The first season of “The Umbrella Academy” offered Netflix subscribers a quirky, “X-Men-ish” adventure that felt familiar, but also unique. It was a bit weird, but it had all the required ingredients for a superhero show: powers, villains and heroes. By the time the finale came around, the show had developed into a genuinely entertaining piece of television with clear possibilities for an even greater second season. Sadly, the upcoming season proves to be a poorly paced retread of the first ten episodes.
After narrowly avoiding the apocalypse in 2019, Five’s poorly coordinated attempt at time travel spits the former students of the Umbrella Academy into the 1960s, straight into the middle of another impending apocalypse. Separated by gaps of time, the Hargreeves slowly adjust to their new environment.
Of course, the nature of the time period is friendlier to some than it is to others. While Klaus starts a cult by uttering such wisdom as “don’t go chasing waterfalls,” Allison joins the civil rights movement and Luther “Forrest Gumps” his way into a job working for the owner of a burlesque bar in Dallas. Meanwhile, Diego is thrown into an insane asylum, Vanya has the most incredibly convenient case of amnesia ever and Five is doing his best to clean up the timeline.
The first three episodes of this season are exactly as tiresome as that previous paragraph sounds because the show spends significant time explaining everyone’s new lives. Watching them all slowly reunite is much less exciting this time because all but one of the characters have no clue what is going on. As was the case during the first season, Five continuously works to put things together for the family, and his siblings spend their time messing it up. However, while their bickering was previously endearing, now it is simply tiring.
Last season was at it’s best when the plot focused on the time-hopping assassins played by Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton. Unfortunately, they are replaced by three mostly mute characters whose large cache of automatic rifles is contradicted by their poor aim, which rivals even that of “Star Wars” stormtroopers. More important than their limited accuracy, however, is their total inability to match their predecessor’s level of intrigue on every level. The occasional appearance of these interdimensional Swedish assassins (including one dressed as a milkman) and a talking fish can only do so much to add excitement to a series that is clearly straining to develop a new story of interest.
As a result, the season is largely constructed of half-told stories that lose steam as soon as they begin. Interested in Diego’s mental state after living in an asylum? Don’t get too attached to that storyline. Curious about Luther and Allison’s relationship? Don’t get too excited for that either. Eager to see that season one character in a different light? Don’t get your hopes up (this is true for multiple characters).
At the end of the last episode, with little exception, our main characters don’t seem to be in wildly different places than when Vanya blew up the Moon at the end of last season. That should be an exploding Moon-sized problem for audience members who are spending another ten hours with these characters.
Verdict: The action is fun at times and the season has its moments, but I don’t have much interest in revisiting a third season of “The Umbrella Academy” if every new adventure is just going to feel like an empty side quest once it has concluded.
Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” premieres on Friday, July 31.