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The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)

First Impressions: THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY season 2

Neil calls THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY season 2 "a huge step forward for every aspect of the series." Read his review here.

The Umbrella Academy returns to Netflix for season 2 on July 31, 2020.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I overlooked The Umbrella Academy season one. I watched the pilot on release day, I enjoyed the family dance scene with which the show is now synonymous but it didn’t set my world on fire.

In the fandom war – if such a thing even exists – between The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol, I side with Rita, Cliff and co.

But over the course of pandemic lockdown I gave The Umbrella Academy a second chance and I found much more enjoyment in the overall narrative of season one. And so here we are, as of writing this season two arrives on Netflix in just four days and I’m already nearly the finish line of this second batch of episodes.

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, like season 1, stays close to the source material. Taking the Hargreeves family back to 1960’s Dallas for another adventure involving the apocalypse. Only this time the writing is sharper and the narratives are tighter. This is The Umbrella Academy version 2.0.

The season opener, “Right Back Where We Started,” itself opens with the most explosive scenes the series has ever producer. It’s bombastic to say the least. If this is where the season is circling back around to then once again fans are in for an epic conclusion to the season.

Overall it sets the bar incredibly high for the rest of the season in every way. The VFX are better, the music is suitably epic and even though the scenario itself will be familiar to fans of season 1 it’s presented so differently that it’s exhilarating to watch.

After that things do slow down quite considerably but still organically to the plot. The viewer needs time to adjust to the new setting and to understand how each of the Hargreeves kids got to where we find them. In some cases – Diego (David Castañeda) in particular – the new status quo doesn’t last very long. For others it takes until midseason for things to progress towards a family reunion.

Diego has landed himself in an asylum, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) is a cult leader, Luther (Tom Hopper) is now a cage fighter, Vanya (Ellen Page) has lost her memory, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is a married civil rights activity and Five… well he’s in trouble as always.

Sheehan and Page are once again the two standout player amongst the leads. Page brings a new, vulnerable side to Vanya which we’ve not seen before. It makes her character more identifiable by dulling the sharp edge which kept her separate for much of season one. Whilst Sheehan just continues to perform circles around the rest of the cast as he has a blast pushing Klaus to new limits.

But it’s not all smiles in the 1960’s. Much of the first season tackles serious issues within American society at the time, such as the (timely) Black Rights movement, and it does so with an appropriate level of drama and reverence.

There’s also a sad, but touching sub-plot with Klaus which calls back to his time in Vietnam during season one as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how that one plays out over the rest of the season.

As for the overall arc of season 2, there’s a lot of seemingly separate plot threads which slowly begin to knit together. From episode four onwards things really start to cohere quite dramatically. It’s also at this point that the pacing of the series begins to pick back up.

New villains The Swedes: Axel, Otto, and Oscar played by Kris Holden-Ried; Jason Bryden; and Tom Sinclair are an interesting addition. They don’t quite have the magic of Cha Cha and Hazel but they do provide formidable foes.

The Handler (Kate Walsh) has a beefed up role in season 2 which also involves new character Lila (Ritu Arya), a new love interest for Diego. The Handler is down on her luck following taking a bullet to the head but with revenge in her sights she’s a huge part of the seasons enjoyment factor.

Regardless of where season 2 ends up it marks a huge step forward for every aspect of the series and it will undoubtedly be a huge hit with fans.

The Umbrella Academy stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, and Justin H. Min will all be reprising their roles. Ritu Arya, Martin Ireland, and Yusuf Gatewood have also joined the cast for season 2.

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