Two years after the release of the last series, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy is finally back for season 3. After foiling their second apocalypse, the dysfunctional family are thrown into yet more time travelling hijinks as they return from 1963. While initially, this season takes some time to settle in, once it finds its groove it’s every bit as brilliant as you’d expect.
The season jumps straight into where we left off at the end of season 2, with the Umbrellas returning to their original 2019 timeline from 1963, only to discover that the Umbrella Academy is now the Sparrow Academy and that Sir Reginald (Colm Feore) is still alive. Not only that, but Ben (Justin H. Min) is also alive as Number Two in the Sparrows, alongside the other members – Number One Marcus (Justin Cornwell), Number Three Fei (Britne Oldfield), Number Four Alphonso (Jake Epstein), Number Five Sloane (Genesis Rodriquez), Number Six Jayme (Cazzie David) and Number Seven Christopher (a telekinetic cube).
After a less than warm welcome, in true Umbrella style things get ugly very quickly, with the Umbrellas soon learning the full extent of the Sparrow’s powers – although not before Diego (David Castañeda) hallucinates a totally different introduction, in what is the funniest, laugh out loud scene of the entire season. Realising they’re outmatched, the Umbrellas flee and regroup, heading to an old haunt of Klaus’s, the Hotel Obsidian, to prepare their next move and reclaim the briefcase they unwillingly left at the Academy.
While the Sparrows plot to take revenge on the Umbrellas, the Hargreeves family do what they do best and scatter, each with their own personal agendas. Five (Aidan Gallagher) wants to retire, Diego reunites with old flame Lila (Ritu Arya), Luther (Tom Hopper) falls in love, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) searches for his birth mother, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) struggles after leaving Ray (Yusuf Gatewood) and Vanya (Elliott Page) undergoes a transition. However, after Five discovers that the Umbrellas are in the midst of yet another apocalypse, the family must come together to prevent the end of the world for a third time.
Season 3 has everything we’ve come to love from The Umbrella Academy; a cracking soundtrack, an intelligent, funny script reminiscent of Wes Anderson, and a hilarious yet touching dysfunctional family dynamic. However after seasons 1 and 2 followed a very similar formula, season 3 has decided to change direction and go for a slightly more sedate, less chaotic pace, and it seems to take a little while longer than expected to settle into the Umbrella Academy we know and love. The first two episodes especially are quite slow and it’s only with episode three that the action really begins to pick up.
There’s still the time travelling chaos and fun that you’d expect throughout, but it feels less frenzied and hectic this time around, interspersed with slower moments. Initially, I wasn’t too sure about the slower pace, but as the series went on I began to appreciate these slower moments as they brought a lot of character development and heart-warming (and heart-breaking) interactions between the siblings. While Five and Klaus are my personal standouts yet again thanks to the former’s sardonic wit and the latter’s laidback kookiness, every one of the Hargreeves family gets their chance to shine and develop across the series. Allison’s evolution is particularly interesting to watch, and the way Elliott Page’s transition has been written into the show is incredibly well done, right down to the siblings’ reactions. It was also nice and fun to experience a different side of Reginald and to see much more of him than we have before.
The weak link in this series is the Sparrows. While their initial introduction is quite fun, they soon become rather dull and irritating and overall, they feel very one-dimensional and lacking in depth. Everything they say and do makes them come across as clichéd villains and while this is rectified somewhat as the series progresses (especially in the case of Ben), it makes any time they’re on screen feel a little less exciting and not nearly as interesting as the Commission baddies that we’ve had in seasons past.
There are also some questionable special effects which detract from the action a little (my eagle eye spotted a few far too obvious green screen moments), which is a shame as this time around the apocalypse is a visual spectacle that deserves only the best and sharpest of effects. My final frustrations came with the finale, which was brilliant and thrilling in so many ways but also leaves far too many unanswered questions. Not a bad thing as it has left me crying out for more, it just leaves a big gaping hole until season 4 which fortunately has already been greenlit by Netflix before this season was even released.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 isn’t perfect and starts off a little slow, but soon picks up into the hugely entertaining, mind-bending, whacky family dynamic that both thrills and frustrates in equal measure. Season 4 can’t come soon enough.
Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy will be released on Netflix June 22
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!