Wandavision recap: Good for her
With "Breaking the Fourth Wall," the season's seventh installment, Wandavision both defied and lived up to expectations. All week long, fans assumed that episode 7 would feature a surprise cameo from a fantastic Marvel scientist. Alas (or, from my perspective, thankfully), that didn't come to pass. On the other hand, though, the clever series puckishly and delightfully confirmed the prevailing theory about who Kathryn Hahn is actually playing — which was one of several times I audibly said, "Good for her" while watching the mockumentary-styled outing.
Picking up the next morning after last week's Halloween crisis, we find Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff doing her best impression of Modern Family's Claire Dunphy as she expresses her shame over expanding the Hex in a classic mockumentary talking head. At first, the very 2010s jokes didn't land for me, despite Olsen's committed and spot-on performance (the hand gestures are perfect, see the photo below!); however, that changed as the episode progressed. I particularly loved the moment when Wanda, hoping to just have a "quarantine-style staycation," advises her twins not to worry about Vision not being there and what their not-uncle Pietro said about their dad re-dying last week.
"I'm your mom and as such you are counting on me to have all the answers, right? Well, I don't. I have no answers," she tells them. "I'm starting to believe that everything is meaningless. You're welcome to draw your own conclusions, but that's where I'm at." If that's not a hilariously relatable mood for the past year, I don't know what is. The first "Good for her" moment of the episode! Thankfully, Agnes shows up shortly thereafter and takes the twins off of Wanda's hands, leaving Wanda to wonder why her house is falling apart around her.
As always, any fun we're having comes to a screeching halt as soon as the show's attention turns to whatever was happening outside of the Hex. Short story even shorter: Monica and Jimmy confirm that Hayward was trying to revive Vision and turn him into a Sentient Weapon (TM) (Shoutout to our Marvel expert Devan Coggan for guessing this weeks ago), and Monica's engineer friend is just a random U.S. Air Force person. All of that snooze-worthy stuff is just a preamble for one of the episode's main events: Monica boldly passing through the Hex barrier in a trippy, dazzling, and empowering sequence. Watching Monica forcibly pull herself together and push through the other side of the barrier as the voices of people from her past swirled around her — including Carol Danvers' — left me in awe. Good. For. Her.
The episode confirms Monica gained powers from her many trips through the barrier and sets her on the path to embracing her comic book-mandated destiny. Our first hint of her abilities arrives when she starts being able to see the electromagnetic spectrum once she re-enters the Hex. Not long after that, her powers save her when an angry Wanda magically jettisons her from the home. Good for Monica! In fact, the two women's confrontation provides the episode with its emotional core as Monica tries to connect with Wanda over their shared grief and convince her that running away from the pain won't help. Monica's words leave Wanda speechless, but Agnes intervenes and pulls Wanda away and into her home before Monica can truly get through to her.
And thus we arrive at the episode's biggest reveal: Agnes sinisterly reveals to Wanda she's actually a powerful sorceress named Agatha Harkness, as so many people guessed before the show even premiered. In the comics, Agatha was a mentor of sorts to Wanda. Here on Wandavision, though, she's a foe, as explained by the devilishly delightful "Agatha All Along" musical sequence. Good! For! Her! I love truly how this episode gave Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez an opportunity to flex their genius musical muscles in different ways. The half-hour began with a Happy Endings-inspired opening credits sequence (a nod to the Russo Brothers' pre-MCU filmography) that features a peppy The Office-style score, and it ended with this playfully villainous Agness ditty. I want to make "Agatha All Along" my new ringtone!
While the song very clearly says that it was Agatha all along, I don't think it's actually confirming she's necessarily the second big bad (the first one is obviously grief, natch). Like yes, it's revealed that she's been doing her best Loki impression and causing all kinds of chaos in Westview, like whammying Evan Peters' character and killing Sparky (I truly laughed out loud at that last part!), but it doesn't actually lay the creation of the Hex at her feet. Instead, I feel like we're in a situation where Wanda created the Hex (Remember how the opening credits literally said "created by Wanda Maximoff"), and Agatha just decided to take advantage of it to have some fun. In other words, I'm still waiting for the other (Hayward-sized) shoe to drop. Either way, though, Hahn has been fantastic all season long, but especially in this episode, from her hammy performance in the "Agatha All Along" to her perfect delivery of "I actually did bite a kid once." Say it with me one more time: Good! For! Her! (As if the Agatha reveal wasn't enough, "Breaking the Fourth Wall" did a very Marvel thing and included a mid-credit scene: A mind-controlled Peter stops Monica before she enters Agatha's vine-covered lair).
Before handing over the recap to my colleague Christian, I need to touch on the other fun part of this episode: Vision and Darcy's hilariously long drive back to the Maximoff home. Yes, their scenes featured a lot of exposition that recapped previous movies, but the script made it more palatable by turning it into darkly comedic jokes, like the moment when Vision references how his body was the result of Ultron's genocidal plan. More importantly, though, the Vision-Darcy material also made sure the importance of Wanda and Vision's relationship didn't get lost in the episode's other big moments. Sure, Darcy saying that their love is true was a bit sweaty, but it felt kinda earned once Vision broke out of the mockumentary and simply flew home.
Anyway, check back later for Christian Holub's take on the episode (which will hopefully include an interpretation of that puzzling Nexus commercial).
Christian's take: Well with that set-up I guess I have to start off with the Nexus of All Realities, huh?
I've learned to keep my eyes peeled during the fake WandaVision commercials. Even though they don't seem to have directly tied into any plot points yet, they're definitely chock-full of Marvel Easter eggs that may or may not tell us about where things are going in the bigger picture. This episode's commercial is especially interesting. It makes sense for this week's ad to ostensibly be for an antidepressant since Wanda is clearly struggling with depression after that explosive Halloween (probably some combination of a hangover from using her powers so much so recently, as well as Agatha's mind poison), but that brand name "Nexus" sticks out like a sore thumb. It kinda sounds like those sci-fi names they used to give the Infinity Stones, like "Tesseract" or "Aether," and that's not far from the truth. In fact, "Nexus" actually does share a name with a multiversal Marvel object.
The Nexus of All Realities is a portal, usually located in the swamp belonging to the character Man-Thing, between all possible dimensions. Perhaps that's how Evan Peters' Quicksilver made it into this universe from his home dimension? Maybe that's how Agatha got here too; I love the brief snippet we get of her true witch form, seen only from below the waist, as she floated down into Westview and transformed herself to fit the retro aesthetic (that below-the-waist view also means Agatha's true form could resemble the old woman she is usually depicted as in the comics; anybody wanna see Kathryn Hahn in old-age makeup?). Bringing both those strands together, in the mid-credits scene we see a mind-controlled Quicksilver approaching Monica right as she discovers a bunch of purple vines in Agatha's basement. Are the vines flora from the Nexus swamp?
Speaking of the Infinity Stones, I do think it's funny that Marvel movies used to spend so much time explaining them, and now suddenly WandaVision has nothing to say about them even though one, in particular, seems very relevant. In what felt like a key scene, Darcy explained to Vision how he was killed twice in Avengers: Infinity War: Once by Wanda to keep the Mind Stone from Thanos, and once by Thanos after he rewound time so he could complete the Infinity Gauntlet. This is of course a refutation of Pietro's confident assertion that it would be impossible for Vision to die twice. Anyway, the whole time Darcy and Vision are having this conversation about Thanos, we see the Mind Stone twinkling its golden light in his forehead. But the Mind Stone was destroyed with all the rest! So what's going on there?
Well, we know that Wanda's power can go toe-to-toe with the Infinity Stones. Is it possible that, within her place of power in the Hex, she can replicate the abilities of the Mind Stone to keep Vision with her? That might explain why he started disintegrating the moment he tried to leave the Hex, why Wanda seems more and more drained every episode, and why all Hayward's previous attempts to revive Vision failed until Wanda took his body under her control. I wouldn't mind a longer flashback to that break-in, by the way. Also, we got another Ultron name drop! Man I hope that pays off in some way.
- I (Chancellor) am confused: Did Agatha bring Evan Peters' Quicksilver here, or did she simply mind-control him once he showed up at Wanda's door?
- Kathryn Hahn has mastered the wink. No one else is allowed to wink!
- The moment where the mockumentary crew broke the sacred "no talking" mockumentary rule and asked Wanda if she thought she deserved her world falling apart reminded me of the final season of The Office when that random camera guy stepped in the frame to comfort Pam after her falling out with Jim.
- I wonder if that quarantine line was added when the show went back into production to finish up the remaining episodes during the pandemic.
Marvel’s first Disney+ series centers on Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living in a world of domestic bliss that’s part kitschy sitcom, part trippy comic book adventure.