Umbrella Academy (Season 2): Practice Makes Better – Netflix Review

The most dysfunctional family of superheroes on TV comes back for seconds.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

In 1989, forty-three women around the world gave birth to children despite not being pregnant minutes beforehand. A rich alien in human form named Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) buys seven of the children: Luther/Number One (Tom Hopper), Diego/Number Two (David Castañeda), Allison/Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus/Number Four (Robert Sheehan), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), Ben/Number Six (Justin H. Min), and Vanya/Number Seven (Ellen Page). All of the children are gifted with fantastic abilities, except for Vanya. They grow up to be the Umbrella Academy, a superhero team that split up after the death of Ben and the disappearance of Number Five. After the death of Hargreeves, the group reunites just in time for Number Five to return and announce that the apocalypse is imminent. Unfortunately, it turns out that the apocalypse is Vanya. More unfortunately, they fail. In a last ditch effort, as the Earth is dying, Five takes the group back in time to try and fix the situation.

The sunglasses show that they’re sexy, but not trying to be.

It turns out that time travel is not an exact science, so the siblings end up getting stranded in different parts of the early 1960s in Dallas, Texas. It also turns out that their jump to the past results in nuclear armageddon happening in 1963, shortly after Kennedy gets killed. Five goes back one more time, giving the team less than two weeks to reunite and prevent the apocalypse. Correctly, this time. 

END SUMMARY

I liked the first season of this show quite a bit, but, when I rewatched it in anticipation of this release, there were a handful of things that did irk me slightly. The first is that Diego was used more as the butt of a joke than as the great psychological specimen he could be. He’s the only one of them who operates as an actual vigilante, which makes him rife for deconstruction, but he mostly gets mocked for wearing tights. There were better openings for development everywhere, but he kind of ended up lacking. The same was true of Allison, as a celebrity who started as a superhero. Instead, most of her development focused on her difficulties as a mother in a dissolving marriage and her feelings for Luther. Lastly, the show itself tried to spend too much time on the mystery of the apocalypse, rather than just using that as a way to get all of the characters to interact. This season fixes all of those flaws and even just flat-out redirects some of the characters who had mostly used up their plotlines into much more interesting ones.

The new bad guys are three Swedish hitmen. It’s pretty cool.

While a lot of the season could feel like a re-hashed version of the first, particularly since the setup is still “dysfunctional family of superheroes need to stop an impending apocalypse that they don’t know the cause of,” most of the characters have changed massively from their time in the past. This makes all of their interactions feel fresh, and gives us a decent amount of new information about the core of their characters. They also expanded the role of Ben, the dead member, which was a great decision. Perhaps the smartest decision is that the season starts off by showing us a vision of what the Umbrella Academy COULD be if they actually managed to achieve their potential. They’re a force stronger than almost anything mankind has ever seen, and when organized together they can be unstoppable. Then, the show takes that from us almost immediately afterwards and shows us the reality that they’re all deeply flawed individuals that keep themselves from being that apex. Just like the rest of us do every day.

Yes, Five is still wearing bowling shoes.

The one thing that I most realized I enjoyed about the first season of the show was how well the show used their soundtrack. While this season doesn’t quite manage to match the amazing sequence of the teleport fight set to “Istanbul, not Constantinople” from the first season, they still did a great job continuing to emphasize action or development through music. 

Don’t ax Five to dance, though.

Overall, if you liked the first season, I think you’ll like this one. If you didn’t like the first season, you might like this one, so… give it a try?

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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