After Elliot Page came out as a trans in December 2020, Umbrella Academy show-runner Steve Blackman was eager to bring the actor’s transition to the screen. There was only one problem: Season 3 had already been mapped and the scripts were more or less set. Filming was to begin in just two weeks.
Against all odds, they made it work: This season, Umbrella Academy will reintroduce Pages’s character with a new name, Viktor Hargreeves.
To help bring Viktor to life, the production brought on Page’s friend (and author / journalist) Thomas Page McBee.
“Inevitably, this was an opportunity to show a transition so organic, so fundamental to the character, that it could only work with the existing character arcs, not obscure them,” Page McBee wrote of joining. Umbrella Academy specifically to help shape Victor’s transition story on screen, in an essay for Esquire from earlier in the month.
“In this story, being trans is a context, a coming into focus, a sharpening of perspective that will only deepen the connection that millions of viewers already have to Viktor and his family.”
Victor’s broadcast is, as Page McBee puts it, “economical” in its execution – though not necessarily a bad thing. The only plot twist here is that such a nicely executed maneuver would happen on Netflix, a streamer that is increasingly believed to be both anti-trans and also, all too often lately, comically unable to discern good character development from total garbage.
In the beginning of Umbrella Academy Season 3 – which finally premiered on Wednesday – Viktor feels the loss of Sissy Cooper (Marin Ireland), who stole his heart after hitting him with his car. “She saw me for who I really am,” he tells his adoptive sister, Hargreeves, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) at one point. “I’m not ready to give it up.” When they separate, Allison calls Viktor a “good sister”, after which the camera dwells on his pensive expression.
In the second episode of the season, Viktor joins Sparrow Academy member Marcus (Justin Cornwell) – one of the Hargreeves that Viktor and the band’s adoptive father, Reginald, adopted in an alternate universe instead of Viktor and his siblings. Although Marcus bluffs, as if he has the upper hand – and maybe even believes he does – Viktor coolly calls his enemy “meat in the spandex”, before reminding him which of them had already made the world end. twice. (Hint: It was not Marcus.)
That conversation sets the stage for a confrontation between Viktor and his siblings, who are not sure who anointed him as the designated Marcus strider. The sibling 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 reading old news at the library, Viktor encounters one who reveals that Sissy, whom he left behind in another timeline, is dead 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 again. It’s a wonderful thing.”
After leaving the library, Viktor finds himself staring at a poster with men’s haircuts on a barber shop window. Sissy’s voice rings in his head: You do not even notice the box you are in until someone comes and shuts you out.
When Viktor addresses his siblings with a new, shorter, more masculine ‘do’, his brother Diego (David Castañeda) pauses what he said in the middle of the sentence. Pansexual Hargreeves sibling Klaus (Robert Sheehan) keeps things relaxed: “Love the haircut.” Five (Aidan Gallagher), the deceptively young-looking quinquagenarian of siblings, says nothing but nods approvingly.
However, it is not until someone asks who “chose” Viktor to talk to Marcus that he makes a bigger point of his transition. When someone uses his old name, he corrects them: “It’s Viktor.”
“Who is Viktor?”
“It’s me,” he says. “It’s the one I’ve always been.” Viktor’s voice crackles with a hint of fear as he then asks, “Is that a problem for anyone?”