Caution: This review contains mild spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Umbrella Academy.
With superheroes dominating the box office, it seemed likely that Netflix would take a stab at the genre with their own live-action adaptations outside the Marvel brand. They eventually did in 2019 with a relatively new creation, The Umbrella Academy, and knocked it out of the park. Finally, the wait is over and we get to see what happens next in Season 2.
Based on the Dark Horse comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba of the same name, the second season picks up with the Hargreeves family travelling back in time after failing to stop the apocalypse. Now separated and scattered across the early sixties, the Academy must reunite in an attempt to prevent a new worldwide catastrophe.
At the core of events again is Five, played by the brilliant Aidan Gallagher. Glimpsing the apocalyptic near future, Five has the task of bringing everyone together again in order to prevent it. Aidan does a fantastic job as the 60-year-old time-traveller, and this season really delves into his past and fleshes him out further in an interesting way.
Tom Hopper returns to play Number One, aka Luthor, who is now working as a boxer and personal driver for a burlesque bar owner. Tom does a good job with the role, but he isn’t given that much to do in terms of development. He gets to be more involved in the quirkier moments and gets to properly interact with the rest of the Hargreeves, but his character doesn’t really go anywhere new.
Number Two aka Diego (David Castañeda) is now an asylum inmate, hell-bent on escaping. We really get to explore different sides to Diego this time around, with him, like Luthor, getting to be more involved in the quirkier aspects of the show. David seems to be enjoying himself far more too with Diego improving and developing into a well-rounded character over the course of the new season. It’s nice to see him getting to interact more with the others as well, including his new friend Lila. David does a great job.
Emmy Raver-Lampman returns to hear more rumours as Number Three, aka Allison, who has moved on with her life. Largely side-lined in season 1, Allison has a much better story here as we see her adjusting to her new life which doesn’t rely on her powers. Emmy’s performance is great and her chemistry with her co-stars is perfect.
Number Four aka Klaus (Robert Sheehan) arguably made the biggest and best impact on the first season, and it’s wonderful to see him back on top form. Now the leader of a cult (long story), Klaus develops more in regards to his powers and his relationship with his deceased brother Ben (Justin H. Min). Klaus’s story is explored incredibly well, and he is still one of the best in the show.
Ellen Page also returns as Number Seven, aka Vanya. After the events of the first season, she is very much in the spotlight this time around. With Vanya now suffering from amnesia but aware of her abilities, the story takes her in some very different directions.
It brings more personality out of her and Ellen is able to do much more with the role, that’s including the interactions with the rest of the family, with Vanya getting involved with the more light-hearted moments, as well as the new family that take her in. She’s different, but feels like a better character and Ellen does a fantastic job.
Throughout the series we are introduced to a wide variety of other characters who flesh out the world. These include Lila Pitts (Ritu Arya), Raymond Chestnut (Yusuf Gatewood), Sissy (Marin Island), and Harlan (Justin Paul Kelly), all of whom have a significant part to play. They are well written characters who feel real and add a lot more to the series and central characters.
We also get to see more from the Commission, in the familiar form of The Handler (Kate Walsh) and the newcomer assassins known only as “The Swedes”, played by Kris Holden-Ried, Jason Bryden and Kevin Rankin. They all have some great scenes and add something different to the show.
The story does a fantastic job of weaving everything together in a cohesive way without becoming messy. It incorporates so much over the ten episodes. From the fallout of season 1 to filling in the gaps between the past and present. It may tread similar ground as the first season with the threat of a new apocalypse, but the approach is completely different and the stakes feel a lot higher and more personal.
Just like the first season, the story plays out over the whole ten episodes and it is just the right length for the story. It gives each character an equal chance to be fleshed out in an organic way without detracting from the overall plot. Nothing feels like filler and everything manages to keep you invested.
The Umbrella Academy manages to incorporate a ton of genres across the series, and it does it so well. The sci-fi aspects are dealt with really well. The consequences and repercussions of time-travel are explained and handled perfectly, allowing everyone to become more invested in the story without becoming confused.
The action is stepped up quite a bit in this season, with bigger and more extravagant action sequences. We get to see things that we haven’t properly seen yet throughout the series and it makes the action much more thrilling.
One surprise from the first season was just how funny the show was. Season 2 is no exception. The humour is genuinely funny and it helps keep the tone from becoming too heavy or dark. The comedy is used naturally and never distracts from anything dramatic.
And speaking of drama (and without getting into spoilers), there’s still some tension left over from the first season that needs dealing with, which is mixed in with the threat of a new apocalypse, the pressure and attitudes of the sixties, and the nearing assassination of JFK, all of which it handles extremely well. The series is, at times, tense and can be stressful to watch, but it never lingers on anything heavy for too long.
For a TV show, the effects are incredible and would look perfect in a big budget movie. From powers and characters to backgrounds and comic book inspired graphics, everything works really well and they look and feel believable.
The musical score was created by a returning Jeff Russo (Legion). The music is fine, recycling many samples from the first season, and it works well for the show, but aside from a few tracks here and there, the soundtrack isn’t very memorable. However, the additional music more than makes up for it.
The first season was praised for its flawless use of songs, and this series is no different, featuring everything from Frank Sinatra’s My Way and Kiss’s I Was Made For Lovin’ You to covers of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy and Adele’s Hello. We even get a brand new song from creator Gerard Way himself. Each song works incredibly well for each scene they are featured in and they really enhance how enjoyable the show can be.
Fans of the first series did wonder whether the new season would be able to live up to the first, and it more than does. Fans will not be disappointed.
Overall, the second season of The Umbrella Academy delivers what fans want and even more. With a great story, fully developed characters, fantastic music and a plot that includes shocks and twists galore, this is a fantastic follow-up, and debatably superior. The full series is definitely worth checking out, and we certainly can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.
The Umbrella Academy – Season 2 rating: 4.5/5.