WandaVision recap: Halloween Town
Everyone dresses up like their comic-book counterpart for Westview's Halloween festivities. And then things get weird.
This week on WandaVision, we experience another hallmark sitcom trope: The special holiday episode. Granted, depending on the show it's usually Christmas that gets the special treatment, but WandaVision takes a page from Brooklyn Nine-Nine and focuses on Halloween. That opens the door to some meta fun, because (as glimpsed in the trailers) Wanda and Vision's Halloween looks are basically just riffs on their classic comic book costumes.
What makes this funny is that Vision and Scarlet Witch have two of the worst superhero costumes in history. Between Vision's bright yellow Dracula cape and Wanda's revealing red getup, it's little wonder they were both modified so much for their MCU looks. I like turning them into outright goofy jokes here, and I like how Wanda explains hers as the look of a "Sokovian fortune teller." Speaking of Sokovia, I love Pietro's response when Wanda later asks him what happened to his accent: "What happened to yours?"
Following Pietro's arrival at the end of last week's episode, I expected WandaVision to go full Full House. A goofy uncle and rapidly-aging kids felt pretty appropriate to riff on, especially with the meta angle of Elizabeth Olsen's sisters making their name on that show, but maybe that's one meta resonance WandaVision actually doesn't want to play around with, because this week's sitcom reference skips the '90s entirely and goes straight to the 2000s. The opening scene, featuring a zooming handheld camera and Billy and Tommy talking directly to the viewer, was more reminiscent of Malcolm in the Middle than anything else.
If you didn't know about the twins, now you know: Billy has Wanda's powers and Tommy has Pietro's powers. On top of that, this episode actually features Billy wearing his classic comic book outfit (red cloak and headband) for his Halloween costume. He usually calls himself Wiccan when he wears it, and is usually a teenager when he does so, but who knows what awaits in the remaining episodes of the season? Billy's certainly got his powers intact. While Tommy spends the whole episode zooming around with his uncle, Billy's powers come into play in the climax of the episode, when he senses Vision trying to break through the Westview barrier.
As for S.W.O.R.D., Hayward is a confirmed a--hole now. When Monica criticizes him over directly attacking Wanda with a drone last week, he uses the last five years as a shield and talks about her mom's death. He tries to kick Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy off the base, but they outwit and outfight his goons. Hacking into the S.W.O.R.D. servers, Darcy learns that Hayward has been keeping very careful track of Vision and his "decaying vibranium" energy signature. I never recall hearing so much talk of Vision being made of vibranium as I do in this episode, but I guess that would explain S.W.O.R.D.'s interest as they work on building new weapons.
For all Hayward's pretense that Wanda is a monster holding people against their will and must be stopped, he and his men certainly have no interest in helping Vision when he tries breaking through the Westview barrier. All they do is handcuff Darcy for trying to help him. As Vision's escape attempt leads to his body breaking apart, you'd be forgiven for thinking S.W.O.R.D. wanted him dead again so they could strip-mine his body themselves.
Luckily for Vision, his son and wife sense his distress and combine their powers to expand the Westview border. The red energy field spreads outward, recapturing Vision and stopping his process of decay. But it doesn't stop there. The barrier keeps going, absorbing almost the entire SWORD camp into Westview city limits, including the handcuffed Darcy. Hayward manages to escape in a convoy, but it's satisfying to see the horrifying look on his face when he realizes all his men are gone -- most of them turned into clowns because the big military tents read as "carnival" to Westview's internal logic. Serves them right! Plus, it's kinda fun to merge the two sides of the show (S.W.O.R.D. and Westview) that have so far been as separate as oil and vinegar. I'm certainly intrigued to see what Darcy's Westview incarnation looks like.
Last note: What's up with Agnes? After last week's episode, our colleague Devan Coggan theorized that maybe Agnes was even more in control of Westview than Wanda was, given her understanding of the sitcom world and the vague references Westview residents make to a "she" who is controlling them — which could very well be Agnes rather than Wanda. But in this episode, Agnes acts like a distressed captive herself when Vision does his Mind Stone magic to wake her up. So I'm less sure than ever of what's up with her, but it does seem pretty likely at this point that "Agnes" is "Agatha Harkness," Wanda's magical mentor from the comics. Given how comic accurate Vision, Wanda, Pietro, and Billy's Halloween costumes are, it seems important that Agnes is dressed as a gray-haired witch.
Until next time, true believers!
Chancellor's Take: Last week, I joked how I wished Darcy exclaiming "She recast Pietro!" was the only explanation we'd get for why Evan Peters was playing Quicksilver instead of Aaron Taylor-Johnson — and, praise Galactus, that's exactly what happened in episode 6. Each time Wanda tried to figure out why her brother looked different, something either interrupted them or he evaded the question. But anyway, this episode overall left me feeling a little cold and I'm not sure why. Maybe, it's because I don't have any kind of emotional connection to Malcolm in the Middle, or because something is lost jumping between the colorful Hex and the grey boringness of S.W.O.R.D. Thankfully, it looks like the latter will no longer be the case given how the two realms merged at the end of the episode.
That being said, there's one moment in this episode that made me sit up. No, it wasn't Wanda expanding the shape of the anomaly; it was Vision's very brief yet disquieting conversation with Agnes, who he found frozen in her car on the edge of town. I loved Kathryn Hahn's performance in the scene right after Vision woke her up. The way her excitement over Vision being an Avenger quickly devolved into her repeatedly yelling "Dead!" and nihilistically laughing was truly unsettling. Outside of episode 4, this is the least amount of screen time Hahn has had in an episode, but she definitely made the most of it.