Spoiler alert for The Umbrella Academy.
Note: As Elliott Page’s character in the show is also transgender, his character will be referred to by their preferred name and pronouns.
Shortly before my birthday last year, Elliot Page had come out as transgender. His transition reminded me that I never finished Beyond: Two Souls and I had been meaning to watch Umbrella Academy.
Umbrella Academy is like if Peabody’s Improbable History and the movie Looper had a threesome with an alternate universe version of the X-Men where a much shittier mentor figure molded the mutant kids into emotionally stunted adults instead of the superheroes he wanted.
I immediately took a liking to Page’s character, Viktor Hargreeves, as there was a lot I could relate to. We’re both artistic in some way—Viktor has his violin whereas music is the only art form I could not grasp. In flashbacks during Season 2, we see a young Viktor take up the violin and declare that one day he will be extraordinary, which mirrors my own desires to break past the 2nd place prizes of the Masters category of the cosplay contest I enter and finally win a 1st. We both have shitty parental figures that put our siblings on a pedestal and made us feel worthless compared to them. We even have a Golden Child brother that is labeled as Number One in the family while another brother is an alcohol-fueled screw up that is still sits much higher on the family totem pole than we are. Compared to our brothers, we’re better at being functioning adults yet we’re also the most mentally fucked up out of all the siblings due to what our parental figures put us through. We have written quite a bit about the experiences of being the outcast black sheep in a dysfunctional family, but only Viktor has experienced some moderate success of such writings through his book Extra-Ordinary: My Life as Number Seven. Viktor was on meds to suppress his emotions just I have my meds to suppress my depression and anxiety, but I don’t regain lost superpowers if I can’t find my pills or forget to take them.
I’ve been in Viktor’s shoes more than I’d like to admit. I’ve felt the desire to belong and fit in. I’ve felt like I’m weak and ordinary. I’ve felt like a monster that can’t stay in control. I’ve felt like I don’t deserve to live and that all I ever do is fail and ruin everything.
Towards the end of the second season, Viktor’s powers are triggered in the worst way during an FBI drug-induced interrogation. Upon seeing the ghost of his brother, Ben Hargreeves, inside his mind he realizes his powers are causing the apocalypse in the real world (again) and feels an intense amount of guilt. It’s during this scene that Ben tells Viktor something that was strangely insightful to my own childhood:
“Dad treated you like a bomb before you ever were one.”
It reminded me how I had expressed suicidal thoughts and—instead of having any concern for my well-being—Kim saw me as a threat to her, oblivious to the obvious fact that the only person I wanted to hurt was myself as she unnecessarily hid all the knives in the house thinking I was going to kill her in her sleep. When I actually acted on those suicidal thoughts and tried to kill myself, she still didn’t express any concern for me. Sometimes I wonder if she wished my suicide attempt had been successful. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me considering all the times she waltzed into a room and sighed, “There’s too much estrogen in this house”, a phrase that cut to the bone knowing she meant she didn’t want me around as we were the only two women in the house. Not to mention that when my brother had behavioral issues that put him in a similar mental floor I had been in, she doted on him lovingly like any caring parent would.
Dammit, The Umbrella Academy, for making enlightening statements that make me realize just how fucked up my egg donor was and still is.