The Hargreeves children are back in the second season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy.

The Umbrella Academy, Season 2

Dept. of Fantastic Follow-Ups


Note: There be spoilers here for Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy. Obviously.

The Umbrella Academy, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, is as close to perfect as a comic book could be. This was something that could only be written by a fan, by someone who had dedicated their life, not just to reading comics, but to studying the quirks and eccentricities of the art form.

Both Way and Bá have such a deep understanding of the ins and outs of what makes a superhero comic, that they were able to take its time tested tropes and twist it into something that both caricatures and celebrates the medium.

The Hargreeves siblings reunite in the second season of The Umbrella Academy.

The series, which begins by blatantly cribbing from The X-Men, tells the story of a group of super-powered individuals who are trained, as a family and from a young age, to become the heroes that the world needs.

That core idea is then quickly and cleverly subverted by way of character and conflict. What if Professor X was an abusive and controlling father figure? What if Alfred was a genetically enhanced talking chimpanzee? What if having the weight of the world on your shoulders from such a young age is more than any one should bear?

It is very clear that these aren’t your everyday superheroes. That these addicts, loners, narcissists, vigilantes, and sociopaths, as loveable as they may be, aren’t the people you’ll likely trust to save the world.

Klaus is now a cult leader in the second season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy.

The first season of The Umbrella Academy managed to capture almost everything that made the comic great. It was complex. It was kooky. It was surprisingly emotional. It even managed to channel the best and worst parts of sibling relationships into some truly fantastic action set pieces.

Where the first season fell short, however, was by being a little flabby around the middle. Almost all of its episodes were close to an hour long. And too often, there would be a plot contrivance that tried to pass off as character development.

This second season has none of those issues. Every one of my nitpicks has been acknowledged and addressed. There is no sophomore slump here.

For starters, every episode is at least 10 minutes shorter. Which has resulted in a far cleaner, far tighter, season. What’s more, the Hargreeves siblings seem to be better settled into their characters. Some of this has to do with the individual performances (all of which are beyond reproach), but mostly it’s because all seven of them are fully rounded individuals with distinctive voices. So much so that you know exactly how each one of them would react in any given scenario. (God knows, I found myself going, “oh, that’s so Diego,” at various points throughout the season.)

Showrunner Steve Blackman and his writers room have approached the material with a newfound confidence, leaning headlong into the absurdities of their world, in order to tell a completely unrestrained narrative that seamlessly blends history, conspiracy, melodrama, sibling rivalry, and family drama.

Tom Hopper is Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy.

We last left our heroes at the very end of the world. Vanya’s (Ellen Page) powers had blown off a huge chunk of the Moon which was now hurtling towards the Earth at an alarmingly annihilatory pace. (You’ve seen Armageddon and Deep Impact. You know what happens next.) In order to save his family, Number 5 (Aidan Gallagher), using his timey-wimey powers, transports them out of harm’s way in a blinding flash of blue light. 

Season 2 begins exactly where we left off, with each member of The Umbrella Academy falling out of the sky onto the same alleyway in Dallas. Only at different times. Number 5, you see, doesn’t have complete control over his powers, and transporting large groups of people through time can sometimes result in the unexpected. In this case, Luther, Allison, Vanya, Diego, and Klaus (and Ben) find themselves scattered across Dallas, over a period of three years during the early 1960s.


Each of the Hargreeves, believing themselves to be the only survivor of this time travel mishap, proceed to settle into some sort of life in the past. Luther is a cage fighter and bouncer for a shady nightclub owner. Diego finds himself committed to an insane asylum. Klaus is a cult leader (because, of course he is). Allison is married and leading a civil rights movement. And Vanya finds herself on a farm, the nanny of an autistic young boy, with absolutely no memory of her “future past.”

Number 5, who is the last to arrive, lands right in the middle of a nuclear armageddon. It appears the presence of The Umbrella Academy in the 1960s has triggered yet another apocalyptic scenario. These kids just can’t seem to outrun the end of the world. And so we have the set up for a further ten episodes in which our heroes need to seek out and save each other, and the world, from being destroyed.

This time, at least three of them get to dance together.

The 1960s are a period of American history that’s particularly ripe for the subjunctive. What if JFK survived? What if the Cold War became hot? What if the Russians beat the Americans to the moon? What if the USA stayed out of Vietnam? The conspiracy theories derived from those questions alone are enough for endless fictions. And while we’ve seen, and read, our fair share of them, what Steve Blackman (and Gerard Way before him) does with it is nothing short of astounding.

He begins by using that old sequel trope, of tearing apart a team, only so they can find each other again, reunite, and become stronger than ever (see: most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2). He then gives each of them a compelling arc on their own. What this means is that we’re suitably invested in all of their stories that we don’t spend the better part of 10 hours just waiting for the team to get back together again.


Here, the period is but the setting. It is merely window dressing in order to tell a deeply layered story of an unorthodox family who are constantly confronted by circumstances seemingly beyond their comprehension. Yes, it is ostensibly about saving the world. But it is also about seven broken individuals who are struggling to save themselves.

Meet the killer Swedes in this season of The Umbrella Academy.

There is real truth here. And you don’t need to look too far beyond the action and the superheroics, past the time travel and single-minded Swedish assassins, to realise that The Umbrella Academy is, at its heart, about facing up to your past and coming to terms with it. It’s about that unyielding truth that all families are toxic, and each one is toxic in its own way.

The Umbrella Academy
Netflix, Season 2, 10 episodes
Showrunner: Steve Blackman
Cast: Robert Sheehan, Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Kate Walsh, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, and Colm Feore

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy will launch globally on Netflix on July 31, 2020.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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