Posted in: Netflix, Review, streaming, TV | Tagged: Aidan Gallagher, colm feore, David Castañeda, Elliot Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, genesis rodriguez, netflix, Review, ritu arya, robert sheehan, The Umbrella Academy, Tom Hopper
The Umbrella Academy Season 4: Where Things Stand; S03 Finale Answers
With this weekend having brought us Netflix's virtual global fan event Tudum, we were curious to see what the gang from The Umbrella Academy would have for us. Considering the fourth & final season was only announced about a month ago, we would be lying if we said we were expecting a whole lot. But there were two great takeaways from it. First, we got a chance to check out the pretty cool Season 3 bloopers video. We've included that below, along with a look at the official after-show featuring the cast as well as a detailed, spoiler-filled official explanation of the season finale and what it all means for the show's final run. Our second takeaway? Well, now seemed as good of a time as any to share our thoughts on what went down this season and how it positions things for its final run.
Much of the action was contained within the Sparrow Academy and Oblivion Hotel. It's not necessarily a negative thing, but it demonstrates how much that happened between the two contrasting factions between the Sparrows and the Umbrellas. The conclusion of season two found the Umbrellas in an alternate earth where they never existed as the heroes they were, rather their world and home were taken over by the Sparrows, which are the alternate superheroes Reginald Hargreaves (Colm Feore) adopted instead of the Umbrellas. The only exception is Ben (Justin H. Min), who was adopted in both timelines, just a lot more corporeal this season.
Season three starts off as awkwardly as the Umbrellas try to make sense of their new reality. When they inevitably conflict, we initially get one of the most joyous recreations of all of TV this side of Glee in 1984's Footloose in a dance-off. I take that entire sequence a million times over than the abomination that was the 2011 remake. You can also tell everyone involved had the most fun time as well. It largely goes downhill from there emotionally, given the incessant nihilism with the rare lighthearted moments, which is on brand for the series. In other words, the series cranks up the drama to 12, and that's saying a lot for the series with its history of infighting. Their actual superhero team fight, powers and all, was fine for what it is but didn't compare to the fantasized dance-off.
So let's start with one of the most obvious questions, Elliot Page's change to Viktor. I like how that was handled amidst the Umbrellas' built-in personality clashes and still embracing his new identity. This is how you write a dramatic change without being awkward or dragging things out. I wish Page shared one more scene with Marin Ireland's Sissy for real closure. There was major baggage with Viktor carried over from the previous season that will drive a heavy wedge with his sister Alison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) when a mysterious figure from his past shows up.
Not that everything was sunshine and rainbows with Alison, but she goes through the emotional ringer dealing with the loss of her own family she had in season two. I started questioning if Raver-Lampman was allowed to act out any other emotions than bitterness and rage the entire season. I can't fault the writers too much here, given the overabundance of characters, and some nuance is bound to get lost in the process.
Luther (Tom Hopper) is arguably given the deepest arc of the season with his Romeo and Juliet-like romance with Sparrow Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez). The two share wonderful chemistry together and certainly provide some of the season's rare tender moments. The rest are divided between Diego (David Castañeda) and Lila (Ritu Arya) in rekindling their romance with the earlier bonding with his son Stan (Javon "Wanna" Walton); and Reginald and Klaus (Robert Sheehan) with alternate dimension father making penance for his neglected adopted son. Diego does about as piss-poor of a job as a new father as it gets, hitting up every "bad dad" cliche in Hollywood outside of the drunk and abusive archetype.
The Umbrella Academy never deviated from its ensemble formula. While most are given their share of things to do, the season doesn't really allow them to grow beyond their existing molds. Min's Sparrow Ben almost never has his asshole switch turned off even as things fall apart around him. Even if it's by design, I wish Min was allowed to show more range as he had as an Umbrella in previous seasons. All complaints about his character aside, this has been the most involved he's been all series, and look forward to seeing what they have planned for him next season.
Surprisingly less involved this season is Aidan Gallagher's Number Five. It took some adjusting to not see him as such a focal point of the plot, but his cynicism and wit are still present as always and equally biting as Arya's Lila. I guess not having Kate Walsh's Handler around would do that. It would be nice if we saw Five and Lila do more together this season, given their existing rapport as members of the Temps Commission.
If there was a major complaint I had is that I wish we did get to know the other Sparrows (Justin Cornwell, Britne Oldford, Jake Epstein, Cassie David) more individually because, again, the obvious constraints of a 10-episode season are bound to have some narrative consequences and satisfying the greater narrative arc among several characters are daunting tasks to fulfill alone. There was so much more that could be played around with on how much in common each would have with each other. The stunt work and acting are on par with previous seasons. While some characters felt like they were constantly hitting brick walls, there was some genuine growth with others, especially from Page, Sheehan, Hopper, and Feore's characters.
While trying to tackle yet another apocalypse feels formulaic and piecemeal atypical throughout the series, The Umbrella Academy makes sure the audience feels every cut, bump, bruise, scrape, dislocation, and fracture along the way. This time the apocalypse takes the form of a ball known as a kugelblitz, a black hole formed from radiation. How does it compare to previous seasons? Well, there are some memorable moments like Viktor's change, Luther and Sloane, Reginald's harsh training of Klaus, and Footloose, but for the most part, it's nothing you haven't really seen before as far as the dysfunction from the Netflix series.