Saturday, July 13, 2024

WandaVision Continues Pulling Back the Electric Curtain

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There were obviously several theories flying around about what in the world was happening in the premiere episodes of WandaVision. Was this all in Wanda’s head? Was she willing or a prisoner? Was she responsible for the false world around her? Beneath all the goofy fun of the sitcom plotlines was a sinister atmosphere about what made this world responsible.

Well, now WandaVision gave everyone a better idea and it certainly caught me by surprise.

With last week’s shift to color comes another era of sitcoms to lampoon, this time in the 70s. Like last week, the reproduction is fantastic. The wardrobe, sets, colors, and direction are all changed to fit the era, with the highlight split between Paul Bettany’s hair and Wanda’s collection of pregnancy-hiding coats. The humor and sets transform from the Bewitched-style inspiration of the first couple episodes to a Brady Bunch knockoff.

wandavision power pose

Perhaps it is because the novelty wore off after the premiere, but the sitcom parody did not work quite as well this time. The writing and concept felt a bit lazier, even if the work put into reproducing the era was top-notch. The jokes were too familiar and the scenarios less fun. Or maybe pregnancy plotlines just fail to entertain me as much as watching Wanda and Vision hide their powers at dinner parties and magic shows. Yeah, arguing over names, got it, move on.

I also have less tolerance for the Bradys or Partridges than I do for Bewitched. If nothing else, it continues to be fascinating to see how skillfully WandaVision replicates these old sitcoms. Everything adapts from episode to episode with no issue whatsoever.

Wanda’s turbo pregnancy dominates the episode this week. She begins the episode a few months into the process and by the end has given birth to twin boys, Tommy and Billy. She and Vision spend most of the episode trying to hide the pregnancy, and the peak of the episode definitely occurs when Wanda accidentally goes through a series of huge coats that change from moment to moment.

It is all well and good, but I felt myself a bit bored compared to how I felt last week. Then the birth aftermath kicked everything into gear and made for one hell of an ending to the episode.

Everything starts when Vision starts questioning the rapid pregnancy and wonders about why the world around them is so strange, only to have Wanda rewind time and seemingly influence him away from that line of thought. Then Vision overhears two neighbors holding a panicked conversation about Wanda’s pregnancy and the world around them, where they suggest they are all trapped in this world. There are also numerous moments where she unintentionally affects the world around her, such as the rainstorm inside the house when her water breaks.

Finally, Geraldine brings up the death of Wanda’s twin brother Pietro during the fight against Ultron, which causes Wanda to repel her from the fantasy altogether. And this is when we find out that Wanda’s Westview fantasy inhabits a very real pocket of reality protected by some kind of barrier. People come rushing towards her and we see giant pylons forming an electric fence.

Last week, I assumed that Wanda was trapped inside her own head and SWORD was monitoring her dreams somehow. Knowing this sitcom reality takes place within reality changes the game entirely. I struggle to believe that Wanda set this up herself, but there is no questioning the level of control she exerts over her surroundings.

We saw some of this when she rewound time to avoid seeing the beekeeper in the second episode, but WandaVision went even further this time. There are still so many questions about how she came to be here, but Wanda clearly wants to be here and is actively fighting any attempt to upset her dream. And now we know at least some of the neighbors are real and being trapped by her as well. What attempts have they made to escape? Do they work for SWORD like Geraldine? How long have they been trying to wake Wanda from this world?

(I was unaware that Geraldine is Monica Rambeau. I am intensely interested to see what happens with her considering the role she should have in future Captain Marvel movies.)

Most of all, I wonder what happens when Vision realizes what happens. After all, he is dead. However he came to exist in this world, he is most likely not real. He must also exist as some simulation. Despite that, he has been aware of how weird and wrong his life has been from the very beginning, when he was desperately trying to figure out what in the world his company’s business is. What happens when he realizes the truth of Westview and tries to stop Wanda?

The one clear thing about Westview is that it operates as a sort of grieving process for her. The risk of upsetting her grief could lead to dangerous reactions threatening everything around her, which likely explains why SWORD has not taken more direct measures to upset her false reality. Wanda Maximoff is one of the most powerful characters in Marvel comics and could cause untold destruction if driven out of control.

Westview also seems to work as some sort of wish fulfillment that would be difficult to break. She has a normal life with a husband and children, and giving birth to twins likely represents the loss of her brother Pietro. If this reality is not her doing, this wish fulfillment may be how they keep her bought in.

Now obviously the moment will arrive when everything will topple. The only question involves the severity of the break.

I am still not sure where all of this is going. I am still not sure how good WandaVision truly is. Shows like this, which gradually build to epic reveals through a series of episodic breadcrumbs, are difficult to pull off successfully. It might be especially difficult for people who have no interest in the sitcom style and depend on interesting world-break material to keep them watching.

Whether WandaVision pulls this off or not, it has been a fun ride so far.

Images Courtesy of Marvel Studios

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