Last Week on WandaVision…
It was Agnes all along! Well, a lot more happened than that. The show took on a Modern Family aesthetic, Wanda saw through her fake replacement brother, Vision learned of his death, and Monica Rambeau probably gained superpowers. But Agnes! Last week’s biggest reveal was that this show had an antagonist all along and it wasn’t Wanda! (Except, let’s be real here. It still kind of has to be Wanda a little bit, doesn’t it?)
The Witchiest Witch
This episode’s obsession with rehashing the past starts not with Wanda, but Agnes herself as we witness her origin. We cut to Salem back in the days when being a witch in Salem is a very bad idea. Agnes is being dragged against her will to a stake in the middle of a clearing. The twist is that her captors are not Puritans, but other witches, led by her own mother.
It turns out Agnes is simply too witchy for these other witches to handle. She broke their witch rules, and now must face witch punishment. So they all shoot her with witch power. Agnes pretends like it hurts at first, but then sucks all that power up, draining these witches of their age and life. Even poor mom. Because we don’t know what rules she broke or even what moral ground these witches represent, I couldn’t help but be on Agnes’ side a little bit here.
How Does She Do It?
But then I remember Agnes kidnapped Wanda’s kids and killed her dog and – aside from the complicated issue of whether that animal or those children even exist –Agnes’ antagonism comes back into focus. We pop back to the present where Agnes has Wanda in her witchy house, bound against using her own powers by a series of runes in the walls. Agnes’ goal is simple. The power levels displayed by the creation of Westview shocked her, and she needs to understand how it was accomplished.
Think about that for a moment. Centuries of being a powerful witch, yet Agnes doesn’t understand how Wanda was able to pull off something this big. So she intends to find out by threatening Wanda’s family. This seems unwise, like a fly taunting the spider. Agnes is standing on the tiger’s neck, which Dominic Toretto can tell her is not a good idea.
But that’s for next week’s episode. This week doesn’t take the form of a specific sitcom but rather embodies a frequent sitcom trope: the flashback episode. Agnes and Wanda walk through various events of her life to learn the secret of her powers. We start with her childhood, discovering that she and her brother learned English from watching old sitcoms with her parents. It’s very clever, though they maybe could have gone a little less hot with Wanda’s folks. They look like one of those hipster couples who blog about “roughing it” on a new farm while still making like $200,000 a year from their remote marketing jobs.
You might say, “You idiot show! We already know the secret of Wanda’s powers! They were given to her by an infinity stone.” It turns out that’s not quite true. The big reveal (well, one of them) is that Wanda had these powers all along, almost like she has an evolved genetic mutation or something. The stone only brought into focus and amplified what was already inside her. The next flashback jumps to her Hydra experimentation days where we see the stone respond to Wanda, showering her with power and a glimpse of her future form as a costumed superhero. Not the leather jacket costume, either.
The question of whether WandaVision had a villain was always a curious one as the show seemed intensely focused on one character’s expression of grief. No villain was really necessary. Still, we ended up with one after all. I’m sure this will all get cleaned up next week, but the show’s morals are getting murky as a result.
Moving antagonism onto Agnes takes a step away from putting responsibility for kidnapping a town full of innocent folks on Wanda. This episode goes even further in that direction by focusing so hard on Wanda’s tortured existence. Her life thus far is a series of major losses: first her parents, then her brother, and finally her lover Vision, who we see consoling her at the Avengers compound after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We then see how Wanda’s transformation of Westview was (what looks like) a somewhat unaimed outpouring of sorrow, rather than some methodical pruning of other people’s lives. Wanda visits SWORD to claim Vision’s body for burial, a task some Avenger should have warned her would not end well. As the increasingly despicable Hayward reminds her, Vision is property and he doesn’t belong to her. We also learn that the increasingly despicable Hayward lied about Wanda stealing Vision’s body. The Vision of Westview came 100% from Wanda herself.
Failing this task, Wanda drives (is it weird for anyone else to see her drive around?) to the worn-down Westview to look at the foundation for a house that Vision apparently purchased for them. I don’t know when. I also don’t know why he wouldn’t buy her a built house, or why he purchased land in such a dour, run-down town in New Jersey. But it is sweet, regardless. So sweet that Wanda explodes with power and creates her ideal home, one straight out of her old DVDs and occupied by the love of her life.
Agnes now has her answer, and she doesn’t like it. This is all chaos magic and Wanda is the legendary Scarlet Witch. It only took six years, but we finally got there!
What’s on Next?
So much has to happen next week. For starters, I don’t see how Agnes plans to survive a confrontation with such a powerful being. Last week’s stinger – in which Rambeau gets caught by the now evil Pietro – still needs to be addressed. We also need to unpack the consequences of Wanda’s actions, not to mention the ramifications of her very likely being the first of many mutants in the MCU.
But above all, we have this stinger. The increasingly despicable Hayward, using a drone imbued with Wanda’s power, has rebuilt and given life to Vision. He’s totally white now, something comic fans should have all seen coming a mile away. Some serious stuff is about to go down.
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