Let’s Talk about WandaVision Episode 1-8
Last week, a shocking twist ended WandaVision. Then, a mid-credits scene left the fate of a different character in doubt.
Meanwhile, Vision is flying home while Darcy drives an ice cream truck…slowly.
You might expect these different story elements to tie together in episode 1-8…but they don’t.
Instead, the latest episode functions as a flashback, mostly involving stories we didn’t know before.
Yes, we need to talk about “Previously On,” the WandaVision episode that changed how we look at some significant MCU events.
(Warning: here there be spoilers. Please don’t read until you’ve watched!)
History Books Were Wrong about Salem
In episode 1-4, flashbacks revealed many chaotic events in the event of The Snap’s undoing.
Episode 1-8 similarly looks back at other historical moments, including one you read about in your History class.
Agnes Agatha apparently lived in Salem during the Witch Trials. Only, the details you know aren’t quite right.
Apparently, Agatha’s mother led a coven of witches. Even Mama felt frightened by Agatha’s power, leading to a showdown at the stake.
Agatha’s the one tied to the stake during this first flashback. Mama suggests that her daughter betrayed the coven by stealing knowledge above her class.
We learn that several witches tried to drain Agatha of her power as punishment for her disobedience of some unnamed witch rules. It…goes poorly.
Agatha drains the life force of her coven sisters. Eventually, she emerges victorious in a one-on-one battle with her mother.
The broach that we’ve seen in every episode qualifies as something of a family heirloom that Agatha took from the corpse.
Interestingly, when the head of the coven attacked her daughter, the leader’s head included a mystic crown formed from her powers.
That aspect proves more significant than you may have realized.
It’s a Hard Knock Life
Several of the lingering questions from the last episode receive quick clarification.
Agatha has kept Wanda in the dungeon thanks to a “basic protection spell.” Wanda’s powers prove useless here, allowing for some villainous monologuing.
The former Salem Witch remains in full control throughout the episode, her motives unclear.
Agatha hasn’t understood what is happening any more than the rest of us. So, this episode plays out as an investigation told via flashbacks.
The witches work together to solve the mystery of Westview, although Wanda does so unwillingly.
Both women would like to know how/why the other one is doing this, proving that neither one is the person pulling the strings.
The captor forces her prisoner to live through some of her most painful memories, starting with the backstory we’ve all sought.
Agatha stays on brand with the show’s theming by describing the flashbacks as “real re-runs,” a lovely touch.
Apparently, Wanda’s father – who is NOT the dude from the commercials! – worked a side hustle as a DVD salesman in war-torn Sokovia.
Oleg and Irina love one another and their twins, both of whom loooove TV Night.
Oleg’s working briefcase reveals the following DVDs:
- The Addams Family
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- I Dream of Jeannie
- I Love Lucy
- Malcolm in the Middle
- Who’s the Boss
This explains SO much!
Wanda picks an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one with shenanigans. Alas, the family’s lovely evening ends in catastrophe when a bomb explodes, killing the parents.
This moment expands on Wanda’s comments in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She and Pietro helplessly watch unexploded ordnance for two days.
We learn here that Wanda’s hex powers prevented that from happening. That’s right. She didn’t get all her abilities from the Mind Stone!
This episode unfolds as a procedural told in a series of flashbacks. Agatha needs to know what makes Wanda tick…and enslave an entire town.
Speaking of the Mind Stone, Agatha forces Wanda to relive the first encounter with this object.
Apparently, everyone else who touched it died immediately. Wanda not only survives it but receives a kind of visit.
A spectral figure comes out of the Mind Stone. This woman looks like a radiant version of Wanda, one with Agatha’s mom’s crown.
In fact, this momentary vision mirrors the Scarlet Witch outfit that Wanda wore in the Halloween episode, only with this being bathed in a golden light.
Wanda survives the encounter and spends her recovery projecting Brady Bunch episodes on the nearby television. You heard me.
Imagine if you could control your television with your mind. Wanda’s using her newfound Infinity Stone abilities to be a couch potato.
Before Agatha can push her hostage into the next scene, Wanda willingly rushes through. She recognizes this phase of her life.
We cut to the time when Wanda and Vision lived together as friends. It looks like the moment when they fell in love.
Vision doesn’t understand Malcolm in the Middle due to his synthezoid nature. Wanda discusses her feelings and emotional pain.
This scene occurs after Pietro has died in Age of Ultron, the last time she felt as if she had no one.
Vision provides some profound words of wisdom, one that should help all of us deal with loss. He states: “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”
My wife and I have argued over the sincerity of the action, but Agatha wipes away a tear in watching this touching moment.
The Rashomon Treatment
The final flashback stems from Wanda honestly evaluating Agatha’s questions.
Bereft over the loss of Vision during Avengers: Infinity War, Wanda attempted to retrieve him.
At S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters, the woman didn’t behave the way Acting Director Hayward had shown during episode 1-4.
Wanda doesn’t break in. He lets her through security. Then, she never attacks the guards. She does break the glass, but that’s it.
Inside a lab, Wanda discovers that S.W.O.R.D. has disassembled Vision in a blatant attempt to take his underlying technology.
Once the witch realizes that she cannot use her hex powers to bring Vision back to life, she gives up and leaves.
So, Hayward is a lying liar who lies. Seems important.
This calls into question all his other actions during WandaVision. As a reminder, he’s the one who sent Monica Rambeau to investigate.
Also, Wanda lacks the magical powers to resurrect Vision, which raises questions about the mid-credits twist in this episode.
The Ultimate Hex
Before that happens, we watch Wanda’s actions in the aftermath of seeing Vision scrapped for spare parts.
First, Wanda finds a letter in her car. It proves to be a deed for a property in…Westview, New Jersey. Uh-oh.
During the drive, she enters town, where we see several “characters” from the show, including Herb and the delivery guy. So, they’re victims here.
When the witch arrives at the property, nothing’s there, causing her to break down after the trauma of losing the last of the four people she loves in life.
In the process, Wanda (accidentally?) builds a house and casts a hex across the entire city. It turns into a black and white 1960 sitcom-style town.
Right afterward, her scarlet-colored powers turn partially gold as she creates Vision. Notably, he’s in black and white, while she’s in color.
Then, Wanda steps forward and assumes the appearance we saw in the pilot.
As the flashback ends, Wanda appears (in color) behind them, notices the cameras for the first time, and hears Agatha clapping.
We still don’t know a lot, but the central mystery of WandaVision has been solved.
Apparently, it was Wanda All Along.
The Scarlet Witch cast a spell that entranced all of Westview and brought her husband back to “life.”
She turned the sitcoms of her childhood into Westview’s reality, accidentally hexing thousands of people in the process.
Maybe Wanda is the big bad after all.
While Wanda processes this new information, she finally hears the cries of her children.
Outside, Agatha has gone from curious helper to full-on villain. She has magically grabbed the boys by the throat.
To this point, Agatha’s behaviors have mimicked Hayward’s in that each action seemed justified.
Okay, maybe Sparky’s killing wasn’t, but I’m still dubious that’s what happened anyway.
However, now that Wanda remembers everything, Agatha turns into the full Salem Witch cliché. She’s choking children and talking smack to Wanda.
At this point, Agatha proclaims the words that have never been uttered in the MCU until now. She calls Wanda the Scarlet Witch.
Now that’s a cliffhanger. A flying witch is trying to hang twins while their mother debates the best action plan.
I’m still not sold on the idea that Agatha is evil, though. From her perspective, Wanda has hexed her AND possesses Chaos Magic.
That’s apparently the most dangerous form of magic in the multiverse.
So, there’s at least some justification for viewing Wanda as the aggressor, at least from Agatha’s perspective.
Also, the Addams Family DVD in Papa Oleg’s briefcase hints that the macabre witch is part of the show, too.
Finally and most importantly, when Agatha pleads with her mother, she says, “Please, I can be good.”
In the comics, Agatha Harkness has been mostly good. And the character really loves her bunny.
As such, I’m allowing for the possibility that it’s a swerve, mostly since the twins comprise part of the devil’s soul in the comics.
The show’s only got one episode left to prove that I’m not being crazy about this, though.
That Mid-Credits Scene
During Previously On, we learned that Hayward isn’t a good person. As such, it’s no surprise to see that he had ulterior motives all along.
Hayward’s endgame has been the restoration of Vision as a viable military option. A war-ready synthezoid could win plenty of battles for S.W.O.R.D.
During the mid-credits scene, Hayward somehow uses some of Wanda’s magic to resurrect Vision. Yes, it’s a different one from the Vision in Westview.
I’m not tracking the logic on this one, as Wanda couldn’t bring back Vision on her own, and she really tried.
Somehow, a hexed S.W.O.R.D. carrier provides enough juice to activate a very different-looking Vision, though.
Notably, S.W.O.R.D. appears to have brought back the White Vision from the comics, the one without a soul or memories.
The Vision in Westview looks and acts like Wanda’s lover. So, he seems like the real deal.
Realistically, White Vision is the one most likely to survive an encounter between the two, though.
After all, he could just carry the other Vision outside the hex barrier. That showdown should anchor the season finale.
Wanda vs. Agatha appears like the other headliner in this main event. However, many people expect a third party to arrive. I’m in that camp.
Either way, Wanda’s life appears likely to get far worse before it gets better.
The internet has posted many divided opinions about this, the penultimate episode of the series.
I think the complaints are misguided, as I thought this episode mirrored 1-4 nicely. The outsider perspective enhances the storytelling.
I give Previously On a solid A.