When I heard The Umbrella Academy was coming back for a season 2 with Netflix, I was on board right from the start. I loved Season 1. It was a wild ride with fantastic characters, a super-powered dysfunctional family that still manages to care deeply about each other and give us a fantastic story of epic and apocalyptic proportions. It took forever for the new season to arrive but once it did, I binge-watched every episode as fast as I possibly could and I found season 2 even better than the first, with the storyline capitalizing on all the elements that make the first season great, characters that are dysfunctional but trying their best, a race to save the world, and new characters that bring humor and insight into the family dynamic. Add in the factor that the group is stuck in the past in Texas, it is nonstop action, unexpected plot twists, and beautiful character growth.
The second season continues exactly from the moment the first season ended, with Five (Aiden Gallagher) warning his brothers and sisters that he can take them back in time to stop the apocalypse but there would be risks. One of the risks is quickly illustrated with Klaus (Robert Sheehan) being dropped in 1960 Dallas, Texas, alone while each of the others is dropped off alone in another date and time, ending with Five reaching 1963, finding yet another apocalypse that destroys all of his brothers and sisters. Five is rescued by an elderly Hazel who takes them back in time before the world is destroyed. Three Swedish assassins attack, killing Hazel while Five escapes to the home of a man named Elliot who was monitoring the alleyway where the siblings all arrived. With his help, Five sets off to find his siblings and prevent yet another world destruction. His mission is complicated by the others not wanting help for various reasons, namely Vanya (Ellen Page) and the loss of her memories, Diego (David Castaneda) is set on preventing the assassination of JFK, and the entire family is being hunted by the Swedish assassins sent by the Time Commission.
While I’m sure many others have already watched the show, I won’t go any further into details, in a desire to prevent spoilers. What I do want to do is tell you exactly why I think the second season is better than the first and why I can’t wait for a third season. And the wait is too long already.
There are several factors that make this season so enjoyable. First and foremost is the development of the characters. In the first season, we’re just meeting the siblings of the Umbrella Academy. We barely know Ben (Justin H. Min) and the others are dysfunctional and grieving, overshadowed by their father. While separated and on more individual paths at the start of the second season, this time, we get to have more of each individual’s story, their path, and how much they’ve grown even in the short amount of time they are apart. Vanya losing her memories allows her to develop more of who she truly is away from the pain of her past. Klaus has started a cult with Ben by his side but also is sober for a time. Diego meets and develops a relationship with Lila (Ritu Aryu), a woman he meets in a psychiatric hospital. Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) loses her reliance on her abilities and is married while Luther (Tom Hopper) is boxing and working as a bodyguard for famed Jack Ruby (John Kapelos). Each of them finds a way to exist apart from their family and develops strengths.
Another reason this season is more fun is it is lighter. There is more humor and the show as a whole is less dark. While it is still at its heart dysfunctional and bizarre, the show infuses a more hopeful tone into the whole, especially the relationships that each of the others develops with those around them. One of the comical moments is provided by the Swedish assassins, led by Axel (Kris Holden-Reid). The other comedic parts belong to Five struggling to convince his siblings to help him prevent another apocalypse. But the true wild card is Lila, Diego’s love interest and adopted daughter of The Handler who ends up leading the Time Commission, despite being shot in the head in season one. Ritu Arya, who plays Lila, imbues her character with crazy, wild, fun, and manages to out-think Diego and Five every step of the way. Robert Sheehan and his interactions with Justin H. Min also brings a ton of comedy, as their characters are tied together through death but literally can’t escape each other. You feel for Ben as he tries to steer Klaus into better decisions but has no way to take control or walk away from his brother.
The whole ensemble wouldn’t work without the interactions between the characters and the beautiful dynamics of the actors. The actors bring brilliant portrayals along with a willingness to take the characters to new highs and interesting twists, unexpected emotional revelations alongside a warm family dynamic. They feel like family even when we know that the actors are not, and when they reunite, whether they are angry with each other or not, it feels like siblings coming together again. They play off each other but are equally dynamic with the supporting characters, Ritu Arya playing Lila, Kevin Rankin as Elliot, Yusuf Gatewood as Allison’s new husband, Raymond Chestnut, and Marin Ireland as Sissy, the woman who finds Vanya and takes her in as a nanny for her son, and Calem MacDonald who plays Klaus’ boyfriend from the Vietnam War before he leaves for the war. Each of the supporting actors does such a phenomenal job interacting with the Umbrella Academy characters that it brings such a rich and beautiful strength to the entire storyline.
The plot has twists and turns that are just as exciting as the first season but for me, it held a touch less predictability. The resolution of the apocalypse storyline is unexpected, the escape from the Time Committee unique, and nothing quite ever goes to plan for the Umbrella Academy or anyone watching but that’s the best part and when the family does finally solve the problems and find a way to go forward in time to the present, well, more surprises and a heck of a cliffhanger. And if the story doesn’t make the case for you, each episode has the perfect soundtrack, dedicated to getting your heart beating and capturing the theme of each episode.
This season was beautiful, heartwarming, full of humor and emotion without the weightiness of the previous season and all the good of the family craziness and dysfunction. Each of the characters is as fun as the original and the twists the writers develop that deviate from the comics bring growth and new strengths for each of the family. If you loved the first season, you will adore the second and you won’t be able to wait for the third season.
Rating: 5 out of 5 sparrows