You must all know by now if you watch The Umbrella Academy that season three is now available on Netflix and that everyone is busy binge-watching it. There is a lot going on in this time-travel science fiction fantasy series, including the return of The Umbrellas and the appearance of a new band of heroes known as The Sparrows.
Everyone wants to know everything about the new heroes, their abilities, and how the old gang is faring, but this episode also features another crucial character. You guessed it, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, without whom neither of these superhero teams would ever have existed.
Ever questioned his origins, the reasons for his adoption of those kids, or his position within the show? He is the Father of the Umbrellas, and this film is all about him! (Warning: Spoilers Follow!)
Who is Sir Reginald Hargreeves & Why did he create the Umbrella Academy?
Colm Feore’s character, Reginald Hargreeves, is an extra-terrestrial who fled his destroyed home planet and settled on Earth. Sir Reginald spent decades as a significant player in Earth’s history, establishing himself as an umbrella businessman and collaborating with powerful underground groups like the Majestic 12. How did he manage to do all this you ask?
Well, when Sir Reginald arrived long ago from his nuclear war-devastated alternate realm, he went to the United States in 1928 and bought the D.S. Umbrella Manufacturing Company from J. King with all the resources he had. He expanded his reach and influence from there as he scaled his company and made significant contributions to the development of space technology during the USSR vs. USA space competition in the 1950s and 60s. Although he had ties to the Majestic 12 as well, he severed them after learning about their involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
One thing clearly stands out here and that is the fact that Sir Reginald Hargreeves is not from our dimension, nor is he from our timeline. This is actually revealed in season 2. Quite early in the second season, Diego and Five learn that Hargreeves is collaborating with The Majestic 12, a mysterious group that appears to be planning to assassinate President Kennedy. On November 22nd, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated despite Diego’s best efforts to stop it.
Nevertheless, Hargreeves’ participation proved to be more nuanced. He is enraged when he meets with the Majestic-12 since he was promised that Kennedy wouldn’t be hurt. The leader of the organization dismisses his worries, saying that Kennedy had to be assassinated since he had “upset too many people.” Interestingly, it is said that JFK was assassinated because he was too near to learning the truth about alien life on Earth, according to one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding his death in real life. Thus, the alien theory is cleverly woven into the plot.
Things start to become heated at this point, however. The CEO of Majestic-12 claims that the agreement Hargreeves signed with their company has remained unchanged. He claims that we can travel to the moon before the Russians in five or six years because of the rocket technology you gave us, and that when we do, your interests on the dark side of the moon won’t be impacted. Hmmm. The leader threatens to “inform the world who he really is” when Hargreeves declares he’ll stop sharing his technology.
And exactly what is that? We may never know for sure, but what we do know is that when Hargreeves perceives a threat, he nonchalantly opens the zipper on the back of his head and peels off his entire face, which is covered in some grotesque human skin mask. Although we are not shown what is happening, the closed subtitles for this moment provide the sound effect “Flesh tearing.” Off-camera, in his actual form, he slaughters the entire room full of Majestic-12 agents, confirming that he is definitely not human.
He is not shown as having any blood relatives in the present time, and neither does he have a wife. However, Sir Reginald is shown in a flashback with a woman who is either his wife or his lover. This woman is later identified as Abigail Hargreeves, his wife, and she is shown to be ill in the flashback. She addresses him as “Reg” and requests that he allow her to die since the world “needs” him. Sir Reginald complies with the request but never mentions her again after he leaves his home planet/dimension and comes to Earth.
He is also shown to be in a relationship with a woman named Grace in the 1960s, and the two of them collaborate to care for Pogo, their Chimpanzee, and launch him into orbit. When Grace discovers evidence of Sir Reginald’s involvement with the Majestic 12 and he refuses to discuss it, she ends the relationship. Later, he used Grace as the inspiration for the robot named ‘Mom’ who looked after the Umbrella Academy kids as they grew up.
As far as the Umbrella Academy is concerned, he adopted seven of the children that were born to forty-three women who showed no signs of pregnancy before delivering them on October 1, 1989. The kids were born woth extraordinary talents and abilities.
He founded the Umbrella Academy with these kids in the hopes of creating a team of superheroes to stop an apocalyptic scenario that would one day destroy the earth, just like the one that had befallen his world and had forced him to flee. He had predicted that this apocalyptic scenario would happen sometime after the Umbrella Academy broke up. Thus, it can be said that his intentions while creating the Academy were noble.
However, Hargreeves was not only a remarkably complex person, but also a terrible father. He treated his “children” like guinea pigs he could experiment on, rather than as real people. He was frigid, aloof, and emotionally abusive to them. They were only ever referred to by the numbers he allocated to them in order of how useful he thought they were and never by their real names. In order to test their abilities, he openly displayed favouritism, labelled Viktor as useless and imprisoned Klaus in a mausoleum. In fact, the dysfunctional relationships, numerous neuroses and destructive behaviour of the members of the Umbrella Academy are a result of how he treated them.
He was not always bad though and had his soft moments as well. He handed Viktor his violin despite it being a keepsake of immense importance to Reginald, while also displaying fleeting flashes of intense worry for his kids. While speaking with Klaus in the afterlife, he also admitted to sincere regret and voiced concern for Luther’s wellbeing.
Thus, while he really wanted to save the world and raise disciplined and powerful heroes who one day would have the ability to do so and help avoid a major disaster, he definitely did not go about it the right way because he preferred to manipulate his children and keep them in the dark about things, rather than being upfront. Case in point, his mysterious death, which was literally a ploy to bring all the Umbrellas back together many years after they had split apart.
His Mysterious Death and Why It Happened
You would think that an extra-terrestrial being with such power and influence would go on living forever, but that was not the case as Sir Reginald Hargreeves died under mysterious circumstances in the beginning of the first season. But we soon learn that even this was a calculated step that he took to reunite his children.
The passing of Reginald Hargreeves was a little more complicated than you would recall. Season 1 of the T.V. series opens with all of his children learning of his passing. Despite their extended separation, they must reunite for his funeral. At least to Number One, aka Luther, Reginal Hargreeves’ death seems suspicious from the start.
The family butler, Pogo, merely informs the Umbrella Academy that the father had a heart attack, but something doesn’t seem right. Luther claims that his father once advised him to “be careful who you trust” and that their father “must have known something was about to happen.”
This is what Luther tells his adopted brothers and sisters. In addition to this new task of figuring out how their father died, Number Five informs his brothers that the world is about to end since he has just returned from the future. They realise that they are sort of obligated to find a solution to that as superhumans.
When Klaus follows Luther into a rave and has a brief breakdown over Hargreeves not reading his reports from the moon, the true story behind Reginald’s demise is finally exposed in episode seven of season one. In an unforeseen incident, Klaus is struck over the head and briefly passes away while attempting to convince an intoxicated Luther to go out. This results in him slipping away into the afterlife. Klaus enters a barbershop while in the afterlife and encounters none other than his father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves there.
Klaus and Reginald argue over how Hargreeves forced them to be superheroes who saved the world, which caused psychological harm to them. The most crucial thing we learn from this exchange is that Hargreeves committed suicide because he realised it was the only way his children could all come together and save the world. He says he was aware that he had to find a method to reunite all of the Umbrella Academy children as that would determine how the world would turn out.
Some could object that Klaus was merely hallucinating. However Pogo later verifies the information by acknowledging that he and Mom assisted Reginald.
This information raises an intriguing thought. After discovering that her father had drugged her, Vanya unleashed her rage, which led to the destruction of the moon. Thus, they all fail to prevent the apocalypse, which is brought on by the moon exploding and spewing fragments of itself onto the Earth. To attempt to halt the apocalypse earlier in history, Five brings everyone together to go back in time.
Many would contend that Reginald’s suicide was ultimately what led all the kids to the point when Vanya wiped out the world. Maybe things might have turned out differently if he hadn’t passed away. Was Reginald incorrect, and he didn’t have to kill himself to save them? Had he misread the circumstances? Or did Reginald merely alter how the world ended, with something else ultimately bringing it to an end? Irrespective, it is thus confirmed that he did in fact sacrifice himself for what he considered to be the greater good.
Powers and Abilities
Just because Sir Reginald Hargreeves is not the focus of the show, does not mean that he does not have his own set of cool powers and abilities. He was a majorly influential figure in the history of the world and one simply does not get to this position by sheer luck.
First and foremost, because he is not a human and is some sort of alien from another planet or dimension, he is clearly extremely strong, as was demonstrated when he completely decimated the room full of Majestic 12 agents. As a result of him being this extra-terrestrial creature, he ages very slowly. As far as known history goes, he has at least been alive in our world since 1928, and the entire time he practically did not age at all.
In the third season, we get a glimpse of his alien physiology. A blue, tentacle-like limb with jagged barbs along the length of it makes up his right arm. The Majestic 12 were likely killed by Reginald in The Umbrella Academy season 2 with this dangerous appendage, which is powerful enough to cleave right through Luther. When Allison kills the Monocle in Hotel Oblivion, viewers are given a brief second opportunity to see his otherworldly appearance. Green blood and what appear to be pea-colored skin are visible in her fatal head slice. Despite the short duration of the shot, Reginald’s real appearance resembles an emerald version of his human face.
He is an expert fighter. Because he is a talented athlete and martial artist, Sir Reginald has significant physical and combative skills. Using an initial opening that he was able to take advantage of, he was able to compete against Diego on an equal footing (Remember, he is extremely old in comparison to Diego). Sir Reginald is a skilled acrobat as well, and during their confrontation, he was able to avoid some of Diego’s blows, including a dagger that Diego had thrown. Sir Reginald is also an accomplished assassin.
He is also a scientific genius who made the serum that would have subsequently healed Pogo of his accident and raised his I.Q. to the point where he could speak human. He also gave the Majestic 12 the technology in exchange for their investigation of the moon’s dark side. Last but not least, Sir Reginald is a tactical genius, having planned The Umbrella Academy’s actions during the mission and even his own calculated death that resulted in him getting what he wanted in the end.
Return in Season 3 – All His Dark Secrets Revealed
I just spent a good amount of time explaining Sir Reginald’s death and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it… but voila! He is back for the third season and here is how that happened.
After saving the world from yet another disaster in the Umbrella Academy season 2 finale, the Hargreeves siblings discover they have been replaced by an entirely new team of heroes known as the “Sparrow Academy” (with the exception of Ben). However, what is even stranger about this timeline that they land up in is that Sir Reginald Hargreeves is still alive and well, he and his Sparrow children are still residing in the Hargreeves home. Why doesn’t arguably the world’s worst adoptive father perish in the Sparrow timeline of The Umbrella Academy season three? What happened differently?
The Sparrows are fundamentally different from their Umbrella counterparts, which is what makes Sir Reginald survive. The Hargreeves siblings were torn apart in the original timeline of The Umbrella Academy by Number Five’s disappearance and Ben’s tragic demise. Only Luther remained to carry out his father’s instructions when Allison departed and became famous, Viktor published a confessional book, Diego became a vigilante and Klaus used drugs. Knowing that the Umbrella Academy must come together to rescue the world, Reginald planned his own death with Pogo and Grace in the hopes that his passing would reunite his children.
The Umbrella Academy’s first episode is a burial, and the plan works since even Five comes back. The Sparrow Academy, however, never disbanded. They were not only seen together in the season 2 finale of The Umbrella Academy, but all signs point to them being the ideal superhero combination. As a result, Sir Reginald was spared from having to give his life in order to bring the Sparrows back together and is alive as we move into the third season of the much-loved series.
A LOT happened in the third season with Sir Reginald Hargreeves being responsible for most of it. The very first thing we see in the third season is that it was he who created these miraculous babies from mothers who were never pregnant. He did so, using a jar of glowing firefly-like creatures. In the first scene of season 3, The Umbrella Academy definitively disproves this hypothesis.
The future Ben Hargreeves is delivered as a result of a group of these lights floating through a Korean subway train and into the belly of a young woman. Without a doubt, these extra-terrestrial particles that he blasted into the atmosphere are what gave birth to the Hargreeves children. The children born as a result of the lights drifting into the wombs of 43 women all had amazing and extra-terrestrial talents.
The biggest twist of all, however, was that he did not create these children to help save the world. He had instead created them so that he could bring back his wife Abigail Hargreeves to life. He manipulated all his kids solely for this purpose.
Prior to 1918, Reginald had an obsession with sigils and folklore and started to believe in an alternate realm he termed Oblivion. According to his research, Oblivion featured a device that could reset reality and was intended as fail-safe by whoever created the universe.
Resurrecting Abigail Hargreeves wouldn’t be much of a hassle with access to such power. The Monocle discovered a tunnel connecting worlds floating above a field of crops and ordered the building of Hotel Oblivion to serve as a portal for reaching it, placing his own White Buffalo room close to the entrance. Regrettably for Reginald, strong guardians shield the device from miscreants. As soon as the project was finished, he dispatched six mercenaries to deal with Oblivion’s guardians. They miserably failed.
Reginald must have recognised at this point that fighting Oblivion would require more than just soldiers—it would require superheroes. To be specific, activating the machine in Oblivion would require seven superheroes, one corresponding to each bell. This was the real motivation behind Sir Reginald Hargreeves’ lifelong commitment to building an elite superhero team. He thus manipulates the cosmos to make himself the most powerful man in it by using his adopted offsprings as puppets. And at the end of season 3, it is abundantly clear that he is successful in his mission when we see him and his wife, very much alive.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves in the Comics
When talking about the characters from the Netflix series, it is an absolute must to talk about the comic version of them because all the characters are based on the comic book written by Gerard Way. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, better known as The Monocle, is depicted in the comics as an alien who poses as a successful businessman and well-known scientist. He is credited as the creator of the Mobile Umbrella Communicator, Levitator, Televator and Clever Crisp Cereal, among other inventions.
He is also said to be a fencing Olympic gold champion who also won the Nobel Prize for his contributions to chimpanzee cognitive development (How crazy is that?! Cleary this man can do everything!). Abhijat, Hargreeves’ bodyguard, travelled with him on The Minerva, his private airship that is said to be propelled by the remains of King Amen-Kharej IV.
The Umbrella Academy’s members are adopted by him at birth under mysterious circumstances. There was a time when forty-three infants were born worldwide to mothers who showed no signs of being pregnant, and Hargreeves set out to locate and adopt as many of them as he could.
He located seven of them, and to reveal his fascinating discovery to the world, he held a press conference in Stockholm. When asked why he had taken the kids in, Hargreeves had responded that his reason behind adopting them was to save the world. For the following ten years after their adoption, Hargreeves kept the kids in isolation while instructing and training them to be disciplined and skilled heroes at his academy. He also ranked the kids from 1 to 7, assigning them numbers based on how useful and prospective they were.
He was very chilly in the way he raised the kids, refusing to allow them to call him dad and choosing to go by The Monocle instead. He also used the children’s numbers to address them when he spoke to them. All of this matches up to the Netflix adaptation of the character. He further supervised the kids and all the missions they were sent on with an eagle eye, always expecting nothing but perfection out of them.
Twenty years after the Umbrella Academy’s initial public premiere, Sir Reginald Hargreeves passed away in 1980. A heart attack claimed his life at 7:02 p.m. (in the comics, the heart attack actually took place). The Academy’s grounds served as the site of Sir Reginald’s funeral. He asked that the members of the Umbrella Academy come to the burial in full costume. Thus, his death in the comics is not anywhere near as calculated and mysterious as it is in the Netflix series. However, it still leads to a chain of events that trigger a nuclear war which the Umbrella Academy is successful in reverting, saving the world as Hargreeves had always envisioned them doing.