After Elliot Page came out as trans in December 2020, Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman was eager to bring the actor’s transition to the screen. There was only one problem: Season 3 was already mapped out and the scripts were more or less fixed. Shooting would start in two weeks.
Against all odds they made it work: this season, Umbrella Academy will reintroduce Page’s character with a new name, Viktor Hargreeves.
To bring Viktor to life, the production brought in Page’s friend (and writer/journalist) Thomas Page McBee.
“This was necessarily an opportunity to showcase a transition so organic, so fundamental to the character, that it could only interact with the existing character arcs, not overshadow them,” Page McBee wrote of his participation. Umbrella Academy specifically to shape Viktor’s transition story on screen, in an essay for Esquire from earlier this month.
“In this story, being trans is a context, a focus, a sharpening of perspective that will only deepen the connection millions of viewers already have with Viktor and his family.”
Viktor’s coming-out is, as Page McBee puts it, “thrifty” in its execution, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The only plot twist here is that such a neatly executed maneuver would take place on Netflix, a streamer increasingly thought to be both anti-trans and also, lately too often, comically incapable of distinguishing good character development from utter nonsense.
At the beginning of Umbrella Academy Season 3, which finally premiered on Wednesday, feels the loss of Sissy Cooper (Marin Ireland), who stole his heart after hitting him with her car. “She saw me for who I really am,” he says at one point to his Hargreeves adoptive sister, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman). “I’m not ready to give that up.” When they break up, Allison calls Viktor a “good sister,” then the camera stops at his pensive expression.
In the second episode of the season, Viktor takes on Marcus (Justin Cornwell), a member of the Sparrow Academy – one of the Hargreeves that Viktor and the gang’s adoptive father, Reginald, have adopted in an alternate universe in Viktor’s place. and his siblings. Though Marcus bluffs as if he has the upper hand – and perhaps even believes he does – Viktor coldly calls his enemy “meat in spandex,” before reminding him which of them had already ended the world. twice† (Hint: It wasn’t Marcus.)
Elliot Page as Viktor Hargreeves and Tom Hopper as Luther Hargreeves in ‘The Umbrella Academy’.
That conversation sets the stage for a showdown between Viktor and his siblings, who aren’t sure who anointed him with the designated Marcus warrior. The sibling tiff also sets the stage for Viktor to tell them who he really is, but only after taking one last look at the memory of Sissy Cooper.
While perusing old news stories in the library, Viktor comes across one who reveals that Sissy, whom he left behind in another timeline, has passed away in this one. He recalls telling him that he had given her the greatest gift of her life: “You made me feel alive for the first time. You helped me find hope again. That’s a wonderful thing.”
After leaving the library, Viktor finds himself staring at a poster of men’s haircuts on the window of a barbershop. Sissy’s voice echoes in his head: You don’t even notice which box you’re in until someone comes over and lets you out.
When Viktor approaches his siblings with a new, shorter, more masculine “do,” his brother Diego (David Castañeda) pauses halfway through his sentence. Pansexual Hargreeves brother Klaus (Robert Sheehan) keeps it casual: “Love the haircut.” Five (Aidan Gallagher), the siblings’ deceptively young-looking quintuplets, says nothing but nods in approval.
However, it isn’t until someone asks who Viktor “chosen” to speak to Marcus that he makes a bigger point about his transition. When someone uses his old name, he corrects them: “It’s Viktor.”
“Who is Victor?”
“I am,” he says. “It’s who I’ve always been.” Viktor’s voice cracks with a hint of fear when he then asks, “Is that a problem for anyone?”
Aidan Gallagher as number five, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves and Elliot Page as Viktor Hargreeves in ‘The Umbrella Academy’.
Diego and Klaus approve, as does Five, albeit with one caveat. ‘Really happy for you, Viktor. But the last time I checked, you’re not speaking on behalf of this family.’
At that moment, the soft piano music that quietly sets the fragile atmosphere breaks, and it’s business as usual again.
We’ll get back to the topic one more time before Episode 2 ends. When Viktor comes to Allison, she scolds herself for not knowing it sooner—a display of self-flagellation that Viktor waves off gently, albeit with barely suppressed amusement. “You couldn’t know,” he says, “because, I mean, I didn’t quite know.”
Sissy, explains Viktor, ‘opened something in me. Showed me that I could never hide from who I really am. And after I lost her, I realized I just can’t live in that box anymore. I will not.
“You know, I’ve always hated mirrors. I thought everyone was so weird about themselves. I don’t think that’s true.”
And if Allison asks what he sees in his own reflection now?
“Me. Only me.”
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