Featuring Viktor from Elliot Page, “Umbrella Academy” masterfully presents a hero powered by becoming whole

For the curious folks wondering how “The Umbrella Academy” would introduce Elliot Page’s Viktor Hargreeves into the storyline, perhaps the main exchange of the new season is the one initiated by his hot-headed brother Diego (David Castañeda) in the second episode. .

Viktor joins Diego and his other brothers Klaus (Robert Sheehan) and Five (Aidan Gallagher) at a meeting and announces a bold move he’s made.

“Who chose you, Vanya?” Diego barks at his sibling, causing Page’s hero to pause for a moment and gently correct him, “It’s Viktor.”

Then comes the line that is meant to explain to the people in the audience what that means. “It’s who I’ve always been.”

Multiverses and timeline jumps are popular story fuel in 2022 thanks to movies like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which put the return of “The Umbrella Academy” in good thematic company. Each explores forgiveness and the reward of emotional harm, and weaves those psychological trials into stories fueled in some way by an overriding desire to realize one of life’s impossibilities: a repurposing.

RELATED: Elliot Page reflects how “extremely f***ed up” it was to be forced to wear a dress for the “Juno” press

The third season picks up where the second season finale left off, with Viktor and his siblings, including his other brother Luther (Tom Hopper) and sister Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), returning to 2019 after a jump back. to 1963.

Multiverses and timeline jumps are popular story fuel in 2022.

Only in this 2019 version their presumed dead father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) is alive and has adopted another set of extraordinary children instead of The Umbrellas, naming them The Sparrows. (They also discover that their seventh sibling Ben (Justin H. Min) lives in this timeline and was raised as a sparrow rather than with them.)

Going on an adventure in 1963 changed each of them too, especially Allison and Viktor, who was known by his previous name at the time. Both found their true love in that past, with Allison falling in love with Raymond (Yusuf Gatewood) as he struggled with violent discrimination in Jim Crow America and Viktor discovering a supportive, righteous romance with a woman named Sissy (Marin Ireland) who was trapped in a loveless marriage.

I’ve seen enough TV and endured many mindless interpretations of alternate universes to know how miserable the introduction of Viktor may have been handled by less capable writers. But showrunner Steve Blackman of “Umbrella Academy” and his team—including trans writer Thomas Page McBee—weave Viktor’s experience into a storyline that’s already running at full speed with no issues.

They do this in ways that seem deceptively simple at first.

Diego, Klaus and Five are the first of his family to have Viktor come out to, but in the previous scene we see him getting a haircut, freeing himself from the curtain that partially defined his old mouse. On the other hand, even in his earlier presentation, he grew in courage – like sitting opposite an opponent and talking quietly to him as the world shook around him. It’s as if his full power can no longer be absorbed by the ship everyone knew.

Not every fictional work featuring a transgender performer is necessarily a story about transgenderness. At the same time, I appreciate the ways genre fiction like “The Umbrella Academy” tries to do through Viktor’s subplot. “The Matrix” movies cannot and should not be the main metaphorical guides on that journey; plus, Page’s status as one of the most famous transgender people on the planet requires his character to step into the fullness of his identity with more meaning than a visit to the barber.

Season 3 does this on many levels, first by acknowledging the ways in which Viktor’s relationship with long-dead Sissy in 2019 begins the process of unlocking who he really is. “You don’t even notice which box you’re in until someone comes along and lets you out,” says Sissy in the second season.

Boxes are becoming a recurring symbol this season, whether through dialogue, found schemes, or even in the siblings’ new headquarters at a strange hotel called The Obsidian, where the sleeping places are split between the boys – Diego, Five, Klaus and sweet lug Luther — and Allison and Viktor, in his old presentation.

Aidan Gallagher as Five Hargreeves, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves and Elliot Page as Viktor Hargreeves in “The Umbrella Academy” (Netflix)

“You’re a good sister,” she says as she hugs Viktor and leaves him in their temporary box to embark on a solo journey. Allison meets Viktor when she returns and, upon seeing his true presentation, chastises herself for not always realizing it.

“You couldn’t know because I didn’t quite know,” explains Viktor. “To be with Sissy, I don’t know, she opened up something in me. She showed me that I would never be free to hide from who I really am. And after I lost her, I realized that I just can’t live in that box anymore. I can’t.”

No one from his family asks him that because another apocalypse must be averted. Only this one differs from the previous one in that it essentially means not a simple disaster, but a possible reset of life and time as everyone knew before.

“You don’t even notice which box you’re in until someone comes over and lets you out.”

But it also requires each of the siblings to be at full strength – and Viktor only discovers his when Sissy’s autistic and mute son Harlan, who has grown into an old man (Callum Keith Rennie) tracks him down. In the past, Viktor had transferred some of his power to Harlan while saving his life. Now, in 2019, Harlan is helping Viktor to reintegrate it into his body, making him whole. And this fully empowered Viktor wears his skin comfortably and stands up to much more imposing adversaries without much hesitation, which is just as far from the kid in the first episode whose father tells them, “I’m afraid there’s just nothing special about it.” is up to you.”

There is another subplot related to Viktor’s rise that may have been created simply to introduce a conflict, which is the schism that develops between Allison and Viktor. Before embarking on a trip, Allison relies on the bond she has with her sibling; after all, in her mind, they are the only two girls on a team of six. But on her journey, she discovers that her daughter has never been in this timeline and returns to a confidante who is a man.

“You are family”, Allison assures Viktor during her walk. “There’s nothing, nothing that would make me love you less.”

This is of course a harbinger. Intentionally or unintentionally, their walk-and-talk marks the beginning of a conversation about the difficulty some people have in letting go of expectations they have of loved ones, some of which are gender-linked. Before Viktor passed on, he and Allison had toasted to being sisters among brothers, able to share secrets with each other that they couldn’t possibly trust with their dumb or heartless siblings. When Viktor realizes that he must risk his safety to regain his power, it is Allison who stays with him to protect him. Because ideal. † † that’s what sisters do.

What breaks their bond is a secret that Viktor is keeping – for a noble reason that still isn’t enough to satisfy the person he was once closest to. The writers could have written any other character in that situation with Viktor, as the secret touches them all, but for Allison, the betrayal is doubled as it robs her of her identity as a daughter and mother. And the way she takes revenge is particularly cruel.

On the other hand, it is also typical of a group of adopted siblings raised by a father who only cared about their abilities instead of accepting them as they are. We are reminded of that in the climax of the current arc, where the fate of everything comes down to a matter of trusting yourself and each other. Viktor is finally his whole self. Allison, less.

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This does not detract from the last two shocking episodes of the season or the fact that the denouement returns to a conversation Viktor and Allison share during their walk together. To his brothers, Viktor simply reveals his name. But to his sister he reveals the things that weighed on his soul.

“You know, I’ve always hated mirrors,” he says, looking at his reflection in the window of a store. “I thought everyone always felt so weird in their own skin. I don’t think that’s true, is it?’ In the final scenes of the season, that feeling comes true, just for reasons no one could have predicted.

One constant is how Viktor sees himself at the end of a stifling journey that has decimated most of humanity. As Viktor looks at that glass, Allison asks him what he sees now.

“I,” he replies. “Only me.” With that, we know that he is just beginning to tap into his strength.

Season 3 of “The Umbrella Academy” is now on Netflix. Watch a trailer of it below, via YouTube.

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