Umbrella Academy Season 2 is a Better Second Season than Most (a Review)

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Umbrella Academy Season One felt like a message to the world that Netflix didn’t need Marvel or DC heroes to make a riveting, stylish, strongly character driven series. It was such a breath of fresh air that ended on a really good cliffhanger. The problem, now, is that it’s a season two and Netflix series are infamous for not having success trying to follow up the storys that came before.

Umbrella Academy season two has the family scattered to the winds of 1960s Texas after Five’s attempt to save the family at the end of the first season. When Five finally arrives he learns the apocalypse they tried to stop followed them. He saved and tasked with finding his family and figuring out what happen to end the world in 1963. Unfortunately, but characteristically for the Umbrella Academy they are caught up in their own drama and a new group of time assassins is after them to make sure they don’t muck up the timeline anymore.

Much of this season remains as consistent as the first. The projects whole style and action is as slick and energetic as ever. The banter back and forth feels very fresh and like it is siblings bickering as it should, and the problems the team faces do feel very driven by their own problems and issues, which is nice.

Where the show fails is in the particulars of some of those characters, not all. I mean giving Allison, a literal voiceless character who has the ability to tell anyone to do anything she wanted, a connection to the civil rights movement in Texas is brilliant. That feels like a big push and extension of what she was working on in the previous season. Luther on the other hand feels like he’s in a comedy. He is only focused on Allison once he finds her, sulks, and is comic relief. None of his underlying father issues and body dismirphia is addressed nearly as well as it could have been or was last season. In just those two they give the dynamic of how most characters are. One feels more watered down while the other feels rooted more in where they were last season.

The interesting stand out, again, is Vanya. She enters the picture with amnesia of everything but her name. Thankfully Ellen Paige is a great actress that her budding romance with the woman that took her in, and the friendship she bonds with the woman’s autistic child is great. You really feel for her and her struggle to find out who she is, and the challenges they face along the way. They even make her being the catalyst for the apocalypse again be better than it had any right to be. I think it works because her actions are more a domino in the chain over the be all end all. Additionally, the way that’s resolved really does right by a character that did not get a lot of love outside of that moment.

There are some new characters, most of them are not as interesting as the bounty hunters from the first season, one of which gets a cameo at the start of the season. The best would be the increased focus on the Hargreeve senior and his relationship with the model he would use for their robot mother. Outside of him there is a trio of new assassins to deal with, and a double agent. Unfortunately the double agent only gets really interesting at the end when everything is revealed about her. The villain plot with the time agency this season is also not as interesting as it should be since the Handler’s hiding the most interesting information from the audience for a majority of the show.

I would be hard pressed to say anything in the season was outright boring or bad (something I can’t do with the likes of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and others), but it is far less tonally consistent with too much unfunny or tedious comedy.

A word I would say to best describe the season is clean. The season feels very simple, straightforward, and has no frills attached to it in comparison to the more complicated first season. Unfortunately that complicated nature was what brought the characters to life in a way this season did. This feels far more planned out, and ends up being less interesting for it.

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