February 18, 2021

Streamin' (Madverse) Meemies: WandaVision Episode 6, "All New Halloween Spooktacular"


With each episode, WandaVision is becoming darker and more intense. We're a long way from the black-and-white, curly-haired, housewife-in-a-dress 50's. (Although looking back, that episode had a foreboding scene of the participants breaking with what they were "scripted" to do as well, when Vision's boss choked on his food and his wife just stared at him, repeating "Stop it" over and over, until Wanda looked at Vision and said, in the commanding tone of a showrunner, "Vision, help him.") The jaw-dropping introduction of Wanda's supposedly dead brother Pietro is the core of this episode, I think (along with what Vision ends up doing, which I will get to). 

Once again, I will take pity on the maybe two or three people who haven't watched this episode or seen discussions about it on social media. 






Now. When I went back and watched this the second time and wrote up my notes, the first thing I think is important is this episode's theme song. I kept pausing the stream until I had transcribed all the lyrics. (This is the 90's-early Oughts episode, taking from "Malcolm in the Middle," which I have never watched.)

Don't try to fight the chaos 
Don't let it stop the fun
Some days it's all confusion    
Easy come and easy go    
But if it's all illusion
Sit back, enjoy the show

Let's keep it going
Let's keep it going
Through each distorted day     
Let's keep it going
Let's keep it going
Though there may be no way of knowing
Who's coming by to play

(This last line played over a shot of Pietro, with a credit of "Pietro Maximoff as Himself.")                    

This plays into, I think, one of the two major revelations in this episode: Whoever and/or whatever Pietro is, he knows a helluva lot more than anyone else, and much more than he should. This was evident in almost every line of dialogue he uttered, from his mentioning Wanda's creating "Shangri-La" in their first extended conversation, to acknowledging he looks different (as a matter of fact, the two snippets of Quicksilver's death scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron both showed the other actor who played the role), to him referencing said death scene by saying he was "shot in the street for no reason at all and then heard you [Wanda] calling me", to him remembering an incident from their childhood differently than Wanda, to him praising Wanda for the "scenario" she's constructed (and when she asks him if it's wrong, he says no), and finally, at the episode's climax, when Vision is in trouble, he snarkily tells Wanda, "It's not like your dead husband can die twice."

(This remark causes Wanda to throw out one hand, the angry red of her power swirling in her palm, and hurl Pietro clear across the street. I don't know if Wanda, Pietro or someone else will turn out to be the villain behind this whole thing, but by crackey, at that moment he deserved it.) 

Of course, it's been theorized the Marvel is using Pietro, and the actor from the X-Men series who is playing this version of him, to introduce mutants into the Marvelverse. That may be true, but obviously there's more going on here than Wanda just yanking over an alternate version of her brother into this world. 

The second major revelation of this episode is that Vision cannot go through the energy barrier around Westview without starting to come apart, in a manner eerily similar to the original Snap. We find this out when Vision treks to the edge of town, discovering some disquieting details along the way: the further from the center of town, the slower people are moving, until they go from repeating their movements over and over to standing frozen in their tracks, like winding down dolls. (In a particularly disquieting shot, one woman is standing at a clothesline raising and lowering her arm again and again, with a single tear trickling down her cheek.) Vision tries to talk to them, but no one answers. He finally finds Agnes stuck in her car at a stop sign, and "unfreezes" her from Wanda's control. Agnes recognizes him as one of the Avengers, even though Vision doesn't remember what an "Avenger" is--and Agnes asks if she's dead, because, as she tells Vision, "YOU'RE dead." Over and over. Repeating the phrase as her voice rises in hysteria, until Vision, to stop her, finally returns her to Wanda's control. He tells Agnes he will get help, and she starts her car and moves off. She's at the border of Ellis Avenue, where Wanda had previously told the twins never to venture past. But Vision walks to the energy barrier, and starts to push his way through it. This takes a herculean effort, and sets off alarms at the S.W.O.R.D. compound on the other side. Hayward and his people jump in their vehicles to meet Vision, and watch as the synthezoid forces himself through the barrier, telling them the people inside need help--and then Vision starts to crumble, with pieces breaking off him and being dragged back inside. 

(Which is another mystery: if Wanda's power is both a) generating the barrier; and b) keeping Vision's corpse operating, why didn't she sense when he stepped through it? Instead, it's left to their son Tommy, who like his brother Billy has abruptly developed powers--Billy is zipping around in a supersonic blur like Pietro--and who can see "inside his head" what is happening to his father. He runs to Wanda and tells her, "Dad's in trouble. I think he's dying." Which Wanda apparently didn't know until she is told.)

Vision collapses outside the barrier, and Wanda flings up her hands, stopping time, movement and everything else in Westview. This leads to the best action scene of the episode, as she expands the energy barrier. The entire huge red wall moves out in every direction, rippling across the landscape like a gargantuan lava flow, overwhelming everything in its path. Hayward jumps in his SUV and flees, and the officers/FBI agents who are left behind are transformed into clowns, with the S.W.O.R.D. encampment becoming circus tents. Darcy Lewis, who was trying to help Vision and got handcuffed to a vehicle for her trouble, is sucked inside. Jimmy Woo and Monica Rambeau, who left the compound earlier to meet Monica's mysterious "guy" (who had texted her saying he was coming, supposedly bringing another way into the "Hex"--Darcy's nickname for the area) similarly see the barrier coming and put the pedal to the metal trying to outrun it. We're not shown where this expansion stops, but the last shot of the episode is Wanda opening her eyes, which are now blood-red orbs. 

So what's going to happen now? Because Vision clearly knows Wanda is causing this, even if she can't remember why it started or knows how she's doing it. In fact, it seems after their little argument in the last episode that was interrupted by Pietro's arrival (and Wanda insisted, "I didn't do this," so who did?), Vision is avoiding confronting Wanda--except for some snarky remarks as he leaves to go on his Halloween patrol. (And in one of this episode's many Easter eggs, both Wanda and Vision are wearing their classic Marvel costumes.) But after Vision comes back to himself and realizes that, to save him, Wanda both expanded the boundaries of Westview and dragged a great many more people into its maw--what then? 

Three episodes left. 



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