Ben's Umbrella Academy Season 3 Story Came Down To An Age-Old Question

"The Umbrella Academy" made a lot of changes in season 3, but the biggest twist involved Ben. Ben, portrayed by actor Justin H. Min, is the deceased brother of the Umbrella Academy siblings. In the first two seasons, he is visible only to Klaus (Robert Sheehan), who has the power to commune with the dead. In the third season, he is finally alive and active, but he is also kind of a huge jerk.

Season 3 is set in an alternate timeline. After meeting his time-traveling children in the 1960s, Reginald Hargreeves decides to adopt a different set of gifted children to form his supernatural academy of crime-fighters. The Sparrow Academy shares only one member with the Umbrella Academy — Ben, who has lived into adulthood in this timeline. The Sparrows are much more competitive and ambitious than their counterparts. They have achieved greater feats as a unit, but struggle with individuality and camaraderie. Ben is ranked at number two — second best — and strives desperately for the first place spot.

When the Umbrellas first arrive in their old home, they are confused by its new occupants but are incredibly grateful to see their late brother alive and well. Ben is bewildered, having no memory of the alternate timeline in which he meets an early demise. His siblings embrace him, but he greets them coldly. This is the first moment where we see a clear distinction between Sparrow Ben and Umbrella Ben — two very different people. His genetic makeup may have been the same, but a hostile growing environment had created an entirely different Ben.

Nature vs. Nurture (spoiler alert, nurture wins)

Before season 3 of "Umbrella Academy" began, Min and showrunner Steve Blackman had to decide which elements of Ben would remain the same and which would change in the alternate timeline. They were "playing around with this whole idea of nature versus nurture," Min explains at a Netflix Geeked Week panel. They concluded that Ben is "at his essence ... a very impressionable person," which meant that a lot of his personality would be determined by his upbringing. "So to grow up in an environment that felt more militant ... it really toughened him up in a way that he wasn't in the previous timeline," Min adds.

One thing that remained the same between Sparrow Ben and Umbrella Ben was the "large chip on his shoulder," Min reveals. Sparrow Ben also feels an emotional connection to his Umbrella siblings that his Sparrow siblings don't necessarily understand. The actor tells Netflix Geeked:

"I think even as Sparrow Ben, he recognizes that the Umbrellas, though they're dysfunctional, have a sort of connection that the Sparrows never had, and that's something that he always longs for."

The actor did a lot of additional work to prepare for his role as the new Ben. He underwent intense physical training, much like the Sparrows, which made him feel "physically" different. He also got a vocal coach to help him work on his cadence. Sparrow Ben would "keep the sense of control and power throughout his vocal registry while speaking," the actor says, while Umbrella Ben would "deflate" at the end of sentences.