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SYFY WIRE reviews

Critics say The Umbrella Academy Season 2 is groovy, emotional, and weird

By Josh Weiss
The Umbrella Academy Season 2

Greetings, flower children! Let's talk about Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy. The small-screen adaptation of the Dark Horse comic returns to Netflix this Friday (July 31), and we're happy to report that critics have noticed a marked improvement between seasons. In fact, the sophomore outing currently holds an insanely fresh 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Everything — from the psychedelic 1960s time period, to the returning ensemble cast, to the witty dialogue — is reportedly a delight to behold. The production and costume designs are lush, the characters are deeper, the soundtrack is bangin', the themes are topical, and yes, the plot is even stranger. Plus, new characters (like Ritu Arya's Lila) add some nice foils to the existing roster of dysfunctional protagonists.

After Vanya (Ellen Page) nearly destroyed the world at the end of last season, Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) decided to take his super-powered siblings — Luther (Tom Hopper), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Diego (David Castañeda), and Klaus (Robert Sheehan) — into the past. The plan wasn't exactly flawless, and now the Hargreeves children are spread across the early '60s. They've got to reunite, but it's not that simple, because Swedish killers-for-hire, a man with a fishbowl for a head, the Kennedy assassination, and more stand in the way of normality.

Inspired by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's comic book series of the same name, The Umbrella Academy is showrun and executive-produced by Steve Blackman. Justin H. Min ("Ben Hargreeves"), Mary J. Blige ("Cha-Cha"), and Cameron Britton ("Hazel") co-star.

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix

Put on some Tiffany and see what critics are saying below ...

"Maintaining the show’s distinctive, offbeat style — think the Coens doing superheroes — and sharp-edged sense of humor, not an episode passes without a great gag, impressive visual beat or fantastic music-driven sequence. And there’s a very welcome new cast addition in Brit actor Ritu Arya, whose sardonic and unhinged asylum-escapee Lila proves to be far more than a spiky romantic interest for Diego." -Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

"The show occasionally finds a way to harness the powers of a solid cast and tremendously talented crew to deliver moments of almost shockingly good TV, but much more frequently falls victim to dull characterizations and repetitive stylistic choices. The latter tendencies render it interchangeable with super anti-hero team-ups like Doom PatrolThe Boys, or Legends of Tomorrow." -Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

"There are a handful of moments scattered throughout the season that might throw you for the slightest bit of a loop, but in the end, The Umbrella Academy’s second chapter ends up being perfectly good and just shy of great, which is saying something, because the show overall does feel like it has a stronger sense of what it’s trying to be. It’s just that right now, the tone the series is striking just isn’t out there enough to really stand out." -Charlies Pulliam-Moore, Gizmodo

"The success of the series lies in its ability to make viewers care deeply for the characters, and although part of the family’s charm is its dysfunction, this sophomore season has tweaked its formula in all the right places to make the group even more likable. The conflict is well-paced and resolves satisfyingly, and the story flows with a rhythm that pulls the viewer along like the inexorable course of time itself." -Michael Ahr, Den of Geek

"There is so much more I wish I could tell you right now about just how good The Umbrella Academy Season 2 is over the course of its 10 new episodes. There is so much to touch on, including the incredible needle drops, the costume design, the rip-roaring banter between seven siblings trying to save the world from an apocalyptic event (again), the surprise plot twists which will have you flipping out or inconsolable, or just how good it feels to have a show firing on all cylinders as it welcomes you into its wild and weird world with open arms." -Allie Gemmill, Collider

"Season 2 explodes the best parts of the show's wacky time travel and family dysfunction onto a lighter, richer '60s setting. While its take on historical events and social issues doesn't reach the levels of boldness hit by HBO's Watchmen, it's still affecting, thanks to strong new characters who draw even more out of the radiant regular cast." -Jennifer Bisset, CNET

"The slick, fun fantasy storytelling is just as engaging as ever, the laughs are as frequent and with another huge cliffhanger in the final moments, it looks like the straits of our “heroes” are only just beginning. Overall, despite some familiarity The Umbrella Academy’s brand of charming fun can’t be beaten. Fingers crossed that when it comes to season three, they don’t stray too far from the winning formula." -Huw Fullerton, RadioTimes

"The larger issue is that the new season has a hard time keeping tabs on the limits and potential of the Umbrella Academy’s powers. Characters will sometimes be 'too tired' to use their abilities despite this never being an issue before, but only when it’s at a point of convenience for them to not have their powers. This trend becomes more obvious in the final stretch of episodes but forces the story to grind as weaknesses in the children’s powers are brought up for the first time in the home stretch." -Spencer Perry,

"As much as things have improved, there are still some issues that remain from Season 1. For one thing, none of it is quite as aesthetically inventive as it aims to be (with one big exception being a character who is just a fish in a bowl attached to a man’s body), but that’s mostly mitigated by the fact that they’ve all left the Hargreeves Mansion and its faux-Tim Burton/Wes Anderson vibe behind." -Sam Barsanti, The A.V. Club

"If you were a fan of the first season of The Umbrella Academy, you won’t be disappointed by the second — and if you were only lukewarm on it, you might find more to love in the new episodes. Not only does the show maintain its delightfully offbeat approach to its characters and storylines, it also has a surprisingly timely quality due to Allison’s involvement in the civil rights movement, which results in the show dramatizing some of the historical issues that have led to the current cultural reckoning over race and police brutality. Ultimately, it's great to have the Hargreeves siblings back for a second season; an easy binge that will leave fans clamoring for Season 3." -Cynthia Vinney, Comic Book Resources

"On top of all that, Season 2 also introduces a number of new characters who arrive fully-formed and ready to complicate the team's mission further. Like Diego, the new episodes throw plenty of twists our way, and like his knives, these revelations cut pretty deep too, expanding on the show's backstory in fascinating and sometimes heart-breaking ways." -David Opie, Digital Spy

"There’s precious little that’s really original in the second season of The Umbrella Academy, but the familiarity works well for a show about family. In spite of the high stakes and superpowers, the show is fundamentally about how people who know each other better than anyone else can come together or tear themselves apart. Given a second chance to save the world and each other, all they can do is try to do better." -Samantha Nelson, Polygon

"This new setting (away from season one’s vague metropolis, played by Toronto) gives the series the opportunity to explore a variety of historical issues, chief among them the fight against segregation and Jim Crow. And while that’s only a modest touchpoint for the season, it’s tough to watch a show about weary comic-book crusaders grappling with racism so soon after Watchmen did that so effectively, and so much more thoroughly." -Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

"Setting the season in the early 1960s, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and John F Kennedy’s presidency, lends the show a heightened sense of gravitas, while also asking a profound question: if you have the chance, do you have a moral imperative to change history? Employing dry Wes Anderson-style humour and end-of-the-world exploits worthy of Heroes, the second season of The Umbrella Academy is just as – if not more – wacky than the first." -Sabrina Barr, Independent