Title: The Umbrella Academy (Season 2)
Air Date: July 31st, 2020
Genre: Action, Drama, Superhero
(This review contains a non-spoiler section and a spoiler section)
The season 1 finale of The Umbrella Academy had such an incredible cliffhanger, it’s difficult to fathom the series topping it in season 2. But, lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. Oh, and it only took 5 minutes.
If you are one of those lucky people who have yet to see the opening scene for season 2, Netflix released part of it separately. You can check it out below:
Awesome intros aside, let’s get into the actual show.
The Umbrella Academy season 2 takes place right after the season 1 finale. Five uses his ability to time-travel and takes his family out of the incoming apocalypse. Unfortunately, Five isn’t great at this whole time-travel thing so they all end up scattered across Dallas, Texas in the early 1960s. And thus, we have our initial conflict going into The Umbrella Academy season 2. Also, that’s about all I can say without spoiling anything.
There are a lot of similarities between The Umbrella Academy season 1 and season 2. A lot of storylines and character arcs repeat themselves, in some way, shape or form. While this appears to be a lazy creative decision from the writing team, I gotta say it was executed fairly well because it gave certain characters a second chance to win you over.
Luther, who was one of the weakest characters last season due to his boring nature and ridiculously dumb choices, gets a second chance to shine here. Instead of being the bumbling leader nobody listens to, Luther takes a more reactionary and comedic role. And it suits the former #1 much better.
Then, we have Diego. Diego had a few interesting storylines in season 1 but he always came off as your stereotypical vigilante hero. This season explores that further, gives Diego some much-needed development, and lets the character actually interact with his family. And the latter led to several of this season’s funniest moments. A lot of credit to how much Diego develops this season has to go to David Castañeda for his performance. The writing team and the entire cast were amazing but Castañeda stood out in making this once-forgettable character one of the best in the series.
However, rehashing the same narratives left some characters with nothing to do. Klaus and Five are hilarious throughout but they both basically repeat their arcs from season 1. Along with this, there are a lot of moving pieces this season and not all of them end up making sense. I’ll be able to dive into that more in the spoiler section.
All that said, this is definitely a must-watch for fans of the series. Even with its minimal problems, the plot is compelling and you’ll find yourself saying “one more episode” a lot. There’s no doubt that villains like Hazel, Cha-Cha, and Leonard received far more attention than this season’s antagonists. That said, the villains this season always feel like a threat and provide for some great entertainment.
The soundtrack is absolute perfection, which is really no surprise considering how fantastic the show was in this area last year. Each song is carefully selected for the scene accompanying it. That’s such a big deal because it helps immerse you into the show and keep you engaged with these stories.
A criticism I’ve seen online regarding The Umbrella Academy season 1 was that the series lacked in the action department. Season 2 never fully turns into an MCU film or your typical superhero series but it definitely improved its action scenes. I’m not sure if anyone else had this feeling but I was getting some Kingsman vibes from a lot of those scenes due to the artistic camerawork and the excellent soundtrack.
Finally, we have the gel that ties the whole series together. The Hargreeves family. These characters continue to be so damn entertaining whether they are trying to stop the end of the world or bickering with each other over petty stuff. That’s the core of the series and season 2 showcases that aspect brilliantly.
That just about covers everything for the non-spoiler section of this review. So for those who haven’t seen the season yet, you should definitely go watch it and come back to read the rest!
I left Ritu Arya’s Lila out of the non-spoiler section because her entire character is essentially one giant spoiler. At first glance, I found Lila to simply be a love interest and plot-device for Diego so he can get out of the asylum. But when we find out her backstory, it all makes a lot of sense. The same goes for the twist in the finale where it’s revealed she can mimic abilities. After going back to previous episodes, it is subtly set up throughout. It’s clear that the writers took their time with this character and it paid off big time. I can’t wait to see where the show goes with her story.
Like Klaus and Five, Allison goes through the same character arc as last season. She wants to rely on herself rather than her abilities. But it’s told much better this time around due to the compelling Civil Rights story and the introduction of Ray, who is probably one of the nicest characters this show has ever had.
Along with Diego, I’d say Vanya is the main character of the season. Her relationship with Sissy was alright but her story doesn’t pick up until those interrogation scenes with Pepper playing in the background (yet again, the soundtrack is outstanding). The way I see it, this season is all about redemption, not just for her but for the entire Hargreeves family. So when they all decide to set aside their own problems to help Vanya in the finale, it’s a very satisfying and redeeming moment. And it was cool to see Vanya, the person who was constantly kept apart from her siblings, be the one to bring the family together.
My only issues with the season, other than Klaus and Five not evolving as characters, are with some possible plot holes. To be more specific, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite storytelling device these days, time-travel. First off, wouldn’t Luther telling older Five what happens in 2019 ruin their current timeline? Also, shouldn’t Five have changed back to his older self since he gave him the right formula? I’m really just nitpicking though and all those questions could easily be answered in season 3.
(end of spoiler section)
Verdict: Even with its minimal problems, I’m going to give The Umbrella Academy season 2 a 5/5 score. The soundtrack is spectacular, it features fun creative action scenes, and the compelling characters are what make this show work. The season does take a small dip due to some repetitive character arcs and possible plot holes caused by time-travel. But this is probably one of the best seasons of television Netflix has put out in a while.
For more of our thoughts on The Umbrella Academy, check out this special episode of Nerds Talk Movies where Johnny Reynolds and myself break down all the big moments from season 2.