The Umbrella Academy Season 1 ends on the ultimate cliffhanger ...
**Spoiler Alert: Obviously, there are spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 1 beyond this point.**
... a miraculous time jump to save the world from certain destruction. Number 5 grabs his adoptive siblings and pulls off something he's never done before: time-jumping with other people in tow while simultaneously aiming for a specific time and location.
Whether or not he can do it doesn't matter so much to me as a bigger question: Do I want to watch him do it? Truth be told, I'm not really sure I want to see how this all ends.
To clarify: I really wouldn't mind Netflix making The Umbrella Academy Season 2. It would be fun to watch the siblings grapple with the realization that they helped make Vanya an apocalyptic trigger and to watch her rebuild her sense of self. I want Allison to be happy and to gain a new, literal understanding of Vanya's voiceless childhood. I want to watch Number Five judge Diego and Klaus for their bad decisions. I want Ben to reunite with his siblings. I want Luther to undergo a deep self-reckoning.
The Umbrella Academy Season 2, though it has yet to be greenlit, is truly fertile ground. Not only is there a comic series to mine, but the first season also managed to garner an obsessive fanbase all its own. Attractive, tragic characters tend to capture fandom attention like nothing else. These are the kinds of characters that prompt fanfiction and ship wars and an enthusiasm that, ultimately, results in a show's renewal year after year, even when the story has tired itself out.
The thing is, The Umbrella Academy could end with Season 1. Season 2 isn't necessary.
The apocalypse happened, Number 5 saw it, and he went back to stop it. But it still happened. In the season's final episode, "The White Violin," the Umbrella Academy sees the new impending apocalypse (a second one that seems far more destructive than the original, as it looks to be about to destroy the entire planet down to the core) raining down on them and decides to go back and fix it.
Episode 6, "The Day That Wasn't," pretty much tells us what we could potentially see in Season 2. Here audiences saw Number Five travel back in time and bellyflop into the middle of his family's initial "Now, how does one actually stop the apocalypse?" meeting. This time around he's determined to help, because he now (supposedly) knows who the bad guy is. Before his arrival in the past, though, we see a meticulous rewinding of the day's events. Because Number Five essentially erases the day, Vanya doesn't find her father's notebook, Klaus doesn't have a breakthrough, Allison and Luther don't figure out their relationship, and much more.
These reversals are, in large part, negligible because things do eventually get back on track; some things seem to have been inevitable. The same might be said for The Umbrella Academy Season 2. How likely is the apocalypse to happen again? How many times will the Umbrella Academy have to go back in time and redo the story, picking out the steps that worked and nixing the ones that didn't until they've found the perfect anti-apocalypse formula?
If Season 1 is Episode 6, then Season 2 is Episode 7, "The Day That Was," which, while adding some cool new things to the narrative, became slightly grating when we watched the same things happen again, just from a slightly different angle.
It's rare for television to show restraint. For every Sherlock and True Detective, shows that keep fans hooked in part by withholding the next installment, you have The Walking Dead and Supernatural, which are currently airing their ninth and 14th seasons, respectively, and have both been renewed for at least one more season despite waning ratings or fan ire. As comedian and writer/director Bo Burnham once sang, "we'll stop beating this dead horse when it stops spitting out money."
Because television is a business at the end of the day, just about every show that enjoys some modicum of success is in danger of straining itself. It's a pretty simple formula: Eyes on your show equals advertisers equals money equals renewal. But there's a fine line between wrapping up a story fans are invested in and beating the dead horse, and streaming services only complicate the matter.
No one outside Netflix really knows how many people have watched The Umbrella Academy, because Netflix doesn't make that information public. It never does. The only thing we can look to is social engagement — the number of people tweeting about Diego's knife fetish and GIF-ing Klaus' pouting face on Tumblr. By that measure, a lot of people seem to be watching, but we can't know for sure. We just have to trust Netflix to tell us this is what we want.
The same thing goes for other Netflix originals. For example, Netflix announced it was renewing The Haunting of Hill House for a second season. From here on out, the series will serve as an anthology, exploring a different haunting each season; comparisons to FX's American Horror Story abound. Before the anthology announcement, though, there were plenty of debates over whether there should be a second season at all. Season 1 had wrapped up the Crain family's story; adding any more to the narrative would be superfluous — hence, an anthology series with a new focus.
None of this is to say that The Umbrella Academy Season 2 should be an anthology series, but the debate about whether it even needs a second season is similar to the original Haunting of Hill House debate. Yes, the Hargreeves' story is far from over, but would Season 2 really add anything to the narrative? Would it be grating to watch it happen all over again?
If the answer is yes, then I'd rather imagine for myself what happens next.