As Wanda emotionally falls apart, it’s a race for Vision, Darcy, and Monica to get to her in time as WandaVision’s true villain reveals themselves.
Seems Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is finding it hard to maintain a grip on a false reality just as much as the real one. Last episode of the Disney Plus series, she questioned her brother, Pietro (Evan Peters), as to how he’s still alive and why he doesn’t look like Aaron Taylor-Johnson. She also discovers that her boys, Billy (Julian Hillard) and Tommy (Jett Kline) have super powers themselves. And her husband Vision (Paul Bettany) almost dies again when he tried leaving Westview.
Desperate to save Vision’s life, Wanda then expanded the Hex (along with the show within a show’s budget) by several miles, swallowing up several agents of S.W.O.R.D. and everyone’s favorite plucky scientist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). The question now isn’t what affect this would have on Westview’s new occupants, but on Wanda herself.
“A Quarantine Style Vacation” in WandaVision
It was only a matter of time until WandaVision started mimicking contemporary “mockumentary” style sitcoms. No surprise either that “Breaking the Fourth Wall” takes its cues straight from ABC’s Modern Family (and NBC’s The Office for good measure) since Disney also produces that series. Various candid “interviews” from Wanda, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and even from Vision himself appear throughout. And like those mockumentaries, much of the humor and drama comes from what’s not being said. In this case, the “joke” comes from Wanda’s depressed state after Vision has failed to come back home.
From the moment we see her, it’s apparent Wanda’s putting on an unconvincing front. She’s all smiles and forced laughs despite her unkempt appearance, content to waste the day in her (naturally) blue flannel pajamas (and having slept the night in her Scarlet Witch Halloween costume), while telling her sons how “everything is meaningless.” If it wasn’t for Billy and Tommy barging into her room, she likely would’ve stayed in bed all day. And Elizabeth Olsen is terrific in these scenes. While its obvious Wanda’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Olsen wonderfully shows how her que sera sera, lackadaisical demeanor is an emotional mask without overdoing it. It’s a genuine and honest depiction of someone suffering in silence.
As to why her boys woke her up? It’s because random household objects are starting to change, and in some cases regress, without her control. Even more worrisome is Wanda doesn’t know why this is happening. Before long, the walls themselves start changing, flicker in and out, and even turn into test patterns. Wanda’s make-believe, television-inspired world is literally falling apart along with her mental health, underscored by the episode’s fake commercial – an ad for antidepressants, no less, with “more depression” listed as a potential side-effect.
Not to worry, though, because soon Agnes enters to help Wanda out by taking Billy and Tommy off her hands. Because she’s such a concerned neighbor and friend, after all. Plus the boys seem to like her and her rabbit, Senor Scratchy the rabbit, too. Billy especially warms up to Agnes, commenting on how “quiet [she is] on the inside.” Yep, nothing suspicious whatsoever going on here, folks!
“I am not amused.”
As Wanda barely keeps herself and her show together, Vision wakes up to find that the outskirts of Westview transformed into an actual circus. There, he finds Darcy cast as an escape artist who, due to her re-written personality, thinks Vision’s a “creeper.” Doesn’t help matters that Vision keeps saying things like “You don’t remember last night?” and the “unspoken understanding” from when they “locked eyes.” Fortunately, Vision eventually wakes Darcy up before this gag can be dragged out even further.
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Once Darcy punches out a strongman and hotwires a food truck, she and Vision try to make their way back to Westview. This proves easier said than done, as something always seems to stop them, be it traffic lights, road construction, or school crossings. This makes Vision suspect Wanda is trying to prevent him from getting back to her.
But the trip also gives him an opportunity to learn more about who he once was prior to living in Westview. Bettany’s facial acting says it all as Vision tries processing the events of Avengers: Infinity War filtered through Darcy’s understanding of said events, particularly how it was Wanda who killed him “to save the universe.” And let’s face it, if you didn’t keep up with all the bizarre twists and turns over the course of twenty-plus MCU films, you’d probably look just as wonderfully befuddled.
Darcy also reassures Vision that not everything Wanda did was a lie. “I’ve been watching WandaVision for the past week,” she tells him, “And the love you two have is real. You belong together.” And she’s right because we, as the actual audience, have also seen the love between Vision and Wanda ourselves. It’s a small, simple reminder that, behind the super powers and television parodies, WandaVision, this is a story of a star-crossed couple trying to live a quiet, happy life despite events conspiring against them.
Speaking of which, Hayward (Josh Stamberg) is already outside with his remaining S.W.O.R.D. agents plotting to destroy the Hex, even if it means destroying Westview along with it. Because what better way to cover up tracks? Yes, it seems Darcy did manage to email Monica and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) the “Cataract” file before the Hex expanded. And what do you know? Director Heyward planned to rebuild and weaponize Vision, which is why Wanda stole Vision’s body from S.W.O.R.D. in the first place
We also finally meet Monica’s contact who turns out to be… some random army major (Rachel Thompson) who once knew her mom? Got to be honest, that was a real letdown. At least she’s brought Monica a SUV-sized space rover to drive through the Hex. But if you’re thinking Monica forgot all about the fact that only objects from the same era as what’s inside the Hex can safely enter, then you’d be right. Hence why we see Monica dramatically crash the rover into the barrier, only for it to be repelled, flipped over, and partially transformed into a pickup truck.
Realizing she’s the only person who can get through, Monica forces her way past the Hex’s barrier. In what is perhaps this episode’s most visually stunning sequence, Monica fragments into alternate versions of herself as she hears voices from her past (mostly audio clips from Captain Marvel). When Monica emerges, her eyes began to glow blue, allowing her to see various color and radio spectrums. Seems the trips through the Hex didn’t just alter her DNA; it’s given her super powers! Looks like fans of Spectrum, a.k.a. Captain Marvel II, got their wish.
Monica’s arrival also kicks off a tense rematch between herself and Wanda. Of course, Wanda tries – and fails – to throw Monica out again, not wanting to listen to anything she has to say. But Monica’s persistent, saying that she knows exactly the kind of pain Wanda is going through because of her mom’s death. And the performances here by Teyonah Parris and Elizabeth Olsen are superb, particularly when Monica tells Wanda she doesn’t have to be a villain like Hayward says she is. “Maybe I already am,” Wanda says, seemingly resigned to her fate, but not entirely convinced.
“And I killed Sparky, too!”
But wouldn’t you know it, just as Monica starts making progress, Agnes butts in, tells her to leave, and gently escorts Wanda away. Because Agnes is Wanda’s friend, you see, who’s only looking out what’s best for her, right? She even takes Wanda home to offer her a nice cup of tea. Except Wanda seems… wrong. Billy and Tommy are nowhere to be seen. Agnes, being oh so helpful, suggests that Wanda look for them in her basement.
Except said basement looks like a collaboration between Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft. There’s twisting, ancient hallways with crumbling stone walls held together by gnarled, purple glowing tree roots. The tomb-like main chamber is reminiscent of a witch’s den, complete with an old book emitting a magical aura. Before a confused Wanda can process this, out comes Agnes, stroking Senor Scratchy like a familiar. Or should we say… Agatha Harkness? “You didn’t think you were the only magical gal in town, did you?” Agatha says to Wanda, using her own magic to place the Avenger under her spell.
Yes, as many of us predicted from the get go, “Agnes” was, in fact, Marvel Comics’ resident immortal witch. A montage of flashbacks – complete with it’s own catchy, Munsters–inspired theme song – shows just how Agatha was the real head writer, director, producer, and even star of WandaVision “all along,” manipulating everything and everyone – including Vision last episode. Not a surprising twist, but still well-executed. And Kathryn Hahn clearly relishes playing such a delightfully evil villain on par with Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil and Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent in this segment (The way she cackles after she admits to killing Sparky? How can you not love to hate such a wicked woman?)
Moreover, it appears Pietro – or whoever he really is – was in cahoots with Agatha, as well. A post-credit sequence shows him surprising Monica as the later discovers another way into Agatha’s sinister looking basement.
It’s also these last five to seven minutes which salvage the episode as well. Not that “Breaking the Fourth Wall” was bad by any means, but it didn’t quite have the same sly charm that the earlier episodes had. As Westview has reached the modern day, WandaVision can no longer rely on nostalgia for golden age television. Interestingly enough, it also feels like an episode of one of the very sitcoms it pokes fun at rather than using the format to hide what’s really happening. That’s rather ironic considering how “Breaking the Fourth Wall” is all about “exposing the truth” behind WandaVision’s façade.
At the same time, “Breaking the Fourth Wall” rewards those viewers who’ve paid close attention to the series from its premiere. It’s an episode which expects the audience to go back and start rewatching the series with the Agatha Harkness twist in mind and spot whatever telltale signs they might have missed along the way.
In the end, while it doesn’t quite have the punch of WandaVision’s earlier episodes, it packs enough of one to make you eager for the next episode. After all, there’s still time enough to presumably show the real origins behind the Hex now that we know Agatha was involved. Not to mention just what did happen to Billy and Tommy anyway? Considering I’ve read the original comics, that makes me very, very nervous.
WandaVision adds a new episode on Disney+ every Friday from 12:00 a.m. PT and 3:00 a.m. ET.
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