February 7, 2021

Streamin' (Madverse) Meemies: WandaVision Season 1 Ep 5, "On a Very Special Episode"



I guess I'll have to start including Spoiler Warnings for these reviews, something I don't normally do. But with the shift to including the outside world in the last episode, and the parallel tracks in this one juxtaposing what's happening in Wanda's Westview bubble and what's happening outside, there's a lot of bombs being dropped. (Sometimes literally.) This series is being reviewed pretty extensively, I think, so I'm sure most of you already know what I'm talking about. Nevertheless, for anyone who hasn't had a chance to watch this yet....






Okay. Here we go. 

As I said, there are two parallel storylines in this episode: the outside looking in (the S.W.O.R.D. camp, with Monica Rambeau, Darcy Lewis, Jimmy Woo, and the head of S.W.O.R.D., who in this episode was revealed to be a real asshole), and the inside looking in, with Wanda, Vision and the twins. The latter is the sadder story of the two, as despite Wanda's increasingly desperate attempts to keep control, it's obvious that Vision is catching on to what she's doing. It's also apparent that he doesn't like it one bit. In the very first scene, when the now Jazzercise-clad neighbor shows up to rock the screaming twins, there's an odd bit where Vision doesn't say the dialogue Agnes thinks he's supposed to say, and Agnes asks Wanda if they should start the scene over. The two of them laugh hugely and try to hustle past this break, but of course Vision has noticed this and questions Wanda about it. Then he is (conveniently) distracted by Tommy and Billy's sudden aging up to five, which Agnes witness and doesn't blink an eye over. (There's two other instances in the episode of Agnes witnessing Wanda and/or the twins doing impossible, magically powered things, and not only does this not freak Agnes out, she makes snarky remarks about it. The mystery of Who Exactly Is Agnes is going to be very important, I think.)

Later on, back at "Computational Services" where Vision works, we've progressed to the early Apple-II computers (at least that's what they looked like) and Vision's coworker Norm making a big deal out of "electronic mail." But Vision downloads an e-mail which actually comes from Darcy Lewis and the S.W.O.R.D. crew outside, mentioning the "Maximoff anomaly." He is so upset by this that he presses his hands to the monitor to wipe it from his sight, and then uses the same gesture on Norm's head when Norm won't shut up. This has the unintended side effect of momentarily loosening Wanda's hold on Norm, and Norm begs Vision to make Wanda stay out of his head. He's also frantic to contact his family, which disturbs Vision mightily. All this comes to a head in the last scene in the episode, where Vision confronts Wanda at home. He demands to know what she's doing and why.

There are quite a few things revealed in this scene, among them that Vision can't remember anything from before Westview, which would make sense since he was, y'know, dead before Westview. Wanda is either partially or wholly in control of the Westview bubble (and there's a rather sinister moment where Vision states, "You can't control me like you do them," meaning the townspeople, and Wanda says, "Can't I?"), but she also admits that she doesn't know how she got here or why it started. The fight starts with Wanda making the end credits roll as Vision questions her, and then both she and Vision rise in the air and hover as they continue to argue. Then Vision asks why there aren't any other children in Westview and why the playgrounds are empty. After that, right at the end of the episode, the doorbell rings--and Wanda protests, "I didn't do that," only to realize that Vision doesn't believe her--and I will get to who was at the door in a minute. 

The twins, Tommy and Billy, figure prominently in this also, both in that typical sitcom way of children learning a sad lesson and the WandaVision sitcom way of children aging themselves up from zero to five and then five to ten when they want to adopt a puppy they found. (This is another thing that is done right in front of Agnes, along with Wanda's manufacturing a collar out of thin air for said puppy.) In the second half of the show, following another Marvel universe-pertinent commercial break ("Lagos" brand paper towels), Sparky (the dog) wanders off, and Wanda and the twins roam the streets in search of him. Turns out he got into Agnes' azalea bush and was poisoned by eating the leaves. (Agnes has the dog supposedly bundled up in her arms, but we don't actually see the dog's body.) There follows another typical sitcom moment when the twins cry over Sparky, set against a WandaVision sitcom moment where they beg their mother to resurrect Sparky and bring him back. (And in a supremely ironic bit of dialogue, Wanda refuses to do so, saying that there are rules that have to be followed and death can't be reversed, even though that's precisely what she's done with Vision.)

In the outside Westview S.W.O.R.D. storyline, Captain Monica Rambeau, who Wanda kicked out of what Darcy Lewis calls "the Hex"--the hexagonal-shaped bubble of Wanda's power--is debriefed (and her xray scans are eerily blank, which no doubt will come into play later on). She admits that Wanda controlled her, that Wanda's voice was in her head and "it was grief." Hayward, the head of S.W.O.R.D., hold a meeting and brings everyone up to speed, giving them Wanda's history with Hydra and the Avengers and all but proclaiming her a sentient weapon/terrorist. Monica objects, and Hayward shows the gathered crowd the footage where, nine days ago, Wanda stormed a S.W.O.R.D. research facility and took away Vision's dismembered corpse. In the back of the room, after Darcy Lewis calls Hayward a "dick" (in a quick cutaway bit of editing, we don't actually hear the word, but we know that's what she said), Darcy raises a pertinent and prescient question: since Wanda has "the world's only vibranium synthezoid in Suburbia playing Dad, what happens when Vision learns the truth?" 

After this meeting, Monica is trying to figure out a way to get back into Westview and surmises that period-appropriate technology could penetrate the surrounding force field. They find an 80's drone and send it in, and Monica tries to talk to Wanda. Hayward, however, tries to use the drone to shoot Wanda (told you he was an asshole). This does not work and leads to the most dramatic scene in the episode: Wanda brings down the drone, picks it up and carries it outside the Westview bubble, emerging in her modern Infinity War-style superhero costume. She knows what S.W.O.R.D. is there for and what they're doing, and she warns them off. Once again Monica tries to talk to her, finally asking: "What do you want?" 

"I have what I want," Wanda says, "and no one will ever take it from me again." 

She then forces all the soldiers standing around who have drawn beads on her to shift their aim to Hayward instead, and turns around and walks off. As she disappears inside the force bubble, it turns a whole lot redder and arches a whole lot higher, which makes me doubt any kind of tech, 80's or otherwise, will ever make it through from here on out. 

(This also makes me suspect that at the end of the show, it's not Monica who will talk Wanda down--it will be Vision. Vision, who cannot live with what Wanda has done to bring him back to life.)

Finally...back to the doorbell. Wanda opens the door and gasps. We see the back of a man's head, silver hair on top and dark underneath. This proves to be Wanda's formerly dead brother, Pietro. (In a meta bit of casting that nearly exploded the internet, the actor playing Pietro isn't the one from Avengers: Age of Ultron, but rather the X-Men movies. And in a really meta snippet of dialogue as she watches this episode on her TV, Darcy Lewis remarks on it: "She recast Pietro!") This was foreshadowed by a bit of dialogue: y'all remember from episode 3 when Wanda said she "had" a brother? In this episode, when questioned by one of the twins, she says she has a brother. Present tense. And she's separated from him, which makes her sad. Of course, with the real-world announcement from Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige that Marvel's Phase 4 movies, particularly the upcoming Dr. Strange sequel, will feature the multiverse, and since this very show is being used to set up Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness...did Wanda reach into the multiverse and port an undead version of her brother over to this universe? 

Questions, questions. One thing for sure, though: Elizabeth Olson and Paul Bettany are absolutely killing their roles. The 80's trappings and theme song for this episode--drawing from, according to what I've read, Family Ties, Growing Pains and Full House--are spot on. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Wanda and Vision's story is going to end in tragedy. I don't know how it could be otherwise.


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