You know those moments when you see two characters together on screen, and you just want them to go ahead and kiss already? This is not one of those moments. The relationship between Allison and Luther in The Umbrella Academy is highly disliked by many in the fandom (including myself). But why?
The biggest problem people have with this relationship is the
incestual implications it holds for both these characters. Allison (Number 3)
and Luther (Number 1) were part of a group of 7 children who were raised together
after being adopted by the eccentric and ridiculously wealthy Reginald
Hargreeves. Each of these children, having been raised together, see each other
Now we know that in reality, each of the Hargreeves children
has a different mother, and the only reason they are considered siblings is
because of their adopted father. So technically it isn’t incest. But if
you have to justify a relationship between two characters by disputing the incestuous
connection between them, then that’s sort of problematic.
I’d also like to point out that given the nature of each of the Hargreeves’ births, and the births of the 43 other children, that we don’t know how they came into existence or who their biological parents are. We assume that they share DNA with their mothers, but since the nature of their births was so bizarre, this isn’t something we know for sure. Beyond that, anyone who has a basic knowledge of human reproduction knows that there needs to be another set of DNA. The show has given us no indication as to where that may have come from.
But Why Though?
So, given all the confusion and upset that exists because of this pairing, why even have it there at all? Despite my dislike for them as a couple, I do think that Luther and Allison are both interesting characters. There are fascinating reasons why these two characters may have decided to pair up.
First off, the Hargreeves children have been through some serious trauma. We only get glimpses into their lives as children, but what we do see is pretty disturbing. Individual training, group training, and a general lack of emotional support in their formative years hint at the possibility that Numbers 1 and 3 cling together as a way to survive those experiences.
Individual Training In Umbrella Academy
We don’t get a very clear look at the individual training of either Allison or Luther. So, we will have to use their siblings. Just look at the treatment of Klaus Hargreeves (Number 4) at the hands of their father. It becomes clear that Reginald Hargreeves was willing to break the children in his care apart if it meant understanding their powers more clearly.
Klaus has the ability to communicate with ghosts. So, in order to experience that power completely, Reginald locked his son in a mausoleum for hours on end. This has had a pretty powerful effect on Number 4. We see in the show that he has turned to drugs as a way to cope with the ghosts of his past and present.
We don’t know specifically what happened to Allison or Luther during their individualized training sessions, but given the lengths their father was willing to put them through, it is likely that those experiences were unpleasant. Now, the Hargreeves children don’t seem to have any contact with other kids their age. So, doesn’t it make sense that they might establish unhealthy connections with each other as a way to cope?
Group Training In Umbrella Academy
Another formative aspect of the Umbrella Academy’s childhood years was group training. We only get one scene of the children training together, but it’s extremely telling. In episode one, “We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals,” the children are made to race each other up the stairs to where Reginald is waiting with a stopwatch. While he quotes from Nietzsche, saying:
“As much as you must strive for individual greatness… remember that there is no individual stronger than the collective,”
it is clear from the actual activity they are doing that their group training mostly consists of being pitted against one another. Having children compete for the scarce praise of their father did not create unity but rather pushed them apart. Constant competition for the “Number 1” title further isolated each child from each other — as we see from the continuing rivalry between Luther and Diego — which once again impresses the need for some sort of emotional comfort in a place where your own siblings may turn on you for a shot at the top.
Emotional Constipation In Umbrella Academy
Despite his extreme involvement in training the children of the
Umbrella Academy, Reginald Hargreeves is about as distant of a father as is
possible for a man who is still in close physical proximity to his children. There
is a memorable scene in episode 1 where the Hargreeves children all go to say
goodnight to their father, only for him to not even take two seconds to look up
from his journal to wish them goodnight.
The closest thing (to parents) they had were Grace and Pogo. Even with these two characters trying to provide as much emotional support as they can, they really don’t provide the sort of unconditional love children need when growing up. Pogo does whatever Reginald asks him to do because Reginald helped create him. Grace is a robot that is programmed to follow orders as well. They can’t perform tasks outside of Reginald’s wishes, or against them, so the Hargreeves children are left very much to themselves when it comes to providing emotional encouragement.
Without the tools or background to form healthy attachments
to others, is it any wonder Allison and Luther gravitated toward each other?
I Heard A Rumor…
Beyond the emotional issues present among all members of the Umbrella Academy, there is another interesting reason Luther and Allison may have ended up together – Allison’s powers. In the show, Allison is able to manipulate people’s thoughts and actions by saying the words “I heard a rumor” followed by what she wants them to do.
Now, as an adult, we can see all the things that having such a power has brought her. Allison is wildly famous and successful, and we know that this is at least in part because of her way with words. This leads to problems in her life, as she realizes having the ability to control the people around her means that she can never be sure what’s genuine and what’s been constructed by her powers. As she’s rushing to find Vanya in episode 8, “I Heard a Rumor,” we get some insight into just how many of the big things in Allison’s life she made happen. Allison remembers saying, “I heard a rumor that you loved me,” and while we don’t know who she says this to for sure, there is definitely the possibility she said this to Luther.
At this point, it is important to note that Allison was married at one point, though now she is in the middle of a pretty nasty divorce in which her ex has custody of their daughter. So, it is entirely possible that her rumor was said to him, and that is why he married her. It certainly would make sense, but there is no way to know for sure one way or the other.
In The Panels Of Umbrella Academy
While most of our focus is on the Netflix show, there is a particular scene in the comics for The Umbrella Academy that makes me believe this phrase was said to her brother Luther, not her husband. In The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #5 “Thank You For The Coffee,” Allison and Luther are on a rooftop talking when Allison says:
“I heard a rumor that you’ve wanted to kiss me since we were 8 years old.”
Then the two of them kissed. Despite the fact that this iteration of Allison Hargreeves is different from the one in the Netflix show, this moment is still very telling about how she may have acted in the past.
She clearly doesn’t have any reserves about using her abilities to control someone in this way. Given the situation that she grew up in, how would she? Number 3’s powers have always been used to get her whatever it is she wants, so it is plausible that she used her powers to gain her brother’s love. Considering we know that Luther has never been in a relationship with anyone despite their years apart and Allison’s marriage, this may explain his quiet devotion to her for all this time.
This Year’s Love
Whether you love it or hate it, there is a lot to unpack in the relationship between Luther and Allison in the show. While most of this is speculation or theory, it certainly bears thinking about it, especially knowing Season 2 is on its way!
So, what do you think of the Allison/Luther relationship?
Leave a comment and let me know!