REVIEW: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Pushes The Hargreeves In New Directions

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The Umbrella academy Season 3

The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is perhaps the most emotional and well-crafted installment of the Netflix Original Series, and that’s saying something, considering the quality of the previous two seasons. Once again, based on the Dark Horse Comics series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba – especially elements of the Hotel Oblivion miniseries – the third season finds the Hargeeves family traveling back to the present after their time in 1963 Dallas.

However, it isn’t the present they know: having witnessed their dysfunction in the past, their adoptive father Reginald (Colm Feore) adopted seven other children, including their deceased-but-now-alive brother Ben (Justin H. Min), and formed the superhero unit known as the Sparrow Academy. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a mysterious cosmic event known as a “kugelblitz” threatens to end all of existence due to the Hargreeves’ time travel. Once again, the Umbrella Academy must preserve the fabric of space-time while dealing with the emotional fallout of their time-traveling shenanigans.

This leads to some of the best performances from the principal cast. Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) previously received a meatier storyline in Season 2, as she had to deal with navigating the 1960s as a Black woman. It turns out that the new timeline has cost her dearly, and Season 3 has her attempting to reverse this loss – while crossing plenty of moral lines in the process. And while Klaus (Robert Sheehan) has always provided some of the series’ most outrageous moments, he’s also had some of the more grounded ones as well. That continues here, as he forms an unlikely bond with this timeline’s version of Reginald. Even Diego (David Castaneda) gets to step out of his “tormented antihero” box due to the return of his lover-turned-enemy Lila (Ritu Ayra). She comes bearing a surprise in the form of their alleged son.

But the most significant moment surrounds Viktor Hargreeves (Eliott Page), formerly known as Vanya. Prior to production beginning on the third season, Page came out as trans and non-binary, leading fans to wonder how the series would handle their transition. It turns out that transition was handled exceptionally well, with Viktor making his transition in the series’ third episode and the rest of the Hargreeves fully accepting him. In a series with talking chimpanzees, a man with a fish tank for a head, and psychotic assassins wearing cartoon animal masks, the fact that a character’s transition is handled with grace speaks to the talents of the writing staff. And in the same vein as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings giving the Mandarin a new origin or Young Justice: Phantoms going in different directions with beloved DC characters, The Umbrella Academy Season 3 shows that sometimes deviating from the source material can lead to a richer story.

This is especially true in the case of the Sparrows. Showrunner Steve Blackman has said in interviews that while the Umbrella Academy is a family that never learned how to be superheroes, the Sparrow Academy are superheroes that never learned how to be a family. Probably the best example of this comes with Ben; in the first two seasons, he often haunted Klaus and served as the voice of reason. Here, he’s an immense asshole – he insults the Umbrella Academy every chance he gets, and he’s constantly scheming to become the new Number 1. The sheer dysfunction on display often puts the Roy clan from Succession to shame. To its credit, the series actually features an unlikely bond between Umbrellas and Sparrows as Luther (Tom Hopper) forms a romance with the gravity-defying Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez) – with both heroes coming out of their shells in the process. It also doesn’t hurt that Hopper and Rodriguez have immense chemistry.

And don’t worry, Umbrella Academy fans – the series still manages to utilize the same off-kilter approach to the superhero genre that’s cemented it as a must-watch. Take the premiere episode, “Meet The Family”: when the Sparrows and the Umbrellas first face-off, it’s not with a display of powers but with a dance battle set to “Footloose,” of all things. The Hotel Oblivion – or rather, Hotel Obsidian – features inhabitants from various time periods and is made up to look like a 1950’s era hotel. A religious following is formed around the Kugelblitz. Things like these make The Umbrella Academy a standout in the pack of comic book adaptations, and three seasons in, I’m glad the series hasn’t lost its luster.

The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is perhaps the best season of the series yet, as it takes the time to fully explore how time travel has taken its toll on the Hargreeves family. Given that this is one of Netflix’s more popular series and the fact that Way and Ba are currently working on a fourth Umbrella Academy miniseries, I hope the series is renewed for a fourth season – especially since the final episode promises to yet again shake up the Hargreeves’ lives.

The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix.


The Umbrella Academy Season 3
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

The Umbrella Academy Season 3 is perhaps the best season of the series yet, as it takes the time to fully explore how time travel has taken its toll on the Hargreeves family. Given that this is one of Netflix’s more popular series and the fact that Way and Ba are currently working on a fourth Umbrella Academy miniseries, I hope the series is renewed for a fourth season – especially since the final episode promises to yet again shake up the Hargreeves’ lives.

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