9 Things We Loved (and 3 We Didn’t) About The Umbrella Academy Season 3

9 Things We Loved (and 3 We Didn’t) About The Umbrella Academy Season 3
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

The Umbrella Academy’s third season just hit Netflix, and we binged it immediately — hey, if this show’s taught us anything, it’s that an apocalypse could happen at any moment! Thanks to the latest timeline shake-up, season three brought more Hargreeves siblings than ever before, amplifying all the problems this super-powered family tends to cause. So how did this season fare?

9 Things We Loved (and 3 We Didn’t) About The Umbrella Academy Season 3

Loved: The “Footloose” dance battle

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When the Hargreeves siblings return to 2019, the timeline has been so altered by their past actions that the Umbrella Academy itself doesn’t exist. In its place: the seven surly members of the similarly (but not identically) super-powered Sparrow Academy. One of the Sparrows has the gift of spitting what amounts to reality-altering saliva on her victims, which is how we get a hallucination that imagines a fully choreographed Hargreeves vs. Hargreeves dance-off — set to the toe-tapping beat of Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.” It’s not real, but it’s wonderful.

Loved: Viktor’s introduction

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When Elliot Page came out as trans, Umbrella Academy series creator Steve Blackman worked with him to incorporate a similar transition for his character — formerly known as Vanya, but now in his true identity as Viktor. The show’s handling of the situation was exemplary. We see Viktor getting a short haircut, then explaining the change to his family in a handful of scenes that are given respectful space to play out. His siblings are immediately supportive in their various ways; nobody treats Viktor any differently than they did Vanya. A quiet moment where Viktor contemplates finally liking what he sees in the mirror feels just right in its approach, as does a scene near the end of the season where Luther (Tom Hopper) asks Viktor to be best man at his wedding.

Loved: Luther lightens up

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After two seasons of brawling and being terminally angst-ridden, loveable dolt Luther finally got to loosen up in ways we’d never seen before, thanks to his unexpected romance with Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez), the only nice Sparrow Academy member. Mix tapes! Karaoke! A surprisingly sweet wedding despite the fact that yet another apocalypse loomed! Luther’s emotional evolution was a constant delight, even during his brief yet existentially taxing stint in the afterlife.

Loved: the Harlan reveal

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Even if you had already begun to suspect that ageing traveller “Lester Pockets” (Battlestar Galactica’s Callum Keith Rennie) was actually the grown-up version of the Texas farm boy who inadvertently gained powers last season, that big reveal — when he steps in to help the Umbrella Academy fight the Sparrow Academy and literally blows some minds in the process — was both startling and satisfying.

Loved: The Hotel Obsidian

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Constructed by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) around a secret inter-dimensional portal, the Hotel Obsidian retains a certain musty elegance despite being way past its prime. When the Umbrella Academy realises they don’t have a home base anymore — thanks to the Sparrow Academy — they decamp here, and it becomes the main setting for season three. The bar is always open, the buffet is surprisingly abundant, and droll hotel manager Chet (Supernatural’s Julian Richings) won’t say anything if he catches you, say, moving a rug-wrapped corpse out of the elevator.

Loved: Christopher

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Not every show could pull off having a telekinetic, sentient floating cube as a character… but The Umbrella Academy is not every show. We just wish he’d gotten subtitles so we could have understood any of his electronic shit-talking.

Loved: Learning more about Reginald

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This timeline’s version of Reginald is still deceitful, cruel, and selfish, but his character is greatly expanded in season three, making room for moments of nuance, flickers of kindness and actual sympathy, and even some insight into why he acts like such an arsehole most of the time. (Making him a huge T.J. Hooker fan was also hilarious.)

Loved: Emmy Raver-Lampman’s performance

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Allison — who lost both a daughter and a husband due to her family’s time-travel shenanigans, and still feels the trauma of her experiences in Civil Rights-era Dallas — was an emotional wreck throughout most of season three, compounded by her agonizing blowout with Viktor over Harlan’s fate, and the fact that her childhood love Luther was now googly-eyed over someone else. (Her tendency to drink her feelings didn’t help matters.) But while spending time with Allison this season got rather bleak, all praise goes to actor Emmy Raver-Lampman, who deftly conveyed the anguished depths of Allison’s wounds.

Loved: The evolution of Klaus’ powers

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As we learned right alongside the character this season, not only can Klaus (Robert Sheehan) communicate with the dead, he can also die and come back from the dead himself — something he’s done, apparently without realising it, dozens and dozens of times! His surprisingly breezy road trip with Reginald, where the two bond and where Klaus sloppily learns to flex this power — possibly the closest thing The Umbrella Academy has ever had to a training montage — was not just a season highlight, but a series highlight too.

Didn’t Love: Stanley

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Nothing against young actor Javon Walton (Euphoria) — he was fine as the sarcastic, always-hungry tween that Lila (Ritu Arya) insists is her son with Diego (David Castañeda). But Stanley ultimately ended up more as a plot device than an actual character, literally blipping out of the storyline once he’d served his purpose.

Didn’t Love: Grace’s religious fanatacism

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This timeline’s version of cookie-baking robot Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) — or “Mum,” depending on which Hargreeves siblings you ask — felt a strong spiritual connection to the “kugelblintz” that manifests in the Sparrow Academy’s basement when the Umbrella Academy returns to 2019. Why she would literally worship a black hole is never explained, other than it’s the only place the story can stick her in a season stuffed with so many characters with way more important things to do.

Didn’t Love: How repetitive the story felt

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After three seasons, it’s become crystal clear that setting in motion — and then frantically trying to prevent — the end of the world is what The Umbrella Academy is all about. It’s a way to keep the stakes sky-high, put a ticking clock on the action, and ensure that the relationships between its more high-strung characters remain as fraught as possible. But after three seasons, it’s also brought a repetitive feeling to the story; the characters themselves even outright address the fact that they’re growing weary of apocalypses. And how high are those stakes really, if we already know the Hargreeves siblings will inevitably triumph? If The Umbrella Academy gets a fourth season — as yet unannounced, but it seems a good bet — it’ll need to figure out a fresh approach (beyond “how do we get our powers back, and WTF reality are we even in now,” as the season finale left it). Otherwise, it’ll be at risk of telling the same exact story all over again.

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