In Season 3 of the fantasy series The Umbrella Academy, the Hargreeves siblings have landed in a parallel world where Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) has adopted other children with special powers rather than them and has formed them into Sparrow Academy. The only exception is Ben (Justin H. Min) – he is part of both the Umbrellas and the Sparrows, with the difference, however, that he died in the Umbrellas when he was a teenager.
Sparrow Academy’s Ben is not only alive, he’s also quite the asshole, a personality very different from the Umbrella reality’s Ben – who is consistently described as kind, self-sacrificing, and compassionate. However, this of all things could also be the reason why he died while Sparrow-Ben is still alive. And that’s where the mysterious “Jennifer Incident” comes in…
So far, the exact cause of Ben’s death has been kept secret. In Season 3, for the first time, the fact of his death is linked to an event the Haargreeves siblings dubbed the “Jennifer Incident”. It seems as if the intention is only to give the audience bits and pieces of information about the Umbrellas’ traumatic loss of Ben – Jennifer now seems to be the next piece of the puzzle.
Umbrella-Ben died on a mission when he was only 17 years old, as revealed in the Season 2 funeral flashback. A person named Jennifer seems to have been involved in that mission – and Sparrow-Ben also knew her. So there are parallels in the lives of the two Bens, but why didn’t they both suffer the same fate?
That Ben Sparrow also knows or knew someone named Jennifer becomes clear in Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy when Viktor (Elliot Page) withdraws to Ben’s room and finds a lot of drawings of a woman with the name Jennifer on them stands. It seems to be a person who is very important to Ben…
A theory that has also been picked up by many US magazines now states that that Umbrella Ben died trying to save Jennifer. An indication of this may be that Sir Reginald, in his eulogy for Ben, said that Ben would not have hesitated to sacrifice himself for others. A far more sinister theory is that Ben couldn’t prevent Jennifer’s death — and that’s why he later took his own life.
Now, Sparrow Academy’s Ben isn’t at all selfless and compassionate, as the Umbrellas have shown him time and again throughout Season 3. So it’s safe to assume that this version of Ben wasn’t willing to sacrifice himself for Jennifer – and is therefore still alive in the parallel world.
Nevertheless, Jennifer seems to have played an important role for Ben here as well, as the drawings in his room prove – or she is only because of the “Jennifer incident”, which may have also happened in the Sparrow world just with a different outcome, only become important for him. It is possible that the decision at the time not to have saved this person weighed so heavily on Sparrow-Ben that he is now being pursued and therefore made the drawings.
We still don’t know who the mysterious Jennifer is and why she played such an important role for Ben, but maybe there will finally be more answers in Season 4 of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix.