Ben Hargreeves is worthy of adoration in all his myriad forms, but it’d be dishonest to say season 3 of The Umbrella Academy felt whole without the OG. The once and future Ben (Justin H. Min) was often the kindest and most highly regarded of the Hargreeves children; after all, it was his death as a child that ultimately fractured the family. To see Ben’s characteristic charm replaced by brooding self-seriousness in season 3 felt almost too tragic to bear.
But alas, a tiny flicker of hope emerges. At the end of 2020’s season 2, audiences thought we’d said goodbye to the original, beloved version of Ben, who existed in much of TUA’s sophomore chapter as a ghost, given his brother Klaus’s (Robert Sheehan) limited capacity to commune with the dead. After possessing Klaus’s body, OG Ben had realized he could participate in small interactions with the realm of the living, a talent he later used to rescue his sibling Viktor (Elliot Page) from initiating another apocalypse. But invading Viktor’s mind and comforting his wounded sibling came at a cost: Ben’s ethereal form began to deteriorate due to Viktor’s power. Hugging Viktor as he disintegrates, Ben tells him, “I died 17 years ago. All the rest of this, these years with Klaus, it’s all been gravy. At least this time I get to say goodbye.”
Widely considered one of the most heartbreaking moments in an otherwise irreverent series, Ben’s loss was made all the more gut-wrenching when he returned during the season finale—but not as the Ben everyone once knew. After the Hargreeves kids teleported back from 1960s Dallas to the present day in the season 2 finale, they entered Umbrella Academy HQ only to discover another troupe of super-heroic youngsters living there: the Sparrow Academy. And, lo and behold, who’s amongst them? Ben, but with different hair and a permanent curl of disgust on his lip.
In season 3, fans finally got a closer look at Sparrow Ben, a far cry from the sensitive soul of seasons prior. Sparrow Ben is crass, selfish, and insecure—or, to put it as the Umbrellas would, an asshole. Desperate for his father’s approval, he considers it practically a net gain when his brother, Marcus, dies. (With Number One out of the way, Sparrow Ben can assume a position as leader. Too bad he’s terrible at it.) Mercifully, Justin H. Min can transform even a character with the charisma of a tree stump into someone worth rooting for. By the time the season 3 finale arrived, Sparrow Ben was still awful, but at least he might belong at Luther’s bachelor party.
Sparrow Ben slowly embracing his capacity for human emotion did nothing to lessen the delight of what came next. After the camera cut to black and the credits pronounced season 3’s end, a mid-credits scene took up the reins—and sparked speculation that the old Ben might be back for good.
During the aforementioned scene, the camera pans up from the floor of what appears to be a subway car in Korea. Sitting on one of the benches is Ben, reading a book and wearing a suit and glasses. Our only clue that this could be OG Ben? When he glances up, he looks out the window and gives a slight, sweet smile, something we can safely assume Sparrow Ben would never do.
Is it possible this Ben might simply be another Ben copy, a version neither Sparrow nor OG? Certainly. But given OG Ben’s popularity amongst fans, coupled with the fact that the Umbrella and Sparrow Academies have just reset the universe, it seems possible that OG Ben is alive once more. Problem is, this new OG Ben would have no knowledge of his Hargreeves family; he appears to still live in Korea, where he was born. That would mean Sir Reginald Hargreeves never adopted him, and perhaps the Umbrella and Sparrow Academies never existed. If he’s to play a role in season 4—and we can expect he will—it will not be as the Ben we recognize from seasons 1 and 2.
And yet. If we get to see that smile one more time? I’ll take all the Bens I can get, OG or otherwise.
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