The Umbrella Academy—Season 1

umbrella academy season 1 poster review episode guide list
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, remains light despite seriousness

Some choices feel obvious

umbrella academy season 1 title card review episode guide list

Do you have what it takes?

On October 1, 1989, a number of women around the world go into unexpected labor…unexpected because in the morning they weren’t pregnant.  Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) manages to “collect” seven of the children and creates the Umbrella Academy to develop their unique abilities.  Now adults, the Umbrella Academy finds itself back together with Hargreeves death.  Number 1 Luthor (Tom Hopper) has superhuman strength, Number 2 Diego (David Castañeda) can control objects he throws, Number 3 Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is a celebrity with the ability to control people’s actions, Number 4 Klaus (Robert Sheehan) can talk to the dead, Number 5 (Aidan Gallagher) has been missing for years, Number 6 Ben (Justin H. Min) met with a horrible fate, and Number 7 Vanya (Elliot Page credited as Ellen Page) has always felt like the family outcast since she never developed powers.  Number 5 brings warning that the world is ending…and the Umbrella Academy might be the only means to stop it!

umbrella academy season 1 episode 1 we only see each other at weddings and funerals young cast

We better all get As for this…

The Umbrella Academy—Season 1 was released on Netflix on February 15, 2019.  The superhero series adapts the Dark Horse Comics series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá with the season primarily adapting The Umbrella Academy Volume 1:  Apocalypse Suite.  The series received positive reviews and quickly was renewed for a second season.  The season received Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Special Visual Effects (“The White Violin”) and Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More) (“We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals”).

I read The Umbrella Academy before I saw The Umbrella Academy.  I enjoyed the comic book series and had no qualms about watching an adaptation about it…but I kept forgetting to watch it…then COVID-19 struck.  With extra time and the upcoming second season preparing for release, I pounded out the series.  What I liked about the comic was still there and the series also managed to improve on some of the storytelling of the comic.  A ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

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Join the Commission!

The basic plot of the season revolves around the stopping of the apocalypse.  The tone of the comic was humor and sci-fi-fantasy, but it was really hard to nail down.  The series does a bit better capturing the tone and managing to keep it relatively light despite the horrible things happening.  This results in a rather surreal world that the characters live in (and honestly appear to be one of the worst superhero teams ever).

Much like X-Men or even something like The New Teen Titans, the series is built around the soap-opera-esque interpersonal actions.  It is obvious from the start of the comic and the series that Vanya has powers that no one knows, but it still is fun to see the storyline develop.  Even the “villains” in the series have romance melodrama with the Cha-Cha—Hazel—Agnes love triangle (the Cha-Cha and Hazel roles were expanded for the series which was smart since they felt more out of place in the comic).

umbrella academy season 1 episode 9 changes leonard killed john magaro

Pick a knife…any knife

The cast also grows on you.  With Elliot Page as kind of the anchor actor, the rest of the cast feels more like it is built around him (and this also is a tell that the character will have more to do instead of just being a “Cousin Marilyn” on The Munsters).  Emmy Raver-Lampman and Robert Sheehan are stand-outs while David Castañeda and Tom Hopper kind of fill the generic superhero roles.  Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton are entertaining, and I do really like the relationship with Sheila McCarthy.  I also think it has to really be odd for Aidan Gallagher to generally be the only kid on the set, but have to act like the adult.

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Family…you can’t live with them and you can’t use psychic energy power to kill them

Visually, the show also does a good job.  It is amazing to think how far “comic book shows” have come over the years.  A great example of this is the Pogo character.  I never was a big fan of the Pogo character in the comic or really here for that matter, but they did a fantastic job making him lifelike which is also tricky since he doesn’t exhibit movements like a chimpanzee.

The Umbrella Academy is a fun watch.  It has many things that feel random, but (for the most part) the series manages to bring it all back together by the end and explain many of the loose threads.  In addition to this, it still leaves a lot of open room for season 2, and it compelling enough to make you want to keep watching.  Umbrellas have a habit of breaking, but The Umbrella Academy holds up.

The Umbrella Academy—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

umbrella academy season 1 episode 1 we only see each other at weddings and funerals cast

“We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals”

1.1       We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals Release Date:  02/15/19

On October 1, 1989, a number of women around the world suddenly find themselves pregnant and give birth in one day.  Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) recognizes the uniqueness of the situation and manages to adopt seven of the children.  The children become the Umbrella Academy.  Years later, Hargreeves has died and his “children” are forced to come together again despite their past.  Luther (Tom Hopper) returns from the moon with suspicions Hargreeves was murdered while Diego (David Castañeda) keeps to his life of fighting crime.  Vanya (Elliot Page) continues to feel like an outsider in her own family without her powers and her tell-all book while Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) wishes she could get her daughter back.  Klaus (Robert Sheehan) feeds his addition to fight his powers of speaking to the dead but an attempts to talk to Hargreeves seem impossible.  When long missing Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) returns and claims to have seen the future, something begins to happen…someone is after Five and willing to do anything to get him.

umbrella academy season 1 episode 2 run boy run cha cha hazel mary j blige cameron britton

“Run Boy Run”

1.2       Run Boy Run Release Date:  02/15/19

The slaughter at Griddy’s Doughnuts has brought in Diego’s former love Detective Eudora Patch (Ashley Madekwe) to investigate.  Agents Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) and Hazel (Cameron Britton) are sent to reclaim Number Five, and discover Number Five might be more inventive than they gave him credit for.  Five reveals to Vanya that the world will end in eight days and sets out to find what could cause the apocalypse.  Allison’s journey into her childhood through surveillance tapes reveals a shocking secret.

umbrella academy season 1 episode 3 extra ordinary luther body tom hopper

“Extra Ordinary”

1.3       Extra Ordinary Release Date:  02/15/19

Allison reveals to her family that their mother Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) might have been involved in Hargreeves’ death.  Number Five continues to suspect the eye manufacturer (Zachary Bennett) of hiding something and finds that all might not be right at his company.  Vanya questions her future as a violin player as she starts to get closer to her new student Leonard (John Magaro).  As Grace’s future is debated, Cha-Cha and Hazel move in on the Umbrella Academy…and Luther’s secret might be revealed.

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“Man on the Moon”

1.4       Man on the Moon Release Date:  02/15/19

Luther remembers the fateful mission that changed his life and assume that Grace’s demise is the result of the assassins.  Klaus finds himself prisoner of Cha-Cha and Hazel and they are willing to do anything to find out what he knows.  Five goes after the man who created the prosthetic eye but discovers he might be too late for information.  Patch learns the location of Cha-Cha and Hazel and attempts a rescue.

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“Number Five”

1.5       Number Five Release Date:  02/15/19

Patch has been killed by Cha-Cha and Hazel, and Klaus’s triggering of their briefcase has sent him on an adventure during the Vietnam War.  With Patch dead, Diego seeks justice and teams with Klaus to hunt down the killers.  Allison continues to suspect Leonard is hiding something, but off her medication, Vanya discovers things are changing for her.  Five remembers meeting the Handler (Kate Walsh) for the Commission in the post-apocalypse and realizes dealing with Cha-Cha and Hazel might be the only chance to save the future.

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“The Day That Wasn’t”

1.6       The Day That Wasn’t Release Date:  02/15/19

Klaus fights his addition and remembers his time in Vietnam with a soldier named Dave (Cody Ray Thompson).  Number Five has taken the Handler’s offer to work for the Commission but has his own plans for the job.  Luther searches for Hargreeves’ plans for him on his moon mission and discovers the truth about his research.  Cha-Cha and Hazel receive conflicting orders that could alter their partnership as Hazel debates his future with the Commission.  Luther and Allison recall their childhood and their unspoken feelings…but all could be for naught when Number Five enacts his plans.

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“The Day That Was”

1.7       The Day That Was Release Date:  02/15/19

Number Five reverses the discoveries of the day before by inserting himself in the equation and tells his brothers and sisters about his discovery that Harold Jenkins must be protected to save the world.  Diego, Allison, and Five set out to locate Harold and discover that Leonard might have even more secrets than they ever expected.  A night out after discovering his moon mission was a fraud, Luther decides to cut loose as Klaus finally makes a connection with his “father”.  Diego discovers that the police are searching for him in the death of Patch and Allison learns that she might have to go after Vanya and Leonard alone.  An encounter at a bar has Vanya discovering things about herself she never knew.

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“I Heard a Rumor”

1.8       I Heard a Rumor Release Date:  02/15/19

Allison teams up with a local officer (Matt Biedel) in the search for Vanya as Vanya fights to control her new abilities with Leonard’s help.  Attacked by Hazel, Cha-Cha’s out for revenge and intends to take down Hazel and his girlfriend Agnes (Sheila McCarthy).  Allison’s memory of the past reveals a secret about her ties to Vanya, and Vanya isn’t happy about the “rumor”.

umbrella academy season 1 episode 9 changes vanya imprisoned ellen page tom hopper emmy raver lampman


1.9       Changes Release Date:  02/15/19

Allison fights for her life as her ability to speak might be threatened by Vanya’s attack.  Klaus discovers new possibilities to his powers with the help of Ben (Justin H. Min).  Vanya recalls her past and the discovery of Hargreeves’ diary forces her to make a decision about Leonard.  With Agnes as her hostage, Hazel and Cha-Cha are in for a face off…unless fate intervenes.  Vanya decides to return to the Umbrella Academy, but not everyone is happy to see her.

umbrella academy season 1 episode 10 the white violin concert ellen page1.10     The White Violin Release Date:  02/15/19

Vanya has broken free of her prison in the Umbrella Academy and brought down the building.  With the apocalypse signaled, the Umbrella Academy realizes that they must make a decision about how to handle the problem with Vanya.  Vanya is giving the concert of her life, and the Earth might not survive!

Related Links:

The Umbrella Academy 1:  Apocalypse Suite

The Umbrella Academy 2:  Dallas

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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