The sophomore slump. It happens to 95% of television shows. The second season of almost anything is usually not as good as the first. For example: 24, Lost, Alias, Homeland, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and Westworld, to name a few. There is the occasional exception when you think of shows such as Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Friends, and The Americans. Well, the 2nd season I’m about to review of a newer popular Netflix series has just reached that rare 5% where it not only doesn’t have a whiff of a sophomore slump, but completely destroys that cautious train of thought. If THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Season 1 was the series’ A New Hope, then SEASON 2 is its EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Season 2 eclipses Season 1 in every way imaginable: character development, plot structure, acting, pacing, twists, turns, visuals, and its entertainment value. I couldn’t believe how perfect the second set of ten episodes were. It starts off with a bang and does not let up, the final three episodes being some of the most perfect hours of television I have seen in 2020 along with the entirety of Better Call Saul’s 5th season. This season is a masterpiece, and it doesn’t matter if Season 3 is not up to snuff (which if there isn’t a season 3 after this Netflix is out of their fucking minds), there is no way in hell it could ruin the perfection of what I just witnessed. To put it in a better metaphor: the show’s umbrella did not let a drop of rain ruin the cashmere fabric that is these ten episodes.
I won’t be digging into Season 1 all that much on here, so if you are looking for an in depth analysis on it, I suggest you look elsewhere. I will just say that Umbrella Academy’s first season is a fun, if not flawed first 10 episodes, where the first couple of them are great and the last couple are great, but the middle of the series lags a bit. Only do the acting and characters pull through that slog to reach its grand epic conclusion. If you haven’t seen any of this show…what the fuck are you waiting for? The Umbrella Academy is about a family of 7 former child superheroes, who have grown apart, one of them even dead, that must now reunite to continue to protect the world. Well, that’s the first season in a nutshell. Minor spoiler alert for that season (but don’t worry, won’t spoil the big stuff of Season 2), they end up failing in the end and have to use one of their time traveling abilities to go back in time and try again. The first season ends right as they time travel, right before everything blows up and dies around them. The only thing I will reveal about the 2nd seasons story is at the beginning it is revealed that they went a little too far back into time, the 1960’s to be exact, and they have to prevent another and different kind of apocalypse, this one much sooner than what they had experienced in April of 2019. That’s all I’m going to say. Needless to say, when watching a trailer tease for this 2nd season, I was worried at first about the story line having a copy cat apocalypse angle from the first season and just doing more of the same. Boy, was I dead wrong.
The names of the seven characters are Vanya, Klaus, Allison, Luther, Ben, Diego, and Number Five. Their arcs and screen time were kind of uneven last season, focusing a little too much on just Ellen Page’s Vanya, but this season, everybody gets the exact same amount of screen time, all of them have full, interesting arcs and densely developed story lines. One villain that was uninteresting and in the background too much in the first, Kate Walsh’s Handler, is front and center this time and much more interesting, and a new character Lila, played extremely well by Rita Arya, has a fantastic dynamic with Diego and her own interesting reveals. Plus you have little mini arcs with some interesting characters from last season including Hazel, Pogo, Grace and Reginald Hargreeves, but nothing too distracting that takes away from the main seven. Episode 7 is easily the best of the ten, providing a new look at a list of time paradox ticks that are used perfectly and hilariously (you’ll see what I mean when you get there). I can’t reveal much more, so I’ll end this by saying that the series has a fantastic climax that is perfectly plotted over the course of the last three episodes (making the climax of season 1, that really just took place in the last 15 minutes of the final episode, feel rather tame), the visual effects are much more striking, the characters have a shit ton more to do, and Robert Sheehan’s Klaus and Aiden Gallagher’s Number Five, much like last season, steal every scene they are in. It’s just a fun and engaging second season that is perfectly structured narratively, directed and shot to perfection, and the character development is crisp and acted to new heights. It’s a perfect season of television, an unbreakable, sturdy umbrella if you will, that is sure to make you weather this COVID-19 bullshit of a storm for a bit.