Attention! Ahead of the spoilers of the third season of The Umbrella Academy.
The third season of Umbrella Academy throws a serious challenge into the mystery of Ben’s death — what is the incident with Jennifer? Since Umbrella Academy opened in 2019, the circumstances of Ben Hargreaves’ death have caused a heated discussion among fans. Ben is already dead when the story begins, but no character ever mentions how or why he lost his life. For two whole seasons, Umbrella Academy offered only the most basic details, which led to rampant speculation and a lot of silly theories, as viewers desperately tried to piece together the last moments of Ben’s life.
A flashback to the funeral in the second season of Umbrella Academy revealed that Ben died in 2006 at the age of 17, and Sir Reginald’s eulogy confirmed that the tragedy occurred during a failed mission. The inscription on the statue of Ben gave rise to theories that Number Six committed suicide, and the young superhero was definitely bothered by his tentacles in the episode of the Umbrella Academy bank robbery. On the other hand, Ben never hints at depression or mental health problems, being attached to Klaus as a ghost, and never offers any other worthwhile details to explain how he ended up in the afterlife. Unfortunately for viewers, the 3rd season of Umbrella Academy continues in the same mysterious way… but at least it adds one important element to Benerino’s puzzle.
Related: Umbrella Academy Theory: Ben Committed Suicide
For the first time, Umbrella Academy refers to Ben Hargreaves’ death as the “Jennifer incident” in Season 3. This phrase is debuted by Luther in Marigold, who tells Sparrow Ben, “You died too soon. The Jennifer incident…” Klaus later makes the same vague comment about the “Jennifer incident” in a later episode, but the real juicy details appear when Victor takes refuge in Ben Sparrow’s bedroom after a violent altercation with Allison. An emotional Victor looks around Ben’s room and finds a table and walls covered with drawings of one particular girl with the inscription “Jennifer”. This scene confirms that Ben knew Jennifer both in the Umbrella timeline and in the time of Sparrow… but potentially also gives away exactly how Ben lost his life.
Ben Sparrow’s sketches in the third season of Umbrella Academy highlight two key points. Firstly, even the icy parallel Ben Hargreaves cared so much about Jennifer that he pulled her to the point of nausea. Secondly, if all that Sparrow Ben has are photos, Jennifer is most likely dead in his timeline. These details suggest that Umbrella Academy/Sparrow embarked on the mission in 2006, and a young woman named Jennifer was somehow involved in it. Judging by Sparrow’s timeline drawings, Ben probably already knew Jennifer and developed an emotional connection to her, romantic or not. Perhaps when the mission went awry and Jennifer’s life was in danger, Umbrella Ben sacrificed himself to save her, while Ben Sparrow put his life first, and poor Jenny died.
This theory is consistent with the sharp difference in the characters of the two Bens from Umbrella Academy. In the original, he was a selfless and kind person who is always ready to give his life for a loved one, but Sparrow Ben is a more ruthless figure, obsessed with success and reputation. He probably wouldn’t have saved Jennifer if it meant death in the process, and that decision has apparently haunted Sparrow Ben ever since-hence the pile of art in her honor. The funeral scene in the second season of Umbrella Academy complements this interpretation of the Jennifer incident. During a caustic eulogy, Sir Reginald utters the line: “… and without hesitation sacrifice yourself for the sake of another.” This quote takes on a whole new meaning after the disclosure of the incident with Jennifer in the third season and clearly explains why Ben Sparrow did not suffer the same fate as his colleague from Umbrella.
Some, of course, will be disappointed that the 3rd season of “Umbrella Academy” does not reveal the mystery of Ben’s death completely, but forcing viewers to guess is a more reasonable move. By revealing the Jennifer incident, Umbrella Academy drops enough new material to spark a conversation, but keeps the fire burning on the most popular burning issue of the franchise. At the moment, Umbrella Academy should not reveal the full story of Ben Hargreaves’ death until the very last episodes.