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 just one problem: Season 3 was already plotted and the scripts were more or less defined. Filming was due to begin in just two weeks.
Against all expectations, they succeeded: this season, Umbrella Academy will reintroduce the character of Page with a new name, Viktor Hargreeves.
To help bring Viktor to life, the production brought in Page’s friend (and writer/journalist) Thomas Page McBee.
“By necessity, this was an opportunity to show a transition so organic, so fundamental to the character, that it could only work in concert with existing character arcs, not overshadow them,” Page McBee wrote at about his membership. Umbrella Academy specifically to help shape the story of Viktor’s on-screen transition, in an essay for Squire from the beginning of this month.
“In this story, being trans is a context, a focus, a sharpness of perspective that will only deepen the connection that millions of viewers already have with Viktor and his family.”
Viktor’s coming out is, as Page McBee puts it, “economical” in its execution, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only plot twist here is that such a well-executed maneuver would happen on Netflix, a streamer who is increasingly seen as both anti-trans and also, too often lately, comically incapable of distinguishing the proper character development of total trash.
At the beginning of Umbrella Academy Season 3, which finally aired on Wednesday, sees Viktor feeling the loss of Sissy Cooper (Marin Ireland), who stole his heart after he ran him over with his car. “She saw me for who I really am,” he told his adoptive Hargreeves sister, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), at one point. “I’m not ready to give this up.” When they part ways, Allison calls Viktor a “good sister,” at which point the camera lingers on her pensive expression.
In the second episode of the season, Viktor confronts Sparrow Academy member Marcus (Justin Cornwell), one of the Hargreeves that Viktor and the gang’s adoptive father, Reginald, adopted from an alternate universe in place of Viktor and of his brothers and sisters. Although Marcus bluffs as if he has the upper hand – and perhaps even believes he does – Victor coldly calls his enemy “spandex meat”, before reminding him which of them had already ended in the world. twice. (Hint: it wasn’t Marcus.)
This conversation sets the stage for a confrontation between Viktor and his siblings, who are unsure who named him the designated wrestler Marcus. The brother tiff also becomes the stage for Viktor to tell them who he really is, but only after revisiting Sissy Cooper’s memory one last time.
While going through some old short stories in the library, Viktor finds one which reveals that Sissy, whom 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 his life: “You made me feel alive for the first time. You helped me find hope. It’s a wonderful thing.
After leaving the library, Viktor finds himself staring at a poster of men’s haircuts on a barber shop window. Sissy’s voice echoes in her head: You don’t even notice the box you’re in until someone comes and lets you out.
When Viktor addresses his siblings with a new, shorter, more masculine ‘do’, his brother Diego (David Castañeda) interrupts what he was saying mid-sentence. Pansexual Hargreeves brother Klaus (Robert Sheehan) keeps things casual: “I love the haircut.” Five (Aidan Gallagher), the deceptively young-looking 50-year-old sibling, says nothing but nods approvingly.
It’s only when someone asks who “elected” Viktor to speak with Marcus, however, that he pushes his transition further. When someone uses his old name, he corrects him: “It’s Viktor.”
“Who is Viktor?
“I am,” he said. “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?”