It’s been two years since The Umbrella Academy was last on our screens, and boy have we waited long for season 3 to fill the void left by the beloved apocalyptic series in our hearts.
The new episodes retain all that has made the Netflix show a bona fide hit across the world, from high-octane action to lovable yet dastardly characters, bonkers sequences that come out of nowhere and a killer soundtrack.
However, reaching the bar set by the incredible second season – when the adopted Hargreeves siblings were transported to the 1960s and had to prevent a cataclysmic event – was always going to be a tall order.
The latest season, which is due to premiere next week, begins exactly where we left off with the Umbrella Academy, consisting of Vanya, before Viktor is introduced (Elliot Page); Klaus (Robert Sheehan); Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman); Diego (David Castañeda); Luther (Tom Hopper); and Five (Aidan Gallagher).
Having returned to their present, they entered their home to discover they were in an alternate timeline, when their adoptive father Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) created the Sparrow Academy instead with a completely different set of adopted siblings – with the exception of their brother Ben (Justin H Min), who died in their timeline when they were teenagers.
The show opens in a very strong and unexpected way, that may make some viewers think that they’ve accidentally descended into a mind-boggling fever dream.
It’s exactly the kind of thing that The Umbrella Academy fans will have hoped for, and yet we can promise they’ll still be taken by surprise by the utterly bizarre turn of events.
The Sparrow Academy make formidable opponents for the Hargreeves that we’ve become accustomed to over the past two seasons, revealing what Sir Reginald’s superhero group could have been like had they remained a polished and smug crime-fighting team into the adult years.
After the extremely emotional goodbye viewers had to witness from Ben when he officially departed into the afterlife in season two, it’s pretty jarring to watch Justin’s new take on his character, who’s decidedly more obnoxious, egotistical and heartless than the original Ben could have ever been.
One of the most emotional moments of the season is when it’s revealed how Viktor makes his debut, after Elliot came out as transgender in December 2020.
Elliot’s real-life transition was incorporated into the script in a seamless, thoughtful and sensitive way that will warm viewers’ hearts and undoubtedly mean a lot to plenty of people around the world who will feel represented – particularly given the new season happens to be coming out during Pride Month.
After two seasons of the Hargreeves family causing, trying to prevent, causing and trying to prevent world-ending annihilations from taking place, yet another one is on the horizon when they are forced to contend with an entity threatening the entire universe.
While it’s of course difficult to think how one can raise the stakes when you’ve already portrayed two apocalypses, the shock value of the latest one has admittedly lessened as a result of what’s come before.
Nonetheless, it does lead to a finale ending that’s brimming with question marks, leaving a very unclear path as to how the adventure will continue in a fourth season (which we’d hasten a bet is inevitably going to be announced).
Just like Shrek, season three of The Umbrella Academy is a multi-layered creature, some of which are easier to follow than others.
However, even if you’re feeling a little lost by the timey-wimey garble and constant stream of secrets lurking behind every corner, the show will keep you transfixed while you chomp incessantly on your popcorn through the 10 episodes.
Verdict on The Umbrella Academy season 3
While season three might not be quite as strong as the second outing, that was a very high bar to reach, so doing so was always going to be a near-impossible task.
The Umbrella Academy continues to do what it does best – combining superhero antics with gore galore, universe-crushing stakes, quick-witted quips and character dynamics that the fanbase will happily lap up.
Some members of the Hargreeves clan reveal previously unexplored sides of their characters that may shock and delight in equal measure.
All in all, The Umbrella Academy remains one of the most experimental and entertaining superhero productions on TV – long may it continue.
The Umbrella Academy season 3 premieres on Wednesday June 22 on Netflix.