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The One Thing The Umbrella Academy Season 2 Needs To Avoid

Though it's based on an Eisner Award-winning comic book series, The Umbrella Academy debuted on Netflix in February 2019 as a relatively unknown commodity. Sure, the comics from former My Chemical Romance rocker Gerard Way had already earned accolades and a devoted fanbase in the comic book world, but was the world at large ready to dive into the chaotic, hyper-violent world of the super-powered Hargreeves clan? More to the point, would an audience potentially already suffering from superhero fatigue buy into yet another tale of gifted youngsters teaming up to kick some ass and save the world?

In spite of the obvious gamble, Netflix went all in on The Umbrella Academy — and when the series finally made its premiere, the streaming giant was rewarded with one of its biggest recent hits. It helped that The Umbrella Academy is hardly a typical superhero team-up tale. Even if the series is frequently heavy on the action and violence, the one thing that's continued to set the story apart from its genre contemporaries is its tendency to play more frequently in the realm of family drama than in super-powered shenanigans.

If you've yet to dip a toe into the The Umbrella Academy's choppy narrative waters, the story opens with the highly irregular arrival of 43 children born throughout the world on the very same day in 1989. Playing a hunch that there's something special about these children, billionaire industrialist Sir Reginald Hargreeves tracks down and "adopts" seven of them, raising them in his own home while helping develop their abilities. He does so in hopes of fielding a super-powered team of crime-fighting heroes — a hope that's seen to fruition when the kids are teens. 

Somewhere along the way, lives are lost, dreams are fractured, and the Hargreeves kids end up going their separate ways. They're brought back together as adults following the death of Sir Reginald, and the reunion finds them dealing with complex interpersonal relationships and childhood traumas in equal measure. Just as quickly, the adult Hargreeves find themselves in a fight against time to stop the rapidly approaching apocalypse.

The first season of The Umbrella Academy delivered a dizzying sort of anti-superhero story full of intriguing characters all struggling through a rich, refreshingly off-center narrative web — one dressed up in a steady stream of meticulously executed set pieces, vibrant special effects, a stark visual palette, and a handful of first-rate performances from a stellar ensemble cast. The result was an inaugural season that proved a hit with both critics and fans.

It's no surprise that with everything The Umbrella Academy got right during its first season, Netflix greenlit a second season. However, there was one tragic flaw in the series' first run of episodes — one that The Umbrella Academy season 2 needs to avoid.    

Are superhero fans just too savvy for The Umbrella Academy?

The biggest mistake The Umbrella Academy made during season 1 was blatantly telegraphing the story's biggest twists, which is something the show needs to avoid on season 2 if it hopes to garner the same attention from critics and casual fans. 

Maybe audiences are too savvy for their own good after a decade's worth of superhero flicks hitting theaters, networks, and streaming platforms. Or perhaps it's a matter of The Umbrella Academy's writers taking a flawed narrative approach. Whatever the case, most viewers could see the story's biggest twist coming from a mile away. And while knowing that twist didn't exactly dampen the fun of watching the madness unfold, many of the show's fans are hoping The Umbrella Academy's creative team will do a better job keeping the Hargreeves' secrets in the already green-lit season 2.

A big part of the problem is that The Umbrella Academy is indeed based on a popular series released by comic powerhouse Dark Horse. As such, many secrets were already out in the world prior to the television series bowing on Netflix. Still, the comic book series was certainly not big enough that said secrets would've been known by the entirety of The Umbrella Academy's target audience. It seems more likely that most people hadn't even heard of The Umbrella Academy prior to the release of the show, let alone had read the books that inspired it.

That's a big part of what made watching the inaugural such a frustrating experience. Even if you had no idea what was ahead for the adult Hargreeves when they found themselves once again under the same roof, you knew by the second episode of The Umbrella Academy how certain narrative threads would play out. Specifically, the series so fervently hammered home the apparent fact that Ellen Page's Vanya has no special abilities that it became blatantly obvious she actually does. More so, the show made such a spectacle of Vanya ingesting her meds during scenes of emotional turmoil that it was clear her ability is tied to her emotional state, those meds are were designed to keep her emotions in check, and that Vanya's powers are far more unstable than anyone can imagine. It was also evident by the second episode that Vanya's isolation from her super-powered siblings left an irreparable rift between them, and that said rift would contribute to her eventual loss of control — not to mention her breaking bad, and, you know, inadvertently ending the world.

Similarly, Vanya's brother Number 5's (Aidan Gallagher) ability to travel through space and time was also introduced by episode 2. It was clear at that point that Number 5's power would play a key role in whatever battle with Vanya was impending. 

That all left roughly eight episodes of The Umbrella Academy's inaugural season to build up towards a painfully telegraphed "shocking twist" of a showdown. And even if we don't know how said showdown will ultimately shake out, we already know full well it's going to happen — which means there's nothing really shocking about it. Thus, the show's intrinsic predictability spoiled what might've been one of the better twists in superhero history.

Still, given where the showdown left audiences, we can be certain there are many more twists to come on the second season of The Umbrella Academy. Let's just hope the series' showrunners do a better job of hiding them the second time around.