Lost and repetitive: The Umbrella Academy season 3 review

The Umbrella Academy. (L to R) Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves, Elliot Page, Tom Hopper as Luther Hargreeves, Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves, Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves in episode 301 of The Umbrella Academy. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The Umbrella Academy is an established world that Netflix brought to life from the comic book series of the same name. The first and second season of The Umbrella Academy introduced and focused on the seven adopted Hargreeves’ children, who had their own special powers. Saving the world from two apocalypse’s created an altered timeline. We get a glimpse into an alternate reality answering the question of what if Reginald Hargreeves was a better parent to his children. By better, it means more successful in his ambitions towards his children and the academy. The patriarch is still an awful father, no matter the timeline. With the new team, The Sparrows, it sets up the age-old question of nature v nurture while showing the ramifications of Reginald Hargreeves’ cruel parenting style. Travelling forward to an alternative timeline, the remaining six Umbrellas arrived in the correct time only The Umbrella Academy does not exist. In its place is the successful Sparrow Academy with Reginald Hargreeves as the present father, although still not a particularly good one. The Sparrows are hugely successful and competent. A far cry from the Umbrella’s.

 The opening montage is remarkably like season one, it is an replica of the first season but with different children – aside from Ben. We see the posters, the adoring fans watching Marcus / Number One working out. First impressions are important and we see the Umbrellas as successful which is a stark contract to how we first saw the Umbrellas back in season one with them divided and lost. The show picks up right where it left off in season 2 and the character-led series instantly shows the difference between the two Academies, but the different dynamics open in a fun, unexpected way. To show the difference between the two academies, it is shown through their clothing. The Umbrellas are darker in their colour palette, the Sparrows have more maroon palette and are always in some sort of uniforms showing their collectivism as a team while the Umbrellas are disjointed from years apart and a lot of in fighting.

It may be that the show is exploring an alternative timeline but there is a lot of plots or character development that feels repetitive. Last season explored The Umbrella Academy growing up in a sense but this season, some of the original characters feel very stagnant in their plots. One character that returned, though not the same, is Ben. Originally number six with The Umbrella’s, now he is number two. Justin H Min does a fantastic job showing this different, more aggressive Ben which can be jarring to watch but the different performance makes it enjoyable! Where the previous Ben only lived a short life, The Sparrow’s Ben is thriving at the top of his game with his powers, no longer fearing them as he did as a child. With this comes a cocky confidence that is fascinating to watch and to compare to his previous counterpart that we only saw through Klaus’s powers. In this alternative timeline, it is hard not to compare The Umbrella and Sparrow siblings. The Sparrows move as a unit, together while having each other’s back’s effortlessly while The Umbrella’s struggle to be there for one another in a way that hinder their individual aims. Not only that but some characters have the best growth of all the original siblings. Luther Hargreeves (Tom Hopper) and Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan) have some of the more interesting moments and scenes of the season.  Klaus has been known as the weaker one, even The Sparrow’s say he is the weakest out of the group, but we are taken on a journey with him throughout season 3. From finding out more of what could have been his past to seeing a hidden power Klaus had of not only summoning the dead but controlling his own deathly powers, we really do see Klaus’s value in season 3. Klaus’s journey could have fuelled the show on it own. For a season that seems lost in what to do, it works better when the focus is on Klaus. As if the writers had direction for that arc but not so much when it comes to other characters.

The 10-episode run struggles to find its identity as a show and what do with other characters. New and old characters seem have no purpose in plots that are repeated from season one or so disconnected and pointless to the storyline, none of this utilises the cast of characters as it should. From the calculating and ambitious Ben to the hopeful yet powerful Sloan, a.k.a The Sparrow’s number five, The Sparrow’s really are not utilised as much as they could have been.  The few scenes they have in the beginning are intriguing with the standout stars being Sloane, Christopher, Ben and Marcus. Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez) brings a genuine light to the show and creates a bridge between the two academies that is heart-warming and pure. Although you cannot understand the cube Christopher, you do laugh with him and see his personality more than you do the other Sparrows such as Fei (Britne Oldford), Jayme (Cazzie David) and Alphonso (Jake Epstein). To be fair, you do warm up a bit more to Alphonso than you do the others. Jayme seems bored in her delivery but the too cool act does not come off as anything other than uninteresting which is a shame since Jayme has interesting powers. To make it better, I would have swapped Jayme’s powers with Alphonso based on performance.

Viktor’s plot felt all too repetitive of their season one arc with little improvements. It started off with promise regarding Viktor. You see him with some confidence at his abilities and knowing his own strength and just how powerful he is but that is disregarded soon after. Viktor was an interesting character in season 1 and then in season 2 but like the memory loss he suffered in season 2, he was forgettable in season 3 except when he bought the fun mood down. Perhaps too much was resolved too quickly with Viktor and their powers. Characters like Viktor and Diego feel misplaced in this new timeline. With Diego, the character doesn’t seem to fit within the group. When the group split up, Diego is more of a duo with Lilia instead of part of the ensemble team with a plot that lacks any kind of direction or entertainment despite a good performance from David Castañeda. One scene is when he hallucinates in episode 1 that has some of the best moments of the season. Aside from that, he is wrapped up in a solo plot that is pointless when it is resolved. Some of the positives of the show would be the new additions in the Sparrow’s such as Sloan and even to an extent, this version of Reginald. Sloane defies gravity – literally and is more than a pretty face. She is intelligent and the heart of the Sparrow’s. On top of the character mistakes, the show is lacking a charismatic and fun villain since the Handler is killed. With the villain being a big destructive ball of light, there is nothing for the actors and characters to bounce off to help make up for the plot.

Overall, The Umbrella Academy struggles through so many different plots and issues, but it is not all bad! Developments from Klaus Hargreeves is one of the best of the show and is delivered brilliantly while other characters such as Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) are not given enough time to truly develop and plot until the final few episodes despite a touching and gritty performance that makes you want more. Only in the first episode or two do you get a sense of family from The Umbrella’s, but similar plots have been reused. Episode seven is the strongest episode of the season while the penultimate episode of the season was cut short, at only 39 minutes, you can certainly feel the struggle for relevant plots in the writer’s room. 

For the MVC, that title rightfully belongs to Klaus Hargreeves. Klaus is the most entertaining character this season who has the most growth and direction. All while being his same eccentric but honest self. He is a joy to watch and does the most.

‘The Umbrella Academy’ season three arrives on Netflix on Wednesday, June 22nd

MVC: Klaus Hargreeevs

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