Comics On TV

WandaVision: Agnes Provides Answers and Defines Wanda in Episode 8

Kathryn Hahn's character has been an enigma all this time, but the latest episode reveals more of her backstory and has us wondering: Is she really a villain?

by | February 26, 2021 | Comments

Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn in WANDAVISION

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

As WandaVision enters into its final moments, answers come in abundance. Well, provided Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) memories are correct, of course. And while her guide through past traumas may not be all that benevolent, confronting those incidents may be beneficial in the end.

Or, perhaps, the fear of what Wanda could be is just too much for some to handle. Either way, Wanda has a new title to deal with on top of her unresolved griefs. And though Vision (Paul Bettany) may have tried to reframe what grief is, it’s still going to take a superhero therapist to help Wanda through it all.

Is Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) applying for the job?

Before we can answer that question, let’s take a look at the answers WandaVision finally offered this week for some added insight.

Spoiler Alert: This article reveals details from WandaVision episode 8 “Previously On.” Stop here if you have not watched the episode.

The Hex Was Wanda’s Doing

Kathryn Hahn and Elizabeth Olsen in WANDAVISION

Debbie Day

Once Agatha revealed herself last week, it was tempting to wonder if the entire Hex was part of her spell. The Darkhold — if that book in her basement is The Darkhold — has to potential to power something on the scale of Westview. But it turns out the Hex is genuinely Wanda’s creation. In fact, the ability to spontaneously keep it running is what compelled Agatha to Westview in the first place.

In terms of a Marvel Cinematic Universe plot, that understanding is important because it means Wanda is still ultimately in control of the thing and will have to answer for it at some point. But perhaps more important than the legal challenges she may face in the future is the revelation that all the imagery within Westview was her choosing.

As we learned this week, the Maximoff family was learning English via DVD box sets of American sitcoms. Young Wanda’s (Michaela Russell) father Olek (Daniyar) amassed a collection ranging from I Love Lucy to Malcolm in the Middle. And though he seemed to be selling the lot for the sake of the family, he hid the series set of The Dick Van Dyke show in the wall because it was Wanda’s favorite — her favorite episode is itself a love letter to television. That appreciation of sitcoms comes from one of the most benign forms of American imperialism: the export of old television. Sadly, one of the worst aspects of imperialism comes crashing down on the family shortly thereafter: some Stark Industries bombs.

In a curious twist, though, it turns out the second bomb Wanda and young Pietro (Gabriel Gurevich) thought to be a dud was altered to fail by Wanda’s incipient powers. The magic was always within her.

And considering the flashback to Agatha’s witch trial in 1693, it is entirely possible she wants that power for herself.

The TV Shows Really Mattered to Wanda

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

Beyond her Sokovian childhood, the TV shows continued to matter as they offered Wanda an out in troubled times. Dick Van Dyke will always represent the before time, but now we see The Brady Bunch is tied to her time with Hydra — an “anti-freedom terrorist organization,” as Agatha put it.

Although, by taking us back to Hydra, WandaVision offers us a new spin on things: joining up was Wanda’s attempt to avoid grieving for her parents. Instead of doing that, she hoped to “change the world” with a bunch of fascists because they also had beef with Stark. It’s certainly bad judgement on her part, but it is interesting to note how she evades her misgivings, particularly after her encounter with the Mind Stone, with a Brady Bunch episode about whopping misunderstandings.

Similarly, she turned to Malcolm in the Middle after Pietro’s death and, subsequently, to Vision to avoid dealing with the grief. Although, it is interesting to see the first inklings of their relationship in this context. Wanda says the Avengers campus is the first home they shared, but the scene itself is still from early in their time there. At that point, they lived in separate rooms and Wanda often reminded Vision about her boundaries. Also, we couldn’t help but notice the way she bossed him around and his own trepidation around her. Granted, Vision was still quite a young lifeform trying to learn all of humanity’s complexities via Wanda at that point and is clearly deferring to the person with more experience.

And, yet, he seems to understand a philosophical aspect of grief that Wanda does not because she cannot deal with her traumas. Somehow, that makes him the perfect companion.

We’re going to assume Family Ties and Modern Family also became her go-to shows after other events. The commercials in previous episodes seem to recount the traumas — the beeping on the Stark toaster mirroring the beeping of the Stark ordinance — so perhaps, the Keatons helped Wanda after the mess in Lagos (as depicted in Captain America: Civil War).

Modern Family appears to be the odd show out as the Nexus commercial has nothing to do with Thanos or Vision’s death. Maybe it was Agatha’s choice since she added the false Pietro (Evan Peters) — “Fietro, if you will” — by that point. If so, that may be a clue to her endgame.

Wanda Built Her House Atop the Ruined Shell of Another

Paul Bettany in WandaVision

We also learned Westview, New Jersey, is, in fact, real despite the Eastview sheriff denying it to Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Paris) and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). Based on Wanda’s drive through town after her visit to S.W.O.R.D. — more on that in a bit — we get the impression it suffered greatly from the Blip. In fact, that economic devastation seemed so severe that the return of all the people lost five years earlier offered the town no solace. The people seemed as broken as Wanda herself.

And then comes the most heartbreaking revelation: Vision bought them the plot at 2800 Sherwood Drive so they could grow old together.

Sadly, though, there is no house at 2800; just the suggestion of one. It was the final blow to Wanda’s wounded psyche and we empathize with her utterly. Also, from Agatha’s point of view, it was the moment Wanda came into true possession of her powers. Overcome with grief, her magic transformed Westview in a Dick Van Dyke suburb, the plot into a home, and conjured a new Vision from magical matter. It’s an gangbuster scene both in terms of the raw emotion and what it tells us about Wanda’s powers.

But let’s back up to S.W.O.R.D. as it pertains to the new Vision.

The timeline is a little fuzzy, but we’re going to assume Wanda visited the S.W.O.R.D. base a handful of days after the final fight in Avengers: Endgame. There, she learned Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and S.W.O.R.D. techs have been dismantling Vision because it is their “legal and ethical obligation” to recreate the most advanced sentient weapon ever created. Or, at the very least, maintain custody of the $3 billion worth of vibranium in his corpse. It is a gruesome way to regard someone as gentle as Vis, but it is entirely in keeping with what we know about Hayward — in fact, it underscores the first lie he told the S.W.O.R.D. field team and viewers some weeks ago.

After facing the dismantled Vision, Wanda seemingly processed that shock and left without the pieces of him. But in episode 5, Hayward showed the field team video of Wanda taking Vision’s body. Some always suspected the footage was doctored and it turned out to be the case. Hayward always had Vision. This explains why the New Vision started to disintegrate as he tried to leave the Hex. It does not explain, however, how Hayward was able to track him within its borders.

Now that he has seemingly resurrected the original Vision, we still have to wonder about his true aim. Perhaps, like Agatha, he seeks to possess Wanda’s seeming ability to warp reality. But it is also possible he sees bigger opportunities in that power beyond sentient weapons. Then again, he may be blind to a wider vision (sorry) and just wants Wanda to power a Synthezoid army.

Oh, but we should mention that he is convinced Wanda can resurrect Vis before the Hex. Why would he even suspect that?

Meanwhile, it is devastating to think Vision was so convinced he and Wanda would be able to live together peacefully that bought a plot of land in suburban New Jersey. Similarly devastating: She will have to face off against his icy-looking reanimated corpse next week.

What Is Agatha’s Endgame? And What Is A Scarlet Witch?

Kathryn Hahn in WANDAVISION

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Although she is strangling Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne) and wearing a full evil witch costume, there is still the possibility that Agatha’s true purpose at the end of this episode is, ultimately, beneficial. The entire trip through Wanda’s memories forced her to see all the ways she’s avoided grief and how it led to the Hex. Then there’s the statement about a Scarlet Witch being dangerous and a figure of myth.

Which leads to the question: What is a Scarlet Witch? The term seemingly has no other significance beyond Wanda’s comic book history, so the show may be creating a new idea here with Wanda and her Chaos Magic. If that is the case, Agatha will need to give us another exposition dump next week to understand its significance. But, for the moment at least, it indicates the hue of Wanda’s power actually matters. We’ve always suspected the red energy she commands tied her to the Reality Stone despite her powers seemingly emanating from the Mind Stone. Now that we know that encounter was not quite what Wanda or Hydra believed — and that she had powers all along — that potential tie to the Aether may prove true.

Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios - episode 104)

Or, the color scheme may be an coincidence. But considering the purple hue of Agatha’s powers, and the yellow energies Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) often commands, we believe the chromatics of magic will contain a deeper meaning after next week’s finale.

But that still leaves us with Agatha’s ultimate aim. The flashback at the start of the episode suggests an involuntary need to consume magic; which would make her a less of a villain — and more like Wanda — if it is something she does not control. As we suggested earlier, it is still possible she is playing at being an evil witch to help Wanda finally process her grief.  She could also be genuinely afraid of what a Scarlet Witch can do or believes the Chaos Magic will allow her access to the Nexus of All Realities. Well, provided the Nexus commercial last week was really her invention.

As it happens, Agatha’s comic book history offers a few hints to her ambiguous morality. Though typically allied with heroes like the Fantastic Four, she allowed the 17th-century Salem witch trials to occur as it would cull the witch ranks of weaker elements. Her sometimes shadowy aims led to conflicts with some of the Marvel heroes, but her goals were never villainous. Curiously, though, in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, she is really the Dragon-of-Seven who destroyed Atlantis. Another name for the creature: the Hydra.

Which, despite everything we learned this week, still makes her the wildcard. Is she the bad guy or is it, ultimately, Hayward who presents the true antagonism here?

Evan Peters in WANDAVISION

(Photo by Marvel Studios - episode 105)

Since were already asking questions, let’s just add these to the pile as we wait for the finale:

• Who is fake Pietro?

• How’d that fight with Monica go?

• Is there still room for Mephisto to appear at this point?

• What other obstructions are keeping New Vision from getting home?

• Are the twins real or just part of the Hex?

• Is Jimmy waiting patiently at the border for a positive outcome?

Hopefully, we’ll get some concrete answers to these questions along with that often-teased special guest cameo next week.

New episodes of WandaVision premiere on Fridays on Disney+.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

critics a nightmare on elm street rotten movies we love canceled The Arrangement james bond political drama Mary Poppins Returns Polls and Games Rom-Com DGA PlayStation telelvision Television Critics Association adventure Arrowverse Marathons HBO cats halloween Year in Review name the review Holidays Stephen King cancelled TV series AMC Plus game show what to watch all-time international psychological thriller CBS All Access theme song nbcuniversal American Society of Cinematographers Pride Month gangster 2016 Anna Paquin sequels IFC Films jamie lee curtis posters mutant cartoon politics period drama The Walking Dead festival Lifetime Christmas movies Reality dramedy cops stand-up comedy Comedy Central trailers vampires japan emmy awards robots Britbox BBC America revenge Writers Guild of America Image Comics comic BET Nat Geo GLAAD Box Office hollywood Awards Tour spanish award winner indiana jones Paramount Network 4/20 Peacock Starz 2021 Pirates Pet Sematary video on demand romantic comedy blockbuster Best and Worst Sneak Peek cooking Sundance Now Fox Searchlight space Netflix Hallmark Christmas movies stoner suspense OneApp comiccon live event Amazon new york TV renewals TCA Awards TCA Winter 2020 Awards new star wars movies true crime The CW biopic Mindy Kaling RT21 PBS olympics 007 Animation Tumblr New York Comic Con Premiere Dates Tokyo Olympics National Geographic Acorn TV Marvel crime thriller Tarantino spy thriller Certified Fresh rom-coms concert romance Amazon Studios mob Fox News quibi Lionsgate Brie Larson prank Holiday Opinion debate Mary Tyler Moore social media discovery spider-man boxing Vudu black comedy Turner Classic Movies zombies legend dexter child's play IFC war Nominations disaster rt archives Disney Plus BBC One X-Men WGN LGBTQ Cosplay Dark Horse Comics festivals Sci-Fi 71st Emmy Awards HBO Max APB Set visit supernatural new zealand History Spike dc Instagram Live streaming 45 worst superman science fiction Binge Guide TBS Netflix Christmas movies critic resources Comedy scary movies Crackle medical drama Winners aapi President Fantasy The Purge The Academy jurassic park Amazon Prime Video game of thrones king arthur Paramount unscripted miniseries video BBC DC Comics Captain marvel spinoff aliens comedies Elton John Sundance TV Lucasfilm Avengers Musical hist MTV transformers Amazon Prime ratings sports Drama Hulu kaiju NYCC Horror women TV Land comic book movie Video Games First Reviews dceu worst movies franchise Valentine's Day A&E TLC Classic Film crime drama TIFF popular TV One reviews finale Photos deadpool hispanic heritage month TV movies CNN renewed TV shows Marvel Studios Alien kong ABC ABC Signature DirecTV thriller E! Disney Sony Pictures comic book movies 2019 San Diego Comic-Con 73rd Emmy Awards Reality Competition documentaries fresh Pop TV movies RT History toy story binge Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt halloween tv black Masterpiece A24 tv talk 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Disney streaming service YA DC Universe laika Super Bowl First Look Discovery Channel Disney Channel Logo FX on Hulu book adaptation sopranos witnail Travel Channel christmas movies independent toronto Hallmark obituary Star Trek Universal rt labs talk show Sundance stop motion Pacific Islander Biopics TruTV Western comics Legendary cancelled TV shows Wes Anderson Schedule genre venice adenture streaming movies 20th Century Fox Rock 99% Film IMDb TV TCA 2017 PaleyFest ID ESPN HBO Go NBA Women's History Month Cannes remakes technology Turner VOD Superheroes elevated horror YouTube twilight Spring TV mcc Pop Nickelodeon VH1 Trivia Ovation Apple french Emmys WarnerMedia boxoffice docudrama Marvel Television Martial Arts classics Spectrum Originals El Rey blockbusters Comic Book Infographic Creative Arts Emmys heist movie Heroines movie golden globes historical drama police drama television 24 frames Trophy Talk SXSW cancelled television justice league ViacomCBS harry potter Freeform composers breaking bad art house joker Neflix series best travel satire Countdown slasher Teen razzies Oscars Film Festival royal family YouTube Red cinemax scorecard sequel Walt Disney Pictures hidden camera Comic-Con@Home 2021 Emmy Nominations Paramount Plus golden globe awards MCU screen actors guild Apple TV+ monster movies Tubi Christmas biography Character Guide Podcast LGBT scene in color Apple TV Plus FXX 2015 based on movie Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CBS Kids & Family GIFs Red Carpet teaser SundanceTV AMC Chernobyl Musicals football target documentary versus 21st Century Fox Exclusive Video Superheroe Columbia Pictures 1990s Rocketman marvel cinematic universe Funimation 93rd Oscars nfl Food Network Ellie Kemper NBC ghosts australia Calendar children's TV psycho parents kids films Syfy Fall TV Epix Mystery Bravo rotten Cartoon Network live action basketball Thanksgiving Shondaland dark know your critic action-comedy Mudbound nature FOX Watching Series 2020 facebook news universal monsters adaptation feel good foreign dogs The Walt Disney Company Trailer canceled TV shows batman scary Broadway strong female leads vs. 2017 Crunchyroll VICE Extras dragons superhero Music Esquire FX Country spider-verse 72 Emmy Awards serial killer Universal Pictures Action sitcom BET Awards animated screenings green book anime docuseries MSNBC Lifetime comic books Comics on TV Rocky king kong archives Election SDCC Ghostbusters marvel comics CW Seed dreamworks TCA Showtime Family Warner Bros. italian Pixar Tomatazos sag awards slashers crime 90s Winter TV rt labs critics edition Quiz lord of the rings DC streaming service GoT Disney+ Disney Plus criterion fast and furious cancelled mission: impossible Baby Yoda wonder woman E3 USA Network TCM See It Skip It godzilla Television Academy Black Mirror pirates of the caribbean young adult zero dark thirty cars TNT Endgame directors werewolf Summer die hard OWN Toys TV spain saw diversity BAFTA Black History Month chucky spanish language high school crossover book asian-american Academy Awards japanese Song of Ice and Fire reboot anthology indie richard e. Grant YouTube Premium hispanic Interview cults CMT ITV Grammys singing competition natural history Hear Us Out free movies mockumentary USA 2018 casting south america Shudder blaxploitation Star Wars Mary poppins Adult Swim latino The Witch doctor who ABC Family zombie