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TV Review: The Umbrella Academy

The story of seven siblings all adopted and trained to save the world navigating, is the premise of The Umbrella Academy based off Gerard Way’s comic book series of the same name.

But with each episode – following six world famous siblings and a seventh, classed as ordinary – it becomes apparent that there’s much more to it than just your average superhero tale.

It starts with a sequence of eccentric billionaire Reginald Hargreeves going around the world adopting seven of 43 children born to women who were in fact never pregnant. Despite adopting them, throughout the series it is made clear that he was never a father to them.

Thus begins the story of Number One (Luther) as he floats around the moon, Number Two (Diego) as he stops a home invasion, Number Three (Allison) a famous actress walking the red carpet, Number Four (Klaus) as he leaves rehab. All set to the passionate vignettes of Number Seven’s (Vanya) violin. Number Five and Six are absent from the introductions, only serving to peak your curiosity regarding their fate.

Living different lives, separate from each other, the five are brought together at the news of their reclusive father’s death. They are back at the Umbrella Academy, that all of them except Luther left behind for various reasons.

And this where it is revealed that Number Five (with no name), with his time travel ability disappeared fifteen years ago, and Number Six (Ben) died under circumstances that are left to the viewers imagination.

Tensions are high as the siblings who are meeting after a long gap of time, try to adjust to each other’s eccentricities and subsequently fail. Then Number Five returns from another dimension, a 58-year-old in the body of a 13-year-old, and things only get more complicated as an impending apocalypse, conspiracies and assassins make appearances.

While all of these are important to the plot, what remains central is the idea of family, and what it means to be one. The cast consisting of Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman and the brilliant Kate Walsh as the Handler of different timelines in the universe- each play their parts to perfection.

But it is Ellen Page’s Vanya that shines the brightest for being the insecure, nervous, apologetic violinist who clearly deserved better in life. The treatment you see her receive, first as a child from her father, then from “extraordinary” siblings make you root for her right till the end; even hoping for her romance with the suspicious Leonard Peabody to work out.

Vanya is someone you wish will succeed, because on some level, everyone relates to her, and to her plight of being the least favoured within your family, and wherever else you go.

Other standouts include Robert Sheehan’s Klaus, with his ability to see the dead- as he instantly lightens the mood with his seemingly carefree-often drug-induced approach to life. And Tom Hopper’s Luther for playing someone that you actually come to hate for the self – centred attitude he displays.

The different range of powers, the humour, and the surprise twist concerning Vanya all make Umbrella Academy worth a binge, even as it slows and drags in parts. Setting the scene for a second season, as the world met a fiery end in season one’s finale, the Hargreeves siblings have a lot to discover about themselves and each other. It’s sure to be an anticipated wait.

By Malvika Padin

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