The Umbrella Academy Season 2: First Impressions

With the daunting amount of superhero content on our screens, the first season of The Umbrella Academy, Netflix’s adaptation of the Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s Dark Horse comic, managed to capture a significant amount of people’s hearts with the brilliantly bonkers and often tragic story. With a second season just round the corner, can showrunners Jeremy Slater and Steve Blackman recapture the magic of the first outing? Well with half of the sophomore series watched, I can safely say my first impressions of the second season is a resounding success.

Following the apocalyptic events of the season one finale, Five’s time jump scatters the siblings in different time periods in 60s Dallas, Texas. Just as the heroes start to adjust to their new lives, believing they’re the only ones inhabiting this timeline, Five discovers their actions have caused a nuclear doomsday. He must reunite the Umbrella Academy to once again try and avert the apocalypse, whilst returning them to the present timeline, all the while being hunted by a trio a Swedish assassins…

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The worlds most dysfunctional family of superheroes are back and somehow the plot is even crazier than last season, as the disbanded group must come together in an attempt to stop ANOTHER apocalyptic threat, which may or may not be linked with their father and JFK’s assassination?! The time jump to 60’s Dallas (with more of The Time Bureau) is such an engaging plot device, as it’s fascinating to see how the divided family members have moved on following the shocking (and traumatic) events with Vanya. I particularly love how Allison has really found her feet and calling, as she appears truly happy with a supportive husband and community who are actively attempting to change society. Oh and Klaus creating a cult (but not admitting it’s a cult) is just perfect! There’s so many bonkers but wonderful sub plots which make it such an entertaining ride.

This season also addresses some of the main criticisms I had with the first series, namely devoting a section of the plot to the much needed fleshing out of their father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, along with Grace and PoGo’s backstory. As the gang finally meet their deceased father again, it’s easy to see how and why they’ve turned out the way they are now, particularly Diego. The writers also shine a light on such timely social and political themes including institutional racism in America, LGBTQ+ and mental health issues in a touching and often emotive way. Yes some of it is difficult to watch considering what’s happening right now, but it’s so necessary and impactful. The question of whether they’re actually heroes is also an intriguing thread explored, whilst further dialling the quirky weirdness up which sets the show apart from the very crowded genre.

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The series really does feature such a phenomenally talented cast and it’s so great to have them back on our screens again, with each character getting a distinct arc of their own, further fleshing out some much needed character development. The standouts so far are Robert Sheehan’s loveable screwup Klaus, David Castañeda’s more emotional Diego and Emmy Raver-Lampman’s newly driven Allison – it’s also great to see more of Justin H. Min’s Ben this time round and yes Number 5 is still a complete arse, it’s brilliant! The writers somehow deftly balance the show’s brand of endearing humour with glimpses of utter heartbreak, as these broken characters struggle to come to terms with who and what they are, again comparable to the bittersweet brilliance of DC series Doom Patrol. Yes there’s also a bunch of new characters including a trio of Swedish assassins, along with a new love interest for Diego who turns out to be so much more.

Opening with a mind blowing action sequence as the family work together as a seemingly bonafide superhero team, which clearly has a significantly bigger budget splashed on it than the first, you’ll be instantly hooked. This season’s fight choreography and stunts are bigger and better, soundtracked by another brilliant collection of songs, both new and old, and yes there’s another hilariously fun dance sequence. The period production and set design, along with the fantastic costumes (and Diego’s 60s shirts) are also particularly impressive, immersing you in 60s Dallas.

Verdict

Smart, stylish and hugely entertaining, the second season of The Umbrella Academy once again pushes the boundaries of the superhero genre with the quirky and bold vision of Gerard Way’s ragtag family fully realised. A rumour told me I need more, Netflix.

Rating

Nicola Austin

Nicola is the Editor-in-Chief of WHAH, alongside her day job in digital marketing. As well as writing for the site and podcasting, she is also a contributor to the fantastic JumpCut Online.

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