The Umbrella Academy delivers its usual apocalyptic fair in season three. However, the Netflix original series also gave fans a touching exploration of gender, family, and queer identity. The show has been no stranger to LGBTQ+ storylines and characters over its run—season two featured queer subplots for both Klaus and Viktor. However, the news that the show would reflect Elliot Page’s transition in his character led to an outcry from certain members of the fandom and casual bigots alike. These fans felt Viktor’s storyline was being forced into the narrative and not a natural progression for the character. (Of course, these claims were baseless and assumptive considering they came prior to the season’s release.) Now that we know how The Umbrella Academy introduces Viktor Hargreeves, it is safe to say that his storyline both serves the character perfectly and is a logical and satisfying continuation of his entire arc.
Viktor Hargreeves and His Search for Identity
From the beginning, the core of Viktor’s character is essentially the search for and suppression of identity. When we meet him, Viktor is completely estranged from the rest of his Umbrella Academy family. He’s spent his lifetime in their shadow, longing to belong. Child Viktor performatively makes efforts to mirror his more loved and accepted siblings, and generally tries to conform to what he believes may earn the love of his father and society. By the end of the first season it is revealed that, after a lifetime of being neglected and told he is not special, Viktor is the most powerful sibling of them all.
It is further revealed that his father, Reginald Hargreeves, spent his life suppressing Viktor’s powers through medication. It is only after Viktor is freed of Reginald’s control that he slowly starts his journey of self discovery. This arc coincides with his growing understanding of his powers, and how they intersect with his identity. However, his existence and the true nature of his power also serves as a constant source of conflict to his family and the world around them. This is familiar for many LGBTQ+ people as they discover themselves yet also desire love and acceptance.
In season two, Viktor experiences amnesia, which offers him a clean slate to figure out who he is as a person. He meets Sissy, who ultimately helps him discover who he really is. As the two form a romantic relationship, Viktor experiences true happiness for what is probably the first time in his life. In fact, it is Sissy’s words, “You don’t even know the box you’re in until someone comes along and lets you out,” that resonate with him during a pivotal moment leading up to Viktor’s coming out in season three. Unfortunately, his happiness with Sissy is short. The past catches up with Viktor and the Umbrella Academy must leave everything behind.
Hello, Viktor Hargreeves
When season three opens, the Umbrella siblings once again find themselves in a wonky present timeline that forces them to figure out who they are and where they belong. Viktor mourns the loss of Sissy and the life he left behind. However, he also reflects on the gift that his time with her gave him, and thus begins his journey of transition. After a long, miserable childhood and two apocalypses, Viktor finds the strength to accept who he is. He finds happiness in himself rather than the world around him.
Some might find Viktor’s coming out to be abrupt, but they are missing the larger path that brought him there. The process feels incredibly genuine and true to the experience of many trans people despite preconceived expectations. Pop culture may lead many to believe that trans people “always knew” and display obvious signs of their identity throughout their entire life; however, that is simply not the case.
Many can and do know from a young age, but others arrive at it more slowly. Sometimes they may have an idea, but not the whole picture. Sometimes one might know, but not be ready to accept that fact. There are a lot of different paths on the road to discovering one’s self, and they aren’t always as grand and dramatic as the media likes to present. In fact, we see many of these common misconceptions through Viktor’s interactions with his siblings.
When he first comes out to his group of brothers, it’s as simple as correcting Diego when he uses his deadname and informing him that his name is Viktor. Diego responds, “Who’s Viktor?” and his answer is, “I am. It’s who I’ve always been.”
People frequently see transness as someone becoming a new person. However, while transition can obviously involve great change, it’s important to remember that trans people are not taking on a new identity. They are merely becoming who they have always been.
The Umbrella Academy’s Lessons About Reactions
When Allison learns of Viktor’s transition, she expresses frustration over not knowing that Viktor was trans. This can be a common response from friends and family of trans individuals upon coming out. This goes back to the false idea that trans people must display some sort of stereotypical signs of who they are. Like Viktor explains, he did not fully know himself. So how could anyone else have known?
Furthermore, even if someone knows they are trans before they are ready to come out, that does not mean there are a set of obvious signs and indicators. Everyone is different. And oftentimes, if one is not ready to come out, there can be a level of repression of identity involved to where they don’t want anyone to know they’re trans. So, like Allison, some fans may believe that there should have been overt “clues” prior to the person coming out, but that’s simply not how it works.
Similarly, another important moment comes when Luther is the last to find out. Diego corrects Luther on Viktor’s name during a conversation. Luther initially exclaims, “What else did I miss while I was kidnapped?” Diego responds with, “Not everything is about you.” Luther’s response is an all too common reaction from friends and family, too. It’s easy for friends/family to want to center the situation around themselves like Luther and Allison do. However, it’s important to remember that a trans person’s coming out should ultimately be about showing that person support.
And that is easily the best lesson in Viktor’s storyline this season and what makes Viktor’s story so important. The love and acceptance by his siblings are the most touching moments from the season. Trans narratives in media often focus on the hardships and negativity transition can bring. In reality, being transgender is so much more than that. It is joy. It is peace. And it is the end of a lifetime of struggle and pain, and the beginning of something new and wonderful.
Everything about Viktor’s journey in The Umbrella Academy has been building toward this moment of inner peace from day one. And season three delivers that peace in a sincerely authentic and beautiful story of transition.