The weekly release of WandaVision, harkening back to the pre-Netflix days of a bygone era, is both a blessing and a curse for the MCU’s fledgling Disney+ series. The gap in between each episode encourages heavy theorising, discussion, and analysis, poring over every detail of WandaVision’s mystery until there aren’t any left. The other side of the coin, though, has begun to rear its head as some fans are expressing frustrations at the show’s slow burn pacing. “They’ve turned it into a sitcom!” they cry from the rooftops, failing to appreciate the nuances around exactly what Jac Schaeffer and Matt Shakman, creator and director respectively, want to achieve with the show in the long run.
The sitcom element of the show – this week sees a sitcom classic birth episode – is merely a vessel to explore and develop the relationship between Wanda and Vision. In just three short episodes, the happy couple have moved in together, married, and now miraculously birthed twins, fast tracking character arcs that would have taken years in less magical sitcoms. Their superpowered central characters aid this development beautifully; of course, Wanda and Vision’s children would be conceived and born over the course of another regular day in Westview. What it achieves in a short time frame is lets us into their life, revealing what sort of couple they are, what sort of father Vision would be if presented with the opportunity (a great one, risking his identity as a sentient AI with superpowers to find their doctor), and Wanda’s sensational ability to remain calm under pressure (giving birth is surely no more difficult than taking on and beating Thanos singlehandedly). WandaVision is allowing us to explore these two characters in a level of depth that would never have been achieved across their limited appearances in the MCU films given just how crowded their rosters have become and shall continue to be.
Further still, WandaVision as a showcase for the brilliant talents of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany is a triumph on those terms alone. While they have been frustratingly separated for much of the first three episodes so far, their performances are so authentic for the era they’re lovingly lampooning. Olsen’s delightfully expressive face and overexaggerated magical hand movements (a personal favourite was the enthusiastic arm waving to allow a strong breeze into the house to dry their clothes) work perfectly with the 70s, Brady Bunchian vibe they’re going for here. Bettany, meanwhile, has transcended from embodying Dick van Dyke in black and white to embracing the spirit of Hugh Laurie in colour with a lovable buffoon take on Vision and his panic-stricken unpreparedness for fatherhood.
Among the chaos of a well-paced sitcom episode, this week’s final 5 minutes was the most MCU so far, with a headfirst dive into its central mystery thanks to a slip up from Geraldine (Teyonah Parris). A name-dropped Pietro is an exciting development for fans of his alter-ego, Quicksilver, whose tragic demise in Avengers: Age of Ultron is one of the MCU’s biggest missed opportunities after casting the brilliant Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the role. This moment feels like the most self-aware Wanda has been in the show so far, confronting Geraldine about this and catapulting her into a new aspect ratio (between this and The Mandalorian, Disney’s playful use of shifting aspect ratios is a wonderful development that should continue forever). While we sadly had minimal Kathryn Hahn this week, her brief appearance suggests there’s more than meets the eye in Westview, already throwing one of my theories out of the window barely a third of the way through the show’s run.
With the internet abuzz with theories of what exactly is going on behind the scenes in WandaVision, it’s best to take stock of where we are with the show to see if any of the most popular theories have been debunked or remain a possibility in our first venture to the Theory Zone. Both episode 2, now titled “Don’t Touch That Dial,” and this episode suggest Westview is a town created entirely in Wanda’s mind with her ability to control reality. Last week’s she literally rewound time and replayed a moment with a better ending, this week’s there’s a brilliantly off-putting reset after Vision questions that something is afoot.
And yet, Agnes and Herb (David Payton) appear to break character this week, concerned about Geraldine’s location and dropping their sitcom act entirely. It’s entirely possible this is something of a Truman Show scenario, in which Wanda is being held captive in an environment that she is then populating with her own fantasies. Geraldine’s unfortunate launching into the present day through some sort of forcefield by Wanda alludes to this being a possible solution. Only time will tell!
There was a genuine level of excitement online in the aftermath of this episode; this immediate tonal shift from funny sitcom to MCU mystery was a needed jolt of excitement to propel us into the next episode. If I was only curious after the first two episodes, “Now in Colour” course corrected me with ease into full-blown excitement as we wait with bated breath for Friday.
What are your theories? What exactly is going on with Wanda and Westview?
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