The Umbrella Academy season 2, episode 2 review: The Frankel Footage


In episode 2 of The Umbrella Academy, the Hargreeves children start regrouping to put a stop to a President’s assassination and all-out Armageddon.

Last time we left our Umbrella Academy heroes, they time-jumped to escape the end of the world. Separated and landing in 1960s Dallas, each is building a new and unconventional life for him and herself. But Five (Aidan Gallagher) discovers that the assassination of John F. Kennedy brought about a whole new apocalypse 50 years sooner.

The rest of the family aside from Five is adjusting to their new surroundings, some better than others. Luther (Tom Hopper) is an underground fighter – with more to that story. Diego (David Castañeda) is in a mental hospital raving about history before it happens. Naturally, no one believes him but he makes a crazy new friend, Lila (Ritu Arya).

Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) marries and tries to start over but being stuck in the Jim Crow South complicates that. Vanya (Ellen Page) seems like the single soul who can freely begin anew, if only because she can’t remember her past after getting run over.

Where They Ended Up

Diego is locked up but doesn’t stay that way despite Five’s efforts. Lila, proving she’s no pushover, comes along as an accomplice. Played well by Ritu Arya, she has the potential to become the season’s most memorable new character.

There’s also a conspiracy nut who saw every member of the Hargreeves clan drop from a portal into an alley. He clumsily helps Five track down Diego. The two then decipher the title film reel with a frame carrying a secret that concerns the whole family, including stern Papa Hargreeves.

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Five tries to rally the others but can’t sway Luther who’s happy being the muscle (“body man”) for Jack Ruby, as in the guy who killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. Ruby is played by noteworthy character actor John Kapelos, known for parts in John Hughes teen comedies like The Breakfast Club and the cult-classic vampire series Forever Knight.

The other subplots need time to simmer. Vanya’s amnesia and Klaus as a reluctant guru are slow-going tropes. What Allison goes through in the fight for Civil Rights is perfect given current events but her plot thread is bound to wrap up quickly. There’s an apocalypse to stop, after all, and a present to get back to.

The Wait Is Over

It’s just been a year, give or take a few months, but has felt like a long wait for the second seasonThe Umbrella Academy stays in form though the show is following the same basic plot as season 1: Estranged brothers and sisters have to reunite and learn to relate then save the world.

We’ve been here before in numerous other series. One strongly similar to Academy also returned this summer and leaves it in the dust to a point.

Umbrella Patrol

The weirdness and family drama of the Hargreeves kids will be compared to Doom Patrol, for better or worse. Moreover, the Academy tries to keep up with the edgy, surreal scenarios of the Patrol despite the latter’s reach on HBO Max and DC Universe not coming close to the audience subscribed to Netflix.

Doom Patrol holds the advantage, playing in a deeper pool of more mature content and themes, whereas Umbrella Academy stays in the area of TV-14. While reaching a broader audience, it runs the risk of looking like the Diet Coke version.

Not to say there isn’t room enough for both. Creator Gerard Way probably thinks so since he’s written comics about both teams.

And, sure, everything feels really familiar this season. However, Umbrella Academy is still riveting television that leaves you wanting to see what happens next.

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Season 2 is now available to binge-watch in full on Netflix.