Written by David Holland
The first few episodes of WandaVision did a great job building up the questions. Ever since Wanda’s confrontation with Hayward, we seem to have made a turn, getting a trickle of answers with each episode. In this episode we met a new villain and watched our heroes wrestle with who they are, what they have done, and what the future holds. Every episode leaves us wanting more, and this one was no exception.
Let’s consider the most recent episode of WandaVision from three perspectives: Vision, Wanda, and Agnes
In the comics, Vision’s character arc revolves around his quest to become increasingly human. As he feels and processes emotions, he delights in becoming more like his human counterparts. When he and Scarlet Witch are together, growing emotionally as a person is connected with growing closer to Wanda and becoming a father. He also processes his origins: the original Human Torch (an android unrelated to the Fantastic Four member), created by Ultron with the mental patterns of Simon Williams/Power Man.
In this episode, MCU Vision is similarly wrestling. He has no memory of his creation or his life as an Avenger. Even without those memories, he knows when something is wrong and that he wants to help people. In “Age of Ultron”, Vision proved that he was good by lifting Mjolnir. Having been reanimated, Vision once again proves that he is good, but this time by seeking to understand what is happening in Westview and, most importantly, helping the people in the city. Darcy reassures that the love he and Wanda share is real, and this seems to help him, but he is also intent on confronting her. His talking head moments are played for laughs, but in this episode he very significantly rejects the sitcom style he has been forced into this week. Vision may not know his past, but he can’t escape the person he is.
I haven’t said it enough in this series: the acting in this show has been incredible. Every character has had to change to meet the time period of the week, and I have to say that I think Elizabeth Olsen has done an incredible job of this. She genuinely shines in the clear “Modern Family” vibes of this episode. She has the “overstressed sitcom mom” down perfectly, and her talking heads are spot on. It seems like expanding the borders of the Hex has pushed Wanda’s power to its limits. The milk, television, and wallpaper all start flickering back to previous iterations. This might also be connected to her personal unraveling. Wanda doesn’t seem interested in engaging with anyone outside of her home during this episode. She is also putting up barriers to prevent Vision from getting home because she doesn’t want to have the fight with her husband that she knows is coming, which is another gloriously banal use of superpowers with which I think every person who has a significant other can identify.
In addition to losing control of the Hex, Wanda’s relationship with Vision is also in jeopardy. She has tried keeping Vision in the dark, has tried having everything she wants with no consequences, and has resorted to lies and deception. Her voice, the look on her face, everything about her is showing increasing signs of desperation.
That desperation primes her for another meeting with Monica. Captain Rambeau has come through the Hex again, and Chekov’s radiation has now fully rewritten her cells. Her eyes turn blue instead of Wanda’s red, and I think we have officially met Spectrum, Monica’s current comics alias. Monica is intent on helping save Wanda from whatever Hayward plans (we know, thanks to Agent Woo and Darcy, that those plans involve Vision but not necessarily Wanda). We don’t know the extent of her powers, but we can expect to see her test them in the episodes to come.
Speaking of villains, we finally have a reveal! Wanda’s neighbor Agnes, the one who had a tendency to show up at the most opportune moments with exactly what Wanda needed, is not just an ordinary Westview resident. The character we thought was simply “Agnes” is actually the witch “Agatha Harkness”. The show gives us a helpful musical number, “Agatha All Along”, in case we had any lingering doubts about whether she was helpful or not. She even confesses to killing Sparky, and it is an undeniable rule of cinema that every character who kills a dog is irredeemable.
This Agatha Harkness seems like a departure from the comics version. Comics Agatha is a straightforward old lady witch teacher, sort of a combination of Yoda and Professor McGonagall who trains Scarlet Witch in actual witchcraft. She and Wanda have a falling out related to Wanda’s children (the Mephisto-spawned ones), she is said to have died, but (surprise!) she shows up again later with the Daughters of Liberty, having trained the group of female superheroes in the mystic arts. The WandaVision version of Agatha, at least so far, seems like a straightforward villain. She lures Billy and Tommy into her home following Wanda’s near-breakdown and they are still missing at the end of the episode. When Wanda pursues her children into Agatha’s basement, the witch admits to manipulating events around Wanda including the magic show from episode two, Herb at the fence in episode three, the “recasted Pietro”, and her encounter with Vision at the edge of town. It really makes you question every sitcom neighbor who bursts in uninvited.
WandaVision needed a villain. Wanda thinks it is her, and there is some comics lore to support that, but that always seemed too easy. Tyler Hayward was another clear choice of bad guy, but certainly the internet has been pointing to just about every citizen of Westview and confidently declaring them Mephisto since the first episode. There are still plenty of unanswered questions surrounding Agatha – how does her power level compare with Wanda’s? If Wanda got her power from Mind Stone, where did Agatha get hers? It is possible that she is another Hydra creation, like Wanda, but it is also possible that she has actual magic closer to Doctor Strange. Above all, what does she want? The Hex seems like Wanda’s creation, so perhaps the power called Agatha to it or maybe she has a bigger role in its creation. If she didn’t create it, maybe she plans to use it for her own nefarious ends.