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What critics are saying about The Umbrella Academy season 2

Everyone's hyped for the succulent second season of The Umbrella Academy to land at last, but in the final few days ahead of that binge-able episode collection's release on Netflix, a lucky selection of people have seen it early and are reporting back on their takes. The advance reviews for the new season are in, and we've got them rounded up for you. 

As a refresher, at the end of The Umbrella Academy season 1, Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) went a bit wild after finding out she'd been lied to about her powers. She decided to blow up the moon (understandably), but she and the rest of her super-powered adoptive siblings were saved when Five (Aidan Gallagher) transported them back in time to the 1960s. Such a hard reset of their individual lives might lead to a much-needed reset in their relationships, too. 

Don't worry: We're going to stay out of the Spoiler Zone here and mostly discuss overall concepts and themes building off where — and when — we left the Hargreeves adults-in-arrested-development. As of this writing, season 2 of The Umbrella Academy has a handful of perfect- or near-perfect-scored reviews logged on Rotten Tomatoes, so however conservatively you've been in anticipating new episodes, there's plenty to get excited about. 

Here's some of what you can expect from The Umbrella Academy's second season based on the advance critical reviews.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 is even better than season 1, critics say

The good news is, well, just that: It's good news! Reviews rolling in for The Umbrella Academy's sophomore season are wrought in nearly universally positive — and enthusiastic — tones. 

It's not only merely good — the new season has largely been considered an improvement and something to be excited about. Even former skeptics like Sam Barsanti of The AV Club have been won over more thoroughly. He writes in his review, "The Umbrella Academy was annoyingly watchable in season one. The characters were fun, the performances were good, and the world was just wacky enough to suggest the potential for exciting developments; but the frustrating way it obfuscated virtually everything about the plot just so it could make a shocking reveal later on made getting to those exciting developments a pain. The best thing that can be said about season two, then, is that it is that same show but good."

It also sounds like the new season sheds some of the stiff, sometimes a-little-too-morose formality in favor of punching up its pace and energy to its benefit, too. Allie Gemmill of Collider highlights in her review, "Fans returning for Season 2 will be rewarded with a world expanded in a variety of attention-grabbing ways, character explorations which are richer and more thoughtful, and a story which moves at a refreshing clip and holds onto the necessary thrills and key emotional beats which make for a satisfying watch."

That's just about everything anyone would want out of their favorite show, right?

With its second season, The Umbrella Academy offers a variation on a theme

A common element critics are praising in their reviews of The Umbrella Academy season 2 is the expansion of all the siblings' characterizations and their relationships with one another. The Umbrella Academy is almost incidentally about the end of the world; for the most part, the familial issues and conflicts came first on season 1, and that's compounded upon in the new slate of episodes. Many reviews note that the general story beats of the new season are similar to the first, but critics largely believe this is beneficial, as the context of the siblings' relationships is what has changed against those same circumstances, enriching the show. 

Samantha Nelson explains that dynamic in her review for Polygon: "The siblings' perpetually sharp, rapid-fire banter remains the show's heart and soul. The gentle ribbing takes on a deeply surreal tone because of the absurd things the family has gone through together [...] The characters were almost always at each other's throats in the first season, so the more genial relationship they forge after being reunited in the past is refreshing."

There are multiple references across reviews comparing The Umbrella Academy season 2 to the kind of charming and humorous familial dysfunction we've come to know and love in director Wes Anderson's films, which carries over and seemingly expands from creative stylings seen in the first season. Sabrina Barr of The Independent sums it up, short and sweet: "Amid the gun-toting, knife-throwing, soundwave-blasting action, at its heart lies the central message — a timely reminder — that no matter how maddening your loved ones may be, you may find you are at your best when you are at each other's sides."

The contrarian opinion of The Umbrella Academy season 2

As mentioned, these advance reviews have near-universal positivity, so, as you might have already guessed, there are some points of critique to mention. 

GQ U.K.'s Stuart McGurk found little to like about The Umbrella Academy season 2, which he colorfully sums up as a "dumpster fire" in his review of the new episodes. Chief amongst his critiques is the sense of finding style with no substance, particularly shown in what he found to be an overabundance of the needle drops the show is known for: "I think my biggest problem might be the endless montages... You know the ones: no fight can take place without the camera swinging around, breaking in and out of slow-mo, while some kind of knowing 1980s rock track plays in the background."

Montages and needle-drop preponderance might be more up to taste than anything else, but other shortfalls noted in more than one review is the disappointment that Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J Blige) have been replaced with seemingly colorless assassin antagonists who barely speak, evidently in order to add to their scare factor. A few critics wanted to see more depth and background on the Handler (Kate Walsh), too, but presume that will be saved for another season. 

A perfect story doesn't exist, so any acknowledgement of improvement and superlative performance isn't lessened for noting pitfalls and oversights — it's only to provide perspective and context to anticipate. All in all, it sounds like The Umbrella Academy has found the tools it needed to tighten up its wit and pacing, while simultaneously learning to chill out and let its narrative breathe. Fans new and old should find plenty to love as the series continues to push the boundary of what the superhero genre encapsulates.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 hits Netflix on July 31.