One Of The Umbrella Academy's Most Explosive Scenes Was More Real Than You Think

Most behind-the-scenes stories about explosions involve complex pyrotechnics, or even CGI. But how many can say one of their best set stories involves an exploding field of corn? Well, "The Umbrella Academy" director Stephen Surjik can.

If you've caught the second season of Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy," you might remember the scene in question. In the third episode of the season, Vanya (Elliot Page) is chased through a corn field near Dallas. Vanya has recently been transported back to the 1960s, where the series' former antagonist promptly got bonked on the head and developed amnesia. Now Vanya, unaware of the Hargreeve family's superpowers, is working as a live-in nanny for a farm-owning family. In the middle of the night, Vanya is chased down by some dastardly dudes called "the Swedes." This is where the exploding corn comes in.

Umbrella Academy's (Corn) Field Of Dreams

Surjik spoke with Comics Beat about the sequence, in which Vanya sends an assailant blasting backwards by stopping a bullet, sending stalks of corn every which way in the process. The next day, the impact of Vanya's powers is visible in the form of a literal crop circle. According to Surjik, much of the corn field sequence was done by hand, with the "Umbrella Academy" team even commissioning the growth of an entire corn field in the process.

"All of the corn they used in that gigantic shot where we went up into the air and did the twenty acres of corn, that was all real," Surjik said, referencing the long shot of the fight's aftermath, featuring a totally leveled corn field. "We did that by hand, and all of the corn in that area was grown specifically for the purposes of this episode; this scene."

Surjik says that originally the crew had very specific plans for the shoot, but once they scouted the field, what they saw made them adjust their expectations. "By the time we got out there to look at what we were actually doing, the corn had started to grow," Surjik said, noting that it wasn't growing fast enough for the shoot that was scheduled for just three weeks away. "I was sick! Because I didn't think it was going to be ready." But Surjik says a farming specialist saved the day by suggesting what the director assumes were "genetically manipulated seeds."

Super-Corn Saves The Day

Whatever they planted, it worked. When Surjik returned three weeks after the new corn was seeded, the new crop was so massive, the director had to re-light the entire sequence. Surjik told Comics Beat:

"I was thinking, the corn is going to get up to three and half, four feet – like very tall grass. No. We go there and it was eight and nine feet! It was insane! It was so high, that it was dark inside when you walked through the rows..."

In fact, the new field was so massive, Surjik actually got lost in it. Though the director says the experience was nerve-wracking, he also says, "I knew then that production had done just a killer job at growing that corn for us."

The result of the great "The Umbrella Academy" corn-growing experiment is an impressive drone shot that reveals the extent of Vanya's hidden powers. The superhero show's crew bent down the stalks by hand in a deliberate pattern to create the crop circle-like field, even studying "the effects of actual craters" to determine "the way it would break and the way it would layer the foliage over into a pattern," per Surjik. The team behind "The Umbrella Academy" clearly worked hard to bring this shot — and plenty of others in its striking second season — to life, and it shows.