Umbrella Academy is a riveting replay that hits at the right place at the right time period. It’s hard to think of the ending of the world as a harrowing futuristic storyline when it’s happening all around us but Umbrella Academy still makes a captivating tale of it all.
It’s like the writers knew we would need an apocalyptic program that hits on Black Lives Matter while satisfying our nerd entertainment tendencies. Number Five musta jumped ahead to 2020 and was like its a sh#t show! And then the creators got to work. Here’s why season 2 was out of time (with moderate spoilage)
It’s still the end of the world, we’re still trying to figure out how it actually happens and it’s Number Five’s personal mission to stop the apocalypse. What show can reboot the same exact premise and still be that good? (Besides The Good Place…)
Our lovable and obnoxious characters are strewn across time within 3 years of each other, all in the same location – Dallas, Texas. Klaus, with Ben in tow, falls out on Feb 11, 1960, Allison in 1961. Luther winds up in 1962, Diego superhero lands in Sept 1, 1963. Vanya plummets on October 12, 1963 while Five hits ground November 25, 1963. Yet when Five lands the world looks very different. An alternate timeline where the nuclear war has popped off…. Again.
Writing about time travel is a feat in itself to get the equation right *wink*, but to also weave in the growth of the characters and a plot that seamlessly builds upon itself is something to commend creators Steve Blackman, Jeremy Slater for. Obviously they have strong source material with the comics, but translating that to tv or… streaming does not always work – let alone more than once. Lightning did not strike the same spot twice, but it sure struck and struck hot.
The plot pieces shift in space and time as the characters’ timelines begin to converge. The end of the world is now closely tied with the assasination of John F. Kennedy and the infamous motorcade in Dallas in 1963. The Commission’s foolish games and maniacal power plays, the daddy issues that never end, and the sibling rivalry and comradery are all spun into the apocalypse. I personally love a plot that has to intersect with itself to function as a whole.
The most refreshing part of Umbrella Academy is it does not take itself too seriously. If the wit was not exceptional, the grit would be too much, if the “camp” was not perfection the performances would be lost. But everything works in rhythm, even the music. Kudos to the music composition. Each song creates a scene that would not be possible without the element the music brings.
Even though you feel there are a lot of moving parts and silly antics the grounding subject matter keeps you on the timeline.
Leave it to Umbrella Academy to give view of the present from the past. You recognize some of the villains because they existed in the 60s and exist with us now.
In the thralls of the civil rights movement, the story gives us access to our rage and reconciliation at the same time. Allison being a black woman in the 60s, is experiencing history lessons first hand landing smack dab in the middle of “whites only” country. Seeking refuge in a hair salon, she is thrust into the movement. I love the research that went into this. Knowing the movement began in places like barber shops salons and local spots where the people would congregate, this felt good to see. You see Allison NOT using her powers as usual and you’re like – what gives?? You could literally make every cop beat each other in the streets or shoot their bullets to the sky until the chambers are empty. She chooses to be on the ground. We get several satisfying moments though, ones that make you uncomfortable but like yea – that’s what you get! And getting some deserved pleasures out of it as well.
Every obstacle we face today is intelligently tackled in this season. The clever writing and layered characters serve us high key empathy without even trying. I was pleasantly surprised to see the plotline of Dave back this season. Dave being Klaus’s love interest during the Vietnam war when he himself was stuck in time previously. The ridicule he faces is overt and you feel it in your chest. We also see Vanya’s story build between her both the loss of and the gaining of her identity, and you truly want her to just destroy it all.
Bringing 2019 energy into the 1960s was a trip plus this band of outlandish characters brings it up a notch. I actually loved each character more than I had before. It’s as if in season one they were actually whiny teenagers who didn’t know how to operate in the challenge of life itself, and this season – it’s the college years. They’ve all gone away for higher learning on their own and are changing in ways that make them a better family. We even get a quick glimpse of our academy in their masters program, using their powers to their full potential.
Klaus has created a cult following using his powers to his advantage, literally living in a compound with Ben helping. Luther is muscle for the mob, Vanya is a nanny out in the podunk farm country of Dallas. Diego is institutionalized because he is trying to do the real work and make sure Kennedy is not assassinated, and Allison is a civil rights organizer.
You would think knowing the future would affect them differently and they wouldn’t just put down roots. But this situation truly showed them their survival capabilities. Performances were stronger, and I have to shout out Klaus, played again by Robert Sheehan (Nathan Young, Misfits.) He’s literally my favorite, mainly because I love this actor and their schtick. But Klaus is the most overlooked sibling and has a power so mesmerizing to me. Plus him and Ben’s odd couple relationship is everything.
Luther, played by Tom Hopper (Dickon Tarly, Game of Thrones) had me rolling! He was unbearable, teen emo last season and this time around, I loved his moping and the lessons he was learning. His daddy issues were comical yet real and his classic older brother mentality gave me life – especially with Number Five. No one can beat Number Five of course. Aidan Gallagher, who plays the insufferable older/younger sibling is phenomenal as ever. His character work as an actor and physicality is unmatched. Is it messed up that I hope the character is stuck as a 13 year old for the rest of the series??
New characters turned heads as well. Yusuf Gatewood (Famine, Good Omens) came into our lives and made his mark, building even more ferocity to Allison’s storyline. Marin Ireland (Julia Bowman, Sneaky Pete) played Sissy in Vanya’s life, with son Harlan, played by Justin Paul Kelly, as a major part of Vanya’s growth. She had me doing double takes with that shotgun in her hand! Then there is Ritu Arya (Flash, Humans)! This character’s involvement was elusive and a scene stealer at every turn. I am praying this character continues to shake things up for seasons to come.
The paradoxes of time travel make no sense, but you don’t even care. However, the end of the world comes secondary to figuring out the little mysteries hiding in 1963. You are not for a minute truly focused on the apocalypse, but more on: who is Reginald Hargreeves and what is the Handler really up to? You want some of the villains to win, just to see what will happen. You want the anti-heros to make it out alive, and you want to see every timeline unfold. You don’t want to say goodbye at the end.
The best part is the show’s timelessness, you can rewatch and see more than you did the first time. Moments in season two literally harken back to those unknown moments in season one. With portals and a time traveling conglomerate of bureaucrats and assassins, everything is connected. After the last episode, I went back to remember the flashback we first see of Reginald Hargreeves. In season one, episode ten, we see someone close to Reginald is on their deathbed and begs him to give her violin to someone who will love it as much as she does. But this moment, he goes to the window and releases what looks like a bottle of fireflies and we see a landscape that does not quite look like earth. It is familiar, maybe a time in the future? Or a planet earth adjacent or quite possibly some alternate existence.
Whatever, wherever, whenever Hargreeves is from we’re in for a butterfly effect next season of The Umbrella Academy and really… I’m down for whatever. All episodes of The Umbrella Academy Season 2 are available to stream on Netflix now. Binge away!