The Umbrella Academy season 3: Who is Harlan Cooper?

The Umbrella Academy season 3 has arrived on Netflix and the Hargreeves are now back in 2019 after a series of misadventures in Dallas in 1963. Back in season 2, the Hargreeves were separated after they all accidentally time-traveled to different points in the ’60s. 

Each of the siblings built their own life in Dallas, and Viktor (Elliot Page) fell in love with housewife Sissy (Marin Ireland) while he was working as a nanny for her son Harlan. He originally planned to bring mother and son back to 2019 with him, but then the FBI and an impending apocalypse got in the way. But who, exactly, is Harlan? And why is he so important? 

Be warned that there are major spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 3 ahead, so stop reading now if you’re not up to date with the new episodes and don’t want to know anything in advance.   

Who is Harlan Cooper?

The Umbrella Academy season 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

Harlan Cooper is the non-verbal child Viktor (Elliot Page) helped care for in Dallas in 1963 back in The Umbrella Academy season 2. He’s played by Justin Paul Kelly. 

His mother, Sissy (Marin Ireland), accidentally hits Viktor with her car after he arrives in the ’60s and he develops amnesia. Her and her husband, Carl (Stephen Bogaert), allow Viktor to stay on their farm and he helps take care of Harlan as repayment. Viktor and Sissy end up falling in love and Viktor planned to bring Sissy and Harlan to 2019 with him, but Carl found out what he was planning and sent police officers after them. 

Harlan has similar telekinetic powers to Viktor, which were transferred to him when Viktor saved his life in season 2 – after drowning in a lake near the Coopers’ home, Viktor gives Harlan CPR and resuscitates him with his own powers, which then transfer partially to Harlan and give the pair a psychic connection.

The Handler (Kate Walsh) finds out about this and she descends on the Cooper farm with the rest of the Commission in an attempt to harness Harlan’s newfound powers. After the Handler has been defeated, Viktor – wrongfully – believes that he has taken back all his powers from Harlan, and he leaves him and his mother behind in the ’60s in order to protect them from the danger that seemingly follows him around. 

What happens to Harlan in The Umbrella Academy season 3?

Callum Keith Rennie in The Umbrella Academy season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

In The Umbrella Academy season 3, 46 years have passed and Harlan is now an old man. He’s going by the name Lester Pocket, and the character is played by Callum Keith Rennie – it’s not until episode 3 that we find out that Lester is actually Harlan, when he uses his powers to kill Jayme and Alphonso during the standoff between the Umbrellas and the Sparrows at the Hotel Obsidian after he senses that Viktor is close by again.

His powers and his lack of control over them, particularly in his younger years, mean he’s had to move around and start over many times, hence the name change. He’s no longer non-verbal as an adult.

It’s revealed that Sissy died on October 1, 1989, AKA the birth date of the Umbrella Academy. Overcome by grief, Harlan loses control of his powers to catastrophic consequences – as he can sense others with powers, he was able to connect to the Umbrella Academy’s birth mothers. As a result, all of them were killed by the surge in his powers (with the exception of Ben [Justin H. Min], as he exists as a Sparrow in the season 3 timeline). 

If the Hargreeves’ mothers are dead, then they shouldn’t exist in this timeline. And yet they do, and the time paradox – and the Kugelblitz – is created that threatens to end the world. 

When Alison discovers that he is the cause of the paradox – which means her daughter Claire no longer exists – she kills Harlan and hands him over to the Sparrows, who wanted revenge after he killed Jayme (Cazzie David) and Alphonso (Jake Epstein). 

For more on the show, check out our guides to The Umbrella Academy season 3 ending explained, The Umbrella Academy season 3 timeline, and The Umbrella Academy season 3 post-credits scene, as well as everything we know about a potential The Umbrella Academy season 4.

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