Written by David Holland
WandaVision just keeps getting better. The first three episodes followed the sitcom lives of the two Avengers in Westview, followed by a fourth episode that finally gave us some clues about the world on the outside. This week we get a mix of both. The Westview world has taken on a decidedly ’80’s tone. We also should have known that something serious was coming by the episode title, “On a Very Special Episode”, a preview phrase that used to precede sitcoms when they dealt with tough topics. It became so ubiquitous that it is literally the title of a book about this very phenomenon.
For the recap of this episode, I want to dive deep into four particular lines and see what we can glean from them.
“Kids – you can’t control ’em, no matter how much you try.”
This line comes to us courtesy of Agnes, who is completely unfazed when Billy and Tommy grow from babies into five year olds right in front of her. It’s played for a laugh – literally, the laugh track follows right on cue – but it’s another tidbit for the audience. By this point we have already seen Wanda attempt to use her powers on her children and it has failed. Now Agnes is spelling it out for us – Wanda exerts godlike control over Westview, but not over Billy and Tommy. I’ve mentioned before that in the original comics run of “Vision and the Scarlet Witch”, Wanda does indeed give birth to twins. I’ve also said that these twins are not real, but are simply extensions of Mephisto. This is true, but because it’s comics the reality is also more complicated. You see, Billy and Tommy are eventually reincarnated as Wiccan (with reality-warping powers) and Speed (with… duh… super speed). As I said last week, comics and soap operas have a lot in common.
What does this have to do with Westview? It’s hard to tell at this point how “real” Tommy and Billy are. They might simply be telepathic projections. But they might be more than that. After all, if they were extensions of Wanda’s power, wouldn’t she be able to control them with her abilities? That doesn’t seem to be the case. When they have aged up to ten years old, she tries to tell them that it’s Monday but they are confused – earlier in the episode it was Saturday. They don’t accept her version of events the way everyone else in the town seems to. The twins, like Vision, don’t seem to be as susceptible to her powers as the rest of the town. Does that mean Billy and Tommy can survive if the Westview bubble falls? That remains to be seen.
“I already have what I want.”
Wanda’s truly badass confrontation with the agents of SWORD throws down the gauntlet. I mean, what she actually throws down is a drone, but in a metaphorical sense she issues them her first and last warning. Westview is hers, and she genuinely doesn’t seem to believe she is harming anyone despite the thousands of hostages. Wanda is pretty firmly in villain territory, which is not completely outside the boundaries of a comics character who was first introduced as a member of the “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”. And I will point out, just like I did last week, there are certain Avengers who have caused way worse problems who basically faced zero consequences.
Tyler Hayward, director of SWORD, is trigger-happy already. When Wanda tosses his drone back at him he tells her the missile that he fired at her and her children was “just a precaution”, illustrating that this man does not understand what the word “precaution” means. Sometimes on my way to work I turn back around to double check that I’ve locked the front door. That’s a precaution. Firing a missile at a person and (I can’t stress this enough) at her children, is not a precaution. It’s a war crime. Hayward shows his team a tape of Wanda breaking into a SWORD facility to steal Vision’s body. This makes it seem cut and dried that she has been overtaken by grief and is solely responsible for Westview. But Hayward also describes Wanda’s past in such a way that makes it sound like she is not a hero, but a radicalized Hydra agent. Then he tries to kill her preemptively. That has “tying off loose ends of a cover-up” written all over it. This clown is hiding something.
“You can fix anything! Fix dead!”
When Sparky dies (hence “on a very special episode”), Billy and Tommy are understandably distraught. Demonstrating a quick grasp of Wanda’s immense powers, the boys ask her to use her abilities to resurrect Sparky. She says she can’t, that death is permanent. Of course, we know that isn’t entirely true since she has resurrected Vision. But Vision isn’t organic. His life force came from the Mind Stone, the same source as Wanda’s abilities. In “Infinity War”, that connection allowed her to destroy the Mind Stone in Vision’s head and kill him (to prevent Thanos from getting the Stone, a moment he promptly undid with the Time Stone. You remember that, right? Because it is kind of important to the show.) Apparently channeling that same energy allows her to power Vision in Westview, but only in Westview. When it comes to ordinary humans and organisms, there seem to be limits to Wanda’s power. After all, wouldn’t she resurrect Tony or Natasha if she could? This moment serves as a very important piece of worldbuilding – if you’re going to create a universe with superpowers, show us the limits of those powers. Then, respect those limits.
“She recast Pietro!?”
Let’s get to the big one – Evan Peters’ Quicksilver reveal. If you’re an MCU fan but haven’t kept up with the X-Men movies because they aren’t MCU, you might be confused. Allow me to direct you to a very fine recap of some X-Men films in which Evan Peters plays Quicksilver, aka “Peter”. Here’s the short version: the comics characters Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) are the children of Magneto and both mutants. In the real world, 20th Century Fox had legal film rights to the X-Men universe and all things mutant-related. The MCU skirted this with the twins by giving them their powers via the Mind Stone and never using the word “mutant”. Evan Peters first appeared as the mutant Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014). Then Aaron Taylor-Johnson played Quicksilver in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015). But now the legal ground has shifted, and mutants are headed to the MCU. That’s how we got:
Wanda may not have the power to bring back the dead, but we’ve seen that she is powerful. The leading theory online, which I will jump onto, seems to be that her power tapped into the multiverse. This is a common comic tactic – there are infinite parallel universes, some slightly different from ours, other’s radically different. It lets you play with “What If” scenarios without messing with reality too much. We already know that the MCU is going to dip into the multiverse during Phase 4. The next Doctor Strange movie is subtitled “Multiverse of Madness”, after all. But Wanda tells Vision she did not bring Quicksilver here. He doesn’t believe her, but I do – she seems genuinely shocked at his arrival. Perhaps she is not fully in control. The “hex” (as Darcy calls the power in and around Westview), might have tapped into her subconscious desire to bring back Pietro, brought on by the earlier death conversation with the twins. Unable to resurrect Pietro, it did the next best thing – pulled a parallel version of Quicksilver into Westview without Wanda’s conscious command. If that is what happened, then the hex itself might be beyond Wanda’s control. It could easily become something she couldn’t end if she tried.
Obviously there’s more – Monica Rambeau’s refusal to talk about Captain Marvel (possibly angry that Danvers never came back, even when Maria was sick); The “Lagos” commercial, with clear references to blood on hands and making accidental messes; and the scientist that Monica contacts, but we haven’t seen yet (left field prediction – could it be Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four?). Every episode of this show has been better than the previous. It’s hard to predict how they will top this one, but personally I can’t wait for Friday.