sparrow-Academy-Ben as possible. So while these guys were dealing with the crazy snowstorm and shooting of Episode 10, I was in the makeup and hair trailer figuring out this new Ben’s look. I think we tried like seven or eight different hairstyles, different scar placements and the size of the scar, and I was able to grow my incredible beard out for the first time on this show. So, yeah, I would say that in terms of not only his appearance, but I would hope that -- not I would hope -- I know that hopefully as Season 3 goes that he would be quite different, even in terms of personality and character to the Ben that we know of.
Indeed, whenever the new iteration of Ben was first shown, I had to double-take to make sure it was even the same actor, so it definitely made sense to hear that there was such a dedicated effort to changing up Ben's look for Justin H. Min. Even beyond the look, though, it sounds like this version of Ben will be altogether different from the Number Six that viewers got to know during the first two seasons via his ghostly relationship with Klaus.
It will be interesting to see just how different this Ben will be compared to the previous version, since those changes will directly be affected by having a different set of siblings than his Umbrella Academy brothers and sisters. And also by not being dead for such a big chunk of his existence, of course.
CinemaBlend also spoke with Umbrella Academy star Aidan Gallagher ahead of the season's debut on Netflix, and he gave his own input for where the show could go next in Season 3. Because he's such a huge fan of the comic book, as well as most of the creative output coming from My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, Gallagher's answer is more reflective of the source material. In his words:
Oooh. Well, even though we can be in spoiler territory for Season 2, for Season 3, my lips must remain sealed. We have hints; Steve gives us hints. But we truly don't know what the storyline is until we actually get a pick-up notice and he can bring us in for the third-season pitch meeting. But based off of what I've heard, and based off of how the ending of Season 2 comes to fruition, he can go in many different pathways. I mean, my understanding is that the live-action and the comic book versions of the Umbrella Academy will parallel with each other while still keeping their distance, so that fans of the comic books who have already read the storyline has something new to look forward to and in approaching a new season.
Beyond the Sparrow Academy shocker, Number Five has his own new storyline elements to deal with. He definitely still needs some work when it comes to large-scale time travel, considering he botched things up quite a bit throughout these first two seasons. But now he realizes he has the ability to go back in time on a much smaller scale, which will definitely change up how his character handles problems in the future. Here's what Aidan Gallagher said about that aspect:
But yeah, with the introduction of Five's new powers of going backwards in time by a few seconds, that completely changes the dynamic for how he moves through an action scene. You know, for him, Season 1 and Season 2 are two weeks, whereas for all the other characters, it's been years. You know, they've been marooned in Dallas. And so the ending of Season 2, these are the same people, but they've evolved and they've changed in a lot of different ways. So going into Season 3, that allows you to bring all of these characters and the plot to new places. And, yeah, Steve definitely has some interesting arcs planned if we get a Season 3.
In particular, Vayna and Allison will be mourning the loss of the loved ones they connected with back in the early 1960s. For Vayna, it was her lover Sissy, whose son Harlan was still harboring some of Vayna's powers the last time we saw him. For Allison, it was her husband Raymond, who chose not to go with her to the present so that he could stay behind and build up his racial equality movement. One has to wonder whether or not Five will be able to reconnect everyone at some point in the future, or if those characters are truly gone forever.
Hopefully Netflix gets on the ball and orders up Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy soon so that Steve Blackman and the rest of the creative team can get to work on putting new stories together. In the meantime, both of the first two seasons can be streamed right now on Netflix, and anyone who wants to see what's coming to the streaming service in the future should head to our 2020 Netflix premiere schedule.