The first season of The Umbrella Academy was such a hit that it was almost a foregone conclusion that its story would continue. Being a fan of the series’ source material, a comic series created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, it remained to be seen how the story of the seven siblings would be allowed to continue onscreen as the addition of even more intersecting storylines and characters would continue to populate an already frenetic narrative. To no surprise, this second season carries those thematic elements forward in an understandable yet predictable way.
From the closing moments of last season, our heroes are propelled into places and times unknown as Five attempts to protect them from Seven/Vanya before she self combusts. This season picks up immediately from there as we see Five yet again falling into a timeline that shows…wait for it….the end of the world occurring…again. Despite the group’s best efforts, the world will still come to an end only this time it will be in the year 1963 on the heels of JFK’s assassination. Each family member is transported to the same city albeit during different points in time just before the events of November 22, 1963, and it’s only after they find one another that they figure out how to save their reality (…again).
Fans of The Umbrella Academy will not be disappointed as the second season continues forth the elements that made the first season such a success. The diversity of its characters remains one of the series’ strongest pillars as each of the siblings are given ample time to develop their own personalities that much further as they attempt to make what little sense they can in the time/reality they have been dropped into. The second pillar is easily its soundtrack which is given an even larger expanse of usage as the 1960s are dense with wonderful music. As in its first season, the music featured this time around is not just selected for earworm purposes but succeeds in moving specific story beats forward by filling in the little gaps where dialogue ceases. The music from this season feels like a natural progression from its first as it’s allowed to evolve in lock-step with the characters it supports.
Meanwhile, the third-largest successful aspect of the series and subsequently this season is the cast, specifically its newest additions. Begrudgingly, Diego finds himself embroiled with a peculiar accomplice, Lila (Ritu Arya), that is much more than she seems. Lila is not only Diego’s equal in many cases but she also serves as a wonderful comedic release in what can be at times a more serious character. Additionally, “The Swedes”, Axel (Kris Holden-Ried), Otto (Jason Bryden), Oscar (Tom Sinclair), take the place of Hazel and Cha-Cha as the new assassins hot on the trail of the Hargreeves family. But most importantly, season two finally addresses something that was greatly missing from the first – The Monocle, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who returns this season.
While the aforementioned pillars are aspects that help keep the series’ excitement at such a high level, they do not grant its infallibility. Across its 10-episode run, The Umbrella Academy continually suffers from pacing issues that feel more akin to its origin’s soap-operatic style that is content to leave a cliffhanger on each episode as characters spend the majority of their time searching for answers rather than discovering and dealing with choices vs. consequences. This approach is favored over an episodic run written as a cinematic broken into 10 equal portions and hinders the overall product from any significant separation from its preceding season. There still is an overarching narrative within its plot, however, it isn’t given the proper amount of time to shine as several of the middle episodes come across as “filler” instead of propelling the story forward at a higher pace. For this, the series as a whole suffers and leaves many plot threads spinning their wheels until shortly before the season finale where everything is conveniently tied off.
Despite its minor setbacks, season 2 of The Umbrella Academy succeeds at its main objective – to entertain. Its ability to adapt its written source material from page to screen is commendable but it remains to be seen what it could have been if it could tell its story at a more aggressive pace. What helps distract from this setback are the hilarious, complex, and unique characters that throw just enough wonder into the narrative mix while still offering to reveal a deeper layer if allowed to continue into another season. While the season was enjoyable as a whole and the direction it left the siblings facing amidst its conclusion, the feeling of familiarity could not be escaped. Instead, this season seemed content to recycle the same overarching plot while pushing the individual narratives of the Hargreaves family to different places. For the most part, it is successful in doing so and still delivers premium entertainment within a repeated viewing experience.
still courtesy of Netflix
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