The Umbrella Academy S2 – Reunited and it Feels So Good
This time, I wasn’t going to be late for the end of the world party. I know the first time around I left it too long before I jumped in. I don’t expect you to remember my Season One love letter to The Umbrella Academy, but now it’s time for round two, and I can assure you – absence only makes the heart grow desperately, hungrily fonder.
The (Umbrella) Academy Is…
The Umbrella Academy S2 brings our seven super siblings back onto our screens, this time in the South. Based on Volume 2 of The Umbrella Academy graphic novel Dallas, this season continues right on from the end of season one and the end of the world. That isn’t to say, however, that the apocalypse has been averted. Oh no. It’s just early. Our crew finds themselves scattered throughout the Sixties, and while they have all found their own path out of sheer lonesome necessity, the time comes when the Academy needs to come back together to stop the apocalypse…again. Along the way, there are plenty of familiar faces, as well as some new recruits…
Let’s do the Time Warp Again
Amidst the tumult of life right now, with every unique peak and trough; it feels like The Umbrella Academy was just waiting to be released. The elements of social commentary, political engagement, and personal revelation are more important now than ever. There are moments that will hit home even harder than they would have six months ago, and that takes a show that already means so much to people to a whole new level.
That is one of the most enduring parts about The Umbrella Academy – the way it affects people. This is something that is ever more present in Season Two, despite on the face of it, all evidence being to the contrary. I may be speaking for myself but I haven’t often been warped back in time to the 60s with my adopted siblings who have superpowers to try and avert the apocalypse (again). My brother didn’t start a cult. My sister didn’t have amnesia on a farm. Like I said though, might be just me. On the face of these outlandish and wild sub-plots (of which each character has a distinct individual story), there is still the warm and welcome touchstone of humanity. My brother might not have started a cult, but we know people who are grieving and battling addiction. My sister may not have amnesia on a farm, but we know people struggling to come to terms with and accept who they are. People are fighting every day for their rights and liberty, for their beliefs and the people they love. Sometimes, those people are us.
Rumour has it
A sub-plot that feels particularly apropos given the current social and political climate is that of our Alison. Personally, I’m glad to see her storyline deviate from that of Season One and give her a plot beyond another sibling. This season gives Alison more purpose, more depth, more soul – and I adored every minute. Some scenes were incredibly difficult to watch, especially right now but they were also incredibly necessary. She and hers are black excellence incarnate. I will say though, I forgot she had a daughter until halfway through the season, and I think she did too.
Wake Me Up Before You Diego-go
While there are things that land in the best way (hello, Diego, love of my life with the long hair and 60s shirts being told to “switch” – but that is an article for a very different website), there are some plot points that have a wobble right before they stick it. There are some new characters from whom I wanted more, but I just never got there. An infamous and integral character from the graphic novels is introduced to us in this series (no spoilers, I know I know), and oh heck was I excited to see how this turned out. Turns out, it didn’t. Comparison is the thief of joy, I know this all too well, but dang…to take a character with such awesome ties to one of our siblings and to reduce them to a bit part? See also: Five. With the introduction of this new fishy character, I thought we might get a little more of Five’s history. There are certainly some diamonds in all that rough. Fins and toes crossed for Season Three, eh?
I know I promised in my review of Season One that I would try not to draw too much upon my love for the OG graphic novel, and I made that self-same promise to myself before this season, too. It’s not easy to turn off memories, but if you pause them just for a little while, the wonky landings seem more like fumbles than failures.
Another new character in the mix has a fun few twists and turns along our journey with her. We meet Lila in the trailer for Season Two and she is a wild ride throughout. Ups and downs and twists and turns; one episode you’ll hate her, the next you’ll love her (it’s not just jealousy, I promise). To me, that is the marker of a good character. Something about Lila that pleases me is the interpretation of the “strong woman” trope. Oh she a vicious gal, but she is still allowed to cry and to be vulnerable. Let your powerful women be scared, It turns them from a Character Concept to, y’know, an actual human. Just please don’t let me cut in a messy lil micro-fringe.
Vanya’s storyline throughout this season is a heart-wrenching trip, but one that hits so many perfect points along the way. In something that could certainly seem torn from the pages of a telenovela script, Vanya’s story still has deeply moving elements of humility. Odd how often those two coincide. We see an already tortured soul put through the wringer. Again. Vanya’s story is another painful but vital truth; and one that many people will feel their heart lighten for seeing on screen. Superpowers aside, maybe.
Season Two also affords us the chance to get more Ben for our buck, too. Ben and Klaus’ relationship is pretty much the very definition of co-dependent through necessity. Ben cannot manifest without Klaus, and Klaus has been keeping his brother’s presence a secret. There is a lot of push and pull with this schticky duo which can sometimes come off a bit slapstick. To counterbalance the frippery, there are plenty of heartfelt moments this season between the two. Between the romance and relapse, we get to the heart of Ben a little more, oh damn does he know how to break ours.
I Can Be Your Hero, Baby
I know I’m biased, and that is the worst thing to be when you’re supposed to write about TV and film. This Season of The Umbrella Academy gives me a lot of what I wanted and more, but it also leaves me wanting. Maybe I’m greedy, who knows. The ground they covered, they covered well, but there are still some further pastures I would have wanted to explore. Greedy. You’ll get something satisfying for every one of your favourites this season, for better or for painful. Even Luther is more likable. There are plenty of gasps, plenty of tears and plenty of pieces of my broken heart scattered all over the barnyard floor. The apocalypse is coming, and I hear there is a hell of a view from the grassy knoll…don’t be late. I promise you won’t want to miss it.
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