The Umbrella Academy season 1, episode 10 review: The White Violin


“Did you know?” Spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 1, episode 10 follow.

Vanya has fully begun to embrace her powers after her siblings essentially betrayed her and locked her up like their father did, sending her on a warpath to the apocalypse that The Umbrella Academy can’t seem to stop.

Hazel can’t seem to escape from those around him either with The Handler finding him and Cha Cha, forcing them to protect Vanya so she can cause the apocalypse.

A villain rises

Vanya has easily been one of the most tragic characters that this show has had to offer. Each member of The Umbrella Academy is divinely messed up due to their incredibly abusive father, but for Vanya, everything was made so much worse. She was more powerful than any of her siblings, but was kept down, knowingly by her father, and unknowingly by her siblings. Her anger and hatred is palpable in this episode even though she speaks very few lines, which is all thanks to some great make-up and another great performance by Ellen Page.

Really though, Vanya is so compelling in this episode because the stakes become so much more personal in this episode. She’s someone who embodies the feeling that many can feel, which is being so angry that you want to destroy everything, the only difference being that she can. This isn’t all that surprising given that her manipulation and eventual turn was kind of telegraphed throughout the season. And this is a Gerard Way property, so he dealt with these themes a lot during his time with My Chemical Romance. That being said, it takes away nothing from the execution and heartbreak that you feel for Vanya. She’s a sympathetic villain not because she wants to destroy the world, but because she’s simply angry from betrayal.

Sins of the father

It isn’t just Vanya though coming to grips with how broken each and every one of the family is in this episode though. Every member has had a really solid arc this season and they all come to a head in the finale, which is exactly how TV should be done. Allison begins to be the mother that she has wanted to be after doing something that their father would have to do to them. Emmy Raver-Lampman has been fantastic this season and there is one scene in particular in this episode that she shines in.

As for Diego, Luther, and Klaus, they come around as well too, just not in as satisfying of a way as say Allison or Vanya. Diego learns that revenge isn’t the answer, which is kind of cliché, but is executed well enough that it can be mostly be forgiven. Klaus finally is sober enough to fully use his powers, which brings back the family’s lost brother, at least in part. And Luther finally learns that there is always a choice. This is something that has been a reoccurring theme this season with Luther being the most stubborn about it. This is probably the least well executed out of any of the arcs, but it’s still not entirely bad.

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Hazel and Cha Cha are also present in this episode, but at this point, they just feel like an afterthought more than anything at this point.

Apocalypse Now

The climactic scene of the season in the theater is easily most intense, heart-pounding scene of the season. The way that it’s set-up to the ending of it is absolutely thrilling. The action in it is fantastic and the fact that The Umbrella Academy succeeded while also failing is a genuinely shocking twist.

One of the reasons that helps this scene be so exciting though is the use of music. This show has done a great job with the music throughout the season, but here it takes on a traditional score during the climax, but done in an interesting way. It starts with the score being diegetic (sound within the world on screen) due to the orchestra and Vanya playing to music being heard, but transitions to being mostly non-diegetic (sound from outside the world on screen) other than Vanya. This creates a sense that Vanya is gradually changing reality as she is getting stronger and stronger, which makes the scene even more terrifying than it previously was.

The ending though is the most shocking aspect of the season. The fact that the apocalypse actually occurs, but the Hargreeves family travels through time to escape it. It’s a genuinely surprising ending that doesn’t happen in the genre all that often and really keeps you clamoring for more.

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The Umbrella Academy ends a relatively strong first season with arguably the best episode of the season, while also setting an intriguing premise for season 2.