The Umbrella Academy unleashes a lot of fun, action and social issues with a fresh yet familiar setup.
The second season of The Umbrella Academy feels familiar but creates new storylines to take full advantage of what already has been built within the universe of The Umbrella Academy. This means a similar structure, another Apocalypse heading their way, siblings who have again grown apart and have to find each other and reconnect, daddy issues, time travel, the evil Commission and hired assassins who are coming for them.
But now set in the sixties it also brings a lot of social issues with it to address and to deal with. While the characters develop, they don’t lose their fun characteristics which are the heart of the series and what makes them so extremely likable and fun to watch.
This second season consists of 10 episodes with each a duration of 40-50 minutes. It has a big story arc where yet again an Apocalypse has to be averted and the siblings have to join together to figure out how.
After, in the fist season, they have discovered that it was Vanya who caused the Apocalypse due to her repressed powers and traumatic childhood, Five took them all just in time to time travel to…
Although they held each other tightly they all ended up scattered throughout the early sixties in Dallas Texas, but in the same back alley. Klaus and Ben end up in 1960. Allison in 1962. Diego in 1963, September 1. Vanya in 1963, October 12. And Five in 1963, November 25 who witnesses yet another Apocalypse when the Russians attack the city with nukes and he sees all of his siblings die. Then suddenly Hazel shows up who tells him to come with him if he wants to live. He takes him back 10 days earlier, and this gives Five the opportunity to find his siblings to stop yet another Apocalypse.
But each of them has built a new life, after they have waited for Five to come and get them. Luther is a fighter for gangster Mr Jack Ruby as ‘King Kong’. Allison is married with Raymond Chestnut and fights for Civil Black Rights. Diego ended up in an asylum after playing the vigilante too often, where he meets Lila. Klaus has become a cult leader and a prophet with many followers. Vanya got hit by a car, lost her memory and was taken in by the driver Sissy and her son Harlan and husband Carl. So scattered again, with their own lives, Five has to convince them to find out what caused the Apocalypse, how to stop it and find their way back to their own time. And it might even all have something to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963…
Why you should watch it
The second season of The Umbrella Academy has the same familiar feel and atmosphere as the first season. While it doesn’t have the advantage of freshly discovering this within a new world with different rules, time travel and the Commission for the first time, like the first season did and took the viewer by surprise with its fantastic cinematography, brilliant characters and great music, this second season makes excellent use of what already has been built.
Although the novelty is gone, the fight scenes and experimental vibe as in cinematography, choreography and music are somewhat toned down, it still is an awesome series with a unique tone and vibe. This time more set in a realistic setting with the upcoming assassination of John F. Kennedy, racism and segregation, sexism and homophobia, the fear of communism and a war with Russia, which all are different themes that are woven into the big story arc.
The characters are being explored even more, while they each have their own personal quests in this specific era. Most of the focus goes to Allison. Her life changed the most, being black in a Jim Crow era where segregation ruled. Her storyline is the most gripping and realistic. But Vanya’s storyline also addresses other social issues from that era, where women were seen as the property of men and not their own person to do as they please. Both women deal with racism and sexism and homophobia respectively and form the serious undertone of this season.
The men however are cause for more humor. Diego, still burdened with his hero syndrome, while Luther still has daddy issues and acts like a lovesick boy and pines for Allison. Klaus can live out his dream to be a guru till he feels a bit too cramped while arguing with Ben who now can possess him. There’s more room created fo Ben and we get to know him a bit better as an active member of the seven siblings. They all bring in some great fun and humor.
Five, though, is again the one who holds it all together, is pragmatic and makes all the calls. He is the man of action and the brains, while he has to round-up all of his siblings which turns out not to be that easy. While everybody has learned something about the world and about themselves and have developed in a short period of time, Five remains the same, a reliable anchor throughout the whole adventures to give his siblings the opportunity to grow, while he stays a dependent and fixed concept. Don’t forget he’s already much older than them.
The successful structure, that is used in the first season is repeated with a familiar yet fresh feel. Old and new enemies surface. They have to deal with the Handler who isn’t dead. And they have to deal with three new assassins called the Swedes, who aren’t as crazy exciting as Hazel and Cha-Cha who were fun and scary and fleshed-out characters, but still cause some gruesome mayhem and terrible deaths.
New characters create a new motivation for the siblings like the fresh and sassy Lila, conspiracy theorist and likable Elliot, and the harmless Sissy and Harlan. Meanwhile more background information is revealed about Reginald Hargreeves, Grace and Pogo. By adding some twists and in-depth storylines about realistic social issues, to the familiar structure, this second season isn’t just a repetition of the same gimmick, while at the same time it keeps the amazingly already created atmosphere alive and kicking. It really works and delivers a fun, thrilling, emotional and action packed second season.
My favorite part
Although this season didn’t feel as heartbreaking as the first season and didn’t have a heavy emotionally charged climax at the end it was really wonderfully put together. Each character and storyline gets just the attention they deserved to explore them in-depth but with humor and action and a serious undertone all in one. It was brilliantly balanced out and resulted in an engrossing and compelling story about unconventional and dysfunctional superheroes, although they seem to get that dysfunctional part better under control. The separate storylines of the siblings were either heartbreaking, fun, exciting, mad or full of injustice and fit together perfectly, within the story and within their family.
Still I have a soft spot for Five, he’s the one who stands out, all the time, and is played by Aidan Gallagher in such an awesome way. It really is believable that there’s in fact an old man hiding in a body of a fourteen-year-old and that’s a great accomplishment asides from every scene he does liven up.
Epic factor: ★★★★★
Drama factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
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Cast and crew
The Umbrella Academy is based on the graphic novels of the same name written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The series is created by Jeremy Slater. It stars Ellen Page (Vanya), Tom Hopper (Luther), David Castañeda (Diego), Robert Sheehan (Klaus), Emmy Raver-Lampman (Allison), Aidan Gallagher (Number Five), Justin H. Min (Ben), Ritu Arya (Lila Pitts), Yusuf Gatewood (Raymond Chestnut), Marin Ireland (Sissy), Justin Paul Kelly (Harlan), Kevin Rankin (Elliot), Adam Godley (Pogo), Colm Feore (Sir Reginald Hargreeves), Jordan Claire Robbins (Grace), Sheila McCarthy (Agnes) and Kate Walsh (The Handler).
Music: Jeff Russo. Cinematography: Neville Kidd, Craig Wrobleski. Production company: Dark Horse Entertainment, Universal Cable Productions. Original network: Netflix.