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Recap / The Umbrella Academy (2019) S02E08

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"Vanya is the bomb. She will always be the bomb."

"The Seven Stages" is the eighth episode of The Umbrella Academy's second season.

Following last episode's incident, Five is frustrated at his siblings and resorts to meeting his old self (who is in Dallas to kill the president) and use his past self's briefcase to return to 2019. He brings Luther along to act as a spotter in the inevitable event of paradox psychosis. Five proposes his plan; in private, Old Five proposes just returning to 2019 and playing nice with Vanya.

The Handler is reluctant to accept Diego as a member of the team. Lila promises personal responsibility for him and takes him to orientation, but Diego wanders around to find the Infinite Switchboard. Herb finds him and agrees to operate it to let him see the date of the Kennedy assassination — except in the footage, Kennedy lives, Vanya causes an explosion and reveals her powers, and this is what triggers a nuclear war. A group of agents against the Handler provide him with a briefcase.

Meanwhile, Vanya is in FBI custody. The agent interrogating her is convinced she's a Russian spy; when she tries to use her powers against him she is knocked out cold. She wakes up strapped to a torture machine; her brain visualizes the session as a family dinner with Reginald. As she is electrocuted, so is Harlan.

Klaus comes to visit Raymond and Allison, who are still reeling from the second Swede's death. Diego arrives there with Herb, and the siblings go to rescue Vanya. When they arrive at the federal building, however, they find several FBI agents dead, but Vanya shows no signs of stopping.

Grace begins snooping around Reginald. When Reginald asks her to trust him for now, she refuses.

Tropes for this episode include:

  • Brain Food: After the FBI gives her LSD as part of their interrogation, Vanya has a vision of dinner with her family, where each person is served a human brain, and Reginald demands that she eat some. This turns out to be a metaphor; when she does as ordered, her lost memories return.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The titular seven stages are six fairly normal symptoms of discomfort (eg. denial, itching, excessive gas)... and homicidal rage.
  • Caught in the Ripple: It's revealed that the Commission isn't immune to the ripple effect in this episode, as Herb believes the sequence of Kennedy surviving the day of his assassination and declaring nuclear war is how it's always been.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Not knowing the definition of "coup d'état", Diego initially thinks that Herb means "Cadillac".
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Vanya's vision of a dinner with her family shows her father threatening to send her to her room without dessert if she didn't start remembering.
  • Disposing of a Body: Lampshaded by Klaus when he finds a corpse in Allison's house. They resort to rolling the dead Swede in a carpet. To Ray's chagrin, it's his favorite carpet, though Herb offers to get rid of the body per the Commission's services.
    Klaus: So are we burnin' or buryin'?
  • Electric Torture: The FBI agent administers electroshocks to Vanya in hopes of getting her to talk.
  • Evidence Dungeon: Grace enters the room filled with evidence about Hargreeves' involvement in the assassination attempt on the president.
  • Gosh Darnit To Heck: Herb says that under The Handler's regime, the Commission has gone to "heck in a handbasket".
  • Internal Reveal: Luther spills the beans to Old Five about Vanya being the cause of the original apocalypse in 2019.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While explaining the stages of paradox psychosis, Five turns to the screen and lists them as though talking to both Luther and the audience.
  • Mistaken for Spies: From the FBI's point of view, Vanya (who has a Russian name, conveniently can't prove her identity, and can instinctively speak Russian) is a planted Russian spy who is faking her amnesia.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: The Commission disallows being in close proximity to your other self in the same timeline, as paradox psychosis can occur. Both Fives become increasingly tense as their conversation carries on.
  • One Phone Call: Vanya demands a phone call after being captured by the FBI. Naturally, she doesn't get one.
  • Only Sane Man: Luther to the two Fives, who are in denial that they're suffering for paradox psychosis.
  • La RĂ©sistance: Namedropped by Herb when he says there's a la resistance of agents against the Handler. It's smaller than Diego expected, but they do provide him with a briefcase.
  • The Reveal: The apocalypse in 1963 is caused by Vanya's powers going haywire during her interrogation and causing an explosion in the FBI building just as JFK passes by. The Red Scare and that she was suspected of being a Soviet spy leads to everyone believing it was an attack from the Russians, leading to JFK declaring war on the USSR, and soon enough, mutually assured destruction.
  • Spinning Paper: The news footage Diego watches that captures the aftermath of the explosion caused by Vanya, shows spinning papers as well as Bombers on the Screen.
  • These Hands Have Killed: The remaining Swede attempts to cut off his left hand with which he killed his brother.
  • Title Drop: Five explains what the seven stages of paradox psychosis are.
  • Wham Shot: Diego and Herb watching a playback of JFK's assassination... except when he turns the corner, the FBI building blows up in a blue explosion and JFK speeds away with his motorcade.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Diego's reaction to meeting the Commission's La RĂ©sistance consisting of a handful of case managers.