The Umbrella Academy is back but are joined by the Sparrow Academy, an alternative timeline version of the titular academy. The series opens with the Umbrella’s returning home to the present day after they have prevented two apocalypses that they inadvertently started. Immediately, they see that things are not what they seem with Ben and Sir Reginald Hargreeves alive. Their own academy is replaced by the Sparrows who are more disciplined, regimented, and work as a team. Compared to the dysfunction that is the Umbrellas, they are a superhero team that functions but with that, they have a coldness to them. The Umbrellas must deal with the Sparrows on top of the new timeline, new challenges, losses, surprises, and an unidentified destructive entity wreaking havoc in the Universe that could end the world – that they may have caused. Again, they cause a world-ending problem and must try and prevent the apocalypse.
The opening scene of season 3 is reminiscent of season 1, but it is fun to see the slight differences as we see the start and the acquisition of the Sparrows. As you can expect, the two academies do not hit it off well and a fight ensues. The fight montage highlighting the different powers of the new characters is fun as is the reactive nature of the original academy. There is a scene in episode 1 that involves Diego hallucinating something that is the oddest stand out of the episode but sets up the powers and the bizarre nature for the rest of the season. Or so you would hope. The Umbrella’s are a mess before the events of the show but where they are a mess, the Sparrows thrive. They’re successful, they’re a brand and they are adored by the public with merchandise and massive crowds of adoring fans camped outside just for a glimpse of the Sparrows, more so Marcus a.k.a Number One. The contrast is interesting and I would have loved to have seen more of this, but it starts and ends there.
Some of the new characters make their mark in a good way, and some are written and performed so blasé and bored that it takes you out of the normally fun nature. The main culprits for this are Jayme and Alphonso Hargreeves. There is also a blandness to Fei that makes for no emotional connection that you have for the other Umbrellas and Sparrows. On the flip side to that, the new Ben Hargreeves is almost like a new character and by far one of the most complex in the season. As more is revealed about his status in the Sparrows and his ambitions and conflict, you get the same confusion for this new iteration of a favorite former Umbrella as the Umbrella’s. The Umbrellas have a strange relationship with this new Ben. They grieve the Ben they had in their timeline while disliking the new Ben but accepting him due to the person they once knew.
For the Umbrella’s, most of them seem to lack a direction this season with only Klaus, Five, Luther, and Allison having any focus and anything entertaining. Diego, Lila, and Viktor seem like plot filler and lost in the bigger plot but overshadowed by more interesting characters. Diego and Lila have their own subplot that is not relevant to the season or plot and if it were not in the season, you would not notice. It is a shame since David Castañeda brings fun and lightness to the season, but his character lacked anything else. His performance was good, but the material he was given, does let him down. Lila may as well not have been in the season since her contributions are minimal, and there is nothing of note. The Umbrella Academy shines when it is fun and explores different themes, but the fun times are watered down whenever Viktor is in the scene. He mopes and mumbles throughout the season and is a selfish character that thinks only of themselves and never of the bigger issues at hand like the apocalypse. There is a promise at the beginning of the season with Viktor as he seems much more confident in himself due to being able to control his powers and knowing his worth from it. A standout scene is a confrontation between Viktor and the Sparrow’s number one, Marcus. Viktor makes it clear they are powerful despite not being number one, and you feel the threat from him, but that is the only good moment in the entire season. In every other scene, Viktor brings down even the most fun moments past episode one.
When the season focuses on the grief and loss the characters feel, that is where the show shines and has a direction. The loss is briefly explored in its different forms, from grief to loss of identity with characters and actors that can pull off such complexity. In that, you also get the freedom of not being tied down to the expectation that Tom Hopper delightfully shows that is so infectious you can’t help but smile.
There are some truly moving moments but overall, the show lacks direction. Characters seeming lost to the main plot is an added hindrance to this. Where the last two seasons we had the Handler (Kate Walsh) as a central villain, a big ball of light is this new season’s villain and it is a huge step-down. There is a rivalry between the Sparrows and Umbrellas but that is brief and seems forgotten at certain points when it could have easily been fun to build up and watch that Umbrella is known for.
The saving grace of the show is easily Robert Sheehan as the eccentric Klaus Hargreeves as he navigates a relationship with his abilities, his father, and is the most useful in the series. Sheehan expertly delivers comedy and complexity that saves the show. The pragmatic Five (Aidan Gallagher), who is longing for retirement is, as always, an entertaining watch as he again tries to save the world and wrangle his siblings. Alison has an interesting arc and toes the line between hero and villain in a way that, even though you may not like her actions you understand that she is doing what needs to be done to save the world and her siblings. Overall, the third season lacks direction and a good villain, but there are moments to enjoy.
Final Score- [6/10]
Reviewed by - Leigh Doyle
Note: All the ten episodes of Season 3 are screened for this review.
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