Another season, another apocalypse to stop. The Umbrella Academy kicks off its sophomore season roughly where season one left off with Number Five saving his adopted siblings from the impending asteroid that’s about to shatter the Earth by zapping them into the past. The 1960s to be exact. The problem? Each sibling lands in a different time.
Let’s check in on the Hargreeves siblings, shall we?
Klaus and Ben started a cult (I mean what else would you expect); Allison is now a civil rights organiser; Luther works for Jack Ruby (yes, that guy who shot Oswald after he allegedly assassinated President Kennedy); poor Diego was locked up in a mental asylum with a mysterious girl named Lila (pay attention to her); Vanya now lives in a farm with the person who knocked her over when she first arrived in the 60s. Oh, she also has amnesia.
And then there’s Number Five. He arrives on November 25 1963 and finds himself in the middle of a war. A Russian-instigated war, to be exact. He sees his siblings teaming up to fight against the Soviet armies, but to no avail because moments later the Russians are going to drop a nuke on them, thus ending the world. But before that, Hazel approaches Number Five and tells him that if he wants to save the world, he has to follow him and they time travelled back 10 days before the catastrophe.
And that’s just the first 10 minutes of the first episode.
How exactly is Number Five going to gather his siblings and save the world the second time? Well, that’s the centre plot of the second season. While it treads familiar ground, this season improves on its predecessor by giving more depth to each of its characters. The idea of separating each sibling is a genius move that showrunner Steve Blackman made. It gives us a better insight into each character’s psyche and emotional state that we didn’t get to see in the first season.
Diego and Ben, two of the most underdeveloped characters in season one were finally given a chance to shine. Diego’s journey from getting locked up to escaping the mental asylum was a fun and hilarious one. Newcomer Lila also helps shed some light to his characters. Instead of seeing Diego as the knockoff version of Batman, we finally get to see what drives him as a person and where does the “hero complex” trait come from.
Ben is also more present in this season and we absolutely love his dynamics with Klaus. From trying to stop Klaus from making one bad decision to another to helping Klaus to become the cult leader, their love-hate relationship is one that we enjoyed watching most in this series. There’s also this one particular scene he shares with Vanya that touches our heart. It also made us realise what a great pairing they could be.
Allison’s journey is also another noteworthy one. As a black woman in the Jim Crow era is certainly not a pleasant one, but kudos to the showrunner for highlighting the dehumanising reality of the era. In light of #blacklivesmatter movement in America, it’s unfortunate to see that though five decades have passed, the discrimination that black people faced is still an apparent one today. Still, if the writers want to dabble in the civil rights movement, they should take a page out of HBO’s Watchmen, a series that champions in both narrative and specificity, because right now, the civil rights narrative feels diluted in comparison with the Emmy-nominated series.
As for the soundtrack, well, it’s as fun as the first season. The show did a great job of mixing music with its fight scene and one particular take that I like is the brawl between Allison and the IKEA mafia set to a popular boy band hits from the early 2000s. It was an unexpected choice of music, ironic even, but it works. There are few other music choices that are borderline questionable, but somehow when you put them together with the scene, it was executed flawlessly. But then again what’s The Umbrella Academy without some funky experimentations. As enjoyable as the music is this season, nothing comes close to the iconic sibling dance set to “I Think We’re Alone Now” back in season one. That was pure perfection. The cast recently recreated the entire dance sequence during the lockdown. You can watch it below.
Overall, The Umbrella Academy landed on a solid second season. They did well by delivering what makes them stand out in its first season – high energy action sequences, head-banging soundtrack and the dynamic of this dysfunctional family. Still, there is room for improvement. We just hope that they will address the plot holes and the cliffhanger in its coming season (if Netflix doesn’t cancel the show).
So strap on and get ready for a brand new apocalypse, a talking fish, IKEA mafia, a (potential) new sibling, a new academy(?) and a helluva of deaths.