Here’s the thing, I have read the whole Umbrella Academy graphic novel series. It was one of those gems that I found by accident and couldn’t get enough, wishing that more was available and running to the store every time a new book would come out. So going into the first season of the show, I had high expectations. Because I knew how crazy and over the top this graphic novel was, I was scared that a television show would tone it down and make it dull and boring. Well, the exact opposite happened. The show was wild, full of surprises and didn’t feel like the craziness was toned down. It was a show that hit hard and even with its flaws was one of the most enjoyable seasons Netflix had put out. So to say that my expectations for season two were high is an understatement. It had not only to stand up alongside the graphic novel but also the excellent first season. Did they do it? Yes, not only is the second season of Umbrella Academy excellent, but it surpasses every expectation I had set for it.
Now, I will try and stay away from most storylines that the show goes into because I went in completely blind for this season, without even a trailer, and that was one of the most entertaining things that I had the chance to experience. So, the first thing I will say is to go in blind. Being able to enjoy this season without much context is superb and the surprises that await you while watching this for the first time. Umbrella Academy isn’t scared to take chances and go wild which is great for our entertainment. But what the second season benefits from is that we know the characters. We don’t need to be reintroduced to all of them and they can go straight into the action of the season. Even with the new characters, they are just put straight into the action and the show benefits from having a straight story this season that is much leaner and because of that, the show moves at a better pace than the first season.
The strongest thing about this show is the cast and the characters that inhabit the world. The characters are just so colourful and even when the writing might falters a bit, the performances are so strong that it is possible to forgive anything. It made me so happy to see that the show was able to bring Ben more into the story this season because it gives us some amazing Klaus/Ben moments. Aidan Gallagher continues to be a standout but as Five this season everyone gets a moment to shine much more so than the first season. But I think the thing that made the happiest while watching this season was the evolution of Allison. The first season, her story revolved way too much around her relationship with Luther and she didn’t get to do a lot. This season, she has one of my favourite stories and her growth as a character made me so happy because it gave Emmy Raver-Lampman so much more to do.
With an already wild selection of characters, introducing new characters might have been something that has backfired. It could have gone with the characters being too wild or not wild enough but the show finds a perfect balance. They feel real in this universe and serve the story perfectly. Of all the new characters introduced, Lila and Raymond, played by Ritu Arya and Yusuf Gatewood respectively, are the standout. Both a widely different but not only do they serve their purpose but are also wildly entertaining in their own rights. It can be hard to get characters that fit your show when your show is so different than most but the addition of those two makes everything work perfectly for the second season.
With this season taking centre around the time of the murder of JFK, the show is able to play with the past and present perfectly. And having our group have to adapt to a world that is so different then their own timeline is something that is entertaining because they all have a different reaction to the world that they are presented with. The second season goes much deeper into the mythology of the world and I can see the (possible) third season exploring this even more. By taking our group to the past, the show can explore the mythology of who they are in a much more interesting way than just having a character tell us everything, instead we get to experience it with all of them.
Umbrella Academy took risks during its first season and the second season doesn’t change that formula. It’s still about a dysfunctional family who needs to save the world but by putting them in a different time, the show opens itself to, not only more stories, but to be able to make comments about the time and the world itself. Allison’s story is directly linked to the civil rights movement and finding her voice in the world, Vanya’s story is about rediscovering herself after a traumatic event, Klaus’ story is about grief and forgiveness, Ben’s is about moving on, etc. Every character has a defined arc but the show shines when it’s able to put all of these stories together.
Umbrella Academy is one of the most exciting shows out there and after finishing the second season, I couldn’t wait to be able to watch the third one. It’s exciting, exhilarating and original, something that we have too little right now and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.