Jim C. Hines (jimhines) wrote,
Jim C. Hines
jimhines

The Umbrella Academy (Spoilers)

I finally got around to watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, after hearing lots of mostly-positive comments and reviews. Naturally, I must now share ALL OF MY OWN COMMENTS AND REVIEWS. Such is the nature of the internet…

I mostly enjoyed it, though the ending felt empty and unsatisfying.

Details behind the spoiler cut…

All right, let’s start with:

Stuff That I Liked

Klaus. It took a couple of episodes for him to grow on me, but by the end, Klaus had become one of my favorite characters. I loved his fear and his vulnerability — not to mention his fashion sense. He struggles so hard to face up to his demons, and I loved the payoff at the end where he starts to discover new aspects to his powers.

Family Dysfunction. Not that I like dysfunctional families, per se, but I thought the show did a better job than most in its portrayal. In the very first episode, after the children are lashing out at each other and so obviously hurt and angry and broken, having Luther turn on the music and seeing everyone dancing — alone, but also together in one home — felt like such a great image of a messed-up family. They’ve all suffered under an abusive father. They’ve all coped in their own ways. They care about each other, but their coping mechanisms clash hard, and they’ve hurt each other a lot. I thought the show pulled it off better than most.

Five. I’m really impressed with Aidan Gallagher’s acting skills. I thought he did a great job portraying an old, bitter, broken killer trapped in a kid’s body. Watching him, I never lost the suspension of disbelief and thought, “Oh, he’s just a kid.” Five may be a jerk with no compunctions about killing, but he’s a jerk determined to save his family (and the world, if he can).

Other Miscellaneous Stuff…

  • Allison using her powers on her daughter. Totally not okay, but it felt real and honest, and Allison had to face the consequences for that choice.
  • The musical choices were generally wonderful, from the older pop stuff to Vanya’s violin performances.
  • I appreciated that we got minimal backstory and pretty much just jumped into the weirdness. It might make it harder for some people to get into the story, but I liked it.
  • Hargreeves’ suicide. He killed himself to bring the kids back together? Okay, Hargreeves was an asshole, but I didn’t see that coming.
  • The relationship between Hazel and Cha-Cha. So messed up.

The Not So Good

Too-Powerful Women Should be Suppressed, Lest They Destroy the World. Vanya’s story felt like a play-by-play retread of X-Men 3, watching an older man suppress and erase any memory of a young girl’s abilities because she’s “too powerful.” There are so many other choices they could have made to tell this story, and this one both annoys and bores me.

That Ending. Basically, it didn’t feel like an ending to me. There was very little resolution or emotional satisfaction. After everything they set up this season, how much of it is now going to be undone? Season one ends up feeling more like backstory and prologue to the “real” story.

Luther. His character just didn’t work for me. I didn’t get a real sense of why he was chosen to be Number One, or why he wanted to be a leader, or why he was so loyal to Professor Hargreeves, or pretty much anything. And why the heck was he on the moon? I wish the show had developed his character more.

Other…

  • “The Day That Wasn’t.” I dislike this kind of story, where we show you the good stuff the characters could have, then magically erase it all via time jumps or whatever. It just feels empty to me.
  • Leonard Peabody. Aka, Syndrome, redux. Slimy dude happens to find Hargreeves’ notebook and uses it to … what was his big plan? To create a supervillain? Kill the other siblings? Like Luther, he just felt bland.

The Extra

I did read the first two Umbrella Academy collections after I finished watching. That adds a whole new layer of surreal WTF to the story. Some of it probably wouldn’t have worked with the Netflix format, but I’m curious how many details they plan to bring in later. Hargreeves as an alien? Superintelligent goldfish? Reality-revealing monocle?

#

Anyway, those are my semi-organized thoughts. I did enjoy it, and I’ll be watching season two when it comes out.

What did you think?

Tags: review
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