Over the course of this past week, my wife and I watched Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy. If you’d like to read my spoiler-free thoughts on the first season, click here. This blog is a review of Season 2.
If you’d like the short, non-spoiler version, here you go: It’s good! I really enjoyed it. On the whole, it was stronger than the first season. If you liked the first season, I think you’ll like this one as well. It improved in a number of areas. It’s still not a perfect show, but I think it’s very entertaining.
The rest of this review will have full spoilers.
I’d like to get the negatives out of the way immediately. Firstly, this season starts off very slow. Even slower than season 1, I’d say. It took me a few episodes to really get into it.
Some of the fight scenes were weak. They had some remarkably fake punches.
Luther really had nothing to do this season. He was dumb, mopey, and slightly useless in season 1. In season 2, they took these traits and dialed them to 11. He starts off in an interesting place, working for the same mafia that is connected with the Kennedy assassination in real life. Then that plotline goes exactly nowhere. He quickly leaves the mafia (with essentially zero consequences). He spends the rest of the season farting around (speaking of which, so many fart jokes this season. So many!). I hope that future seasons give him more to do.
The opening scene was jaw-dropping. Seeing the team use their full powers in harmony against an army of Soviet invaders was delightful. I particularly loved seeing Klaus summon ghost soldiers and Diego redirect bullets.
The soundtrack was somehow even better this year than last! I especially appreciate when Styx shows up in pop culture (and it wasn’t even Mr. Roboto, amazingly enough). There was a lame, breathy cover of Gnarles Barkley that I could have done without, but the rest of the music was pretty stellar. I also enjoyed how Klaus used song lyrics as words of wisdom in his cult. That was a nice touch. Ben even got in on the action with some Backstreet Boys, which is ever appreciated.
The budget sure seemed to have ballooned. When there were special effects, they really went all-out. The opening scene and final battle would have been impressive for a movie, let alone a television show.
I really enjoyed the plot this time around. At first it seemed like it would be a very obvious story about saving John F. Kennedy, but that turned out to be a fairly small piece of the plot. It was much more about the Commission and the people vying for power within it. It was far more compelling than I thought it would be based on the first 2 or 3 episodes.
The best thing about this season was the villain. The Handler was a secondary antagonist in the first season, but here she is front and center. She has clear goals and plans. She is treacherous and deceitful. She actually poses a real threat to our super-powered family. She also somehow survived both a grenade to the face and bullet to the brain last year, so we know she isn’t going to go down easily. Speaking of which, we’re informed that she’s really dead this time, but do we know that for sure? I hope someone fully decapitated her and buried her head and body in separate places (or burned the corpse). That’s the only way to really make sure someone like her stays dead. I would not be surprised to see her somehow appear again in future seasons.
Lila was a great addition to the cast. She hits the season in stride by being absolutely nuts inside of the nut house. It’s obvious from moment 1 that there is more going on with her than we see on the surface, but it’s still fun to see her part in all of the events unfold. She is the real victim in this season. If last year was all about the Hargreeves children dealing with the trauma inflicted upon them by their dad, this year’s emotional throughline was her trauma inflicted by her adopted mother. It was compelling stuff, and I can’t wait to see where her character goes next. I also liked that we finally saw another of the 42 mysteriously gifted children. I hope we see more of them in the future.
Allison had a great plotline as she took part in the civil rights movement. I can’t imagine the show’s writers knew how relevant her story would be in 2020, but it sure was. It definitely would not have impacted me the same way if I had seen this earlier than this year. When she was blamed for the “riots” that took place at her sit-in protest, I was genuinely angry.
Vanya had arguably the biggest and best journey of the main cast. Her relationship with Sissy and Harlan was great to behold. There was drama. There was tension. There was growth. All good stuff. And I’ll be interested to see if these two characters appear in the future (I think odds are quite high that Harlan returns in some form).
Five had the best fight scenes, by far. We really got to see why he was considered the best assassin in the entire Commission. He is not one to mess around with.
The idea of Klaus starting a cult is great. Totally in-character. I loved that bit. I have to say that I hated seeing him backslide on his alcoholism. I mean, I get it. It is a wretched disease that many fail to escape. It’s definitely realistic. But it just hurts to see a character undo their growth.
Ben is my personal favorite of the siblings and he finally had his time to shine here. He got to visit with a couple of his siblings (albeit briefly). He was able to walk around. He was able to spend some time with a girl he had a crush on. And he sacrificed himself to save his sister. I couldn’t have asked for a better story for him.
From what I can gather, there are 3 The Umbrella Academy books available to read and a 4th is on the way (I’ve not read any of them, but I might when this show is totally over). Logic would indicate that we’ll get at least another 2 seasons out of this show. I sure hope we do, though Netflix is unpredictable in what it will cancel. Whenever it ends, I hope it ends in a good place.
The end of this season left us with many questions. The siblings’ jaunt through time convinced Reginald Hargreeves to never adopt them and to never form The Umbrella Academy. Instead, he has collected a different group of children (most of whom looked younger than our cast), including Ben! So, Ben is alive. Very happy to see that. The most intriguing thing to me was a floating cube. The children on the balcony had a cube floating in the air next to them. What is it? Is it a robot? Is it Grace? Is it Pogo’s head in a box? Is it something conjured by one of the new Sparrow Academy children? Time will tell.
I’m really eager to see more. This ending wasn’t as (ahem) explosive as the previous season, but it left me with just as many questions. Once again, the show could go many different directions from here and I’m sure it will have many surprises in store for us.
On the whole, this was an excellent season of television. If you read all this and haven’t watched it, I hope you still do! It’s good stuff. I really loved season 2 of The Umbrella Academy.