If you’ve been following along with my weekly reviews, you should know by now that I’m not the biggest fan of Marvel. I’ve watched a handful of the solo films and only watched the first team-up movie. Sacrilege, I know. But I have watched supercuts of every single Wanda Maximoff or Vision scene because they’re two of my favorite characters and my favorite pairing from the comics. Today’s episode cut deep.
WandaVision Episode 8: ‘Previously On’ Wanda’s Tragic Life
The episode started out with a throwback to 17th century Salem, Massachusetts and Agatha facing off with her coven for usurping their power. Frankly, this portion of the episode fell flat. I had a hard time reconciling my historical knowledge of witchcraft with this very superhero’d approach to witchcraft.
From there, we’re back to the present day where Agatha is trying to uncover the secret of Wanda’s powers and how she was able to manipulate an entire town and all of its inhabitants to her whim. Kathryn Hahn is delightful with her backhanded humor and menacing glares. It was over-the-top and yet perfectly at home with the story unfolding.
If you are a casual Marvel fan who may not know the depths of Wanda’s tragic backstory, you were treated to a “greatest hits” style episode that showed you the saddest moments of her life, while forcing Wanda to relive all of them.
Since the first episode of WandaVision fans have speculated that Wanda may have been obsessed with American sitcoms as a child in Sokovia. This was a nice touch, as a lot of people have shared stories about their own experiences learning English from reruns and box sets. It also retroactively adds a new layer of sorrow to the series when you recognize that she recreated the last episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show that she watched with her parents before they were killed by a Stark Industries bomb. We also learned that even as a child Wanda had innate abilities, which is likely what saved her and Pietro. If you will recall from the first episode of the series, the commercial break included Stark Industries too.
Wanda and Agatha move from Sokovia to the Hydra facility where Wanda was experimented on. In the latter half of this memory, Wanda is watching The Brady Bunch in her cell. Interestingly, it’s the episode with Cindy’s doll which eagle-eyed fans might recognize from Now in Color.
Dear reader, the next two memories broke me.
At the Avengers Compound, following Pietro’s death, Wanda wallows in her sorrow as she watches reruns of Malcolm in the Middle. Vision, being Vision, phases through the wall to provide her with some company. This scene felt so much like something out of a piece of fanfiction that I had to rewatch it just to ensure I didn’t dream it up. The movies never satisfactorily delved into the early days of this couple and it was so nice to see them interacting and hear Wanda acknowledge that the Compound was their “first home” together.
Following this recollection, Wanda relives a more recent memory, set sometime after Stark’s funeral, when she went to the S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters to retrieve Vision’s body. This entire memory confirms that Hayward is an unreliable narrator. A few episodes back, he claimed that Wanda “broke into” the headquarters and stole Vision’s body, which isn’t true. In fact, Hayward himself took her to see the dismembered body and she left when she realized that she could not feel Vision.
Wanda leaves the headquarters and drives straight towards New Jersey, to the town of Westview. If you have been wondering “Why Westview?” like the rest of us, we got our answer today and it was heartbreaking. Sometime before Vision’s death, he apparently purchased a plot of land in Westview for them to — wait for it — “grow old in.” This makes Vision’s sacrifice and death that much more tragic.
Now we know that the unfathomable grief that Wanda felt triggered “the Hex” and created her idyllic sitcom life. What wasn’t explained — yet — is how she manifested Vision. We know that his body was still in the S.W.O.R.D. headquarters when she left, but as she created the WandaVision show it seemed like the essence of Vision’s Mind Stone was drawn out of Wanda.
Once Wanda hears the boys calling for her, she is pulled back into her reality where she faces off with Agatha who finally calls Wanda by the name we’ve been waiting for — the Scarlet Witch. Did I get chills? Maybe.
Please Stand By abandoned us this week, which was strangely ominous, but we did get another mid-credit scene, and oh was it a good one. It turns out Hayward has the White Vision body, which comic fans will recognize, which leads me to believe that the actor Paul Bettany has always wanted to act with might be himself.
While the penultimate episode of WandaVision started off with a weak scene, the episode felt like a multi-hour long movie packed into forty minutes. There were a few additions to the story that retconned what we already knew about Wanda Maximoff, however, her story has already been changed and comic books are notorious for shifting backstories to create new stories.
Overall, it was a poignant and relatable episode that touched on Wanda’s grief with delicacy. Elizabeth Olsen gives some of her best performances in this episode as she tackles the layered emotions and grief of Wanda Maximoff throughout different points in her life.
Someone, please get Wanda some therapy, a hug, and please don’t make her lose Vision again. Unfortunately, I don’t think that my last request there will have a happy outcome.