When the first season of Umbrella Academy came to Netflix last year, it was a solid surprise. I had never heard of the comic nor of many of the actors in the show but for me, it was great. Im not a huge fan of Ellen Page but I even found her character arc and performance to be pretty great, albeit predictable as hell.
Fast forward to 2020 and after starting the year with a world war on the horizon, then a whole continent burning, followed by a plague that sweeped the planet causing society to close down for a while, a end of the world plot was pretty much just par for the course. Yes, Season 1 of Umbrella Academy had the world ending which our heroes had to stop and Season 2 pretty much has the same plot but with some remixes and extra features. Like those rap songs from the 00s where they would make a 6 minute long remix with as many people as they can featuring to the point the title and performers of the song became a fucking thesis.
So, this is the thesis of Umbrella Academy and unlike a thesis, this was fun as hell. Very much like Season 1, it is a slow burn. There are 10 episodes in total and it does take around 6 episodes for the pace and urgency of the overarching plot to really get going as well as all the B and C plots running concurrently.
Starting with catching up with each character after their travel through time from the end of Season 1, (oh yeah, spoilers for season 1) we see where and how our heroes end up in 1960’s Dallas and how they eventually discover that all their siblings are also there with them and meet up to stop the end of the world again.
Luther is a bodyguard for a mobster, Vanya is living with a family and caring for their child who has a mental disability, Allison is married to a key figure in the civil rights movement, Klaus is a cult leader and still has dead Ben chillin’ with him, Diego is in a mental institution and Five is once again trying to find all of them to stop the end of the world. Again.
Thats us all caught up, Its hard as shit trying to review a whole season of a TV show without spoiling any plot points but although the end of the world shtick is a rehash of the first season, in my opinion, the show still kept it somewhat refreshing, with decent humor, action sequences, set pieces and character growth.
Allison’s story is a standout, especially with the world currently taking a hard look at itself when it comes to racism. The “Whites Only” signs found on restaurants, cafes and hair salons should be uncomfortable and shocking to see but although this season is set in the 1960’s, here in 2020 we see that not much has changed in 60 years and yes this is a backdrop for the main plot but I feel the writers get the message across pretty well.
Racism is shit and thats very much the point and this combined with the assassination of JFK (which hasn’t happened yet) and the end of the world looming, the season sets a new enough set of obstacles for our heroes to not make the end of the world boring.
As well as our usual family, we do get some new comers and this is where I feel the season and plot is lacking. Not to say these new characters fuck the whole show up, they do okay, its just that like Vanya in Season 1, they are all fairly cookie cutter and their actions are predictable as hell.
Diego has a new love interest called Lila who is a fellow patient at the mental institution. She does have a decent character arc but about half way through the season, once the main reveal is done, its very easy to see where the show is going with her. The same goes for the new hit-men hired by The Commission to kill the family. The Commission was the secret agency working to keep the timeline and time travelers from fucking the universe up and as in Season 1 where you had Hazel and Cha-Cha and their comic relief, here you have a trio of brothers hunting the Hargreaves and again, you can easily see what will happen with them. I was hoping for any new characters to be a bit more nuanced and they attempt this with Lila but ultimately fail.
I feel the strength of this season lies in the fact that the family are all apart and doing their own thing. This provides more room for character growth and development and it endears the viewer to the characters in a way that the first season just couldn’t do. Yes the goal is to get them back together again in an Avengers style team up but the slow burn at the start of the season allows us to spend time with the characters at an individual level and it works really well before they have to go do their hero thing as a team.
As this is Netflix’s new hit show, the season does set up a new season with a massive twist up at the end so look out for that. The second season isnt perfect but I feel it improved on areas where the first season missed and turned forgettable characters into relatable and lovable people that keeps the viewer invested into what happens next.
UMBRELLA ACADEMY SEASON 2
A decent sequel season with humor, difficult subject matter and emotional beats all done well, just not exceptionally well.