Over our overly extended ‘spring break’, I began browsing a variety of shows on Netflix as any other person bored out of their mind. I stumbled across a series called The Umbrella Academy, and the binging began. After finishing the first season, I found myself begging for more. Luckily, that was when Season 2 answered my prayers and debuted at the end of July this year.
When The Umbrella Academy first debuted on Netflix in February of 2019, questions arose on what to expect of this new, eccentric superhero series that immediately took the Netflix world by storm. With the last season ending on a weighty cliffhanger, this unpredictability further swarmed my mind as an avid viewer. What next?
Turns out, what we got was a newly flourished remix of Season 1, set in a different era and built upon a bigger budget. Although some may view this as lazy writing by utilizing the same storyline foundation as last season, The Umbrella Academy fans may find solace in this deliberate plot.
The first season ended with the Hargreeves Siblings travelling back in time to avoid getting burnt to a crisp. However, as things typically tend to derail for this group of misfits, their last-minute plan failed. Well, sort of. Season 2 opens with every sibling successfully surviving the apocalypse by landing in an alleyway in Dallas, Texas, with one major complication: they are scattered across three years of the early ‘60s. When the surliest of the family (ironically the physically youngest of the seven), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), finally shows up in 1963 to witness, yet again, an unexpected apocalypse, he has limited time to round up his siblings and save the world. Again.
I emphasize ‘again’ as it may be the best word to describe the entirety of Season 2. The team is separated and then reunited, again. Vanya loses her memory, again. Number Five has to save the world, again.
Fortunately, this was intended and planned by showrunner Steve Blackman since the first season. In an interview with Inverse, Blackman explains, “I already knew where I wanted to go with Season 2. They brought the apocalypse with them. They ran from it, but they didn’t run far enough because here it is again. I wanted them to bring a type of apocalypse with them that they’re directly responsible for and have to fix.”
Blackman truly lives up to his word. We get an array of amplified moments from characters that weren’t given focus on last season like Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Vanya (Ellen Page) and even their father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). Klaus’s (Robert Sheehan)moments may be suppressed in the new season, but he and Vanya deliver some compelling messages, especially about the LGBTQ community. We get to see Klaus’s arc expanded and as for Vanya, it’s an entirely new ballgame and an entirely new life. While Blackman truly brings in-depth moments for some characters, he also subverts some for others. Since there is always a struggle to give each character an equal amount of good material in any show with an ensemble cast, Luther (Tom Hopper) and Diego (David Casteñeda) are mostly just there to move the plot along, in an amusing way, of course. As for our favourite pre-pubescent assassin, Number Five also takes the back seat in terms of significance. He is still the time and space jumping a-hole we have learned to love, however it gets diminished significantly. Truthfully, I was expecting some new developments for his character here, but it seems that this may not be the season for it. It is still pleasant to witness an angsty old-boy mining new humour from one of the oldest time travel storytelling tropes.
Every episode is fully packed with a fair dose of drama and action. Some of these play off to fitting music and you can truly see an entire spectrum of improvement from Season 1. However, unlike your orthodox superhero series, The Umbrella Academy focuses more on the characters themselves than their powers. Despite the superpotential of each character and their power, the show shines limelight on some very flawed people who wish they didn’t have these powers but must use them to save the world instead of simply fight scene after fight scene.
Music played a vital role in Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy by establishing underlying comedic and idiosyncratic tones, which are explicitly relevant to what sets this show apart from other superhero series’. With a selection of iconic tracks including an action-packed fight scene playing “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys and even a Swedish version of “Hello” by Adele, The Umbrella Academy Season 2 continues to relish in its quirky, eccentric roots.
The Umbrella Academy meticulously uses the backdrop of the civil rights era to touch on the black community’s plight in the 60s fittingly through Allison’s experiences. We get to see significant events in the history of mankind and the United States including sit-in protests and even the JFK assassination, which actually plays a pivotal role in this season.
Ultimately, if you enjoyed The Umbrella Academy Season 1, you will most likely enjoy Season 2 even more. However, if you were skeptical of the snarkiness and visual style of Season 1, then this may not be the season to win you over either.
Personally, I truly enjoyed this season more than the first one. Season 1 carried a ton of baggage and was rather heavy at times, however, its extravagance was necessary as an establishment for Season 2. In other words, we know exactly who they are, how far they have come as a family and individually, and now we are invested in what will happen to them. If you have never recalled watching The Umbrella Academy but it comes off as your type of show, then I genuinely recommend you to begin binging to witness it in all its glory.