Wednesday, July 6, 2022

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Review: Another Perfectly Crafted Apocalypse

When it comes to genre television, there are few who do it as well as Steve Blackman and the team behind The Umbrella Academy.

Loosely based on the comic series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, we’re back for a third world-imploding adventure with the Hargreeves and an entirely new batch of siblings — the Sparrows — versus the Kugelblitz, and each other.

Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

The first concern going into this season was is another apocalypse sustainable, is the third time the charm or will it be overdone? It turns out that the third time is indeed the charm as the events of season 3 bring some of the richest character arcs and plot to date, which was particularly hard to beat after two already incredible seasons.

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One thing that stands out about the overall quality of The Umbrella Academy season after season is their ability to maintain continuity. While it’s always satisfying to see larger plot points from previous seasons find resolution, which this season does, it’s an entirely new experience when you can find little clues referencing smaller events, particularly for avid fans (which, admittedly, I am). The attention to detail shown pays tribute to both the viewers and these characters, with fun comic book callbacks to round out the entire experience while still having a large detraction from the plots of the written source material.

Netflix

Another consistent element of the high-caliber storytelling that swept me off my feet was the trajectory of character growth for all seven of the Hargreeves children, Reginald, and now Lila as she returns here in season 3. Within the first two sagas of the Umbrellas, almost all of their characters went through substantial character growth and metamorphosis, yet somehow they’ve managed to add new layers to these everlasting onions to send them all on new trajectories following the finale. This kind of rich storytelling only adds to the attachments and bonds formed with them, even the ones we may not be particularly fond of (I’ve got my favorites, okay?).

And who are the Umbrellas without the actors who portray them? Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, and Elliot Page along with Colm Feore and Ritu Arya are all back in perfect form as the most lovable bunch of chaotic morons gracing the screens. The way all of them are able to infuse comedy into their performances, even in the darkest moments (particularly Hopper’s Luther) is so subtle and endearing, it brings a certain magic to this series that lacks in other properties in the genre. Plus, it’s damn near impossible to not fall in love with Robert Sheehan’s Klaus, but if you weren’t already that is about to be challenged here in season 3 (I warned you I had a favorite.)

Netflix

The Sparrows were also brought to life with a perfect blend of striving for perfection while feeling trapped by expectations, each having a distinct personality with none more jarring than the 180-flip Justin H. Min’s Ben took to introduce us to this new alternate Ben, who is nothing like his double-dead counterpart. Justin Cornwell, Britne Oldford, Jake Epstein, Genesis Rodriguez, and Cazzie David brought a new, welcome edge to the series, the perfect antitheses to our anti-heroes.

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As always, the series never shies away from accurate representation of the world we live in. This season specifically had the responsibility of portraying formerly Vanya’s transition to his true self, Viktor. It could have been a quick scene, something to simply explain the sudden change before moving on to other plot points, but that isn’t the Umbrella way. Viktor’s transition is woven into the first half of the season, with scenes that will resonate with everyone hoping for a loving embrace from the ones we love most in our most fragile, vulnerable moments.

The Umbrella Academy outdoes its previous two apocalypses here in season 3, and while a season 4 has yet to be confirmed I’d be shocked (and appalled) if Netflix let this one go. With this team of creatives and actors alike, and its extremely successful history, I don’t see this one faltering anytime soon.

Season 3 drops on Netflix Wednesday, June 22.

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