Last year when the show’s first season came out, it was actually quite surprising to see the impact that it ended up having. Based on an indie comic, featuring a cast with no true star power and coming out during a time when there was already a lot of competition in the superhero genre, I expected much less of The Umbrella Academy. Rather quickly the show was well received critically and garnered a big fanbase to earn a lucky second season. With the first season, I found it to be visually bold considering TV budgets and the character interactions to be both vulnerable and hilarious. What the ”number two” revealed was that bigger budgets don’t always mean bigger stories, even in cases where you’re basically telling the same story again.
Since the main cast is as large as in The Umbrella Academy, you don’t generally need standout performances if the base level is high enough. Well, that level is certainly high enough but all of season two’s best scenes involve Robert Sheehan as Klaus, no matter if his cult-leader-self is the one followed or if he follows one of his siblings. Both the actor and character fit in perfectly to the time period, wardrobe choices and outrageous scenarios. Aidan Gallagher as Number Five carries his connective character work over from the first, you do forget that he’s a child actor playing an adult in child’s body which is the biggest compliment you can give in this situation. Show’s visual effects is the one that benefits from the bigger budget; time travel transitions, fight scenes and power showcases in wide shots look way more stunning this time around.
Basically all the season’s problems are there because of the repetitive nature of doomsday storylines. Cha-Cha and Hazel are replaced by boring Swedish brothers, end threat feels lesser because it was already avoided once, Vanya (Ellen Page) is a time bomb again, the romances are still not interesting and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of those repetitious beats. Along with Five and Klaus, Ben (Justin H. Min) gets finally more to do now and his arc is well earned but this season has no idea what to do with Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Diego (David Castaneda) or Luther (Tom Hopper). Allison’s civil rights fight is left halfway as is her new love life (as we finally get true romantic chemistry between a couple, a real bummer) while Diego and Luther are there just for exposition, their actions don’t really have any effect on anything. When we finally arrive to the end, it’s just hard to see what the overall direction of the show is going forward.
Smileys: Robert Sheehan, VFX, Aidan Gallagher
Frowneys: Originality, characterisation
Also be prepared for way too many needle drop moments, except they’re less impactful now since every episode has at least three of them.