Netflix's superpowered family drama has been picked up for a third season.
Netflix has just made it official: there will be a third season of The Umbrella Academy.
The show's main cast are all set to return for production that will kick off in February of 2021. Considering the streaming giant's tendency to cut shows off before their time, the news comes as a relief for fans of the popular show, as well as for people who are gullible enough to keep getting sucked in by the show's constant cliffhangers and loose plot threads (just give me some resolution, dammit!).
But as much as there is to love about the show, it's far from perfect. Looking forward to the new season, here are some directions that showrunner Steve Blackman could take the series to make the most of its potential and avoid some familiar pitfalls.
More Family History
Young Umbrella Academy members
Seasons one and two were all about bringing family back together after years of drifting apart/drifting through time. There was a heavy emphasis on the fact that the "glory days" were over. But there was also a strong sense that the "glory days" were never that glorious.
The bits and pieces we've seen of the team's childhood make it clear that Sir Reginald Hargreeves' approach to parenting — if you can call it that — was deeply dysfunctional, but most of that unpleasantness has remained shrouded in uncertainty. But now that the team has finally managed to get together — and not be torn apart by the challenges of time travel — we can finally get more of the entertaining dynamic of the whole family bouncing off each other.
And now that even Sir Reginald has (sort of) been reunited with the team, maybe we can get more of a sense of how that dynamic worked when they were child-celebrity superheroes — and how Sir Reginald really was as a father.
Vanya Finally Working Through Her Issues
Speaking of the family dynamic, Vanya Hargreeves really got the short end of that stick. For her entire childhood she was treated as an outcast — the only mediocre member of an extraordinary family.
And when it was finally revealed that she was actually the most powerful member of the team, her siblings turned on her and locked her up to prevent her from destroying the world. When that approach predictably resulted in Vanya destroying the world, the team managed to escape through the always convenient plot device of time travel.
What's more, the severe emotional trauma Vanya accumulated from a childhood of isolation and inadequacy—along with discovering that the only person supporting her was actually a creepy murderer — was dealt with by...having her forget all about it. As long as we're digging into the past with some family therapy, it's time for Ellen Page's Vanya to confront her siblings and her past and learn to deal with them.
Now that she seems to have more of a handle on her powers, that can hopefully be achieved without triggering another apocalypse.
Luther and Allison Hargreeves Get Together
The will they/won't they dance is worn out. Allison and Luther Hargreeves have feelings for each other, and now they've been transported to an alternate timeline where they presumably have no ties to anyone.
That will be particularly traumatic in Allison's case — will her daughter, Claire, even exist? But it will also erase barriers that have been keeping the two of them apart. All that remains is the taboo of a sibling relationship. But the fact is: They're hardly siblings at all.
If they'd been adopted into a normal family, that would be one thing, but they were adopted into a superhero team organized by a wealthy and eccentric genius. That's not really comparable to a sibling relationship by any normal metric. And to the extent that it is, it will probably just convince Game of Thrones fans to start watching.
Sir Reginald as the Villain
Speaking of the wealthy and eccentric genius behind the Umbrella Academy, now that Sir Reginald has been resurrected, and the team has been reunited, it's time to crank up the family drama to 11. It's time to embrace the truth that has been bubbling under the surface the entire time: Dad is the villain.
Back in the '60s he was developing highly advanced, genetically modified apes and was a member of a shadowy organization orchestrating world events. Then, in the late '80s, he adopted/abducted seven miraculous, powerful children born under mysterious circumstances.
Are we just supposed to accept that at face value? Clearly there is something more going on here, and it all points to Sir Reginald Hargreeves as a heartless puppet master.
In the first two seasons the main villain was The Commission, a bizarre time-defense bureaucracy that made for deeply strange and confusing plots. But now that The Commission has been neutralized, it's time for some grounded stories with a clear and recognizable antagonist.
Rather than continuing to pose Sir Reginald as a distant but ultimately well-meaning father figure, let him be a bad guy. Colme Feore's performance as the enigmatic magnate is compelling, and Sir Reginald would be a worthy antagonist. His wealth, scientific achievement, and combat abilities will make him a formidable opponent, and he will give the family plenty of opportunity to work through their issues.
A New Ending
Rewatching the first two seasons, certain repeating patterns emerge that start to feel a bit pat. The family is separated. Number Five has to bring them all together to prevent the apocalypse. Vanya loses control of her powers, but through teamwork and sacrifice the family is able to subdue her.
Of course there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, and there is some real character growth that stops these patterns from feeling too familiar. The one exception is the ending. When the family is finally reunited, Number Five figures out a way to put everything right by having the whole team travel through time together, but something goes wrong and they don't end up where they expect.
The first time that happened, it made for a solid cliffhanger, but when it happened again at the end of season two, it had cheesy "here we go again" sequel vibes. If the team needs to keep messing with the space-time continuum, let them sort that out mid-season, and give us a fresh ending.