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The Umbrella Academy season 3 review: A beautiful apocalypse

Not every show can get weirder with each consecutive season and still retain everything that makes it wonderful. Netflix series The Umbrella Academy is one such show, and it proves it with a fantastic third season that raises its already high bar for strange-but-satisfying storytelling.

Created by Steve Blackman and based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy chronicles the adventures of a dysfunctional family of adopted siblings with superhuman abilities. Following their time-twisting adventures in the show’s second season, the third season of The Umbrella Academy has the family returning to the present, only to discover that their actions in the past dramatically changed the world they left behind.

The cast of The Umbrella Academy stands together in the main room of the family mansion.

Gone and back again

Series regulars Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, and Justin H. Min return as the seven siblings of the Umbrella Academy, along with Colm Feore reprising his role as their cold, enigmatic adoptive father, Reginald Hargreeves.

While season 3 features plenty of additional returning characters, it also introduces a new team of sibling superheroes: The Sparrow Academy. The alternate-universe team is portrayed by Justin Cornwell, Britne Oldford, Jake Epstein, Genesis Rodriguez, and Cazzie David, with Min portraying an alternate version of his character, Ben Hargreeves, from the first two seasons.

The cast of The Umbrella Academy has always been crowded, but the series continues to strike a good balance with all of its colorful characters throughout the third season. Various members of the teams are teamed up, pitted against one another, and otherwise mixed and matched over the course of the season, creating opportunities for them to interface with each other in interesting ways.

David Castañeda, Robert Sheehan, and Aidan Gallagher stare off to the left of the frame in a scene from The Umbrella Academy season 3.

Five for the win

Each season of The Umbrella Academy has featured some standout performances, but Aidan Gallagher — who portrays the teleporting “Five” Hargreeves — continues to cement his status as one of the show’s best assets across all three seasons. As a grizzled, cynical, 60-year-old assassin trapped in a 13-year-old child’s body, Gallagher never falters in his performance, which transcends precociousness and gets better — and more entertaining — with every season.

Gallagher’s role isn’t the only highlight of the season. In one of his first performances since his transition, Elliot Page finally gets a chance for his character, Victor (formerly Vanya), to take on a more assertive role in the family in season 3. Page carries the weight of Victor’s new role as the family’s heavy-hitter well, and his character’s arc delivers powerful emotional beats and visually impressive action sequences in equal measure.

After making her debut in season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, Ritu Arya also gets more time to develop her character, Lila, in the third season. Her portrayal of the unpredictable former lover of Diego Hargreeves (David Castañeda) is a welcome addition to the family dynamic, and she and Castañeda continue to have a fun, entertaining chemistry in the show’s third season.

Ritu Arya leans against a streetlight in a scene from season 3 of The Umbrella Academy.

Strong performances from the rest of the core cast (particularly Robert Sheehan, who manages to steal every scene he’s in), as well as many of the season’s newcomers, make a good season even better and allow every character in The Umbrella Academy to feel unique in an otherwise large ensemble.

Going big

Without giving too much away, the season 3 story delivers plenty of twists and turns for the characters, as well as some surprising revelations that harken back to the team’s origins and bring nearly every character introduced in prior seasons back into play. It’s an ambitious narrative, but Blackman and the rest of the show’s creative team manage to give all of the season’s interconnected story threads the individual attention they deserve.

At this point, canceling the apocalypse has become business as usual for The Umbrella Academy, and although another extinction event looms over season 3 of the series, the show still finds a way to make the stakes feel high. That the characters are also willing to poke fun at — and grow tired of — how often they’ve faced the end of the world adds just the right amount of self-aware humor to the mix.

When the season does draw to a close, the finale delivers a nice balance between story arcs that have been fully explored and fresh opportunities to take the characters in new directions. That’s a good formula for success when it comes to ongoing sagas like this, and every season of The Umbrella Academy so far has done a surprisingly good job of tying up increasingly wild storylines in satisfying ways while teasing intriguing developments in the characters’ future.

Tom Hopper and Elliot Page stand next to each other in a scene from season 3 of The Umbrella Academy.

In most series, the familial dysfunction that fuels The Umbrella Academy could feel a bit repetitive after several seasons, but it’s a testament to the show’s creative team and cast that this isn’t the case with The Umbrella Academy. The characters and their world get more and more fascinating with each season as they grow and evolve, and a new season offers myriad opportunities for them to bounce off each other in new ways.

At this point in most shows’ life cycle, it’s common to begin wondering when the characters’ adventure will end, but The Umbrella Academy keeps finding ways to reinvent itself and make you hope the end doesn’t come anytime soon. Season 3 of the series might be the weirdest so far, but it’s also one of its best — which is saying a lot.

Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy premieres June 22 on Netflix. For more new shows on Netflix, check out this list.

The Umbrella Academy (2019)
The Umbrella Academy
63 %
tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Drama
Cast Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman
Created by Steve Blackman

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