Spoiler warning: the events and conclusion of Umbrella Academy Season 1 will be mentioned, but no spoilers for Season 2.
Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy was a smash hit at the beginning of last year. Though there were some minor (but no less valid) complaints about the slightly slow and uneven pacing, all around it achieved positive reviews from critics and viewers alike. After a successful first season, there’s always an immense pressure to exceed, or at the very least match up with, the expectations previously set. The big question is, how does Season 2 stack up?
Speaking of pressure, the Hargreeves siblings are once again under a serious amount in Season 2. It wasn’t enough that they managed to escape the apocalypse brought on by Vanya’s explosion of powers at the end of the previous season that blew up the moon, but now somehow the apocalypse, or another version of it, has followed them through Five’s emergency time jump. Even then, the jump didn’t exactly go according to plan.
The siblings have been scattered in time, in and around Dallas, Texas. First to land are Klaus (Robert Sheehan) and Ben (Ethan Hwang) in 1960, followed by Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampma) in 1961, Luther (Tom Hopper) in 1962, Diego (David Castañeda) in September 1963 and Vanya (Ellen Page) in October 1963. Last to land is Five himself (Aiden Gallagher), and he lands smack-dab in the middle of a new apocalypse on November 25th 1963, just in time to witness his superpowered siblings, Dallas, and pretty much the whole world be wiped out by a nuclear attack.
Thanks to some intervention, Five is able to jump back to ten days before the bombs fall on America, leaving him with just enough time to reunite his family, figure out what causes this new apocalypse, stop it (again) and get back to 2019 – which hopefully still exists. Oh, all the while evading a trio of Swedish assassins who are out hunting him and his siblings.
Step one of reuniting the Hargreeves siblings isn’t going to be easy. Thanks to the months and years that passed between each siblings’ arrival, they all think they were the only ones to make it through, and have subsequently moved on with their lives in various ways – becoming a cult-leader, joining civil rights movements, ending up institutionalized, or just trying to rediscover who they are.
If you’ve read the original Dark Horse graphic novels, you’ll note that, much like how Season 1 is only loosely based on Volume 1: Apocalypse Suite, Season 2 is even more loosely based on Volume 2: Dallas. Parts of Volume 2 had already made their way into the first season, but Season 2 still has plenty going on. Again, a departure from the comics has worked in Umbrella Academy’s favour, giving each character far more breathing room and introducing new supporting characters, which does sadly mean some fan favourite supporting characters from Season 1 have had to make way.
Though this season is less about the family’s dysfunctional dynamic and more about how each sibling has coped with their new lives, the family drama that we came to know and weirdly love from the previous season is still heavily featured.
All of the characters are still strong, and even more fleshed out than before. As Season 1 had to focus on introductions and backstory, Season 2 gets to spend more time with the siblings’ personalities and motivations, shown through their actions and the new lives they have all chosen. Without needing to do more setup, the overall story also feels more cohesive and focused than previously shown. It’s a perfect continuation of the story, without straining to hit the same beats.
Yes, there is still a lot going on, but it’s never overwhelming, nor does the show experience the same periodic plot sluggishness of the previous season. It’s far better paced and balanced this time round, and if I felt any slowness it was in a scene or two instead of an entire episode. It’s not all drama though, the irreverent deadpan humour is still delightfully intact, with many moments that inspired some gleeful snorts and giggles.
Another major highpoint of Season 2 is the soundtrack. It’s an amazing mix of cover songs and originals that span across multiple genres and decades (never thought I’d actually like a Billie Eilish song but this cover was *chef’s kiss*), and it came very close to becoming my favourite part of the show.
Another area where Season 2 exceeds expectations is with more gloriously vicious, action packed fight scenes. From the smaller fights between the various siblings and the Swedes, the siblings among themselves, and Five showing off why he is referred to as “the best assassin the Commission ever produced”, to the bigger action set pieces of ‘60s race riots (which hit close to home in 2020), yet another doomsday, and a massive, flashy, final showdown, Season 2 certainly doesn’t skimp on the action. All of which is perfectly paired with the aforementioned killer soundtrack.
All in all, I honestly can’t put into words how excited I am that Umbrella Academy is back. I was so thrilled to watch every new episode and, in my opinion, it’s even better than the first season, which I loved to bits. The cast is fantastic, the story is great, the wardrobe and sets are incredible, I loved everything about it. It’s damn difficult for a show to top their first season, especially when it was so strong out the gate, but Umbrella Academy Season 2 pulled it off.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2 airs this Friday, 31 July, only on Netflix
Last Updated: July 27, 2020