Written by David Holland
We asked for answers and boy did this episode provide them. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Ever since episode three we have been expanding the WandaVision cast of characters. We met Gwendolyn/Monica, Hayward, Billy, Tommy, then brought back Jimmy Woo, Darcy Lewis, and “Pietro”. But this week’s episode shrinks the world back down to two: Wanda and Agatha Harkness. It’s an intimate retelling of Wanda’s life, a revisiting of the trauma that led her to Westview and the “Dick van Dyke” style set of the first episode. Let’s explore some of the major revelations in turn:
Revelation #1: Wanda’s Love of Sitcoms
Something as minor as a character liking a certain type of TV show is usually just helpful for fleshing them out, making them more interesting. “WandaVision” is premised on Wanda’s love of sitcom. Her father sold DVDs of them in Sokovia and her family used his unsold wares to practice their English and escape the horrors of the country’s civil war. She got lost in the same type of show during Hydra’s experimentation. After Pietro’s death, she turned to sitcoms again for comfort. When Vision asks how the “grievously injured” man in the episode they are watching is funny, she simply replies that he’s not actually injured. Vision asks how she knows.
“It’s not that kind of show,” Wanda answers simply.
What if you had the power to escape into a world where problems were either solved within 30 minutes or simply disappeared a week later? What if your life could be that kind of show? Wanda turned to sitcoms for comfort throughout her whole life. Agatha drives the point home for us: when she lost her parents, her brother, and Vision, when she had nothing else, she used her power to escape to the world that comforted her. To live in exactly that kind of show.
I want to dwell for a moment on the scene at the Avengers facility between Wanda and Vision after Pietro’s death. Movies, especially comic book movies, are a medium that require events to move quickly. We don’t spend a lot of quiet moments with our heroes in the MCU films. This quiet moment, though, is one of the most remarkable scenes in the MCU. Vision and Wanda, having just met during the events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, clearly with some interest in each other, but just friends for now, spend time talking about grief and loss. They process Wanda’s loss together, and then watch television and simply sit together. Vision shares his unique perspective, still getting used to what it means to be, much less to love and lose someone. We have watched people die in the MCU before, we’ve seen heroes get angry or cry as a result of that death, but we have never really watched grief, the slow process that starts and stops and hits you in waves (to borrow Wanda’s words) until this scene.
Obviously I don’t know what next week’s episode has in store, but I am pretty confident that Wanda is not the bad guy, regardless of what she says. But she is in the dark, and I think that it will be Vision who helps pull her out of the darkness again. After all, he has done it before.
Revelation #2: What Really Happened in the SWORD Facility?
Yeah, so we can now confirm that Tyler Hayward was lying about Wanda stealing Vision’s body. Hayward was already suspicious, given his penchant for secrets and his treatment of Rambeau, Woo, and Lewis. Plus, there’s that old “Star Trek” joke that every Starfleet officer other than the main characters of whatever show/movie you’re watching is either hopelessly incompetent or completely evil. That basically holds true for government agents in the comic book universes. You’re either Nick Fury, or you’re the bad guys.
The scene of Wanda standing in horror over Vision’s body is taken straight from the comics and it is one of several absolutely gutting moments in this episode. Vision’s character arc is about becoming human, and there is nothing human about what is being done to him. In a heartbreaking mirror of their “I just feel you” exchange from “Avengers: Infinity War”, Wanda tries to touch Vision’s mind but can only sob, “I can’t feel you”. Then, importantly she leaves.
I’ll touch more on the creation of the Hex in a moment, but I want to linger on the Vision that Wanda creates in Westview for a moment. This is not a reanimated Vision. It is one she creates from within her own heart. He sprang, fully formed, from her magic. I emphasize this because the Vision of Westview is not just good, he is unquestionably Vision. He wants to save people in trouble and he challenges Wanda when he senses that she is intentionally evading his questions. Wanda could have made a compliant, docile Vision, but she didn’t. She brought back his whole self, including the parts of him that are willing to stand up to her. I don’t think the significance of this can be overstated. It speaks directly to the power of the love they have for one another that Wanda’s Vision is not a shade of his other self. I am confident he will be more recognizably Vision than the monstrosity that Hayward wakes up in the mid-credits scene. And not just because of the color scheme.
Revelation #3: The Birth of the Hex
This whole episode begins because Agatha is searching for answers. She has been around since at least the seventeenth century, the intro showed us that she is clearly powerful, and she entered the Hex by her own power to try to understand its source. Basically, she can’t figure out who trained Wanda, how she is carrying out incredibly complex magic seemingly on a whim. She stops just short of accusing Wanda of being a Mary Sue.
For Agatha, magic is a series of complex incantations and spellwork. Say it just right, move your fingers just so, it takes years of practice to get good at the basics. Wanda’s power levels are off the charts and she has never even muttered so much as an “abracadabra”. She thinks it, uses her power, and simply alters reality. Agatha has a name for this: Chaos Magic. At the end of the episode she is holding Wanda’s children by the necks but calls Wanda the dangerous one.
We’ve watched Wanda’s power amp up over time. In “Age of Ultron” she was flicking red bolts at robots, but by “Endgame” she was going toe to toe with Big Purple himself and winning. Agatha implies there’s a deeper well of power there. She calls Wanda a being “capable of spontaneous creation” – we have another word for that: God. Wanda created the hex without knowledge of spells or years of study. In the comics Agatha Harkness finds Scarlet Witch and trains her to her full potential. If what we are seeing now is an untrained Wanda, imagine what she is capable of with some tutelage from a skilled teacher. Not mentioning any names…
Bonus Revelation: White Vision
As I alluded to earlier, in the mid-credits scene, we meet White Vision. In comics canon, Vision has his personality erased and becomes White Vision, losing all connection with his wife Wanda. It’s a gutting setback for a character defined by his desire to become more human. In the MCU, there is a sense in which this is the “real” Vision, but of course Wanda’s Vision feels much more true to the character. Obviously there will have to be some sort of confrontation between the two, and perhaps a merging that can restore Vision to life. Or maybe Wanda’s Vision will once more shepherd her through grief, this time the grief of losing him (for the third time). There is plenty to wrap up, what with Hayward, Agatha, White Vision, and also that whole town that Wanda mind controlled and turned into her private sitcom. But I think we can forgive that last one.