WARNING: spoilers ahead!
Based on the incredibly captivating comics by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy is a series about seven super-powered siblings trying to save the world from the apocalypse.
Picking up right where Season 1 left off, the new season starts with the Hargreeves siblings jumping back in time to save themselves (and hopefully the world) after failing to stop the 2019 apocalypse. Finding themselves scattered throughout the 1960s they each begin to try and find their own happiness in this foreign time, only to learn that the apocalypse has followed them there.
The tone of this second season is much lighter than the first, while still maintaining the compellingly dysfunctional-but-ultimately-loving family dynamic that the whole story revolves around (… although the increasing sexual tension between Luther (Tom Hopper) and Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is extremely weird if not outright disturbing). While bickering and blaming mired much of the first season, as the siblings now band together to (once again) stop the apocalypse, we get to see a lot more character development in Allison, as we delve into the ever relevant issue of racism with her fight against Jim Crow laws, and Klaus (Robert Sheehan), who grows to be a much more 3D character than the mere comic relief he provided in Season 1. Although Ellen Page’s portrayal of Vanya falls a little flat, her character’s step back means we finally get the space to appreciate Ben (Justin H. Min), as he finally asserts himself with Klaus, and we finally get a deeper look into his backstory that fleshes out his ghostly shadow.
Through Diego’s (David Castañeda) love life we get a convenient introduction to a complicated new character (and presumably another of the super-powered babies born on 1 October 1989) Lila (Ritu Arya). While the other new introduction of the Swedes – assassins sent by the commission after the Hargreeves (again) – are little more than an inconvenience that has to be dealt with throughout the season, Lila provides us with a couple unexpected plot twists, and a few bursts of much-needed interest. Lila’s presence does also serve to provide an opening for Five (Aidan Gallagher) a little room to grow as he further explores his time-travelling abilities right towards the end of the season.
However, Five’s continued efforts to save everyone else does little to save him from being the biggest downer in the series. Granted, while the rest of the Hargreeves siblings have had months or even years to grow into strong and compelling characters, Five only gets days between each apocalypse. Yet his almost manic agitation at having to deal with the end of the world (again) grows tedious, and this rubs off a lot on the audience. Aside from verging on boring, this rinse and repeat trope (and the repetition of every little thing from Luther’s obsession with Allison to Vanya’s role in causing the apocalypse) disconcertingly destroys any real concept of a tangible past or future, and doesn’t seem to leave much room for a satisfying resolution. Although the cliff-hanger ending introducing the Sparrow Academy holds some potential, this doesn’t promise much for our existing characters.
All in all, Season 2 has many winning points for casual entertainment and a continuation from the first season. It is as binge-able as the first is interesting, but gives a sense of déjà vu as the plot seems a weak echo of the first season that only grows stronger and less satisfying as the episodes progress. And while it is a much-recommended watch, this new season (unlike the first) just doesn’t have the impact it needs to land it into the rewatch category and doesn’t leave me hopeful about future seasons.