The Umbrella Academy opens in typically unique fashion, but who is the Russian baby born in the first episode? As in its comic book origins, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy centers around the 7 dysfunctional Hargreeves siblings, but arguably the most important of these is Vanya, as played by Ellen Page. The Umbrella Academy season 1 is essentially Vanya’s story – a character arc that takes Number 7 from downtrodden nobody to the bringer of the apocalypse. Vanya’s latent power is not only the core of season 1, but directly sets up the plot for 2020’s season 2.
As one might expect of such a quirky, unconventional series, The Umbrella Academy‘s story begins without context at a Russian swimming pool in 1989. A shy teenage girl flirts innocently with a boy before cannonballing into the water. Concern mounts when the girl doesn’t emerge from the depths and a cloud of blood forms, and the audience next witnesses the teen giving birth, despite not being even vaguely pregnant when the scene began. Although initially jarring, the sudden pregnancy establishes the premise of the show: 43 women around the world spontaneously giving birth to kids with superpowers.
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The Umbrella Academy doesn’t explicitly reveal who this baby grows up to be. The audience sees the Russian teenager cradling her newborn, then Reginald Hargreeves arriving to try and buy it, clearly tempting the girl. In the next shot, Hargreeves is heading home with his 7 adopted children. Nothing confirms whether the unsuspecting mother gave up her surprise baby and, if she did, exactly which one of the Hargreeves children she birthed. With that said, there is enough evidence to suggest that this scene depicts the birth of Vanya.
The editing of The Umbrella Academy‘s introduction invites viewers to draw this conclusion. Moving straight from Hargreeves pitching his offer to the assembled 7 siblings implies that, even without seeing the teen’s answer, Reginald was successful with his purchase, despite having failed to procure the other 66 babies. Additionally, it makes narrative sense that the very first thing viewers see in The Umbrella Academy is Vanya being born. As mentioned above, the entire first season revolves around Page’s character and the big climax charts her rise as the White Violin. Although it might’ve seemed innocuous at the time, it’s apt that Vanya’s rebirth in the finale is preceded by her actual birth in the very first scene. Assuming the Russian baby is one of the Academy, there’s no reason to show Diego’s birth instead of Allison‘s or Klaus’ instead of Ben’s, since all siblings share equal relevance, but Vanya is always the special, odd one out.
Perhaps more convincing are the names the Academy were given as children. It’s confirmed that each sibling’s regular name was given by Grace, the robotic mother of the Hargreeves household, while Reginald preferred to simply use their designated numbers. Despite being based in the U.S. for their entire lives, the assortment of names takes on a very international flavor, and some have speculated that this might be an indication of where the babies originally came from. By this logic, Diego would hint towards Latino heritage, Klaus might imply German origins and Vanya evokes Russian or Eastern European sentiment.
Potentially then, the name Vanya could allude to the character’s beginnings in a Russian swimming pool, although there is a small fly the ointment – Vanya is traditionally a male name in Russia. Regardless, there’s more evidence to support this interpretation than any other. Unless, of course, The Umbrella Academy season 2 reveals a new character with a Russian accent and mysterious powers…
The Umbrella Academy season 2 premieres in 2020 on Netflix.
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