RECAP: WandaVision Brings Something Entirely New
True Believers, the first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ WandaVision are here! And the couple’s first romp into suburban bliss was delightful, and it seems like the nine-episode miniseries will make Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (and Disney) even mightier.
WandaVision – which follows the exploits of the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they enjoy newlywed life – is getting all the attention it deserves, and that aims to make Disney much richer. And luckily, for other fans who are also desperate for more Marvel-themed content to be released as a distraction from reality, Wanda and Vision’s waltz onto the small screen in WandaVision is getting ALL the attention it rightfully deserves even if it’s thanks to fate, and I’m here for it.
Matthew Ball, a former Amazon Studios executive, told CNN Business that:
With more than 50 hours of connected stories, the MCU is already a series. Even if there were a reason to doubt the MCU’s ability to work as a serialized subscription video-on-demand series, [Marvel Studios President and Marvel Chief Creative Officer] Kevin Feige has 13 years of proving skeptics wrong.
And with the two episode premiere of WandaVision, it’s clear that Feige is doing just that: “proving the skeptics wrong.” But before you decide for yourself if you agree, read the recap of the first episode here at MarvelBlog! (spoilers below)
WandaVision Episode 1 is HERE
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s expansion into streaming is a fitting tribute to the history of television itself. And with the click of a vintage remote control, WandaVision – and Phase Four of the MCU – finally begun today. And, luckily for T.V. Nerds everywhere, the first episode is straight out of the 1990s Nick at Nite line-up, and is brought to you with the old 4:3 aspect ratio of a sitcom, with glorious (and partially technicolor) WandaVision.
So as expected, the new era is off to a bizarre start, and excitingly so, for all those people waiting for more of those special, small moments between characters. To other Wanda and Vision fans like me, the first episode of the MCU series is for you!
Episode 1 Recap in WANDAVISION
So you think that you’ve got troubles?
Well, trouble’s a bubble,
So tell old Mr. Trouble to “Get lost!”
The series premiere, which is an extended pastiche of The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy, opens with Wanda and Vision finding the joy of livin’ in Westview; except she can fix broken plates with the wiggle of her finger, and he can phase through both real and metaphysical front doors.
A hint that something isn’t quite right in Westview is raised by Vision being alive at all, as he was one of the few heroes to remain dead at the end of Avengers: Endgame. However, if that thought makes anyone in the audience uneasy, the feeling is quickly quieted with a well-timed laugh track – or are those the NDA-signing WandaVision beat reporters that we hear giggling in the background?
Following the opening theme song written by Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the first episode wastes no time in reintroducing fans to Vision and the Scarlet Witch as they pull up to their idyllic home in Westview. When they arrive, Vision phases through the door and accidentally leaves behind his blushing bride, dropping Wanda on her bum, before successfully carrying her inside and falling over the ottoman, a nod to The Dick Van Dyke show gag.
Once inside, using her magical powers, Wanda floats dishes around the kitchen as she cleans, accidentally hitting Vision in the head with a plate when he enters the room. To which Vision responds, “My wife and her flying saucers.”
After the accident, Wanda and Vision prove why they are the MCU’s most enigmatic couple when they notice a small heart drawn on their wall calendar marking the date, August 23 (Keith Moon’s birthday), and a nod to the 23 MCU movies predating WandaVision. Despite the fact that neither can remember what the heart is supposed to mean, my personal theory is the number 23 is the key to everything – after all, babies get 23 chromosomes from each parent, 23 is the psalm of choice at funerals, 23 is the most commonly cited prime number (and primes have been described as the atoms of mathematics), making it an obsession of John Forbes Nash, and 2 divided by 3 makes 0.666, the number of the beast (and this possibly hints at what the show has in store).
From what we know of Vision’s backstory, the android is incapable of forgetting any information, and of course, we all saw him die at the end of Endgame, lending credence to the 23 enigma. Almost as if Wanda just can’t cope with the very idea that Vis is dead…
However, without solving the matter, Vision heads to work as a man, “and a human one” at that, with his assistant’s help, the wonderful glamour-maker, the Scarlet Witch. Are you already noticing the many references to glamour magic too? Keep paying attention, especially when the nosy neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) finally shows up.
At Vision’s work, Computational Services, Inc., the android still cannot remember much about his life, forgetting what it is his company does. At this stage of things, the audience probably knows more about what Vis does at his office than the android himself, and that’s saying something…
Vision knows that his job somehow involves computational forms, and that he is amazingly productive at it, helping to increase the company’s productivity by 300 percent. Stranger still, and reminding me of an issue of 2015’s All-New, All-Different Avengers written by Al Ewing and illustrated by many, his co-worker jokes that Vision is so good at his job that it’s like he is a “walking computer.”
Meanwhile, back at the couple’s house, Wanda – arguably the most powerful hero in the MCU – gets a visit from their neighbor Agnes. And after engaging in some classic Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz-type antics, the two women put together that it must be Wanda and Vision’s anniversary.
Cutting back to Vision’s work – which looks eerily like the fictional comedy writer Rob Petrie’s office on The Dick Van Dyke show, and referencing the game-changing way the sitcom used a split format between life at work and life at home – the android realizes the heart on the calendar symbolize a dinner party they couple must’ve been planning that evening with his boss, Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed of Fargo and Curb Your Enthusiasm), and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp of That 70s Show).
However, when Vis calls Wanda to let her know about their dinner plans with his boss, she interrupts him, saying she’s got everything under control (hint, hint) with Agnes’ help. As the set-up for a classic sitcom situation, Wanda is talking about their anniversary night (with a single strawberry cut three ways), while Vision is talking about hosting a dinner party for the Harts.
Here the show goes extra meta textual, cutting to an old-fashioned commercial for a Stark Industries’ Toast Mate 2000, featuring a woman in a Vitameatavegamin-type dress. Suddenly, the voiceover chimes in that viewers should “forget the past – this is your future!” And thus, the commercial turns the show upside down, forcing viewers to question the very nature of the
Marvel universe with a simple shattering of the fourth wall. In 2015’s Vision #7 by Tom King (writer) and Michael Walsh (penciler), Vision retells a joke to the Scarlet Witch that ends with the punchline, “Oh my god, a talking toaster!”
At first, Wanda and Vision’s dinner with the Harts is disastrous, not least because, believing that Mr. Hart is her man, Wanda accidentally greets him while wearing a semi-scandalous (for the 1950s) outfit. Vision attempts to cover up for the faux pas by saying, “My wife is from Europe,” to which Mr. Hart replies, “I don’t break bread with Bolsheviks.”
Mr. Hart’s negative response to Wanda’s immigration status will likely resonate with members of the audience today. As a second-generation Russian-Jewish immigrant, my grandparents told me stories about not being allowed into America because we might be Bolsheviks. As the story goes, just because we were seeking refuge from Russia, the officials believed my ancestors must hold certain political beliefs. So to me, that line brought the characters’ persecuted past back into the larger story, even if the MCU characters technically hail from Sokovia.
Back at dinner, Wanda makes ill-fated attempts to whip up a multi-course meal (including Chicken a la King, another reference to the Vision writer) in minutes. Luckily, she eventually gets by with a little help from her friend, Agnes, and her hex powers. Although her powers’ rules seem a little fuzzy here, there is a hysterical “is it the chicken or the egg” scene. And a funny scene with Vision’s delightful out-of-nowhere performances of The Coasters song, “Yakety Yak,” and “Old MacDonald,” which is based on the 1917 song in Tommy Tune.
The inclusion of a 1917 song is a nod to Wanda Maximoff’s comic book origins, as it is the year the Bolshevik Revolution (or the Russian Revolution) started.
Finally, getting on the same page, Wanda and Vision work together to improvise a breakfast-for-dinner meal just as the Harts begin to feel light-headed. Although this is when things get strangest of all, as they sit down to eat together, the Harts barrage Wanda and Vision with questions, like when they got married and why they moved to this town. But Wanda and Vision look puzzled and cannot come up with any answers.
Suddenly things begin to change, and as Mr. Hart starts choking on a piece of food, there is an unsettling shift in mood as he falls over coughing: Mrs. Hart says, “Stop it!” over and over – laughing at first, but then grows more desperate, with tears in her eyes – and Wanda begs Vision to step in and help him after several moments of looking at each other anxiously, seeming to know they could use their powers here, but unsure if they should.
Eventually, Vision helps Mr. Hart, using his phasing ability, he reaches through his boss’s throat and pulls out the food lodged in there, and saves his life. Mr. Hart quickly recovers from the incident, saving the future of Vision’s job, and securing him a promotion.
After the Harts skedaddle, Wanda and Vision collapse on the couch in relief, with their discussion quickly turning to their unusual relationship. Vision points out that the night was a series of firsts, making the evening an anniversary after all. And the couple decides to make August 23, not just the anniversary of surviving their first dinner party but also the anniversary of their marriage.
Deciding that their wedding song will be “Yakety Yak,” the Scarlet Witch whips them up some wedding rings. “And they lived happily ever after,” says Vision before the couple kisses, and as the iris closes in around the couple as the WandaVision credits roll.
As they do, the camera pulls back to show WandaVision playing on a T.V. screen somewhere in the present day, surrounded by other high-tech equipment. An unknown agent jots something down in a notebook with the S.W.O.R.D. Logo, and then grabs a fancy-looking remote control before cutting back to the closing credits.
But even as the couple tries to assimilate into suburban life by hiding their real powers from their neighbors, it’s clear that something’s a little off, with the through-line of small flicker of red here and there.
The episode is directed by Matt Shakman who has a lot of previous experience working on comedies like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Shakman was also a child actor on Just the Ten of Us and Growing Pains, which aired in the same programming black as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s Full House.