Well, I guess it rains when it pours for this dysfunctional family of superheroes. While the Umbrella Academy may have gone off the boil slightly, it is still a great show which does a great job of adapting the classic comics. So, with the fourth series set for a possible late 2024 release window, what better time to look back on the high points across its three series? Anyway, before I get into the list properly, here is some history about the show.
The Umbrella Academy first debuted on Netflix in 2019 and as mentioned above is currently in its third series, with 30 episodes aired. Again as mentioned above, the show is an adaptation of the comic books by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba which follow the Umbrella Academy, a team of superheroes brought together as children by Reginald Hargreeves after they were all born under mysterious circumstances. The show has received praise for the emotional depth of the characters as well as how it handled Elliot Page’s transition in the show during Series 3. On top of this, the cast is stacked with the aforementioned Page, David Castaneda, Tom Hopper and Robert Sheehan amongst others. Now with all that out of the way, here are the best Umbrella Academy episodes ranked.
10. The End of Something (S2, E10)
Well, this feels poetic by starting at the end.. Of the beginning. Terrible segue aside, what makes the Series 2 finale great? Well, mostly because it’s the climactic battle between the Academy and the Handler. Oh, and also the fact the Academy is supposedly being hunted for aiding in JFK’s assassination. If that doesn’t sum up the series’ weird nature, nothing will. Anyway, Viktor really shines here as he wipes out the Commission’s agents. Oh, all while the confusing nature of time travel is seen via the damn time travelling briefcase. For an episode with so many moving parts, The End of Something does a great job at managing them.
9. 743 (S2, E9)
Now one of the reasons The End of Something is great is because of all the work done to set it up in 743. This includes Viktor nearly killing everyone if not for Ben entering his mind to calm him down. And like most of Series 2 there’s the messy nature of time travel. This is seen as Five tries to take the time travelling briefcase off himself. And don’t forget Herb discovering what the titular 743 refers to. Spoilers, it’s the joys of being a superhero’s parent. As well as this, the Academy seems to correct the timeline if not for some dramatic irony about Viktor’s power.
8. The Seven Stages (S2, E8)
Ever wondered what would have happened if JFK wasn’t assassinated? Well, The Umbrella Academy definitely has as this episode deals with the implied consequences of JFK not being assassinated. And unsurprisingly this involves WWIII. As well as Diego, Klaus and Allison desperately trying to get back to Dallas in order to save the world. Also, Viktor’s been captured by the FBI because he speaks Russian. So in Cold War America he’s definitely a KGB spy. And that’s on top of Reginald being broken up with and starting his journey towards the Sparrow Academy. So if you’re a fan of Viktor, you’ll love this episode as he really shines in the role of the superhero with the repressed traumatic memories. Which could really be any superhero no I think about it…
7. Öga for Öga (S2, E7)
We all love a good ticking clock don’t we? This episode is definitely timely as time is running out for the Umbrella Academy to reform in order to preserve a new timeline. Oh, and there’s some very annoyed Swedes who are after the Academy after Diego killed their brother. The best thing about this episode is how the urgency increases the longer the episode goes on. So that by the time Viktor falls unconscious the audience knows Five has to give up the new timeline.
6. The Swedish Job (S2, E3)
Remember that one episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine where there’s two Swedish detectives? Well, I like to think this is what could have happened if they’d gone down the insane Swedish route. Also, this episode does a great job at exploring Diego and Lila’s relationship as Lila’s has a connection to the Handler. A nice piece of dramatic irony there. Also, if you’re still desperately clinging to Luther and Allison as a ship, this episode really tries to kill said hope when Luther meets Allison with her husband. Speaking of Allison there’s a really powerful scene where her husband sees her powers in action. Overall, a solid episode.
5. Right Back Where We Started (S2, E1)
Poor Five. After trying to avert the apocalypse once, he’s right back into the thick of it when he ends up in another alternate timeline. And yes things are arguably worse for Diego. Mostly because after escaping a mental asylum, Diego finds two mysterious Swedes who want to kill him. Also, this is a great episode as it sets up an alternate universe where WWIII has happened and the Academy all have different fates. These include Viktor having amnesia and being a nanny, Allison marrying a civil rights activist and Klaus (unwittingly) starting a cult. Though the last one shouldn’t be that surprising.. A great episode which sets the stage for the second series.
4. The White Violin (S1, E10)
I mean I didn’t think Umbrella Academy could make me mourn the death of a talking chimpanzee but this episode just hits there. It sees Viktor destroy the mansion after realising that Reginald and Pogo covered the truth about his powers up as well the culmination of Hazel’s arc with Agnes. This doesn’t even account for the fact the show doesn’t reset everything to normal as Viktor causes the apocalypse by shattering the moon. And to think nothing hatched out of it (that’s a terrible Doctor Who reference right there). A fantastic episode which only hints at the weirdness yet to come in Series 2.
3. The Day That Was (S1, E7)
This episode functions as a what if scenario with the previous episode: The Day that Wasn’t. Here we see how Reginald rejecting a superfan of the Academy, Harold, leads him to murder his parents and subsequently goes to jail. However, this is just as the Academy crack that he’s the missing person who they believe causes the apocalypse. There’s also Luther becoming depressed after realising the point of his Moon mission, Diego realising he’s prime suspect in a murder and Allison desperately trying to mend her relationship with Viktor. Another great episode which focuses on the character dynamics.
2. We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals (S1, E1)
I could make a joke about four weddings and a funeral joke but that’d be too easy, granted most of the latter are terrible. Anyway, the show’s opening episode brings the audience quickly into the weird world of the Umbrella Academy. Here, the show manages to show all the dynamics between characters whether it’s Diego and Luther being Raph and Leonardo and Viktor’s isolation thanks to his book. And that doesn’t even account for the whodunnit surrounding Reginald and his missing monocle. Overall, a very solid episode.
1. Number Five (S1, E5)
And the best episode of the Umbrella Academy is…. Number Five. Now why is this the best episode? Well, because it finally answers some of the audience’s questions about how and what Five got to the future and what he’s doing. Oh, also there’s some developments for Viktor as he becomes first chair violin in his orchestra but in some dramatic irony when the audience finds out what Leonard did. Also, the reveal of Five being an agent working on the orders of the Handler before betraying her is a neat way of wrapping up that plot point. So if you’re a fan of the character development as well as Five you’re going to see why this episode is the best.