Season 2 of “The Umbrella Academy” left the titular Umbrellas in an alternate timeline in which their father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) chose not to adopt them after seeing them in 1963. Instead, he adopted an alternate set of superpowered children also born on the same day in 1989, called the “Sparrow Academy.”
Comprised of Marcus/Number One (Justin Cornwell), an alternate version of Ben/Number Two (Justin Min), Fei/Number Three (Britne Oldford), Alphonso/Number Four (Jake Epstein), Sloane/Number Five (Genesis Rodriguez), Jayme/Number Six (Cazzie David) and Christopher/Number Seven, the Sparrows are both more popular than the Umbrellas ever were and they also are more competent. Furthermore, in this universe, Reginald is still alive, albeit heavily sedated and subservient to the Sparrows.
Marcus has some form of super strength and is the group’s leader, while Ben retains his same tentacle powers from his previous iteration, and is an asshole. It is alluded to that Ben was previously Number One, but was demoted due to his bad temper and attitude. Fei is blind, but can see through the eyes of crows she is able to summon seemingly without limit, who are completely under her control. Four is a bit of a dick, and has a few deformities, but has the ability to essentially reflect the force of physical attacks back on his attackers. Sloane is the most level-headed of the Sparrows and also wants to break free of them and their toxic dynamic, and she has gravity powers. Jayme is often seen with Alphonso, as they have similar personalities, and she can shoot venom from her mouth that induces visions on those it touches. Christopher is a telekinetic cube who doesn’t talk, but can shoot energy.
As a refresher, the current roster of Umbrellas include Luther/Number One (Tom Hopper), who has super strength albeit via huge genetically-modified gorilla arms; Diego/Number Two (David Castañeda), who can manipulate the trajectory of anything, but he mostly sticks to knives; Allison/Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman) who can make anyone do anything by commanding them with the phrase “I heard a rumor …” ; Klaus/Number Four (Robert Sheehan) who can talk to the dead and sometimes allow them to interact with the physical world; Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), who can travel through space and time, and is currently an older version of himself trapped in a teenaged body; and Viktor/Vanya/Number Seven (Elliot Page), who transitions from Vanya to Viktor this season, and has the ability to blow things up by summoning massive amounts of blue energy. Number Six, the original version of Ben, is gone even as a spirit in Season 3.
The Umbrellas and Sparrows naturally clash, with the Sparrows winning their first encounter, kicking them out of their mansion. This leads the Umbrellas to limp to the Hotel Obsidian, which serves as their base of operations this season.
But not all is well; they soon learn that their meddling in 1963 eventually created a paradox that, left unchecked, will destroy all of existence. As people and objects gradually start to disappear because of a raging black hole under Sparrow Academy, the two families must learn to work together for the good of the universe.
This was a very strong season. The Umbrellas are all clearly exhausted and over trying to save the world, only to have it fall apart again. This creates an existential crisis for many of them.
Lila Pitts (Ritu Arya) finds Diego and dumps Stanley (Javon Walker), a 12-year old she says is their son, into his care. Allison finds out that her husband from last season has since passed away and that her daughter doesn’t exist, which breaks her and puts her over the edge; she’s pretty much a straight-up villain this season. Viktor transitions from being Vanya, as her romance last season opened him up to who he truly is, though he also has to grapple with the fact that his love interest from last season is no longer alive and has moved on from them.
Luther has a great arc in which he falls in love with Sloane, which is reciprocated; after years of sacrificing his personal happiness for what his father wants for, he finally allows himself to put his needs first. Five gets into time traveling shenanigans with Lila, who investigate what happened to The Commission after last season.
Klaus goes on a life-changing journey with this version of his father, who helps him reach the full potential of his powers in return for Klaus showing him compassion and helping bring him back into the family fold. This arc is where the heart of Season 3 is, as while it’s revealed that Reginald is some alien with ulterior motives, you do get a sense that he genuinely grows to like Klaus, who helps him understand his family and the emotional aspect of their dynamic he had been neglecting.
Almost none of the Sparrows have arcs. Ben learns to warm up a little to the Umbrellas, who accept him eventually despite his coldness. Sloane lets Luther into her life, and the two are instantly compatible. Alphonso, Fei, Christopher and Jayme are antagonistic throughout the show. Marcus respects the power of the Umbrellas and is clearly what was holding the Sparrows together and in line, but he unfortunately serves as an early casualty of the paradox the Umbrellas created, and his death triggers the slow destruction of Sparrow Academy, as while they were more financially successful and more popular than their alternate universe coutnerparts, they aren’t a real family like the Umbrellas. Each member, except for Sloane, has the singular goal of obtaining as much power as possible and are prepared to backstab their siblings and the Umbrellas in order to get it. Reginald served as the main source of the Umbrella Academy’s trauma in their original universe and is the sole reason why the team is dysfunctional, but Marcus’ takeover and micromanagement of Sparrow Academy is clearly why the group has no loyalty to each other or compassion for other people.
Given all that, there’s a lot of really great stuff going on in this season and as such, it’s a season of television that’s really hard not to binge. While not every special effect is top-tier and this certainly won’t win any awards for fight choreography or any technical aspect of the show, it has strong writing, character development and character acting, which is precisely why this season is a critical triumph.
While Netflix has failed to gain a foothold in the superhero genre with “Jupiter Ascending,” they’ve gotten a real hit with “The Umbrella Academy.” It’s not a show that will sell action figures for Netflix, but it occupies a niche that’s somewhere in between “The Boys” and “Watchmen.”
With that being said, its showrunner has said that he’d like to wrap up the show in a Season 4, and I believe that’s for the right call. It feels like the character journeys for all members of The Umbrella Academy are almost at an end. We really just need one more season to wrap up all the show’s loose ends and let the show go out on a high note.
“The Umbrella Academy” Season 3 gets a 9/10