Friday, July 31, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Umbrella Academy' - Five and Diego Explore New Details About a Familiar Face in 'The Frankel Footage'

Netflix's The Umbrella Academy - Episode 2.02 "The Frankel Footage"

An incident at the bar leads Luther to Vanya. Five finds an unsettling surprise in the film Hazel left behind. The cops come after Allison's husband.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy

"The Frankel Footage" was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Stephen Surjik

This show loves the appeal of a visceral image of near certain death. It talks about the apocalypse constantly after all. However, it's a little more annoying when it builds its episodic stakes around needing to end each hour with some kind of lethal image that will surely complicate whatever the Hargreeves siblings were hoping to achieve. Allison's throat was slashed to illustrate Vanya's rise as the monstrosity everyone should have been concerned about all along. She has made a miraculous and complete recovery from that injury though. The show explained it as Vanya impossibly missing the main artery in the neck. Hazel shot the Handler in the head to showcase his desire to escape the Commission for a better life with Agnes. And now, the Handler is revealed to survive that injury because of a metal plate that happened to be in her head. It's all absolutely insane. It's the show almost playing unfairly with the audience. As such, no one should be all that concerned about Diego even though he concludes the hour bleeding out in an alleyway. It's a moment designed around that specific image. It suggests an intensity in the narrative even though it's already a trick the show has played before. This show simply can't be a replay of the narrative moments that worked so well the first time around. It strangely feels like that is the core desire though. Vanya once again has no awareness of who she is or just how powerful and volatile her abilities are. The first season suggested that her powers were suppressed because of the medication. Without them, she had no control over her emotions and the powers were let out as a result. But now, she has comfortably fallen into a peaceful family existence with Sissy and Harlan. The show continues to push the boundaries of 1960s social commentary. Allison realizes that she can't use her powers in order to escape the consequences for her actions. She actually has to deal with them. That cost her so much in her 2019 life. She can't make the same mistakes with Ray. However, he is blissfully in the dark about her powers. She is keeping him at a distance despite wanting to be intimate and vulnerable with him. Meanwhile, Sissy wants to be there for Vanya as she is given this potential glimpse into her past. That may only unveil the horrors of her actions though. Luther is terrified by Vanya. He sees her as the reason why the apocalypse is continuing to follow this family around. He tells Five to find her instead of trying to recruit him to this latest mission. Five has become a broken record. Luther isn't given the freedom to stand by that decision though. Instead, he is pulled further into the action simply because he catches a glimpse of Vanya. He has to follow the clues back to her. He does so with the intention of killing her. He wants to apologize too. He wants to be forgiven for how he betrayed her. The world was pushed to the brink and Vanya once again feels alienated. She receives some comfort from Sissy. That intimacy may startle both of them. But it's also a personal journey Vanya has to embark on. One that will only get darker the more she learns about the past. The narrative strings are absolutely pulling the family together in Dallas. However, the story is making it abundantly clear that it doesn't want all of the siblings to reunite just yet. Allison knows that the "Hello" and "Goodbye" tattoos point back to Klaus. That may distract her from her ambition of being honorable and dignified in the pursuit of social change. It's still her family though. The Hargreeves remain incredibly conflicted and dysfunctional. They force each other to confront the ugliness. They can relate to each other. They were all raised by the same father who was focused on one thing. It may be a blessing to know he is in Dallas too. That reversal of death for him and Pogo works though because the show isn't suggesting it is a continuation of who these characters were in the first season. Instead, it's a different portion of their lives. One that sees Reginald more than capable of taking on Diego in a fight. That creates that precarious final image. But again, it loses its potency because the show always flirts with violence but never quite follows through on all of those implications for the characters on the receiving end of it. Nor is it true for the people who actually commit such violence. It's not an immediate satisfaction knowing that these characters are evolving now that they have to face a new apocalyptic threat. Instead, the narrative remains chasing after the damage that was done to this family long ago which prevents them from seeing clearly when their powers can save many lives. It's tentative while still wanting to be stylish. It can certainly be entertaining. The audience should still want more though.