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‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2 Sacrifices a Slow Start For A Banger Followup

Whereas its cast may be time traveling to the past to save the future from impending doomsday again, The Umbrella Academy oppositely takes major leaps forward in its overall production…

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The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Review

Whereas its cast may be time traveling to the past to save the future from impending doomsday again, The Umbrella Academy‘s second season oppositely takes major leaps forward in its overall production. The follow-up year to Netflix’s hit adaptation of Gerard Way’s preposterously fantastic comic book run manages to successfully retool its narrative and core story structure for the small screen, albeit with some new and familiar flaws getting in the way. Despite a slow buildup- that remains exceptionally well-executed in retrospect, The Umbrella Academy manages to create a noteworthy continuation with a back half that is an absolute banger. It is still forced to sacrifice some more conventional story beats the narrative needs due to time constraints, but overall fans of the Hargreeves’ television interpretation will not be disappointed by their weirdest new journey.

Season two is unsurprisingly based loosely on The Umbrella Academy: Dallas with some of Hotel Oblivion bleeding in every now and then. During their jump to the past Five (Aidan Gallagher) accidentally manages to scatter his family in different time periods ranging from anywhere between 1960 and 1963 before the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy. After Five encounters Hazel (Cameron Britton) in 1963 and witnesses that doomsday returned to the past with them, he is sent back ten days before the crisis with enough time to save the world again. It may sound like groundhogs day and it certainly feels like it at several points, but the similarities in the two season’s main plots should not push viewers away immediately. The newest batch of episodes is packed with plenty of twists and turns as the team is forced to leave their newly accustomed lives in the ’60s to save Earth from their mistakes. It wounds up being a satisfying continuation of the dysfunctional family’s story for nearly everyone.

The Umbrella Academy‘s second year improves on almost all of its characters, but one and seven still fall a little behind.

Without going in-depth into each characters’ new livelihoods, almost the entire main cast has been given far more engrossing and complex story arcs this time around. No one falls completely flat or meaningless by the end of the narrative due to the important role they each play, yet that does not mean everyone is fully developed to the extent you hope they would be. In the same vein as season one, Diego (David Castañeda), Fives, Klaus (Robert Sheehan), and Ben (Justin Min) still steal the spotlight with the most satisfying storylines and character group dynamics as they explore the majority of the show’s main themes, the development of our villains, and all-around solid comedy. If you enjoyed what these characters were doing before then you are not going to be complaining here. They may be stuck in the past, but this season aims to continually push their original story’s forward in familiar and original ways.

As for the other three members, only one of them can sadly join the high horse their siblings ride on. The biggest concern viewers should have come into season two with was what the writers were exactly going to do with Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Luther (Tom Hopper), and Vanya (Ellen Page). These were the most polarizing characters the show had to offer previously. They were the three individuals that needed more convincing end goal purposes and overall compelling journeys than any other character in the series. Allison is the only character to come out victorious due to getting entangled in a plotline fueled by realistic racist sentiments that noticeably stands out from what the rest of the cast attempts to accomplish. Vanya continues to be The Umbrella Academy’s biggest burden with Luther falling behind for far different reasons. The two undoubtedly have seen several steps in the right direction, but not enough to justify their placements with the rest of the show’s cast.

Besides helping guide other characters or being supportive, Luther upsettingly has little next to no involvement in the overarching narrative, which is shocking because he has a marvelous start that could have heavily tied him into the Kennedy assassination the season builds up to. He somehow comes down to merely serving as the glue of the team when needed. Number one- though never a bad character by any means- often feels as if he is just there because he has to be there and for no other reason. As for Vanya, she still feels as if the writers have her trapped in a void of confusion never knowing what they should do with her- ironically literal in a sense as she suffers from amnesia after being struck by a car in the opening minutes. Vanya is both figuratively and literally the outcast of The Academy which can not only harm the show’s pacing as her adventures introduce characters that viewers can only hope will hold a larger meaning in the future, but it takes up tremendous amounts of time that could be spent with others who arguably have so much more to do when it comes to pushing the core narrative forward.

When it comes to storytelling, season two takes a welcoming though unorthodox approach to conflict for its universe that nearly always pans out as important.

What The Umbrella Academy’s second season does exceptionally well with for all of its characters (including Vanya) is diving into internal and external conflicts that do not roam around the typical hero complexes we are traditionally used to viewing due. Race, gender, and sexuality all strikingly play a major role as the characters are living during the red scare. I will certainly not say a modern setting limited the show before in any way, but placing the cast of diverse heroes in the past gave season two a chance to embrace its problems differently. This season treads a fine line between telling its own fictional story while incorporating the actual harsh reality America presented for minority groups and outcasts. Whereas the first season the characters were free to do as they choose in a world that widely accepted their existence, here we have an era where several of its members are constantly subjected to the general public’s close-minded thought process of others.

This successfully helps bring out emotional and even shockingly physical conflict in some of our heroes. Allison and Klaus notably manage to score some of the series’ most unexpected emotional moments because of this. It may come off as feelings pointless by incorporating these long yet appropriate arcs early into the story, but in the end, everything manages to pull itself together and connect brilliantly. That’s what season two does best though when it comes to storytelling. It is able to provide a tale that is constantly shifting expectations and playing well with how exactly characters connect with one another. The placement of the cast in the ’60s gives a way for The Umbrella Academy to explore key story points viewers are dying to know with benefits. You would have expected the series to introduce viewers to some important moments through flashbacks, but instead, it ops to bring viewers directly to the events while allowing its characters to discover the truth too.

Returning veterans like Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), his then future wife Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins), Pogo, and other names I can not mention due to spoilers are given great moments to shine which helps develop not only themselves but the main cast in a variety of ways. However, some of the newcomers lose needed screen time because of the focus on their appearances- for better or worse. Specifically, Diego’s new psycho friend Lila (Ritu Arya) he finds himself in love with is one of the best new characters season two has to offer, but by the time the ending rolls around the corner, you will only be wishing we had seen so more of her. Everyone does their job in helping the cast get to where they need to be by the end of the season, yet it feels as if some of the newcomers yearn for more involvement versus the veterans who are given special treatment. It will be interesting to see what the writers decide to do with all of the survivors next season, but the audience will not be seeing that for a long time from now.

Viewers will be more than happy to endure a steady opening so they can receive six exciting episodes.

Whereas graphic novels can jump from panel to panel, character to character, television shows are a completely different beast that needs to tackle pacing differently. The Umbrella Academy still feels a bit too jumpy at times with its general pacing as it constantly shifts spotlights during its opening episodes between its cast, but luckily this is something that only affects the first few hours of the show. The main plot of season two is partly the reason why the first three episodes play out slower than the rest. The Umbrella Academy is forced to sacrifice its time rebuilding its known cast because of the three years Five and the audience never got to experience. There are a handful of new character introductions and reintroductions that are completely necessary to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, the time spent on these moments has a worthwhile payoff and is well worth enduring. After that, the rest of the episodes go along significantly faster- the last three episodes flew by faster than the rest of the series. Arguably one of the most important aspects to a show based on a comic book though is the visuals.

For a series helmed by seven children all born at the same second from mothers that were never pregnant, it is mind-boggling how The Umbrella Academy is so afraid to embrace its chaotic side of reality. Just as before, it remains cinematically engaging the whole way through except this time Netflix has allowed the production team to more so cater in on Gerard Way’s bat-shit crazy atmosphere that seemingly went missing in action last time. It is not what fans of the source material are begging for, yet it is a step closer. Rather than cutting back on alien creatures and flying Eiffle Towers, this season embraces what other comic book adaptations that Mr. Way inspired have succeeded with. From Swedish assassins dressed as milkmen to goldfish running the show, the insanity of The Umbrella Academy’s sophomore year helps build upon this ridiculous world that continually seems madder then it already is at it shows fewer fears of holding itself back. Setpieces and costumes have thankfully ditched the darker color pallets as the show highlights the extravagant designs of the 1960s which just makes the production feel more in line with the source material’s vision. It has that right amount of balance between goofiness and seriousness that other shows like Daredevil and Gotham thrived from.

Season two is definitely going to leave die-hard fans of the series famished for more and that is what really matters most.

Like its predecessor season, The Umbrella Academy‘s follow-up year achieves on bringing Gerard Way’s dysfunctional family to the streaming front on a successful though flawed note. It is still far from the best ongoing comic book show available due to some opening difficulties with its buildup and minor plotlines that could have arguably been way more exciting or involved with the core narrative, however, at the end of the day, Netflix has done a fine job adapting one of Dark Horse’s most popular comics series into live-action. It takes major steps in the right direction as it continually aims to push the narrative forward, but in doing so it still manages to hit a few unreasonable hurdles that should have probably been resolved already. For those who were turned off by its freshman year, season two’s improvements still likely will not drag you back in. If you enjoyed the show’s first outing then you will no doubt be having a blast once again as the team engages in more world-ending action.

Creative writer, producer, and Games Editor. I have always held a high interest in the fields of professional writing and communications. You can find me with my head deep in the espionage genre or in a kayak upstream. I’ll always be first in line for the next Hideo Kojima or Masahiro Sakurai game.

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The Boys Season 2 Episode 3 Review: “Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men”

The Boys’ marks an improvement and pays big dividends in an explosive, violently revealing hour.

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The Boys Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men

Half bottle episode and half coming out party, “Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men” is a sneaky little showcase for The Boys, and just how big its world’s suddenly gotten in season two. Though ostensibly an episode designed around two events – the boys getting stuck on the boat, and Stormfront revealing her inner racist sociopath – “Over the Hill” navigates a number of brewing conflicts in fascinating ways, building and building until the violent explosion at the episode’s conclusion. With a nimble script and a game group of performers, The Boys‘ second season is turning out to be a distinct pleasure – albeit one heading down a gruesome, dark path I sure hope it’s capable of navigating.

“Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men” navigates a number of brewing conflicts in fascinating ways, building and building until the violent explosion at the episode’s conclusion.

It does take a little while for “Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men” to get going; beginning three miles offshore with The Boys and the reunited super-siblings, the first quarter feels like it’s simply restating the stakes. It’s a nimble trick, though; led by Kimiko and Kenji, The Boys begins to feel like it is approaching a true moral quandary for the group. Which door descending into hell will they choose?

The Boys Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men

While The Boys often likes to posture its presenting characters with complex dilemmas, the show’s unnerving nihilism often upends any sort of nuance it looks for in its debates around “necessary” violence. Here, Kimiko’s presence throws a fascinating wrench into the proceedings; with most of the group’s members clinging to whatever mirage of family they have left (save for Hughie, who has… forgotten his dad exists?), even Butcher can’t deny having conflicting feelings about what to do with Kenji, and the deal that’s been offered to him if he turns him in.

Elsewhere, “Over the Hill” throws the brazen personalities of The Seven into their own little blenders, as Stormfront begins to sow discord through Vought, and abuse her powers to casually murder a lot of people – nearly all of them minorities, in a way that feels like an explosion of character, rather than an unpeeling of some complicated identity. Stormfront simply doesn’t give a fuck; and with her supernatural ability to manipulate feminist views (her speech to the reporters is magnificent, both in how it develops Stormfront’s character and nods to the simplistic ways in which the evilest people in society disguise themselves among the “good”).

While she’s kicking up tornadoes and electrocuting everyone that gets in her way, characters like The Deep and Homelander continue to benefit from the much-improved writing of season two. The show is still struggling to make Becca something more than the Ultimate Mother Protector trope, but Homelander’s warped sense of responsibility to his son is interesting, surely a bad sign for the upbringing of this world’s Superboy (will he also don a cool leather jacket and weird cyberpunk sunglasses? Who knows!). It’s clearly not going well; even he seems to recognize the danger in bringing his son’s powers to the surface, as its the first time in his life he’s facing a challenge as the world’s strongest hero (that is, until Stormfront doubles that total later in the episode, further frustrating Homelander’s attempts to hold domain over everything in his grasp).

The Boys Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men

It’s not going well for The Deep, either, as his slow descent into cult life is bringing his desperation for acceptance further to the surface. Like with Homelander’s stories, I wish The Deep’s story was a little tighter and more thoughtful (some of the body image stuff seems to be treated trivially, in a way that borders on insensitive and uninformed for the sake of easy jokes), but there’s no denying his character is infinitely more interesting this season, a test case for what a superhero trying to learn their own limits would struggle with. The Deep works best as a pathetic character, but not when it’s a pathetic character The Boys just kick around with bad punchlines; when he’s treated as a byproduct of a deeply flawed human being trying to find a path to good intentions, his fumbles and weak-minded rhetoric is much more amusing – and at times, the tiniest bit empathic (his sadness over Billy’s, well, butchering of his whale buddy was such an earnest, raw and twistedly funny moment).

The Boys has needed to accelerate its internal stakes for a while; the introduction of “super terrorists” to the world by Homelander, and Compound V’s reveal to the public might make the show’s world feel a bit smaller than intended – I think a lot about the “big” fight scenes at the end of Arrow‘s third season, where the ‘entire city’ is fighting, but there’s never more than six people around – The Boys does that on a narrative level sometimes. But as the stories of the show dig a little deeper into its characters – Maeve’s disillusionment, Homelander’s failure to emulate paternal behavior, A-Train’s desperation, it’s beginning to feel like the writers have a deeper understanding of its characters and world, and how to wield its inherent sadistic cynicism to more interesting ends. “Over the Hill With the Swords of a Thousand Men” benefits massively from that, setting up a number of intriguing dominoes for the back half of season two to knock over (in bloody fashion).

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Look, I’m bummed how the Kenji character played out; he was such an interesting character, an examination of everything horrible about what power and war can do to a human being. It’s sad to see The Boys dispose of such an intriguing presence, especially as its a death of a minority character in service of mostly white-related stories – however, with such a hateful, nasty character like Stormfront waiting in the wings, it is easy to see how the writers found their way down that path. (like, she could’ve killed Black Noir and this show would’ve literally lost nothing… just sayin’).
  • Can A-Train just collapse or whatever, so we can get this storyline moving? We’ve been doing this since the second episode!
  • Why haven’t we seen any reaction to Becca seeing Butcher in person at the end of season one? She hasn’t mentioned it or even had a longing look off-screen to violin music.
  • Man, I’m so glad they cast Aya Cash as Stormfront.
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The Best Golden Girl is Sophia Petrillo

Sophia Petrillo was a legend in her own mind who always had her way and like Mighty Mouse, always won.

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Sophia Petrillo The Golden Girls

A seemingly harmless little old lady with curly white hair, oversized glasses, and an innate ability to tell a great story shows up on her daughter’s doorstep when the retirement home she was put in by said daughter burns down. With a simple, “Hi there,” the world meets Sophia Petrillo. For seven years on NBC’s The Golden Girlsa show about the senior set—Sophia lived with her intelligent and extremely sarcastic divorced daughter Dorothy Zbornak and her two roommates, sexy, eternally horny southern belle Blanche Devereaux and sweet but dim-witted Minnesotan Rose Nylund. Each is memorable in their own way, but it’s Sophia, “feisty, zesty, and full of old-world charm,” that stands out the most.

When TV was full of generic, sweet grandma types, Sophia was anything but. Sure, she looked the part with her bifocals, pearls, and now iconic straw and bamboo-beaded handbag, but Sophia was always trying to make a quick buck. She conned Rose into going into a sandwich-making business that pit them against the mob, faked being paralyzed to try and collect insurance, and constantly “borrowed” money from Dorothy’s purse. Instead of helping Dorothy, Blanche and Rose get out of jail when they are mistaken for hookers (don’t ask, just Youtube it). She stole their tickets to go to a party and meet Burt Reynolds. She also stole Rose’s car, worked at a fast-food restaurant, and won a marathon. Not bad for a woman in her eighties. Sophia had a sharp wit and an acerbic tongue, blaming her stroke for leaving her without the ability to self-censor. She was always ready with a zinger or a comeback, some of which she saved for her very own daughter.

Sophia Petrillo The Golden Girls

Sophia Petrillo is the Secret Star of The Golden Girls

That’s not to say she’s all schemes and insults. Beneath her tough exterior is a kind woman with a big heart who loves her family and friends. Viewers don’t often get to see her softer side, which makes the moments they do seem that much more special. One of the best Sophia episodes showed her reaction to the death of her son, Phil. She put up a wall of anger which Rose was finally able to break down in the final moments of the episode, revealing Sophia’s true feelings of guilt over Phil’s cross-dressing as she bursts into tears. Another favourite was when Dorothy expressed concern about her mother not doing enough with her days. We then get to see exactly what she gets up to sticking up for her friend and causing a scene at the grocery store while claiming to represent a fictional senior citizens union, volunteering at a sick kids hospital and later, conducting a senior citizens jazz band. Meanwhile, Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche do next to nothing except sit around and eat. When she’s asked what she did all day upon her return, she simply says she bought a nectarine, and Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche are none the wiser.

But if Sophia has one claim to fame, it is her colorful old-world tales about Sicily, which often as not, contain a pearl of wisdom or embellishment of some kind. We would have loved to have known her during her “picatta period (a wedge of lemon and a smart answer for everything),” when she was the most beautiful girl at a resort and all the men fought over her (so beautiful, in fact, that she had “a butt you could bounce a quarter off of”). She was also once painted by Picasso and was best friends with Mama Celeste. But I digress. Sophia Petrillo was a legend in her own mind who always had her way and like Mighty Mouse, always won. Her hunches were never wrong, and rarely, if ever did she meet her match. Sophia was, in short, a one-woman show. And thanks to re-runs and fan appreciation, that show will never be gone.

  • Dasilva

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our old brand, Sound On Sight.

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30 Years Later: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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30 Years Later: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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