Netflix Nosedive (Binge, actually): The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy marks the first show that hubby and I binged, though that wasn’t the initial plan. We put the first episode on and sat down for lunch, and it was so good we just went into the second, and then the third. After that we were both racing to press the button to move to the next episode. Aside from pauses for bathroom breaks or to grab snacks between episodes, we were hooked. When the final episode ended and we looked up and realized it was bed time, neither of us had any regrets.

The Umbrella Academy is basically Uncanny X-Men, if the writers had dropped the metaphors for prejudice and admitted that Professor X was a child endangering bastard. Reginald Hargreaves is one such bastard, ill-equipped to handle raising children. But on a certain date, all around the world, 43 women give birth to babies despite not being pregnant the day before. Hargreaves buys seven, takes them to his place, and begins training six of them to be super heroes.

In the “present day,” Hargreaves has kicked the bucket, and the remaining members of the disbanded Umbrella Academy gather for a funeral. Luther, or Spaceboy, or Number 1, is the last remaining person still feeling loyal to their estranged father, and he suspects that Hargreaves did not die of natural causes. He has a hard time convincing the others, who mainly want to get in, say a few words over the old man’s ashes, and get back on with their disastrous lives.

Two members are missing from the house initially, Ben, AKA: The Horror, AKA: Number 6, who died under mysterious but apparently gruesome means; and Number 5 (No real name taken, it seems) who disappeared after a fight with Hargreaves. However, Five shows back up through a temporal wormhole, obsessed with a mission he grudgingly shares with his sister Vanya, AKA: Number 7. The world is ending in seven days, and he has no idea what causes it or how to stop it.

From this point forward, it’s hard to talk about most of the story without major spoilers, and the series hasn’t been out long enough that I feel right about dishing those out. Instead, I’ll just mention some general impressions and then close with a score.

First, I have to wonder what became of the rest of the children born on that day, but no mention is made of them, not even obliquely. I wonder if later seasons will bring them in as collections formed by rival rich assholes, or if they’re just a MacGuffin that never gets brought up again.

Secondly, of all the members of the team, I like Klaus (The Medium or Number 4) the most. Some of it may be his inclinations aligning with mine, or his habits, but I suspect much more it’s his gift for saying the right thing almost every time he has the chance to steal a scene. By the end of the second episode, I had declared him my favorite, and my loyalty never wavered throughout the rest of the season. Don’t get me wrong, every member of the cast is fantastic. But Klaus is my current fictional boyfriend.

Finally, I wish I could talk at length about THAT ENDING. Ho-oooooly shit, what a way to close a season. It’s a cliffhanger, yes, but it also grants closure in a way that leaves me satisfied even if this turns out to be the only season ever produced. This is not to say I don’t want to know what happens next, because I do. I have so many questions left over, none of which I can mention here because they’re spoilers. But if this is it, and I’m left to my own imagination to fill in the blanks, I’m okay with that. Unlike that ending to Kingdom. (Those rat bastards better have a season 2, or I’m gonna freak out.)

I’m going to give The Umbrella Academy 5 stars. It might not be fore everyone, but it struck the right balance between dark and funny to keep me coming back for more through my first binge session, and that says something when I normally stop after two episodes because I have other stuff that needs to be done. This was so good, I put everything else off for a day. Take that as the highest praise possible from me.