‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3: Is Harlan Going to Be the Villain?

Season 2 of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy certainly went out with a bang and left fans with tons of cliffhangers to dwell on until season 3. With Netflix recently confirming season 3 to enter production in February 2021, it’s time for fans to revisit some questions that we’ve been brooding on about where the Hargreeves siblings go from here.

The Umbrella Academy follows the (mis)adventures of the super-powered, highly dysfunctional siblings of the Hargreeves family as they address childhood trauma while simultaneously saving the world from (often self-inflicted) apocalyptic threats. Season 2 of the series saw them travel through time and answer many of our questions from season 1, while also entirely breaking the show’s timeline and leaving fans with more questions than answers in the end.

As the show only returned to modern time for a few minutes to leave us with a cliffhanger of a changing world, the real cliffhanger was what happened with Harlan in the time during the 1960s and present-day in the new timeline.

Harlan and The Sparrow Academy.

In the season 2 finale, it was heavily implied that Vanya took away Harlan’s powers when she calmed him down to prevent the apocalypse. In Harlan’s final scene of the season, however, he is seen riding in the backseat of the car on the way to California levitating a small wooden sparrow.

The levitation of a small toy isn’t quite the power level he displayed when he was about to accidentally destroy the world, this was confirmation that indeed Harlan does still have at least some of his superpowers. Since he only has superpowers because Vanya gave them to him while resurrecting him, this is a direct change from the original timeline.

While he is just one child, a super-powered boy just being dropped into the timeline in the 1960s, decades before the Umbrella Academy would adopt who would become the Hargreeves siblings, is a significant change for the timeline. The fact that a sparrow is the toy he’s levitating could indicate that he was directly involved in the assembly of The Sparrow Academy, which would replace the original timeline’s Umbrella Academy.

Fans know Reginald Hargreeves was very interested in “collecting” children with superpowers, perhaps Harlan gave him a start much earlier in this new timeline and prompted the formation of this new super team.

Harlan and Vanya’s apocalyptic similarities.

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Looking back at season 1, fans can see a lot of similarities between Vanya’s arc and that of Harlan in season 2. Though they are obviously very different characters, both were misunderstood and unwittingly pushed into a series of actions that put the entire world at risk.

Fans went into season 2 assuming that Vanya is a complicated character, but season 2 showed her to be a much more central, even if a bit unwilling, protagonist. It is possible the same could happen with Harlan.

It’s unlikely if he is involved with Reginald Hargreeves that he will have a good impression of the original Hargreeves siblings, but his existing friendship with Vanya could complicate any basic adversarial relationship. Vanya was an incredibly influential force in his life for a time, and it’s unlikely he will have forgotten her.

Harlan as a friend or foe?

Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves on 'The Umbrella Academy'
Ellen Page as Vanya Hargreeves on ‘The Umbrella Academy’ | Netflix

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For season 3 there are a lot of reasons that Harlan would return as a villain. He’s incredibly powerful, decades of his past are entirely unknown, and his childhood had its share of traumatic ingredients that often become villainy in stories.

He would also be a grown adult and no longer the child Vanya remembers. What’s more, Vanya’s recent emotional attachment to Harlan could leave her vulnerable and exposed.

Harlan does have a complex relationship with Vanya though and as his powers were already an apocalyptic threat in season 2, it may be likely that he isn’t the “big bag” for season 3. Overall, it could be expected that since “The Umbrella Academy” succeeds so consistently at delivering the unexpected, that it’s unlikely that his role in season 3 could be summed up in any language as simple as friend or enemy.

Whatever happens, we can’t wait to find out the answers to these questions and more in season 3 of “The Umbrella Academy”