Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California…
Daddy issues, time travel, multiverses, and a talking monkey — The Umbrella Academy is back for Season 3 and introduces another adopted team of heroes, known as the Sparrow Academy. So far, the Netflix-hit has received six Emmy nominations along with the hearts of both loyal fans of the Dark Horse Comics series of the same name and those who exclusively watch the show.
Created by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Salter, the series follows the adopted sibling superheroes, known as the Umbrella Academy, and their rich and eccentric father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). Hargreeves adopted the children as infants after 43 women around the world gave birth at the same date and time in 1989, despite not being pregnant until labor began. Only able to get 7 of the children, Hargreeves named them after their numbers and used cruel tactics to train most of them to use their abilities.
Eventually, most of them were given real names by their robot-mom, Grace: Klause (Robert Sheehan), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Luther (Tom Hopper), Ben (Justin H. Min), Vanya, later changed to Viktor (Elliot Page), and Diego (David Castañeda). Number 5 (Aidan Gallagher) disappeared as a child, before he could receive another name. When the dysfunctionality of the family becomes too much, the siblings go their separate ways — until their father’s death unlocks a mystery that could hold the key to stopping the end of the world.
Following the Season 2 cliffhanger, Season 3 has some work to do, particularly when it comes to unpacking the newly introduced Sparrow Academy and the alternate timeline that the Umbrella Academy siblings have transported to. Fortunately, the series ensures that nothing rains on its parade.
Season 3 has many new characters and lots of context and story to unload, but previous seasons laid the groundwork for the series to build on, and it works for the most part. The elements that fans enjoy are still there with a few key surprises added to the mix this time around.
The Good: It’s Got the Charm Umbrella Academy Fans Have Come to Love
Nothing gets lost in the sauce, even though there’s a lot of sauce to navigate through. The plot remains just complex enough for audiences to thoughtfully engage with without being a complete mess of characters and ideas without rhyme or reason. It avoids many of the pitfalls that series fall into when it comes to third seasons. There’s no redundancy or absolutely ridiculous turn of events; this isn’t filler — it’s quality content that’s building up to a potential fourth season.
It’s intriguing to see different arcs for each sibling based on the traumas they’ve experienced in previous seasons. The show handles the mix of emotions and overall stunted and complex love each sibling has for both themselves and others. For the most part, it’s easy to empathize with many different perspectives introduced, which makes it a compelling installment.
Seeing new powers introduced is also a treat that gives fans the opportunity to learn about the Sparrow Academy, and in turn, the larger issues within time travel and Hargreeve’s motives. Many questions have been floating around for a while about why each child was born with powers and why their mothers were chosen to give birth. There’s a missing origin story here, but Season 3 gets closer — and drops something huge at the end.
Probably the most heartwarming component that extends beyond the show itself is the way that the creators and cast not only honor and respect Elliot Page’s desire for his character Viktor to go through a similar transition journey to his own, but the loving way they did it. Despite being a family constantly at odds, this season shows that the Umbrella Academy can be loving when it matters most. The season’s June premiere during Pride Month makes Page’s portrayal of Viktor even more meaningful. While fans have been hesitant of such a large change, those concerns should dissolve quickly. The show doesn’t rush or brush over Vanya’s transition to Viktor — it matters in every single episode without being forced. They write Viktor with dignity.
The fight sequences are satisfying, as this season sheds a little more blood than usual and even has some mild jump scare moments. As usual, it balances the intensity with humor and silliness that usually goes over well. It’s binge-worthy and ends each episode with a hook to keep audiences wanting more.
Standout performances come from Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan and Aidan Gallagher. Raver-Lampman, especially, had to depart from Allison’s usual temperament and reach for something different from the other two seasons, and she made it work.
The Bad: Some Characters Arcs Just Didn’t Land Well
The good news is, there’s not very much bad to report — but there’s some. The newly introduced Sparrow Academy includes: Marcus/No. 1 (Justin Cornwell), Ben/No. 2 (Justin H. Min), Fei/No. 3 (Britne Oldford), Alphonso/No. 4 (Jake Epstein), Sloane/No. 5 (Genesis Rodriquez), Jayme/No. 6 (Cazzie David) and Christopher/No. 7, who’s a psykronium cube. They fit into the mold of the show fairly well, but the season fulfills an annoying trope and does Marcus no justice in terms of story arc. Sloane is a very basic and bland character void of personality, other than being generally nicer than the rest.
This season spends a lot of time focusing on Ben and his complex connection to both the Umbrella and Sparrow academies, but it would have been more satisfying if the debuting siblings were explored a little bit more. They start off as interesting, but are eventually reduced to plot devices despite their intriguing abilities.
The direction the show takes with Luther this time around is very odd. At times, he’s a comic relief, but for most others, he’s over-the-top clueless and naive. This becomes somewhat annoying, as his character wasn’t quite this gullible in the past. Similarly, Diego had a disappointing arc that could have ultimately been skipped. It felt pointless at times but did inform the rest of Season 3’s storyline occasionally.
These aren’t filler arcs, but they have a feeling of being fluff to kill time, which shouldn’t have been needed.
The Verdict: It’s a Fulfilling Season with a Few Storm Clouds
Season 3 of Umbrella Academy is a satisfying watch. It hits all the right notes for returning fans and brings something new to the table. The combination of so many different elements could have spun out of control, but it was kept together with care. With that said, there are certain story arcs and approaches to the plot that take away from it being an exceptional season all around.
Umbrella Academy Season 3 will arrive at Netflix on June 22, 2022.
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.