TV Review: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2 Makes Light of a Dark Situation

When season one of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy dropped last year, it took the world by storm. With its exciting storytelling, interesting characters, and stellar soundtrack it quickly got recognised as one Netflix’s tentpole shows and was only a matter of time before a second season dropped. But after such an amazing first season, can The Umbrella Academy keep up the momentum? In short, yes it bloody can.

Season two picks up right where we left off with Five thrusting the family back in time to 1960s Dallas after Vanya causes Armageddon by blowing up the moon. Now trapped in the wrong time period, the scattered Umbrella Academy must come back together to try and stop the end of the world – again. From the opening montage set to Maxine Nightingale’s ‘Right Back Where We Started From’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ we get thrown back into the wonderful, and weird, world of The Umbrella Academy head first. This opening perfectly sets up the tone for the rest of the season as the chaotic brilliance that goes hand in hand with this show and doesn’t let up once throughout its ten-episode run.

People weren’t excited for this follow-up season just to get a resolution to season one’s shocking ending, but for the opportunity to see all their favourite characters again. From Robert Sheehan’s Klaus to Ellen Paige’s Vanya to David Castañeda as Diego, season one set up all these characters marvellously, and it wasn’t surprising fans were craving more. And for the most part, it delivers; even in a different time period, all these characters are as iconic and loveable as before. Each of the characters got some great development that doesn’t feel too forced and comes to a head with a brilliant family dynamic which, despite all the crazy powers, feels real.

Our dysfunctional family aren’t the only characters making an appearance of course, as the second season makes sure to include a plethora of new ones, though this is where the season falls a bit short. While they are interesting conceptually, due to a larger cast, some of them don’t get anywhere near enough screen time for us to get attached to them. It feels like the only reason some of these characters are here is to move the plot along, which is a damn shame as they had the potential to do so much more. Hopefully, season three (which is pretty much guaranteed at this point), will shed some more light on these characters in some way or another.

“This stretch is a lot more upbeat and fun than the first, with a greater reliance on intense action sequences and fun jokes over the darker descent of the first season.”

The time period isn’t the only thing that’s changed, as the tone seems to have taken a shift away from the darker feel of season one. This stretch is a lot more upbeat and fun than the first, with a greater reliance on intense action sequences and fun jokes over the darker descent of the first season. But just because this time around The Umbrella Academy didn’t take itself as seriously, it didn’t make the emotional moments any less impactful; if anything, emotions run even higher at points.

Whilst season one had some great action sequences, they pale in comparison to what we get in season two. Fight sequences aren’t just well-choreographed and directed, but are set to great music choices too. If you aren’t overly interested in the plot, the action sequences will leave you reeling and make the show worth the watch on their own. I’d be doing the show an injustice if the soundtrack wasn’t mentioned, which is, by far, one of the strongest elements of the season. Somehow, despite the brilliance of season one’s soundtrack, season two outdid it in practically every way; the sheer number of iconic songs used calls to mind James Gunn’s Guardians of The Galaxy (2014). The only issue with these crowd-pleasing tracks are that they sometimes distract from the action.

As with many shows at the moment, the second season of The Umbrella Academy is one built for binging, so if you are considering watching it make sure to set enough time aside – the majority of the episodes end on some big reveal, plot twist, or cliff-hanger, which for a weekly-release series could have got annoying quickly. However, the “shock” endings lost their spark fairly quickly as well, and arguably took away from the experience, as the expectation of an impending big twist at the end of each episode distracted from the plot development.

The second season of The Umbrella Academy had the impossible challenge of following on from the show’s fantastic first outing – it didn’t just succeed, it improved on the first in almost every regard. It’s series like The Umbrella Academy that are the reason Netflix is still on top. Now all we have to do is wait another year for season three…

Words by George Bell

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