Saturday, August 1, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Umbrella Academy' - A Family Meeting Helps the Siblings Reconnect Once More in 'Valhalla'

Netflix's The Umbrella Academy - Episode 2.05 "Valhalla"

Summoned to an emergency meeting, the siblings hatch very different plans for how to spend their last six days on Earth. Lila confronts her mother.

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.

"Valhalla" was written by Robert Askins and directed by Tom Verica

These characters are actually a lot of fun to hang out with. At times, the show takes itself too seriously. It talks about the apocalypse with such grandiosity. It depicts a narrative of generational failing and pain that leads to emotional distress for all of the Hargreeves siblings. That can be dour and repetitive a lot of the time. That angst isn't all that necessary. It makes the plot holes with the narrative more apparent because the viewer can start picking things apart. When the narrative is engaged with the character relationships, then it's easy to get wrapped up in the drama and what will happen next with them. Seeing the siblings dance together in the series premiere is what made the show so charming and fun to watch right away. At this point, it seems like the narrative believes its strength comes from setting an action sequence to a rousing song. And yes, the soundtrack of this show remains exquisite. And yet, it's still just as powerful to see these siblings interacting with one another. A lot of it does run the risk of being tense and dysfunctional because of everything that happened with Vanya last season. Her amnesia is very convenient. She is no longer hampered by the baggage of being oppressed and abused for her entire life. That is freeing for her as a character. She still has a similar character trajectory of discovering her powers and training herself to control them. She hasn't mastered them yet. The windows break as she grows more upset with Carl's behavior towards Sissy. The relationship between Vanya and Sissy has developed quickly. However, it's easier for the audience to invest in it because it offers a way for her to remain grounded while still encompassing plenty of drama and uncertainty. Not everything has to be so serious all the time. Her powers saved Harlan's life. Sure, that may have done something to him as well because Vanya doesn't entirely know what she is doing. But she is grateful to have some answers as to who she is and what life she can have moving forward. It's a dream to imagine a future with Sissy and Harlan. That is peaceful to her. She will fight to ensure that happens. She also loves knowing that she has a sister. That reunion isn't marred by the tragedy of their last interaction. This is the first episode of the season in which all of the siblings are reunited under the same roof. They can have a family meeting again. That's fortunate because it allows them to get on the same page about the apocalypse and life in this time period. Part of what ensured their constant failing was their inability to trust each other. They were constantly getting into each other's ways because they all had something to prove. They were each dealing with their own baggage even though Reginald's destructive parenting created all of them. The siblings are now realizing just how much of their father's life with them was built on what he had done previously. The Reginald of 1963 may not be their father. However, he developed a close connection with Grace and ensured Pogo's survival. He is still a man of great power and influence. He has no pre-existing ideas of what his children want from him. They perceive him to be the reason why the world ends. They are interrupting his past though. Right now, they are the ones whose presence is disrupting the timeline. Their presence in 1963 may be the precise thing that ends the world. They have each made an impact on the timeline. Diego is obsessed with the idea that it all connects back to President Kennedy. He holds onto that thought because it's the only way he can position himself as a hero. Luther is self aware enough to know that is a forced narrative that is preventing Diego from addressing his own insecurities. Of course, Luther has plenty of those too. This family is still full of drama. Sometimes it is best to just dance it out. And yet, Vanya's profession of love to Sissy doesn't automatically create a better future. She is faced with the same dilemma as her siblings about how much to tell Sissy about the end of the world. Klaus and Allison want to be completely honest to those who have become a part of their lives. The aftermath of that action is sure to have consequences. They only want to see the potential benefit. And yes, hope remains that this is the emotionally healthy decision for them to make right now. Ben is finally proud to be a part of this family in its entirety once more. He remarks that to himself. His siblings don't know he's there. Klaus dismisses the assertion. But this episode proves that the family working together as a team that understands and has empathy towards one another is a winning formula. That should be embraced even more in the future even though they all have their own priorities. Five still chases after Lila and comes face-to-face with the Handler after all.