By Sam Bennett
I’ll preface this by saying that I was very excited for WandaVision and thought that it had great potential based on the trailers released. Marvel, in my opinion, has always been at its best when it is unafraid to go weird. Whether it be a group of misfits in space with 80’s music or a giant purple alien with magic space rocks, the best of Marvel is often its most unorthodox. So, when I saw two side characters, one a magical woman and one her robot partner, I was immediately intrigued. So did this show meet my expectations, or disappoint?
The show begins in the 50’s with a classic sitcom style and classic sitcom cliches (the boss coming for dinner, forgetting a special occasion, etc). I thought that the first episode showed all it needed to, and that was potential. When Vision’s boss started choking during dinner and his wife started laughing and saying “stop it” over and over, becoming progressively more awkward and fearful, the audience could tell that there was a mystery at hand. This was exactly what I wanted.
When episode 2 came along in a 60s theme, it was once again in a classic sitcom style, once again cliches. But, once more, it showed potential. When the radio started playing the voice that said “Wanda, who’s doing this to you”, it became even more clear that something fishy was going on. Finally, at the end of the episode, we began to see what was happening a bit more clearly as a beekeeper randomly came out of the drain and Wanda essentially turned back the clock so that wouldn’t happen. This revealed a little bit of what was going on, seeing as Wanda could clearly control things, but there was still a lot of intrigue as to how she did it and what the implications were.
Episode 3 is the first episode in color, and is one of the most interesting in the series in my opinion. We see Wanda’s pregnancy go by in a day, their doctor has to cancel his trip as Vision goes superspeed to bring him back to help her deliver her children. And though overall the episode is very good, the ending was two sided. It was interesting to see “Geraldine” suddenly remember Pietro Maximoff’s death by Ultron and Wanda throwing her out of the town. It showed that Wanda was indeed controlling the town and its residents, and what happened. It was intriguing to see more weirdness as the neighbors, including Agnes, who is a recurring character in these first three episodes, are acting strangely as they talk to Vision, as he begins realizing something is wrong. However, what bugged me occurred at the very end of the episode, as we see that Geraldine has been thrown out and is wearing agent clothes of “Sword” and is surrounded by soldiers, helicopters, and governmental looking temporary buildings.
Overall, I thought the first three episodes were very good. If I could describe them in one word, it would be charming. The dialogue that seems cliche is clearly self aware, a spoof off the type of interactions that were used in these sitcoms years before. They began to set up the show extremely well for the coming episodes, though I certainly didn’t like the twist at the end of the third episode and the implications that came with it.
This episode is appropriately titled “We Interrupt this Program” because it feels like an abrupt interruption into a promising series. This was one of my least favorite episodes in the series. We are introduced to Jimmy Woo, an FBI agent fan favorite from Ant Man, Monica Rambo, the S.H.I.E.L.D agent who was expelled from the town by Wanda in the previous episode, and Darcy, a scientist from the Thor movies. There are a couple reasons for my hatred for this specific episode. Firstly, it takes us away from Wanda and Vision, the characters who we are supposed to be spending time with and learning about. Instead, we spend time with characters who are frankly uninteresting and are very bland Marvel side characters. Secondly, the dialogue and script as a whole is downright bad. All of the charmingness of the sitcom style is lost in these styleless, metal military rooms that the episode takes place in. Not a single joke landed for me, and while Jimmy Woo is okay, he was certainly not the fan favorite for me that he seems to have been for everybody else. Also, this is when I realized that the show was not going to follow the interesting internal struggle that I thought would be the main conflict, or a possible struggle between Wanda and Vision over what Wanda was doing. Instead, it would become a militarized story about how Wanda was doing a bad thing and she must be stopped. I thought that all the nuance that could make this show great would be lost. Finally, and possibly most importantly, this episode got rid of most of the intrigue built in the first three episodes with expository dialogue and dumps about what was going on and why things were the way they were. We see that the radio was Jimmy Woo, the beekeeper was just some Shield agent. Instead of being shown this later and keeping the intrigue, we were just shown in an uninspired, boring way. We are even told things that we already know, like that Wanda is controlling things. For me, this episode represented everything I didn’t want in a Marvel television show–boring, mediocre, and unspecial.
Episodes 5 and 6
After the drag of episode 4, episode 5 is definitely a step back in the right direction. When it comes to the action within Westview, this is a collosal episode. Cracks begin to form in Wanda’s reality, as Agnes utters the phrase “take it from the top”, and Vision is able to return one of his coworkers to his regular form and realizes that Wanda has created this reality. We see Wanda’s kids get a dog, which dies, and when the children ask Wanda to fix it, she says that there are some things that can’t be undone, such as death. This is the first real mention of what I believe should have been the “internal” struggle of the show. At the end of the episode, Wanda and Vision have an argument about what Wanda is doing. It seems that Wanda has imprisoned all of the residents of Westview to bring back Vision and get a perfect life. This brings in the moral question of whether a person, if they are able to, be able to do this. In Infinity War, it is clear that Vision does not believe that one life should stand in the way of saving many others. At the end of the movie, however, he says that we should not trade lives. All of this is to say that based on his past actions, Vision is against everything that Wanda is doing. Instead of having an external foe, which is what looks like the military would be at this point, it would be much more interesting to have a more philosophical battle between Wanda and Vision over doing what is right. While all this is happening in Westview, however, we cut back throughout the episode into the Sword world to see Darcy, Jimmy, and Monica try to figure out more of what’s happening, and think about what they could do to help Wanda, as Monica believes that she is good and doesn’t mean to cause people harm. Now would be a good time to mention Hayward, the boss of Sword and possibly the most uninteresting character in the MCU. He thinks that Wanda is bad and therefore wants to kill her. These scenes are unbearably drab compared to those with Wanda and Vision, and bring down what could’ve been an almost flawless episode. At the very end of the episode, we see the return of Wanda’s brother, Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver), recast as Evan Peters from the X-Men movies, who was a fan favorite in those films. As Pietro died in Avengers: Age of Ultron, this adds even more intrigue into what Wanda can do in her little universe.
Episode 6 is the Halloween episode in the series. Pietro becomes the wacky cool uncle to Wanda’s twin boys as they go around and take candy from each doorstep. Wanda and Pietro accompany the boys trick or treating as Wanda quizzes Pietro about their past to see if it’s really her brother. For a bit, it seems that she believes him. While this is going on, Vision is going further and further out into Westview to see what is going on, and notices that the people are becoming less and less personlike. There is a woman fake putting up decorations as tears fall from her eyes, and at the very edge of town, nobody is even moving. Finally, Vision meets Agnes and turns her “back to normal” and she tells him that he’s dead. After this interaction, Vision attempts to exit Westview, and he sees the military, however as he tries harder and harder to escape the town, he seems to be falling apart, slowly dying. He is surrounded by soldiers and sees Darcy. Back in town, Wanda’s son, who now has telekinetic powers, senses that Vision is in trouble, and is dying because he is leaving the town. Wanda uses lots of power to expand the town, engulfing Darcy and some other Sword agents, saving Vision. However, right before this, Pietro says to Wanda that her husband (Vision) couldn’t die twice, and she used magic to throw him across the town square. On the outside of the town, as now usual, more Sword activity is occurring throughout the episode. Hayward still wants to kill Wanda, while Darcy, Jimmy, and Monica try to figure out more with what is happening and how to help Wanda.
In this episode, Wanda begins to mentally decline. The world she has created in slowly falling apart, with things changing without her control. She talks to the camera in this Modern Family inspired episode, and talks about how she is overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do. So, good neighbor Agnes decides to take the kids off Wanda’s hands for a bit so she can have a little alone time. Meanwhile, Vision meets Darcy, who was swallowed up by the expansion of Westview, and they team up as Vision returns her to her normal form and learns about how he died and is once again told that this is all Wanda’s doing. As they try to get home, however, Wanda is putting roadblocks in the way, as she knows that Vision will try to stop her from controlling reality. Outside of the town, Monica and Jimmy are trying to find a way to enter, and eventually Monica decides to just walk through, and in so doing appears to gain powers. She goes to confront Wanda, but while she is talking about how Wanda can’t or shouldn’t just bring back Vision, and Wanda appears to accept her role as a kind of villain, seemingly attempting to kill Monica with her magic, Agnes whisks Wanda away, and reveals that she has been the evil witch making everything go wrong all along, and her real name is Agatha Harkness (oooooh) while in her magic evil underground lair. This is what I feared would happen. Instead of a weird morality journey between the two title characters, the show has become a stepping stone for the greater MCU, with another superhero in Monica and a big evil bad guy in Agatha. Once again, while all this is going on, we see Hayward trying to find a way to kill Wanda.
Episode 8 begins with Agatha’s backstory, which consists of the fact that she is hundreds of years old and is evil because she is, and wants to gain even more power. Great villain motivation. Now in her basement, Wanda tries to attack Agatha, who says Wanda can’t because there are runes around the room making it so only Agatha can use magic. The interesting parts of the episode are the backstory of Wanda, as we see her parents killed, her becoming powerful, her meeting with Vision, and her creating the Westview world. This is all very interesting, but doesn’t really serve the plot of the show. After all this, Agatha comes out and is holding the twins hostage by the neck and says that Wanda is the Scarlet Witch, and that she is using chaos magic to control the town. In a post credits scene, we see Hayward charging up the corpse of Vision, except that he is all white, all but confirming a Vision vs. Vision face off in the final episode.
The finale of WandaVision consists of a variety of big fights happening simultaneously. In Vision vs. Vision, the two versions face off for a little while, and the Hayward controlled one seems to be gaining the edge. However, in a very interesting turn, the two have a philosophical debate over whether or not the Westview Vision is really Vision, which results in the Hayward Vision stopping his attempt to kill his counterpart, and the Westview Vision transfers his memories to the new version, meaning that Vision will return in later MCU installments. Sword and Hayward are able to enter Westview after Wanda is essentially forced by guilt into destroying the town, until she sees Vision and her children dying in front of her, because they only exist in this fake reality. After this, Wanda and Agatha fly into the air to have a faceoff. However, before they do, Hayward and his group of agents attempt to kill the twin boys until Monica stops him with her powers and Darcy drives a truck into his car. Finally, Wanda is able to defeat Agatha through use of the runes that Agatha monologued about in the previous episode. After this, Wanda decides it is the right thing to say goodbye to her husband and children and stop her reality. She leaves as the people in the town that she controlled stare at her, filled with hatred.
This show had its various ups and downs. The scenes about the government were some of the most bland I’ve ever seen from Marvel, but the scenes in Westview were usually very good. I did not think that this was a show that needed a supervillain like Agatha or a secondary villain in Hayward. I think that it could have been one of Marvel’s best works if it stuck to the dynamic of morality and immorality between Wanda and Vision. It would’ve even been very interesting to see Wanda turn against Vision for a time, even possibly become a villain herself and tear down Westview out of spite, creating a new big bad that could rival Thanos in the greater MCU. Because of this, I have to say that while WandaVision was an overall good show, it was a bit of a let down. I expected it to be smarter than it was. Instead of asking interesting philosophical questions in the final episodes, it resorted to Marvel movie fights in the sky with good vs. evil. While I thoroughly enjoyed episodes 1-3, most of 5-6, and parts of 7-9, it is an overall mixed show that fails to completely stick the landing.