What Does The White Buffalo Mean In Umbrella Academy Season 3?
Warning: Contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season 3.
In The Umbrella Academy season 3, it seems that the white buffalo is extremely important but the series never explicitly states why. There are plenty of strange things that happen in the TV series based on the graphic novels by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, and elements not being explained at the end of a season is hardly unusual. However, these are usually part of a larger setup, as with the concealment of Ben’s death, rather than a simple recurring theme that is never explored fully.
The White Buffalo Suite is of course the most obvious occurrence of this imagery. The room’s name and plaque are just a starting point, but the large white buffalo head mounted on the wall in the Hotel Obsidian, and its rear end mounted in the same place as the Hotel Oblivian are hard to miss. However, it also appears in a painting in Reginald Hargreeves’ room in the Sparrow Academy, and Klaus sees an image of the buffalo in his manudo while in the afterlife and speaking with his birth mother.
The white buffalo in The Umbrella Academy season 3 ties Reginald Hargreeves to the White Buffalo Suite and marks the room’s importance. While this is the only explicit use that the narrative makes, the symbol also provides some less obvious clues. Here’s everything else that the white buffalo means in The Umbrella Academy season 3.
What The White Buffalo Means In Umbrella Academy
While the white buffalo painting in Reginald Hargreeves’ room ties him to the White Buffalo Suite, it also subtly indicates a deeper connection. When Reginald Hargreeves is seen first finding the doorway to Oblivion, he is wearing a traditional hunter’s outfit. As he hunts for the room and the way to bring back Abigail, the white buffalo becomes a symbol of his hunt. The potentially hopeless and disastrous nature of it ties to the ill-fated idea hunt for the white whale in Moby Dick.Additionally, in The Umbrella Academy season 3, the white buffalo provides a bigger answer for Klaus’ story. He is able to realize the importance of the room because of his vision, but it also provides him a way to escape death. When the room in the Hotel Obsidian is being sucked into the Kugelblitz, Klaus sacrifices himself on the horns of the white buffalo. While it might be revealed to have even more meaning later, dying in this way seems to have allowed Klaus to resurrect in a new body, while being sucked into the Kugelblitz might have fully removed him from existence. This would mean that the vision in his afterlife was actually a foretelling of how he could escape death yet again.
What Do White Buffalos Mean In The Real-World?
The white buffalo motif in The Umbrella Academy season 3 likely connects to the importance of the white buffalo in the real world. The white buffalo plays an important role in several Native American religions, most notably as a sacred sign for the Lakota. The spiritual connection in the room of the Hotel Oblivion and Obsidian makes sense as it is one of the first places that the seemingly mystical sigils that Five discovers on his tattoo can be seen (hidden on the pachinko machine). This makes particular sense for Reginald Hargreeves as it would suggest that he appropriated the symbol from the Native Americans in the early 1900s, which seems on-brand for The Umbrella Academy’s tyrannical parent.
Is The Umbrella Academy’s White Buffalo A Red Herring?
While the white buffalo in The Umbrella Academy season 3’s Hotel Obsidian makes a lot of sense for both in-universe and real-world reasons, it serves a bonus purpose as it works to mislead the viewer. The strange monstrous opponents in the Hotel Oblivion are not revealed until late in season 3, and are simply heard in the darkness and seen to be wielding sharp weapons. Especially given the labyrinthine nature of Oblivion (both in the TV series and the comics), the white buffalo head easily evokes the idea of a minotaur. Ultimately, the maze contains what appear to be roach-infested armored bodies, but the white buffalo serves as a fun red herring for The Umbrella Academy season 3.