Season 2 of ‘The Umbrella Academy’ is thrilling, supernatural departure to 1960s

Umbrella Academy

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Grade: 3.0/5.0 

Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” has dignified itself as more than just your average superhero TV show. Sure, there are talking animals, crime-fighting siblings and cartoonish villains, but the show’s highly anticipated second season has moved past stereotypes embedded within the genre, exploring its authenticity as a series. 

Based on Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book series of the same name, “The Umbrella Academy” follows seven superhero siblings who must join forces to save the world from an impending apocalypse. 

The show’s second season doesn’t stray far from the first season’s premise — a fault that works against the initially mysterious nature of the series. 

The show picks up where the first season left off — the Hargreeves have managed to escape the apocalypse in 2019 by time traveling to 1960s Dallas, Texas. However, this apocalypse seems to have traveled with them and threatens to end the world unless they can band together to stop it before traveling back to 2019. 

Though this premise appears repetitive and vaguely reminiscent of “Back to the Future,” season two of “The Umbrella Academy” thrives in its new setting both aesthetically and narratively. 

Aided by a soundtrack full of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, this season’s ’60s setting is transformative and captivating, bringing lighthearted fun to the dark world of “The Umbrella Academy.” There are high-energy dance numbers, cheesy jokes and, of course, jaw-dropping twists. Most importantly, however, this season excels at building upon the dynamics of its ensemble while simultaneously showcasing its individual complexities as it grows and adapts to this strenuous time period.

The prime examples of this come from three of the show’s leads: Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Vanya (Ellen Page) and Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan). Allison takes on a major role in the Civil Rights Movement, Klaus begins his own religious organization using his abilities to interact with the dead and Vanya attempts to embrace her sexuality despite the discrimination of the period. 

In each instance, the Hargreeves siblings must grapple with the ethics of utilizing their powers to impact notable events and social movements. The series constantly begs the question: If you had superpowers, how would you change history? This rather simple question is met with the rash actions and moral crises of our ensemble, granting them the character development and growth that lacked in the series’s first season. 

However, with a narrative dependent on time travel, there are inevitably going to be plot holes. Unfortunately in the case of “The Umbrella Academy,” there are far too many to disregard, especially toward the season’s intense conclusion. 

For instance, as “The Umbrella Academy” has developed and raised its stakes, the extent of the Hargreeves’ powers and the world they live in seem to constantly change and evolve out of convenience. 

Each Hargreeves sibling possesses a superpower substantial enough to help stop the apocalypse, but these powers are rarely used to their full potentials and the extent of them are never fully explained. This issue is most apparent with Five (Aidan Gallagher), the Hargreeves sibling who sometimes time travels with ease and other times complains it can’t be done due to a random circumstance. With each of the Hargreeves siblings, there seem to be bizarre caveats to their abilities or, as the show has expanded, unexplainable hidden powers waiting to be unearthed. Though this season aims to explore these ever evolving powers, the larger scale of the series has pushed the supernatural elements within “The Umbrella Academy” away from simplicity and toward a lack of consistency. 

With shortened episodes and a daunting premise, “The Umbrella Academy” suffers when it ventures into this vague and unexplainable territory. The show often assumes its viewers will go along with this fast pace without the proper breathing room needed for its rather exhausting narrative. 

Yet, this season’s humor and energetic atmosphere make up for the inherent flaws within its fast-paced time travel narrative. With its quirky tone, larger-than-life characters and dramatic cliffhangers, “The Umbrella Academy” is truly at its best when viewers can relinquish their urges to analyze and instead relish a fun apocalyptic summer binge. 

Sarah Runyan covers television. Contact her at [email protected].