The Umbrella Academy Season 1 - Let's find out how this TV series hooked their listeners at the beginning of the TV series.
Today, we’ll discuss the Beginning Hook of the television series The Umbrella Academy.
Since we've changed the format of our podcast, the episodes about the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff of the Umbrella Academy - Season 1 will just be released as a blog post.
Parul: (causal) A billionaire has died and his children reunite after years apart
Melanie: (causal) Some might say the Inciting Incident is the birth of extraordinary children.
I think that’s the inciting incident to the overall global story.
Even though it’s even stated in the first lines of the comic book that it happened in ‘an occurrence of complete coincidence’’ I doubt that it was a coincidence at all.
Every incident in the comic book has a cause, so I think sooner or later we’ll find out what has caused the birth of the children.
And I agree with Parul’s inciting incident.
It was also the inciting incident when I analyzed the comic book of The Umbrella Academy.
I’ll sum up the beginning hook of the first volume of the comic book at the end of this blogpost for comparison. But for now, let’s stay with the TV Series.
So, let me just add my inciting incident theory.
Since we had trouble in Killing Eve with finding out who’s the main protagonist, I wanna follow the global story of season 1 through the one character I think is the main character.
And you find that out by asking yourself: Who has the most to lose or to gain in the story.
For me, that’s Five.
It was Five in the comic books, and it’s still Five now in the TV Show.
So his inciting incident also states what’s at stake: Five has seen the end of the world.
And I think that’s the incident, because without Five - Hargreeves death may have reunited Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, and Vanya - but they wouldn’t have known about the end of the world.
And without that knowledge, there wouldn’t have been the story as we now see it.
Furthermore, the inciting incident should state a goal.
Especially the big one of the entire story.
So is it Hargreeves Death (that we later find out had exactly the purpose of bringing the children back together to stop the apocalypse) or is it Five actually having seen the end of the world?
What's your opinion about what is the first incident in the cause and effect trajectory that follows?
I guess both inciting incidents are valid.
Depending on if you look at one character in particular to track a mini-plot story, or if you focus on the plot of the story more than on one specific character.
Randall: Five returns from the future knowing that the world will end soon
Melanie: Five realizes, it’s only 8 days until the apocalypse. (Revelation)
Parul: We hear that Five has seen the end of the world, and Vanya doesn’t believe him
Randall: Does Five try and stop it or not? (this questions actually happens in a future episode when 5 decides to stop killing for the commission)
If he doesn’t, everyone he loves will die (and the rest of the world)
If he tries to stop it, he will be in violation of his job (described in future episodes) and hunted down and probably killed
Melanie: Five has to decide if he asks his siblings for help to win some support in this gigantic challenge to save the end of the world but that might fail because they are still as dysfunctional as he left them or should he try to stop the end of the world by himself which means he can trust the one person he knows best (himself), but might lose a valid insight from one of his siblings? (Episode 1 & 2)
Parul: I agree with Melanie.
I don’t think it’s about whether he’ll stop it, it’s about whether the others can help him.
They won’t believe him, and he’d been operating for so long on his own. What’s interesting about this type of multi-protagonist storyline is that in order for it to work there has to be one significant crisis that pushes the plot forward, keeps the tension.
Randall: Five tries to save the world.
Melanie: Five confides in Vanya, but ultimately tries to follow the clue of the artificial eye on his own which ends in threats and bodily harm for everyone who’s not helping Five to get answers. (Episode 2-4)
Parul: Five continues his search for the eye and takes Klaus with him. (Diago yells at Vanya for staying around)
Randall: The effort to find the cause is slowed down (which affects the Middle Build) by the disbelief of his family and the effort of Hazel and Cha Cha to hunt him down
Value Change: From mentor dead to end of the world coming (-/--)
Parul: In the beginning hook we have the set up of Vanya’s isolation. This sends her into Harold Jenkin’s arms and will contribute to her state of mind in the latest episode.
Melanie: Five is not telling his family about the Commission and that he’s hunted by assassins for trying to avoid the apocalypse which brings his family and their friends in danger.
Here the value change is from negative to double negative as well, because a known threat becomes a secret, an unknown threat, to the people involved.
Melanie: And because I pointed out I wanna talk about the difference between the first season and the first volume of the comic book, let me just add the beginning hook of the comic book Apocalypse Suite:
I loved that beginning hook of the comic book because it truly showed that the members of the Umbrella Academy cannot fight together anymore.
The attack of the terminauts (laser blasting robots as you might say) heighten the stakes because the most innocent beings are killed: children.
And even though Luther and Diego somehow manage to fight together, they realize even defeating those terminauts wasn’t a win.
And now there’s the threat of an apocalypse and they can hardly succeed, on their own or as a team.
They are in a pressure cooker.
And compared to the TV show, it’s much clearer to see what’s at stake and how far away they are from success.
Randall: This series seems to have all the 5 commandments so far for the inciting incident, but you actually have to watch the whole series because of the order that everything is told.
For those non-fans (like myself), this was very annoying because it took a long time to discover the main points of the plot, almost 5 episodes. In the end, I enjoyed the episode when the big reveal was done, but working up to it, I was mostly annoyed.
I was really intrigued by this series. I think the way the characters get their powers is innovative, and I thought there will be more of an explanation and answer to this mystery and the series or seasons progress (I was very disappointed when this didn’t happen).
We are introduced to some of their powers, but only hinted at with others (like Klaus and Allison) so there is still anticipation to look forward to new powers. Ben is dead, but still around? What can that mean?
Pogo and mom and mysteries that will require more backstory.
Of course, there is the end of the world that needs to be solved. I’m looking forward to seeing what the spirit of Hargreeves has to say.
Great action - fighting between the characters, the kids taking down the bank robbers, and Five’s fight in the diner
Melanie: Having multiple POV-characters in a series is always a hard job to accomplish: showing them as unique characters so that they are easily recognizable for the audience.
Just look at an interview with Peter Jackson.
Even he was reluctant to film The Hobbit, because of having 13 Dwarves next to Bilbo Baggins.
But when we look at Umbrella Academy, we have a wonderful introduction to the characters right in the first part of episode 1.
Vanya’s playing the violin and the viewer is introduced to the numbers of the Umbrella Academy showing them for who they are:
which they connect so wonderfully to receiving the News of Hargreeves Death.
And the resolution of this introduction scene is revealing Vanya, number 7, has played in an empty concert hall.
Parul: I enjoy the storyline but there are so many distractions with the background information that has been given.
I was vested in the storyline with the mother, and Popo and the potential secrets they were holding but I was disappointed by the final reveal at the end.
I do love Number 5, he carries the story and keeps reminding us why we’re watching.
He brings the Commission to the door - he is the only one who really understands what’s happening.
I have prepared the entire spreadsheet for the first episode of Season 1.
So if you want to dive into the microanalysis of this series, just start with that spreadsheet.
Furthermore, I have done a full analysis of The Umbrella Academy - Apocalypse Suite Comic Book.
Six Core Question Analysis, Foolscap, Spreadsheet as well as the Story Grid Graph. You find it on my website: editing-comics.com
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