Let me preface this by saying that unlike Reginald Hargreeves, I love all of my children equally and unconditionally. The Umbrella Academy is one of my favorite shows because it is all about the hangout vibes and the interactions among its characters. Yes, they’re constantly staving off Doomsday and having knockdown drag-out fights, but there’s always time for a quip, a heart-to-heart, or a dance montage.
Still, while I love them all, not every Umbrella Academy member is exactly equal in terms of their onscreen contributions and good times. So here is the completely correct and objective order in which they belong (at least, after Season 2):
Look, Ellen Page is great and Vanya’s abilities are OP. But not only is Vanya a total wet blanket (which again, I understand given how she was treated growing up), but her story almost always feels like it belongs in a different show. Not to mention she remains the primary liability. However, what was great in Season 2 was how—even though she was again the bomb itself—she was able to rein it in and bond with her siblings, essentially getting a fresh start because of her amnesia. The story with Harlan was also very sweet (and I was thankful they didn’t “fix” him after he got her power set), and the romance with Sissy finally signaled something emotionally positive (mostly) for Vanya. And having said all of this, she seems poised to have a much stronger Season 3 (if that comes to pass). Still! Number 7 she remains for now.
Our dear, giant, heartbroken, formerly moon-dwelling Number One, who looks “like King Kong mated with the Hitler Youth,” relegated! Luther’s power set is not as interesting as Vanya’s, but on the other hand, he makes me laugh with his earnest awkwardness so that gives him a leg up. His pairing with Five was particularly good in Season 2, but Luther doesn’t actually contribute that much to the team and their mission this time around. Even in that awesome opening sequence where the Academy members are fighting the Soviets, Luther just jumps down, roars, gets singed, and gets a nod from Klaus. Thanks buddy!
Ben had a great arc this season, heartbreaking though it was. The fact that he didn’t get to say goodbye to all of his siblings was tragic, and yet, his moments with Diego and Vanya in particular were incredibly sweet. Plus, him possessing Klaus and getting to geek out with his cult crush was adorable. Thankfully, it seems we haven’t seen the last of him, either, as he looks to play a key role in Season 3. There is still so much we don’t know about him … (and the Sparrows …!)
Y’all, for real—I love my dumb Antonio Banderas Batman. I mean bless him, he is not as sharp as his blades but he knows where to put it. Them. You know what I mean!
Diego also got a lot more to do in Season 2, from his asylum stint to a romance (of sorts) with Lila. Yes his hero complex often gets the better of him, but there were few scenes as affecting as Diego talking with the real Grace (“mom?”), getting shanked by his own dad, and reverting back to his stutter when Reginald destroyed him at the dinner meeting. And yes, he might be a big self-aggrandizing when it comes to his accomplishments, but he’s right—he did help save the world with what he discovered at the Commission, became friends with Herb, and was able to blunt some of Lila’s murderous impulses. A hero? More like, Team Zero!
My namesake didn’t get much to do in Season 1, but in Season 2 she ruled one of the best storylines—one that got to be hers and hers alone. A freedom fighter for Civil Rights, Allison also fought past her mute beginnings and established herself in 1963 on her own terms. She even fell in love and got married! Though I would like to see her do more with her powers without feeling guilty about it constantly, we did get one fun shopping spree on the racists’ dime, which was very satisfying. Speaking of satisfying, she and Luther finally kissed, kinda, as he was doing CPR. Plus, that cape ensemble she wore at the end was everything. Everything’s coming up Allison!
My K I N G. As Lacy Baugher pointed out in her Season 2 review, much of Klaus’ arc felt like backsliding after all of the progress he made in Season 1. And yet, he also accidentally started a cult. We have no choice but the stan. Though he treats Ben terribly and didn’t otherwise use his powers at all this season (other than for two cowboys to catch him falling in the finale and some necromancy in the cold open), Klaus remains one of the most brightly engaging characters on any television show, not just this one. Robert Sheehan always seems like he’s having a ball playing our messy ghost whisperer who fell of the wagon, hard, this season. Also, him saying “She knows what to expect from me—I’m sexy traaash!” is a mood.
Not only is Five a great character, but he’s always central to the story. Aidan Gallagher is also bizarrely astute at playing a 58 year old man trapped inside a teenager’s body. He’s brutal, funny, brilliant, and always fascinating. His abilities are, by far, the most helpful in the day to day realities the group faces, even if his time travel skills still need some work. But his sharp snark, knowledge of pretty much everything, and the inherent humor of him always wearing his little school culottes adds up to an iconic character who absolutely deserves, in all ways, to be Number One (sorry, Luther).
The Umbrella Academy is currently streaming on Netflix.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.