Can’t wait for Friday, and the release of the second season of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy? Well, you’re a little bit in luck: because, as part of a string of tantalizing tidbits and content delivered over the course of the week leading up to the premiere, Netflix has dropped the first scene of the first episode onto the internet – it’s just three minutes long, no longer than an average trailer (for the sake of simplicity, I’ve decided to rate it as I would a trailer), but there’s plenty here to enjoy. We see a violent new alternate timeline and a 1960’s apocalypse, all seven members of the Umbrella Academy team working together, and the return of fan-favorite Hazel as an old man – and we hear Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” used as the opening song on what is sure to be just as brilliant and varied a soundtrack as season one’s.
The scene opens mere moments after Number Five teleported the entire Umbrella Academy backwards through time at the end of season one, in order to save them from the apocalypse caused by rogue Academy member Vanya Hargreeves, whose supersonic powers accidentally caused the destruction of both the moon and the earth. Now, even though Vanya appears to no longer be a massive threat, the apocalypse is still just as imminent a danger. This scene follows Five as he drops out of a portal and navigates through the war-torn streets of Dallas, Texas, quickly coming to the realization that his time travel shenanigans have created an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union invades the United States after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
But even though that’s clearly a massive problem that needs to be addressed urgently, there’s still some good to come out of it. Five stumbles upon the other members of the dysfunctional Hargreeves family, fighting, for the first time, as a unit – each one utilizing their powers inventively and uniquely to try and prevent the Soviet incursion. The camera expertly spins from one family member to another at a brisk pace: first we see Vanya, who apparently can now levitate, using her supersonic abilities for good – literally tearing apart missiles. We move on to Klaus, who appears to be in complete control of his necromancy and is busy resurrecting dead soldiers. Luther, the team’s muscle, comes flying out of the sky like the Hulk and shields Klaus from a bazooka shot with his bare back. Meanwhile Ben, still a ghost but very clearly corporeal, is grabbing Soviet soldiers with his monstrous tentacles and strangling them. Down on the ground, Allison strides confidently through the battlefield in a stylish black cape: her powers of persuasion allow her to casually blow peoples’ brains out without ever having to fire a shot. And finally we watch as Diego and his throwing knives bring death from above, as the agile vigilante leaps from a crashed police car and twirls elegantly through midair.
It’s extraordinary, to put it lightly, and it feels exactly like what Five wanted to happen at the end of season one: a unified team of superpowered individuals fighting evil and saving the world. But unfortunately, it’s at this moment that Hazel, the reformed Commission assassin from season one, suddenly reappears, stepping out of a portal and asking Five to join him. Five, understandably, is both reluctant and confused, until Hazel points to the sky – and to the Soviet bombers about to fly overhead and drop their load of nukes on Dallas. Even though Five clearly has no idea what’s going on, he knows enough not to stay around in this alternate timeline: he takes Hazel’s hand, and the two disappear. It’s worth noting that Hazel is, for some reason, an old man now: did he live out an entire lifetime with his girlfriend Agnes in another timeline before returning to the past to avert the end? Everything is moving too quickly to say for sure!
And then, because this show enjoys hurting us, we get to watch as the other members of the Umbrella Academy are obliterated within seconds by a wave of nuclear fire that sweeps through Dallas before forming a lovely, umbrella-shaped tower of smoky cloud. They’re not really dead, of course: because, technically, none of this has happened yet. I assume the entire season will deal with Five trying to round up the Umbrella Academy team and unite them to prevent this grim scenario: whether he’ll have any success is up for debate. What’s not in question is that the end is coming, and for some reason it all revolves around President Kennedy’s death.
This is a fantastic entry to the second season: the story is already compelling, the action looks incredible (the special effects, especially, are cinematic), and the music choice is excellent. I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here, and how everything will come together, and I hope that the rest of the season is just as good as this scene.