Slight spoiler warning: Only specific plot points from the first half of episode one will be mentioned. Nothing dramatic or eye opening will be described in specifics below.
Umbrella Academy season two picks up immediately after season one ends, and then it doesn’t. Season two shows more of the siblings powers, until it doesn’t. It introduces new ideas and characters, until it doesn’t. But still, it is enjoyable, yet heavily flawed.
Opening with our cast of characters being split up across Dallas, Texas throughout the early 60’s (time travel shenanigans, you know how it goes) and them all going forth into the strange decade, it opens with a promising premise, and a fantastic action sequence that creates the new threat: a second apocalypse. The family has to stop yet another world ending event. Following them like a shadow, they have to hopefully find each other and stop it again.
Thematically, presenting the family with a similar threat seems repetitive. And although the characters are all in new lives and places, the general idea is the same as season one: Five has to round up the crew from their personal lives and get them to work together to save the world. Minus the dead dad, and add a 60’s background, and it begins to look very similar.
Although repetitive, the show gets away with it because the performances and characters distract from some similarities. Everyone shines in their role. Even Ben, the ghost who can only communicate with Klaus, feels (excuse this pun) alive with the family and cast in every scene. Watching the family hang out, bicker or even just talk makes the show so fun to watch.
The show does rely more on the characters this season as the plot feels thin this time around. The season feels very thin in overarching plot, and even with it fattening up with some new twists and turns during the second half, it still never feels as tight as season one. Time is of the essence in the story, but the characters seem to meander around with no sense of timeliness, aside from Number Five’s constant reminders of how many days are left until XYZ will occur.
The second half of the season does improve by picking up the pace. But the quicker pace does skim over some details that should be analyzed more. Lila, a new character associated with Diego, is introduced and several realizations happen with her. But very little of it is explained and it feels too rushed.
Some of the other characters also show some new control or variety of powers that seem to be used once without explanation and never used again.
The superheroes in this also seem to love not using their powers at points where they should. And the script seems to barely give them ways or time to work as a team, and use their powers. Even the final climactic battle has them all individually doing stuff, but never as a team. Perhaps it is thematic to show them struggling when not working as a team, but in the end they still succeed so it never mattered in the first place.
The season also lacks any memorable action set pieces. The first had the flashback bank robbery being stopped, the donut shop fight with Number Five, the final battle with Vanya. But this season didn’t have any new ideas for their fights. Oh look, Diego using knives in a hallway on a big tough guy. Neat.
The season also lacks any physical villain for them to handle. Season one had the fan favorites Hazel and Cha-Cha, but this season gives us three unnamed, silent killers. Who lack any depth or wit or interest. I will compliment the trio on performing well with what they are given. But they are not as interesting as Hazel and Cha-Cha who could only steal scenes from the heroes, but rob them of any future scenery as well. Nothing like that with these three men, and I feel they were underused.
Despite these flaws, I still found myself enjoying the show. Yes the story felt a bit slow and thin, and yes the characterization feels off (especially Luthor who has gone from a serious, strong leader to a big, sensitive, moron) the show is fun. The soundtrack is strange, but welcome. The budget and production value is behind it all, and when it does feel tense and unique, it is incredibly so. I barely care about the story, but I do remember the characters and it being a fun and unique take on the superhero team genre. Is it a great sequel? No. A great adaptation of the comic? No. But is a fun show with inventive ideas, and has a tone and feeling that I can’t find elsewhere. (Except maybe the Doom Patrol series, but that is only on DC Universe and I’m not even sure if that streaming service is even still around. Sorry DC I love you but that was dumb idea. But that is a article for another time)
Written by Blake Preston