'The Umbrella Academy' Season 3 Review
Apocalypse, end of the world, dancing montages, anything and everything is once again heading our way as superhero dramedy The Umbrella Academy returns with its third season after the crew believes to have fixed things back in 1963 in the second season's finale. In this new timeline, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) searches for her daughter and husband, Vanya transitions to Viktor (Elliot Page) during first two episodes, Diego (David Castañeda) turns out to be a dad, Luther (Tom Hopper) falls for another Hargreeves, Klaus (Robert Sheehan) explores his powers and Five (Aidan Gallagher) tries to make sense of their time travels. World isn't the same either as the group discovers Reginald (Colm Feore) to be alive, having adopted a new group called ''Sparrow Academy'' which happens to also include mean-spirited Ben (Justin H. Min) who's also alive in this timeline.
As you can tell from that premise, a lot of threads are constructed right from the get-go, few of them just more successfully than many others. If we want to start from the best part before the ground swallows us whole, that would still be any scene involving Klaus as exquisitely played by Sheehan. There's just another level of vibrancy since Sheehan can exhume as well as he can internalise, plus Klaus' road trips involving mysteries about his mom and control of his powers always offer a nice distraction. Christopher Hardagon's costume design is also one of high points this time around; we spend a lot more time indoors this season and the costuming does a lot to fill frames with something that pops while still being about the characters, especially with Viktor and how he now fits in.
Most of those indoor scenes are located at a new hotel where the main group resides but it's very disappointing that the series doesn't seem to have anything to show to you; motivation behind camera placement is very unclear if even existent, every window on the soundstage is lit to death and Jeff Russo and Perrine Virgile's score lacks personality in a show all about personalities. Most of all, overreliance on visual effects dooms it all, though it's hard to say where, in the pipeline of showrunner Steve Blackman, VFX supervisor Everett Burrell and all the artists, things have gone so horribly wrong. Only some of the low points are atrociously designed shots on the ''roof'' of Sparrow Academy, unnecessary transitions featuring confusing VFX pipes and hallways of the hotel after fades to black and wonky depictions of superpowers that are in mercy of whatever friction two characters have to have next.
That constant friction gets very tiring real fast because the series directors (like Jeremy Webb and Jeff F. King) either have the characters in a shouting match or dance scene made exclusively for social media clips, or they don't seem to have notes for actors like Min who's constantly playing to an imaginary crowd behind his scene partner, or Feore who doesn't have much range in his performance. It's also a downer for cast members like Raver-Lampman and Page—and their characters— who clearly have the abilities for rewarding, emotional arcs but instead the show insists having them participate in that shouting match, apart from one 15-second scene in the finale. Oh, well, perhaps in another timeline.
Smileys: Robert Sheehan, costume design
Frowneys: VFX, Justin H. Min, directing
Quick, cut to them dancing.