[Editor’s note: The following contains mild spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 3.]
Rule the cliffhangers The Umbrella Academy. Every season, including the recently premiered third, Netflix’s adaptation of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book series ends with the status quo shaking more than ever. And Season 2 ends in an even more interesting step: The Hargreeves, an unfortunate family of adopted super-siblings, return to the present from 1960s Dallas, but find that their home is no longer theirs. house. However, Reginald Hargreeves adopted a different group of children with special powers (including the original Umbrella Ben) for what is now called “The Sparrow Academy.”
But a different kind of question remains about the direction of the show that arose between the second and third seasons. Elliot Pagea member of the main ensemble, came out as a trans in December 2020. Then, a few months before the show’s third season premiere, fans were introduced to Viktor Hargreeves via Twitter. The show seems to have a character come out of Page and move on – how and when is a mystery.
The worst case scenario is that the show will play one of the many sci-fi cards at the wrong time and Viktor will be the product of some sort of black hole overreach. The Umbrella Academy is a clearly baseless show, a world of traveling-time briefcases and humanoid chimps. But handling this thing like that feels unacceptably bad.
Another concern is that the show may rely too heavily on his ambitious side and treat Viktor’s exit with limited respect for others. Accounts depicting trans people (or any marginalized group) as being in some sort of higher level of ability do not provide power; they became young.
This is complicated by Viktor as a character who is at a higher level of ability, through his powers of sound manipulation and beyond. How can a show whose characters are, by definition, unique, reveal something so important about someone who doesn’t send cheap dramatic fodder? Will Viktor’s revelation be “A Special Episode at The Umbrella Academy,” one in which the show temporarily stops itself so it has a better chance of winning a GLAAD Media Award?
Fortunately, the show found a way to recognize this important change without feeling overwhelmed. In Season 3, after entering a barbershop and appearing with a short haircut, Viktor introduces himself to his family. First to Klaus, Diego, and Number Five, then later to Allison and Luther. Some of these conversations are more heartfelt than others. But all of Viktor’s siblings accept their brother, and the show continues in the ways that the plot twists. After all, it makes full sense that the characters in a show centered on the constant threat of destruction don’t think much about the gender of their siblings.
Viktor came out in the second season of the season, and his transition came later in the season in organic, non-patronizing ways: The biggest lunkheaded-but-kind-hearted brother Luther asking him to be his best man in his wedding and Viktor joined his siblings in a karaoke rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” at Luther’s bachelor party. These moments are clearly meant to pull hearts, but they’re in the most sentimental stage of the show to date, and they have a heat that’s hard to control.
Page’s character in the first two seasons was technically not intended to appear transgender. But when considering how much art mimics the trans experience through unintentional parallels and metaphors, it’s not fair to see the first two periods, retroactive, as important chapters in a book on self -discovery and acceptance. In fact, it seems impossible to see it any other way, for a variety of reasons.