This put up comprises spoilers for the third season of The Umbrella Academy, which is now streaming on Netflix.

When Elliot Page got here out as nonbinary and trans in late 2020, the preliminary response was rightly centered on what it meant personally for the Oscar-nominated Juno star and what it would imply for the ongoing combat over trans civil rights. But Page’s announcement additionally introduced an interesting skilled first, since he can be the first common solid member of an American TV present to transition halfway by the collection’ run.

That the present in query was the Netflix superhero dramedy The Umbrella Academy added yet one more wrinkle. The collection is a couple of household of superheroes who’ve repeatedly traveled by time, altering actuality alongside the approach. The second season, which was produced earlier than Page got here out, ended with the Umbrella Academy discovering themselves in a brand new timeline the place they didn’t exist, changed by a unique superhero household calling themselves the Sparrow Academy.

Because of all the supernatural forces at play, many extra choices had been open to the Umbrella Academy inventive workforce for the new season than there would have been if, say, Page had been in the Yellowstone ensemble. These episodes doubtlessly may have revealed, for example, that the Umbrella Academy’s tampering with historical past meant that Page’s character — now known as Viktor Hargreaves — had been born a cis male. A member of the Sparrow Academy (whose powers hadn’t been outlined once they had been glimpsed in shadow at the finish of Season Two) may have been given the potential to remodel Viktor. Almost any fantastical clarification was on the desk.

Instead, Season Three takes a extra grounded and low-key strategy to redefining Viktor, in a fashion not dissimilar to how a authorized procedural or office comedy may need addressed the challenge.

The season premiere doesn’t have time to cope with private issues in any respect. It picks up proper the place Season Two ended, specializing in a combat between the two Academies, and then on our heroes coming to phrases with the nature of this altered timeline. Page sports activities a shoulder-length wig to recreate his coiffure from earlier seasons, and, on a number of events, Viktor is referred to by the title he was nonetheless utilizing when final we noticed these characters.

By the second episode, although, issues have calmed down sufficient for introspection. Viktor researches the lifetime of Sissy Cooper (Marin Ireland), the Texas girl with whom he had an affair when the Academy was trapped in 1963 final season. Upon studying that Sissy died in 1989, Viktor flashes again on a dialog that they had about how he opened up her eyes to her true self, with Sissy saying, “You don’t even discover the field that you simply’re in, till somebody comes alongside and allows you to out.” Viktor considers this sentiment, enters a males’s barbershop, and requests a trim. A number of scenes later, now sporting a brief haircut, he approaches three of his brothers and explains to them that he reached out to the Sparrow Academy on his personal to barter peace. An irritated Diego (David Castañeda) asks who elected him for this accountability, ending his query on the title by which he is aware of Viktor.

“It’s, uh, Viktor,” Viktor replies nervously.

“Who’s Viktor?” says a confused Diego.

“I’m,” says Viktor, now extra assured in himself. “It’s who I’ve at all times been. Uh, is that a problem for anybody?”

The trio of siblings thinks on this for a half-second, then rapidly accepts the information and strikes again to arguing about what to do relating to the Sparrows.

That is kind of how the remainder of the season treats the topic. The solely prolonged dialogue of the change comes with Viktor’s sister Allison (Emily Raver-Lampman), who feels responsible for not realizing this elementary reality sooner. Viktor asks why Allison would have, since he himself by no means really understood who he was till he met Sissy. He then seems to be at his reflection in a window and — echoing language Page himself has utilized in discussing his transition — admits he used to hate seeing himself in the mirror. Allison asks what he sees now, and Viktor permits himself a small smile earlier than saying, “Me. Just me.”

A number of episodes later, their brother Luther (Tom Hopper), who has been in any other case occupied for some time, belatedly finds out about Viktor, and accepts the information simply as rapidly as Diego and his group did, and that’s primarily it. Viktor is solely Viktor, and The Umbrella Academy is in any other case the present it has at all times been, for good (imaginative manufacturing design, enjoyable musical numbers, sheer weirdness, and the irresistibly free nature of Robert Sheehan’s efficiency as household misfit Klaus) and for sick (characters nonetheless spend the bulk of every season simply sitting round and brooding).

This restrained strategy comes as a nice shock, if not a reduction. There in all probability was an operatic and/or science-fiction route the collection may have taken to this second, however it could have required a much more delicate contact than Umbrella Academy usually possesses. By rapidly presenting Viktor’s transition as a reality of life, permitting him a short second to explain his emotions, and then getting again to crazy enterprise as ordinary, the present takes its star’s transition severely with out getting in the approach of its ordinary narrative or tonal selections.

There’s a good-sized historical past of sci-fi and/or fantasy reveals being answerable for historic TV firsts, although usually far much less gracefully than occurs right here. Television’s first interracial kiss between white and Black actors, for example, occurred on the authentic Star Trek, however Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura had been being psychically managed by aliens at the time. The integration of Viktor’s transition is far more easy and considerate, and executed in a approach that future reveals can look to as a tough template when one in every of their actors has the similar expertise.

There are some ways wherein gender transition is a fancy topic to debate, a lot much less dramatize. But in the most vital approach, it couldn’t be easier. This is who Viktor at all times was, even when it took him a very long time to acknowledge it and inform his household. The Umbrella Academy lets him look in the mirror, see himself, and communicate his reality. And that’s that.

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