After Elliot Page came out as trans in December 2020, Umbrella Academy show-runner Steve Blackman was eager to bring the actor’s transition to the screen. There was just one problem: the third season had already been mapped out and the scripts were more or less set. Filming was supposed to start in just two weeks.
Against all odds, they succeeded: this season, Umbrella Academy will reintroduce Page’s character under a new name, Viktor Hargreeves.
To help bring Viktor to life, the production brought in Page’s friend (and writer/journalist) Thomas Page McBee.
“Out of necessity, this was an opportunity to show such an organic transition, so fundamental to the character, that it could only work in conjunction with existing character arcs, not eclipse them,” wrote Page McBee of joining the character. Umbrella Academy specifically to help shape Viktor’s transitional story on screen, in an essay for Squire from the beginning of 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 revelation is, as Page McBee puts it, “thrifty” in its execution – although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only twist here is that such a well-executed stunt would happen at Netflix, a streamer that is increasingly considered anti-trans and also, often lately, comically unable to distinguish good character development from total rubbish.
at the beginning of Umbrella Academy Season three – which finally premiered on Wednesday – Viktor is feeling the loss of Sissy Cooper (Marin Ireland), who stole his heart after hitting it with her car. “She saw me for who I really am,” he tells his Hargreeves adoptive sister Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) at one point. “I’m not ready to give it up.” When they part ways, Allison calls Viktor a “good sister”, at which point the camera lingers on her thoughtful expression.
In the second episode of the season, Viktor faces off against Sparrow Academy member Marcus (Justin Cornwell)—one of the Hargreeves that Viktor and the gang’s adoptive father, Reginald, adopted into an alternate universe in place of Viktor and his brothers. 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 one 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”.
This conversation sets the stage for a confrontation between Viktor and his brothers, who are unsure who has anointed him as Marcus’ designated cowboy. The sibling feud also becomes the stage for Viktor to tell them who he really is, but only after revisiting Sissy Cooper’s memory one last time.
As he reads old news in the library, Viktor comes across one that reveals that Sissy, who he left behind in a different timeline, died in this one. He remembers her 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. This is a wonderful thing.”
After he leaves the library, Viktor finds himself looking at a poster of men’s haircuts in a barber shop window. Sissy’s voice echoes in her head: You don’t even notice the box you’re in until someone comes along and lets you out.
When Viktor approaches his brothers with a new, shorter, more masculine ‘do, his brother Diego (David Castañeda) pauses what he was saying mid-sentence. Hargreeves’ pansexual brother Klaus (Robert Sheehan) keeps things casual: “I loved the haircut.” Five (Aidan Gallagher), the brothers’ deceptively young-looking 50-year-old, says nothing but nods in approval.
Only when someone asks who “elected” Viktor to speak with Marcus, however, does he give more importance to 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 crackles with a hint of fear as he asks, “Is this 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. “Truly happy for you, Viktor. But last time I checked, you don’t speak for this family.
At that moment, the soft piano music that silently sets the fragile mood moments before the break, and back to business as usual.
We return to the subject once more before Episode 2 ends. When Viktor comes out of the closet to Allison, she berates herself for not knowing sooner – a display of self-harm that Viktor nods gently, albeit with barely pent-up amusement. “You couldn’t know,” he says, “because, I mean, I didn’t fully know.”
Sissy, Viktor goes on to explain, “opened something up in me. Showed me that I would never be free hiding from who I really am. And after losing it, I realized I can’t live in that box anymore. I will not.
“You know, I’ve always hated mirrors. I thought everyone felt so weird in their skin. I don’t think that’s true.”
And when Allison asks what does he see in his own reflection now?
“Me. Just me.”
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