What has happened to the most dysfunctional super-powered family of all? At the end of the first season of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy,” the Hargeeves had saved Vanya (Ellen Page) but were about to be wiped out by a worldwide firestorm when Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) time-traveled them to who knows where.
We find out all that at the beginning of season 2 of “The Umbrella Academy” on July 31, but it isn’t what you expect at all. The Hargreaves are indeed alive (well, most of them) but are scattered all over the early 1960s by themselves and have to pick up their own lives. Luther (Tom Hopper) becomes a bouncer for a shady underworld figure, Allison (Emmy Raver-Mapman) finds a husband and becomes a wife), Diego (David Casteñeda) is entered into an asylum for the mentally disturbed), Klaus (Robert Sheehan) becomes a leader of a cult with ethereal ben (Justin H. Min, still in ectoplasmic tow) and Vanya, suffering from amnesia, finds herself with a quiet family, seemingly with the kind of life she’s always wanted.
So where is the time-travelling Number Five? He finds out that, unless he puts the family back together, another Armageddon is coming their way, and only their combined abilities will be able to prevent the event that triggers the whole thing in Dallas, Texas.
Standing out was never a problem for “The Umbrella Academy” from the start. It was weird by design. Most people know Gerard Way as the flamboyant frontman for the bad My Chemical Romance. Way is also a lifelong comic book fan and stunned many when he created and wrote the critically acclaimed six-issue mini-series “The Umbrella Academy” for Dark Horse Comics in 2007. “The Umbrella Academy” even had sequel series in 2009 and in 2018. Way went on to curate his own quirky if short-lived imprint for DC, Young Animal. The first story arc: “The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite” made up the skeleton of the first show’s season.
The showrunner Steve Blackman returns, but makes some substantial changes to the source material, the second volume of the comic book, “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas.”
“What happened in season two was that I loved really love the storytelling around the JFK, the John F. Kennedy assassination. And one of the conceits of the show is that it’s only 10 days of time. So the graphic novel of Dallas really spanned different places and time so I really wanted to choose one period where I really could tell a story that was linear that happened in 10 days, and that’s why I chose to tell it around the assassination of John F. Kennedy the President was sort of the central point of the story. That’s why it’s different.” Way was, of course, heavily consulted on the changes made to the story.
Page (the White Violin, oh you know who she is, Kitty Pryde, Juno, etc.) knows Vanya has the most difficult arc, one of both atonement and forgiveness. “At the end of the season, she releases, a lot, a lot of repressed anger, traumatic experiences and it’s unfortunate for the world because she blows up,” she tells Super. “But where we see her at the beginning of the second season there’s much more of a lightness she’s able to access emotion, connect with people she falls in love for the first time, so you know she is differently and her body and her spirit and all of these things. And then of course, at a certain point, as we see, she does have to come to terms and again, is so much flat out which is obviously incredibly painful and painful to look at. And to be honest, she’s lucky to have these really supporting supportive, loving, siblings who are understanding who are empathetic who are compassionate and really want to help words by the fact that she’s done some pretty awful things, you know.”
In the past, Raver-Mapman (originally called the Rumor, fantastic in the original Broadway ensemble of “Hamilton”) has the most to give up, as she already has a family. “Yeah, I mean it’s quite devastating,” she said. “That she, you know, she has. I mean, they all, they all have their, everyone has got his back on the show but I think Alison, fear, especially you know the first time that they jumped she potentially lost her daughter. I think she is. I think she has found some peace in assuming that that Claire still exists, where they came from.”
Hopper’s Luther (from “Game of Thrones,” originally known as Spaceboy), for the first time, is no longer number 1, and he is okay with that—in a way. “Well, I actually think that he’s let go of the whole number one element of it for him, I think when it comes down to the Luther is that he’s gotten over that he’s gotten over the whole idea that he’s a leader and he actually the biggest thing is, is let go of his self-importance a lot more,” he said. “So, he, in a lot of ways he starts to become the he just wants to help before the family again and do them play his role, but he’s let go of that leadership role he’s quite happy for anyone else to take over eventually. I think there’s a natural leader in Luther anyway, so he’s always going to step up at the times that he needs to. But he has become you know, he is a protector and I think the some I think the biggest thing I had to do was let go through self-importance issues because that’s that was actually his biggest downfall. The fact that he was so obsessed with being that was one of his biggest downfalls of why it wasn’t the first season.”
Sheehan’s Klaus is already the craziest character in the first season (he is the Séance and can see dead people) and now he’s gone to the next level as a cult leader but for Sheehan it’s all about not going overboard. “Just don’t, don’t, don’t be looking for the crazy or else you’ll end up looking like an Aegis until just try and play it true. Fully man, and if and let the let the writing, do the work, you know? You know, because the scenarios are crazy enough rather than to add an extra layer of crazy icing on top, you know?”
Castañeda (known as the Kraken, you’ll remember him from “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) now pays a price for his vigilante activities and gets thrown in the asylum where he now has to escape with the help of Lila (Ritu Pitts). This leads to some pretty goofy adventures completely unexpected of the dangerous knife-wielding Diego. “You know, there was no difference,” he says. “I’ll be honest with you, I think all of it was just more of the writing. Okay. It goes back to like not trying to be funny because that I didn’t know I was funny. And I still don’t think so. Because I’m playing a very like honest I think that’s that was the most important thing so it wasn’t until like, you know, start seeing stuff. Oh, sh_t that that was actually funny. Even moments that I didn’t even funny. I was like, oh, people are laughing around me. So yeah, so I think that’s just a credit to like Blackman and the writers of being able to see our characters from season one and just being like, they would work better with this and this and this, and then they expanded on that and kind of, we would hit a sweet spot for all of us, I’d say.”
As for Min, (he is code-named the Monster and quite dead so only Klaus can see him) he is happy to be the “unlocked” character and he in the poster and the promotion though he still spends most (but not all) his scenes with Sheehan. The Korean-American actor had this to say: “First of all, I love Robert Sheehan. But, but it was nice to finally speak someone. It was nice to finally speak to another sibling. I think before we started shooting, I just like hugged Ellen, I said it’s so nice to speak to you finally. And yeah, it’s a very emotional and touching scene. And I thought that it was going to be one of my last. So it was a really it was a very, you know, sad moment for me because, you know, that’s what it was. But yeah, I’m so bad at this. I’m so bad at this up. But yeah, yeah, it was it was it was really great. And, you know, of course any of the scenes with Klaus and Robert this season I mean, it’s just always a blast. He makes me laugh. He shouldn’t be all day every day. And so it’s always fun to work with.”
Which brings us to the 17-year-old Gallagher (incidentally the youngest person in the cast), who is, for all intents and purposes, the most pivotal character in the season. Even though Number Five is the youngest of the Hargreeves, he has the most life experience through his time-hopping, and is the only one to know what is really going on. It will be up to him to bring the Hargreeves back together. “Five has a cunning mind that always seems to be preoccupied with the threat of an impending doomsday. He struggles to hold back his own insanity, is constantly taunted by his more cruel and murderous impulses, and is nearly twice the age of the rest of the siblings,” he says via email. “Whenever I approach a scene I have to keep all of this in mind.” He adds a big change in the new season: “A really interesting choice that Steve Blackman and the writers made was to flip the dynamic for Number Five. In season one he is not very inclusive and feels that he needs to do everything himself. By the end of that season he realizes he needs his family’s help. For season two however, Five goes to his family for help and is systematically rejected by each one of them. There’s a sense of abandonment and vulnerability to him in relation to his siblings that we haven’t necessarily seen before. It was exceedingly interesting to explore that shade of the character.”
Music is of course a big part of “The Umbrella Academy,” and Blackman is ready for you: “I always say that music is a is another character of the show we really love music, and sometimes there’s a lot of I pick a song that I think fits a scene and sometimes like my way is a counterpoint to a scene, it shouldn’t.” Part of that was shooting a quarantine version of the famous “I Think We’re Alone Now” dance number by the family members in their homes (including Min this time) just so Blackman thought the fans would have something to look forward to before the first trailer came out.
The production itself had its own challenges, the weirdest one was finding the right street. Believe it or not, they could not find a street in Dallas that looked like a street in Dallas from the 1960s so they eventually found one—in Vancouver, British Columbia, of course. There are many new mysteries in “The Umbrella Academy” season 2, including many that harken back to questions from season 1, including characters and plot points—what do you expect from a time-travel/extinction-level event show. What exactly is Carmichael? Who is the Handler? And there’s a bunch of Scandinavian milkmen trying to hunt down the five Hargreeves children.
For Page, “The Umbrella Academy” season 2 is about putting the family–including her prodigal, dangerous Vanya–back together. “For sure i mean i think it was the world her,” she said. “Absolutely. Obviously as a child she was treated awful by everyone. Her father, the kids as well and encouraged to be treated badly to repress her power, so I think yeah it absolutely means the world to me. You know, it was just it’s so fantastic in that scene that Vanya realizes she’s not alone at the table. An example of how much they show up for is very much life changing.”Blackman says “The Umbrella Academy” season 2 will surprise and engage even those fans who thought they had figured out the secrets of the first season as well as those who had read the comics. “I think what they can look forward to is you know seeing our family back together, and all this sort of unique challenges that come with being back together,” he says. “Plus, we have a whole new bunch of bad guys, we have the, you know, doomsday and the end of the world coming. So it’s not going to be an easy 10 days for the Umbrella Academy. And of course we have a wonderful ending that I think will leave them on the edge of their seats. So I think that’s what they can look forward to.”
It is important to note that there is actually a third volume of the comic book by Way and Ba: “The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion.” Will we be seeing this one on screen too? “Of course, I’d love to add to season three,” Blackman says. “You know Hotel Oblivion. You know, I have a plan for season three if Netflix is kind enough to consider a season. I really love what Gerard and Gabriel did with that new graphic volume novel three. So I will say that you probably could see some things from there. Absolutely. So you know we’re hoping to get to season three. We’ll see how we do in season two.” Sounds like a plan.
Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” season 2 starts streaming on July 31.