‘The Umbrella Academy’ review: The Hargreeves siblings face off against the Sparrow Academy in a fun, if familiar, Season 3
Umbrellas vs. Sparrows: Who’s winning?
The Umbrella Academy is back, reuniting us with the superpowered Hargreeves siblings and their super-sized daddy issues. Season 2 may have ended with our heroes preventing the apocalypse and time traveling back to the present, but that supposed victory had dire consequences. The Hargreeves’ time travel shenanigans created a different timeline, one where the Umbrella Academy has been replaced by the ruthless Sparrow Academy. They’ve also triggered a chain of events that threatens to bring about the apocalypse, so it’s up to them to once again save the world.
Since this is now The Umbrella Academy‘s third installment, the “we only have x amount of time to stop the apocalypse” formula risks feeling a little overdone. Lucky for us, Season 3 avoids that pitfall (for the most part), keeping the Hargreeves’ adventures feeling fresh with powerful new character developments and a fun set of villains to face off against.
The Hargreeves siblings level up in The Umbrella Academy Season 3
While The Umbrella Academy has always boasted a fun ensemble of characters, Season 3 is where each of our leads get their fullest chance to shine. Luther (Tom Hopper) is delightful in full himbo mode, but a new romance makes him reconsider his priorities. Former vigilante Diego (David Castañeda) faces new responsibilities in the aftermath of his relationship with Lila (Ritu Arya). In one of the season’s more heartbreaking storylines, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) grieves the loss of her husband and daughter from previous timelines. Meanwhile, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) expands his powers’ potential with the help of this timeline’s version of Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), and Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) tires of trying to save the world over and over.
Among the season’s biggest developments is Viktor’s (Elliot Page) transition, which the show addresses early on and treats with an immense amount of care. The scenes in which Viktor comes out to his family and discusses realizing he’s trans are among the best of the season. On top of his transition, Viktor is also grappling with the return of a figure from his past, someone who threatens to drive a wedge between him and his siblings.
The Umbrella Academy resonates most when it’s examining the messiness of its central family, whether they’re butting heads or supporting each other through thick and thin. This season gives them plenty of chances to do both, especially now that they’re interacting with Reginald again. The presence of their father — even another timeline’s version of him — leads them to confront more hard truths about their childhood. However, it also prompts them to come more into their own. Trust me when I say the Umbrella Academy you start the season with is extremely different from the one you end it with.
The Sparrow Academy makes for an exciting rivalry
What’s better than one academy of dysfunctional superheroes? Two academies of dysfunctional superheroes! The Sparrow Academy made a big splash at the very end of Season 2, and that carries over into Season 3 with the introduction of their various superpowers — including gravity manipulation and hallucination-inducing venom. However, as we quickly find out, they’re not exactly one big happy family either. Like the Umbrella Academy, the Sparrows have their own interpersonal issues and complicated relationship with their father.
The Sparrows also have Ben (Justin H. Min), who we only met as a ghost in the first two seasons. This Ben is a far cry from the one we grew to know and love. He’s an ambitious schemer with a bad attitude, and he really, really hates the Umbrellas. For much of the season, Ben is stuck plotting and rasping about his desire to be Number One to anyone who will listen. Emotional payoff does arrive, but much later in the season than I would have liked. However, it’s nice to see Min return in any capacity, and it’s even nicer to watch another set of funky powers in action.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 treads formulaic ground, but is still an enjoyable watch
On top of the repeated “stop the apocalypse” conflict, this season revisits Umbrella Academy tropes such as “sudden dance party” (of which there are multiple) and “game-changing ending that leaves you with more questions than answers.”
Don’t get me wrong, those are still engaging tropes (and I love a good dance party), but after three seasons, it makes you wonder about the direction of the show — especially when we don’t have closure on questions that were raised in Season 2 and even Season 1. Season 3 features strong character moments and a third act that feels markedly different from those of its predecessors, but it’s hard not to feel like it’s treading water at times in order to ramp up to plot reveals that will (hopefully) come in a later season.
Despite this, the third season of The Umbrella Academy is a winner, one that Brellies everywhere will enjoy. It preserves the charm and defined aesthetic of Seasons 1 and 2, plus it elevates its characters to new heights. If anything, Season 3 proves that The Umbrella Academy isn’t running out of steam just yet. In fact, it might just be getting started.
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