Netflix’s time-traveling team of superheroes returns for a second season that does everything but disappoint. After causing the modern-day apocalypse, the team travels to the 1960s where they face off against yet another apocalyptic event. The series wastes no time introducing the viewers to Season 2’s world-ending challenge with an epic opening sequence. The Umbrella Academy unleashes their powers in a major way. The scene plays out like a five-minute introduction to Netflix’s version of the Avengers. After starting the season on such a high note, one would assume that the writers set themselves up to disappoint the viewers, but this assumption could not be more wrong. With an intriguing plot, quotable dialogue, and dynamic use of its characters, the second chapter of the Umbrella Academy exceeds all expectations.
The 1960s were a decade of both progress and tragedy for the United States of America. The height of the vial Jim Crow era and the assassination of one of the country’s most beloved presidents served as the show's most outstanding plot devices. The beginning of the season instantly highlights these themes through the circumstances of our heroes.
Still plagued by the appearance of his inhuman torso, our number 1, Luther Hargreeves, settles into the 1960s by entertaining crowds as a brutal boxer. What better way is there for a man with his condition to blend in with the conservative culture of the 1960s than through an underworld of savage brutality? Our Number 2, Diego Hargreeves, has been committed to an asylum for speaking about insane conspiracies regarding the eventual assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Being from a future where JFK’s assassination had already rocked the nation, Diego cannot shake his obsession for righting one of history’s greatest wrongs. As the wife of a local civil rights activist, Number 3, Alison Hargreeves, literally fights the worst of Jim Crow. She stands out amongst the mostly subservient African Americans of the decade by laying hands on a white shop owner who attempts to attack her husband. Alison also has another notable scene involving a “rumor” of spilled coffee, and you will not want to miss it. Klaus Hargreeves, the exuberant Number 4, gives serious Jim Jones vibes in season 2. As a popular cult leader, his character’s uninhibited persona is put to great use in this era preceding the Hippie, Free Love movement.
The amazing Number 5 is a time-traveling, senior citizen assassin trapped in the body of a preteen. As the no-nonsense brains of the team and the expert at bending time, he is the primary catalyst driving this season’s plot like a brand new 1960s Ford Mustang. Then there is the ghost of the group, Ben Hargreeves aka Number 6. In this season, Ben is able to plow his own lane within the story through the gift of spiritual possession. Number 7, Vanya Hargreeves, is without a doubt the most powerful of the Umbrella Academy, but because of her manipulative upbringing, Vanya continues to be the most emotionally troubled of the seven. A new love interest results in familiar consequences as she once again falls prey to the bounds of her own co-dependence.
As perhaps the show’s best villain so far, The Handler delivers scene after scene with the perfect balance of shock, evil, and delight. The character's civilized form of savagery is highlighted by a captivating portrayal from the actress who portrays her. She barely survived the first season after being shot in the head, but fortunately for us, the metal plate in her head provided us with another round of her charms. The season begins with her being embarrassingly demoted because of her season 1 failures. In a moment of outrage, she hilariously delivers one of the show's most memorable quotes.
“I’ve dropped turds bigger than Herb.” The Handler says.
With expert comedic timing, the character Herb responds, “Someone needs fiber.”
Another great quote comes from the lovable number 4, Klaus. Klaus’ interactions with his cult are sources of hilarity. After learning of Number 5’s plans to return them all to the present, Klaus is reluctant to inform his cult members that he’ll be abandoning them.
He makes use of one of the show’s funniest one-liners by stating, “I just hate group breakups. That’s why I stopped dating twins.”
Season 1 of the Umbrella Academy introduced a cast of characters who were so bizarre that it was often hard to remove your stare from the television screen. Season 2 takes this tradition to the next level. There’s the handler’s boss, AJ Carmichael. His head consists of a fish floating in a round tank, which is placed atop a human body. This type of characterization presents itself as a thin line to walk for any writer. If mishandled, its easy to come off as a goofy and uncomfortable viewing experience, but the series does not miss one beat as AJ and the Handler battle in an outstanding game of wits.
The patriarch of the Umbrella Academy, Reginald Hargreeves, returns as the much younger, 1960s version of himself, and he sure packs a serious punch. Early in the season, Diego and him provide one of the season’s best fight scenes. The younger Reginald proves to be a serious match for Diego’s martial arts and superb knife throwing. Through most of the season, Diego suspects that his father is behind the plot to murder JFK, but Reginald’s true motives take a backseat to the revelation of his identity. His character’s unveiling is a reveal that will wow your face off.
Reginald’s talking chimpanzee, Phinneus Pogo, rejoins the cast as well. Fresh off the experiment which provided him with his human intellect, Pogo is not yet able to speak, but his fierce loyalty to Reginald makes for an awesome interaction with Five.
The Swedes, a trio of assassins, pursue the Umbrella Academy on a mission to punish them for their constant meddling with the timeline. The three white-haired antagonists make up a mini suicide squad as two of the three meet their demise in very interesting ways. As formidable as they are, the Swedes pale in comparison to the season’s newest anti-hero, Lila. With sinister ulterior motives, Lila serves as a well fleshed-out love interest for Diego and the only powerhouse of villainy capable of challenging the combined force of the Umbrella Academy. In the final episode of the season, Lila’s relation to the team is revealed through a jaw-dropping twist.
Speaking of twists, you definitely don't want to miss the season’s final frame as it introduces the most mind-blowing cliff hanger. The Umbrella Academy finally returns to the present, but they discover that their influence on the events of the 1960s have warped the timeline. While standing in their father’s mansion, they face off against a group of shadowy figures. In this timeline, Number 6, Ben, is surprisingly alive, and he refers to the new team as the Sparrow Academy. This cliffhanger left us all chomping at the bits with expectations for Season 3. Like many, I’ve never had the pleasure of reading an Umbrella Academy comic, so for those of you who have, enlighten the comments section with any information you have on this new "Sparrow" team.
Season 2 of the Umbrella Academy is a binge-able event you will not want to miss. Get comfy on your couches, login to your Netflix, and prepare for a day of streaming adventure. Once you’ve watched the final episode, let’s get to this discussion below, and as always, Keep it Konkret!