Nearing its endgame, WandaVision remains as haphazard and spontaneous in its quality as its titular bender of realities. With episode seven pulling another mask off in its final moments, the sower of all this mess is finally revealed…and it just feels a little underwhelming, sadly.
Last week on WandaVision, we were reconciling the cross-studio pollination of Evan Peters’ Pietro Maximoff (formerly of Sony’s X-Men film franchise) with the anarchic atmosphere and neon fonts of a ’90s sitcom guiding our gaze through Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) land of make-believe. We’re fully postmodern in our pursuits this week though, with candid The Office-style “documentary” confessionals and handheld camerawork. It works, mostly, because with the chaos of Vision (Paul Bettany) seeing through Wanda’s illusion and her world almost literally crumbling, the self-reflection and awareness are at an all-time high for our heroes.
It’s just that there doesn’t seem to have been much at all to WandaVision‘s shtick, my hopes and concerns with the series’ initial fluffy pacing coming to their respective conclusions. As the shell breaks down, WandaVision‘s seventh episode continues to reveal the same old yolk. With Vision and Doctor Lewis (Kat Dennings) on the lam from Wanda’s control and SWORD agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and affiliate Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) looking to pierce the shimmering veil from the outside, WandaVision divides its characters into separate, converging parties in a nice way with the seventh episode. This gives viewers a few goals to juggle while Wanda sort of lazes about the house, having a mental breakdown in front of her kids. Fun stuff!
Olsen is, as always, great in her timing, flipping the switch from idiosyncratic to “uh-oh-she’s-gonna-explode” menacing on a dime, while Paul Bettany’s work is increasingly good. The tragedy of Vision’s character is only touched upon thus far, and hopefully, the doomed android gets a heartfelt sendoff (or, perhaps, triumphant return?) by the time our story is over because Bettany’s increasingly visible frustration as the Ultron spawn is great stuff. It’s also gratifying to see Vision start to take control, so long has he been a plaything of Wanda’s, relegated to literally hiding his face in Westview’s odd suburbia… suburbia which, turns out, had more than one marionette pulling its strings.
Though Wanda remains the muscle behind Westview’s small screen surrealism, it turns out there was another –as there often is-. Agnes (Kathyrn Hahn) is revealed to be the one whispering in Wanda’s ear, so to speak: the mastermind behind the madness. The witch behind the wonder. With more to be learned as WandaVision wraps up, it remains to be seen just what motivated the Westview incident, but the “big reveal” of Agnes’ involvement, frankly, just didn’t land as it may have hoped. Avid comic readers might have a bit of an idea where the not-so-friendly neighbor’s plans are headed, though.
The legacy of WandaVision‘s place in the MCU may end up being Monica Rambeau, now having walked-the-walk and re-entered Westview through Wanda’s barrier, with some matter of “rewriting” of her DNA seemingly having occurred. As with Agnes, fact-seeking fans of Marvel’s literary history will have a lot of back issues to chew on in speculating where Parris’ Rambeau may go, and how she may have a life far beyond WandaVision‘s nine episodes.
It’s in seeing the pieces set up for future Marvel extravaganzas that WandaVision is finally settling for me as, for better or for worse, just another entry in the ongoing, never-ending MCU marathon. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you! For the fans, WandaVision continues to chronicle the heroes we’ve all spent so much time with over the past decade, though ultimately seems to be another of Marvel and Disney’s entries that will be looked back on for a quick fact-check, come whatever ultimate showdown that will reference the events of Westview passively. “When did we learn that?..” “Dude, it was on WandaVision, remember?” “Oh, right.”
I’d often called Disney and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe the “most expensive TV show in theaters,” and the label is feeling increasingly apt with WandaVision. Except, rather than have a compact two hours at the movies to lay another proverbial brick on the wall of the next Big Team-Up Movie, WandaVision provides us a season’s worth of TV chunks. If WandaVision were a soft drink, a can of Coca-Cola after a recent redesign of its logo, plastered across the front would surely be “Same great taste!” Episode seven of WandaVision makes it abundantly clear that, all along, this was the same old Coke after all.