The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Review: Everything we loved from the first season and much more
Season two takes us deeper into the world of the Hargreeves family as well as what was considered as societal norms back then
The 'ending of the world' trope is anything but new and The Umbrella Academy already exhausted it in season one. Despite doing the same again for season two, the superhero series manages to be fun and even betters its predecessor at places. Don't get me wrong, the first season was bonkers too but it served more as an origins story to the adaptation of Gerard Way's Dark Horse Comics. We got to know about Sir Reginald Hargreeves and his seven adopted kids who were meant to be a team of superheroes but ended up becoming one of the most famous fictional dysfunctional families.
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Ritu Arya
Created by: Steve Blackman
Streaming on: Netflix
A second before the apocalypse at the end of season one, the siblings get transported back in time and season two picks up right from where it starts -- in the past. Yes, The Umbrella Academy season two, in a nutshell, is a lighter version of Dark. The six superheroes (or seven, based on who among them you ask) are separated during the time jump and each one of them fall in different years in the 60s. Unlike the last time, a series of chain events lead to another world war between, you guessed it, the USA and Russia, and it's up to the heroes to do what they always do -- save the planet. Considering that the main plot is run-of-the-mill, it's the little nuances and detailing where the makers prove their mettle. The personal journeys the heroes endure before coming back together form the majority of this season and that's the most endearing part of it too. Vanya (Ellen Page) ends up as a nanny after losing her memory, Luther (Tom Hopper) works as a bodyguard for an infamous nightclub owner, Diego (David Castañeda) is in a mental asylum, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) is the head of a cult, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) has married a civil rights activist and it's up to the ever-dependable Five (Aidan Gallagher) to bring them back once again. And that's easier said than done!
If we're talking about The Avengers or The Justice League or even The Suicide Squad, saving the day would have been a walk in the park and after the mandatory slow-mo of the entire team in one shot, they would be chilling the same evening in a run down shawarma shop. But what we're left with are a bunch of socially impaired misfits who would give Uncle Ben a heart attack by the time he gets to say, "With great power....". Throw them five decades back in time and it takes them the majority of ten episodes to figure out who they are themselves, the importance of a family without actually giving a run for our mega-serials' money and with enough time left to cancel the apocalypse.
Season two takes us deeper into the world of the Hargreeves family as well as what was considered as societal norms back then. We see Allison, along with her husband, fight social segregation. Then there's Klaus who is trying to save the love of his life from soldering in the Vietnam War while battling stigma around his sexuality. Vanya is trying to lead a normal life without knowing what she had done earlier and what's in store for her and Five is once again carrying the brunt of reality in his small shoulders. But more than that, we see their vulnerable sides thanks to their relationships. As one character says in the fifth episode, "the only thing the Umbrella Academy knows about love is how to screw it up" and considering the turn of events, as funny as it might sound, it's true.
The Umbrella Academy has never been a performance-driven show and season two emphasises once again on how it doesn't have to be. Yet, we're introduced to new characters like Lila (Ritu Arya) who add a lot to this universe. We also get to see more of the heroes' powers, some are which are spell-bounding -- like the scene where Vanya channels her inner Jean Grey.
Dark humour has been integral to the series and season two takes it to new heights. When a gang of Swedish men kill a friend of the heroes and leave a bloody mess that reads 'Öga för öga', Diego and Luther find the number of a random Faroga from the telephone directory and threatens them over a call, only for Five to educate them that it means 'eye for an eye' in Swedish. A stretch in episode 8 where Five explains something called the Paradox Psychosis is one of the series' comical highlights. Speaking about nifty touches, in one fight scene, we see the siblings coming together to look like an umbrella. The number of times we see birds is one too many and the final episode answers it with a cliffhanger.
The best part about season two is how it mixes up fact with fiction. A major chunk of the story revolves around botching the assassination of JFK. There are references to Majestic 12, an infamous organisation related to UFO conspiracies that give way to quite a surprising reveal. Speaking about references, there are loads of pop-culture callbacks. Klaus names his cult Destiny's Children, after Beyonce's Destiny's Child, and quotes lines from songs that are yet to be made in that timeline, such as one from The Backstreet Boys. In one scene, Luther decides to take a jog which looks like a homage to a scene from Rocky. When Five gets beaten up in a fight and keeps getting up for more, he quotes Captain America's "I can do this all day". In another scene, a character quotes Arnold from Terminator when he says, "Come with me if you want to live."
On the downside, the story is wafer-thin and ten episodes make it feel stretched despite the time duration for each episode lessened when compared to season one. The villains are not as fun to watch as season one's Hazel and Cha-Cha. A much-awaited character -- AJ Carmichael, the villain with a human body and a fishbowl head -- has been reduced to a meagre character. Despite these flaws, season two makes it a much more compelling watch than the previous one, and thanks to some mindless action scenes and a killer soundtrack, it adds the foundation of the now much-awaited season three.