Low on spoilers, big on fun.
I feel that perhaps I should have included a prologue in the previous Viewer’s Cut, since I’ve just returned to writing about shows in this format. In this feature, I do not intend to reveal or discuss big spoilers, but to try to entice the proper audience to watch it. It’s very much like a review but I do go a bit in depth and at the same time not try to reveal too much. It’s a tightrope challenge that only works if I know an audience that would appreciate the show. It doesn’t work as well if I’m not familiar with the audience, but luckily that is not going to be the case.
The initial premise, as it’s known is thus: “On October 1, 1989, 43 women around the world give birth simultaneously, despite none of them showing any sign of pregnancy until labor began. Seven of the children are adopted by eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves…” and so, the Umbrella Academy begins. What I appreciated first of all is that it was going to be obvious even from the very start that the premise we’ve been told is not the complete story.
The seven children are seen in pretty heroic flashbacks, but we soon learn their life at home was not particularly blissful. Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) is not only eccentric, he lacked any basic parental skills. The children have grown up, left the academy and only reunite on news of his death. If you start watching the show expecting everything to be revealed in the title sequence, you’re out of luck. The show is about revealing, layer upon layer, of the fractured past of the dysfunctional family. They’re not particularly happy to see each other again.
Luther / Number One (Tom Hopper) is considered, at least by himself, the leader. He’s an astronaut that has been living in the moon by his father’s orders. He possesses superhuman strength, and a larger-than-average body. Diego / Number Two (David Castañeda) can throw knives in a curve and has become a vigilante. Allison / Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman) can manipulate people by starting a phrase with the words: “I heard a rumor…” She has become a famous celebrity but has lost custody of her daughter. Klaus / Number Four (Robert Sheehan) can see and speak to the dead. He’s now a drug addict and an alcoholic, which prevents his necromancy. Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) has been missing for years after going forward in time to find the apocalypse. He has now returned as a boy although he’s lived for 58 years. Ben / Number Six (Justin H. Min) had monsters from other dimensions under the skin and he’s currently deceased.
The story of Vanya / Number Seven (Ellen Page) is rather intriguing. She’s the only one that was deemed powerless. Obviously there’s going to be more to her. This is where the the show will either become terribly interesting or a chore to watch. There are several mysteries to unravel and past secrets that will change the dynamic for all characters. On top of that Number Five is on the run from the Commission, a team of time travelers that want to make sure that what has to happen, happens. That includes the apocalypse. The Commission has dispatched two assassins, Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) and Hazel (Cameron Britton) to take out Number Five.
The show is less of a superhero epic and more of a quirky character-driven comedy where each performance is not overtly strange but just obviously weird. All characters are flawed, all the superheroes if we even want to call them that, have blindspots where they can’t see what’s right in front of them. Vanya is the obvious outsider, having strained her relationship with everyone else by writing a tell all book about the Academy. Luther and Diego fight over leadership while Number Five does what he thinks must be done. Allison has seen the consequences of abusing her power and has vowed never to use it again. And then there’s Klaus, who I find surprisingly relatable and making the most sense… When he can stay sober.
Highly recommended but I can’t quite label the proper audience, although I find myself included. You’re probably either going to love it or hate it. Try at least a couple of episodes and it will either pull you in or you’ll find it annoying. I loved the style and the way the storytelling slowly changes the story going back and forth. Time travel is a must, so if you’ve had your fill, this will not be your cup of tea. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste but dark, quirky and humorous will always find an audience in any part of the world, specially online. I can’t wait for the second season.
That will do for now.