The time-travelling insanity only gets weirder in the second season, and it’s a fun ride.
After Netflix found it had a surprise hit on its hands with The Umbrella Academy, it came as no surprise when a second season was greenlit soon after, but the writers and directors had a bold task ahead of them. The Umbrella Academy‘s second outing is based on the second graphic novel by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, following the team’s adventures in 1960s Dallas as they get caught up in the plot to assassinate President Kennedy.
The series wastes no time in spitting the unconventional heroes throughout several years, but it’s the perfect introduction that lets the audience know exactly what kind of weirdness they’re in for. Sure, there’s the obvious fish-out-of-water comedy at play, but it moves at break-neck speed by delivering a brand new mystery as Number Five (played by the wonderfully sharp Aidan Gallagher) discovers the apocalypse has followed the team. And although seeing the apocalyptic alternate version of 1960s Dallas will be the most memorable part of the introduction, it also outlines how shocking the time-period is for Allison Hargreeves A.K.A. Number Three. The sheer look of horror on her face as she runs into a ‘white only’ diner is a stark realization of things to come.
After its manic introduction, The Umbrella Academy slows down and lets the series breathe in its new timeline(s) from there while we see how these eclectic bunch of weirdos have been up to, but only for a moment. The biggest criticism of the second season is once the family is reunited, it all feels very frantic. Characters constantly rush to places insisting they have no time. Well hold up, Number Five, we’ve got a whole ten episodes – there’s plenty of time. It definitely keeps the audience on their toes but it does get a little tiresome. Luckily, the playful dynamic between the family is still the brilliant driving force of the show and they’re a joy to watch. It doesn’t feel the need to focus on any one character too heavily, giving all the family and the new mystery the screen-time they deserve.
The Umbrella Academy also throws in a whole bunch of new characters in for good measure, some of them are a welcome addition to spice things up a little, like Lila, who is a welcome dose of fresh energy that stops things from getting stale. There’s a little more diversity in the series’ relationships, with some unexpected characters finding love in the strangest of places. It still manages to maintain its deliriously good fun atmosphere with a trio of new assassins (dubbed the IKEA mafia) to keep the Hargreeves family on edge. And although it’s often darkly hilarious, it’s often timely. Allison’s role in the Dallas Civil Rights movement is a sobering reminder of the inherent racism embedded in the sixties as well as, quite frankly, the instant comparison to the present day with the recent protests against police brutality. One particular scene set in the diner later on in the season is disturbing to see because it rings so true for our own world right now.
Aside from its timely relevance, The Umbrella Academy brings back its excellent fight scenes, with two sequences in particular that leave a lasting impression for their musical choices. All we’ll say is The Interrupters’ cover of Bad Guy by Billie Eilish will definitely get added to a few Spotify playlists. Occasionally, the show is definitely guilty of using the soundtrack to tell the audience how to feel, but when it manages to hit the mark, the needle drops work a treat.
The show takes the time to develop its cast in new directions, like Klaus struggling with the weight of responsibility as a bizarre cult leader. Robert Sheehan’s portrayal of the supernaturally powered hero is tragic, but undeniably hilarious at times thanks to his precise comedic timing. Sheehan has superb chemistry with Justin H. Min’s Ben, it’s just a shame Ben doesn’t really talk to many people over the series and his arc feels very restrictive at times. But the undeniable standout performance in the second season of The Umbrella Academy comes from Aidan Gallagher’s Number Five. His grumpy, overly sarcastic nature mixed with his gleeful taste for violence is one of the most unique elements of the show. Gallagher adds such an interesting energy to each scene, because it’s clear the rest of the family are intimidated by him – and yet he’s dressed like a schoolboy. It’s what makes the goriest sequence in the series all the more enjoyable (if a little similar to some scenes in Kick-Ass).
Fans of Ellen Page’s Vanya Hargreeves will be pleased to see that she’s utilized a lot more this time around, especially since she’s away from the annoying ex-boyfriend and finally knows what to do with her powers. It’s great to see that her develop actual chemistry with the rest of the family, even if they’re a little scared of her apocalyptic abilities. Although she does take a little bit of a back seat in terms of the main plot, she’s never pushed aside and her heartfelt storyline is given the attention it deserves.
The show does get a little messy and it’s easy to get lost in all the the time travel of it all. But ultimately it’s a strong second season which maintains the fun of the first time around, while pushing these lovably absurd heroes in even weirder directions. It might rush to answer specific points a little too quickly in the finale, but that last hour is a lot of fun. Just prepare yourself for mind-bending cliffhanger that’ll definitely have some fascinating ramifications if Netflix greenlights that third season.
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