Please read this post about the first season of Umbrella Academy first if you have not done so yet. I just did and I found it very interesting what I chose to focus on in the first season. It is far from what I am going to focus on this time around but I guess I had to do the whole introductory spiel then and I won’t be doing that again. So, here is a summary of my summary of the first season.
I liked the first season and I thought it was as confusing as artfully done. I liked how flawed the characters were but they also drove me crazy. All the insane twists and turns were entertaining even though I had to criticize that all in all, most of what I predicted came true in a very straight forward way.
All of these points hold true for the second season – by the way, this post will include massive spoilers for season one, as season two is obviously set after the events of season one. It will not, however contain spoilers for season two beyond telling you which known characters are in play and what happens to set up the new season in the first few minutes of the first episode.
Season one ended with the Hargreeves’ siblings failing in their season-long goal of stopping the 2019 apocalypse from happening. They have found back together as a unit but are still very bad communicators and not a very good team. The last moments of the season finale show Five teleporting them out of the theatre where Vanya had her big violin solo that destroyed the moon and brought on the apocalypse.
Season two kind of starts at the next moment, as the siblings stumble out of the portal into an alleyway. I am saying “kind of” because it is a moment for them but a very big leap in time for the world as they land in the early 1960s. To be precise, they land in an alleyway in Dallas, Texas – but in a different year of the early 1960s each. Unsurprisingly, Texas in the 1960s is quite unlike New York in the 2010s and falling from the sky and having to start a new life somewhere – and sometime – else is not an easy feat. And then Five finally arrives himself and learns that somehow their time jump has changed history around in a way that means the apocalypse is now happening under different premises 10 days from his arrival date. So he sets out to find his siblings.
This is the premise of season two of Umbrella Academy. The characters are taken out of their previous lives as rich kids with weird powers and a fucked up childhood in today’s New York and thrust into a completely different place and time. Over the course of the season, a bunch of subplots show us a picture of how each of them dealt – or not – with their new reality and let’s just say, it’s all very much in character for each of them. But none of them are made to fit in well and their struggles and paths to make a living in midst this very different political and social climate gives season two much greater depth than season one had.
We have Luther (a gigantically strong crybaby with daddy issues), Diego (an assassin with an authority problem), Klaus (a gay man with a past of addiction), Alison (a strong independent woman of color) and Vanya (a bisexual woman of Russian decent) all living in Dallas alone for months or even years before they are reconnected. While the first two would have issues anywhere, the latter three and their struggles in everyday life make powerful statements about the antiquated beliefs and the outrageous inequalities of the times they have landed in. Of course, Five and Ben are siblings too and neither of their heritages would’ve made life particularly easy for them in Dallas but Ben is a ghost and Five doesn’t try to insert himself into society, so there is not much of a story there.
In summary, these stories of life in that time filtered through the backgrounds of the siblings gave the whole show an extra layer of interest and relevance that I really liked. It also felt easy to connect to their experience there because they viewed those times through the same filter as we do today because they ARE from today. Honestly, writing about something that is about time travel is very confusing. Time travel and its ramifications is also my main issue with the new season – time travel is always confusing itself and it always has a lot of holes that never quite make sense. That is definitely more noticeable in the second season but it is what it is.
All in all, my two biggest issues aside from the time travel are the same as in the first season:
First: The lack of family unity and communication and the, frankly, super annoying self-centeredness and whining of most of the siblings – I’m looking at everyone but Alison here but I’m mostly staring holes into Luther and Diego just like in season one. It just gets super tiresome to have a bunch of egocentrics wallowing in self-pity while the world is about to end. I feel very strongly for Five, who might be just as egocentrics but is also focused and pragmatic – it must be like herding around a bunch of baby goats.
And second: The linearity of the main storyline and the way whatever you think will happen, actually ends up happening. I get that there is so much going on around that main story arc that it might be too confusing if that was surprising too but COME ON. Anyhow, it’s just more of the same issue I had in season one and the season finale also ends in a MASSIVE cliffhanger so it does leave you wanting more.
Some of my favorite things in the new season are the following smaller aspects that make it so rich and over the top entertaining (side note: I cannot for the life of me figure out why this list suddenly starts at zero but as the first point is very valid one, I will just let it stand for dramatic purposes)::
- The soundtrack. Hands down one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while. Full of new and old pop music as well as more dramatic pieces. A whole layer of awesome in itself.
- The handler – Five’s old boss from that time travelling commission with the time travel suitcases – is back and her fashion is more fabulous than ever. Someone described it as badass Effie Trinket. And yes, the handler would fit into the capitol quite nicely.
- Klaus life. I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just leave it there. His whole life, situation, and also his struggles with the life he built are just SO ON POINT. As is his fashion by the way.
- Ben. I love ghost Ben and he gets a bunch more screen time than in the first season.
- That badass all black look they wear at that one point.
- There are new adversaries (I hope that doesn’t count as a spoiler) and they are just delightful in their murderous quirkiness.
- And lastly and very much unrelated to anything, I really liked the surprising fun fact that Hazel in fact also portrays serial killer Ed Kemper on the Netflix show Mindhunter, which I highly recommend.
All ten episodes of Umbrella Academy season 2 are now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.