(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.
(Photo by Marvel Studios - episode 107)
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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?
(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.