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The Umbrella Academy – season two review

The Umbrella Academy poster seconda stagione

The Umbrella Academy season two: a one-year-and-a-half wait, but was it worth it?

I swear there are no spoilers this time.

The Hargreeves siblings in a scene from the second season
Picture from Netflix

Synopsis of season two

Five warned his family (more than once) that using his powers to escape the 2019 apocalypse caused by Vanya would be risky. As it turns out, he was right. The time-jump scatters the seven brothers through time and around the city of Dallas, Texas for a period of three years, starting in 1960. Some of them will be stranded in the past for years, building new lives and trying to move on, sure that they’re the only survivors. Five is the last one to arrive, right in the middle of a nuclear doomsday which might have been caused by the siblings’ presence in a place – or rather, time – they’re not supposed to be. The Umbrella Academy has to find a way to reunite and go home.

Review

At the time of writing this, it’s been two days since the release of the new season and I am currently on my third rewatch. This should be answer enough to the question at the start of this article but even though you can already tell what I’m getting at, let’s not rush it.

Well, where to start?

I promised I wouldn’t include spoilers this time, because not everyone is able to spend a good part of their weekend by exclusively having a TV marathon and that is why all the scenes and events I’ll mention below were either in the trailer or the sneak peek that Netflix posted the day before launch.

It was already evident that this new season would be bigger than the first one, especially when talking about the number of events included and from a “fantasy” point of view.

Let’s just say that any expectation has been more than exceeded.

Ben and Klaus share an enthusiastic "hug" in season two
Picture from Netflix

The family

It’s undeniable that one of the appeals of the show that ensured a passionate following from the audience is the family dynamic of the characters, and if you like me were hoping that the relationships introduced in the first season would be delved into further and sometimes shaken up, you won’t be disappointed.

The family moments are when the story really shines, it’s been this way since the beginning, and I sincerely hope that it will keep this rhythm going into future seasons because it managed to develop said relationships – and siblinghood in particular – in such an authentic way that without them the entire tv show would be remiss.

Allison, Klaus & Vanya sit together
Picture from Netflix

The exploration of the relationships goes deeper than ever and results in unexpected changes that I was personally hoping for but couldn’t be sure we would be getting, and the moments of brotherly annoyance that people who aren’t only children know very well are a constant presence throughout the season.

And all of it in service of the story.

A million plotlines

If a good chunk of the first season was spent trying to make us know and love the characters it presented, this time things are fairly different and it shows.

The Hargreeves siblings have basically become part of our own family right now, and this gives the story more space to bloom in unexpected and complex directions.

Allison sports a new look in season two
Picture from Netflix

And calling them complex isn’t nearly enough to do them justice.

Some of the siblings having to build an entirely new life during the separation certainly doesn’t make things easier, but if that wasn’t enough, at the moment we find them again it’s immediately obvious that there’s a lot more to factor in than what we previously anticipated to even try to imagine what the ending could be.

The threat that the Hargreeves siblings pose to the timeline is a huge part of the story and the conflict, but there are so many other events happening one after the other in such a short time that ten episodes will seem at the same time like too few and too many.

When I started watching this season, I was lounging comfortably on my sofa and by the end of the seventh episode, I was not only tethering on the edge of the seat, but actively yelling at my TV.

Diego wearing the Umbrella Academy uniform
Picture from Netflix

My sister and I watched it together and when the ninth episode started, she raised her fists to the ceiling in frustration and shouted only: “I understand f**k all!”

An opinion, I want to clarify, that I do not share.

Impressive storytelling

Unlike her, I managed to catch some of the foreshadowing hints that were scattered through all the episodes up to then and I wasn’t completely surprised by some of the twists (although that did not in any way diminish their brilliance and entertainment value), but I still couldn’t have in a million years predicted the ending.

Luther in a car
Picture from Netflix

Either way, The Umbrella Academy finally brings back a narration style that isn’t only aimed at surprising, shocking, flabbergasting the viewer in spite of the story making sense (cough-Game of Thrones-cough), but gives you the means to follow it, and to predict it if you want, while still managing to surprise you.

You get to the eighth episode with so many climaxes in reach that when you notice there are still two episodes left you can’t help but wonder: how is it possible? What more could possibly happen?

But honestly? Who cares! It just means more Umbrella Academy!

Remarkable performances

A smiling Vanya Hargreeves
Picture from Netflix

The entire cast succeeds in shining in new and better ways than the first season.

Robert Sheehan (who plays Klaus Hargreeves) once again brings tragedy to a character that could easily be reduced to its comedic value, Emmy Raver-Lampman (Allison Hargreeves) gives authenticity to a complex and sensitive branch of the story, Tom Hopper (Luther) gives new sides to a character that initially seemed a bit one-dimensional, Ellen Page shows us a new and different Vanya that we like very much, and David Castañeda finally has the opportunity of showing those hidden sides to Diego that made us fall in love with him in the first season.

But there’s one person in particular that brings their acting skills to even higher levels.

Aidan Gallagher as Five
Picture from Netflix

Five is certainly not my favourite of the siblings and I might not be a huge fan of the kid (to be quite honest, I don’t really have an opinion on that; my official stance is that I don’t like getting mixed-up in fandom drama involving adolescent celebrities so I decided to abstain from expressing any impression I might have gotten from him), but it bears emphasizing that Aidan Gallagher has truly exceeded himself.

And if like me, you were thrilled by what Klaus bringing Ben to light in front of his siblings would mean for the possibility of a bigger role for Justin H. Min in the second season, I just want to tell you one thing: the wait was definitely worth it.

The nature of Ben’s character doesn’t give me any freedom to talk about what might or might not happen to him this season without spoiling anything but just let me say this:

BEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Justin H. Min as a smiling Ben
Picture from Netflix

There is, however, one question regarding one of the characters that I can answer without really spoiling anything for anybody because we weren’t expecting any different anyway, and that question is: was Reginald Hargreeves always that much of an a**hole? Yes, he’s always been and he always will be, apparently.

Final thoughts

As already said so far, the new season brings back most of the elements that we already love and provides new ones that we were not expecting.

The soundtrack is exceptional once again and more packed than ever, the family dynamics are expanded and deepened, the characters all shine both on their own and as a group and there are some new faces that only add to the setting and the story.

Considering that the story has always dealt with temporal relativity, the viewer spends a good part of the season wondering how far the show is willing to go in the future. Will it use a Back to The Future approach and radically change reality as we know it, or will it – not unlike the Commission – bow to the rules of the space-time continuum and promise to preserve the timeline?

It’s these questions and the general uniqueness and weirdness of The Umbrella Academy what ensured its continuous success.

After all, it’s no wonder that two of the most loved and weirdest TV shows currently on air (in streaming, to be precise) were both mostly conceived by the storytelling and worldbuilding talent of Gerard Way: The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol.

In conclusion, The Umbrella Academy brings more questions to the table than it answers, and that’s exactly what makes us wait for the next season with such trepidation and the hope that it’ll come a little sooner than another year and a half.

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