Sunday, September 24, 2023

WandaVision’s Modern Family Whips Up a Witchy Surprise

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Here we are, 7 episodes of WandaVision down and with them, probably our last sitcom inspired episode. We have followed Wanda and Vision through the decades, from the Bewitched era to last week’s Malcom in the Middle inspiration, and it has been a blast. Unfortunately, there is nothing left to satirize. We have caught up with every era of television, and the Westview Hex caught up with Wanda.

After last week’s episode, I wondered about the stability of Westview following Wanda’s sudden expansion of its borders, as well as Wanda’s own stability following Vision’s escape attempt. Well…neither was in good shape this week, and following an unexpected intrusion, the real villain made their move.

And now we hit the endgame. It was Agatha all along.

wandavision agatha

I doubt this came as much of a surprise to either comic fans or those following WandaVision theories throughout the season. Casting Kathryn Hahn is a big enough deal to immediately wonder who she actually is, and her behavior only added to the suspicion. Agnes was always conveniently around in a way that suggested she knew something the others did not. Why was she the neighbor who always came around to help Wanda out of a jam? How did she seem to always know how to time her appearances so well?

For those who knew Wanda Maximoff stories, the name Agatha Harkness always came up in those theories. She is an important character in Wanda’s comic history and specifically regarding Wanda’s children. If Agnes turned out to be someone else, Agatha was the lead candidate.

WandaVision put something of a kibosh on Agnes theories because of the scene where Vision finds her on the edge of town. She came across convincingly enough to suggest she was a victim as well. Now we can recognize that scene for what it was; a convincing con meant to split Vision from Wanda and leave her more vulnerable to whatever Agatha is doing.

And just what is Agatha doing, besides killing dogs and blaming it on Leslie Knope?

I look forward to the theories, and I expect there will be plenty claiming she is still working on someone else’s behalf. My best guess right now is that Agatha uses the Westview Hex to somehow drain Wanda of power to increase her own. I think this explains the increasing instability of the Hex. This instability reached a peak this week, with Wanda seemingly incapable of controlling the world around her. Everything kept shifting eras around her and her attempts to correct things were often overridden. I think that as Wanda has grown weaker, Agatha is growing stronger.

Maybe Agatha chose to reveal herself now because she had stolen enough power, and the instability of Wanda’s world is the visual hint that this power was stolen. She was probably rushed by a super-powered Monica invading the Hex and escaping anyone’s control, but Agatha did not quite seem rushed. Or if she was, she handled it well.

Of course, it could just be that Wanda’s mental state is in turmoil. There is no doubt that she is in a fragile moment, and I expect the last two episodes to focus heavily on helping her recover. Everything with Vision seems to have triggered Wanda’s worst fears.

While I was a bit disappointed with the effort put into last week’s attempt to parody 90s sitcoms, I have no such reservations about the way WandaVision handled their take in the 2000s. An Office-style theme song is followed by a Modern Family motif, with characters taking turns speaking to the “camera” about the events around them. The cuts, the looks to the camera, and the style of the jokes are all familiar to anyone watching recent sitcoms.

I especially enjoyed the segments with the “private” talks to the cameras. WandaVision used them to their best effectiveness to reveal Wanda’s fragile mental state in the aftermath of Vision’s escape attempt. The Westview Hex is supposed to be Wanda’s fantasy, a place where she has everything she wants; her husband, her brother, children, and a normal life.

Except it has never quite been that easy. From the beginning, Vision has not quite been the same person that Wanda fell in love with. Pietro was a different Pietro entirely, with incomplete memories of being the brother Wanda remembered. Then you have all the SWORD intrusions throughout the season. Westview has never quite been the fantasy Wanda wanted it to be, and while we now know this was largely Agatha’s doing, Wanda did not know why everything failed her fantasies. It felt like she was losing everything again, like she is destined to lose everything she loves, even in her dream world.

Sometimes you cannot blame a parent for telling her children that life is meaningless. Like the ad for the depression mediation said, sometimes the side effect of a treatment for depression ends up being more depression.

Even without considering Agatha’s machinations, it does feel like something went wrong in recreating the loved ones Wanda lost. I am especially curious about the contrasts between Vision and Pietro. Vision is clearly the body of the Vision we know, but his lack of memory confuses me in contrast to Pietro having a different body but most of the memories of Ultron Pietro. What explains this context? Is this just Agatha and/or Wanda’s magic affecting them in different ways, or are these some kind of multiverse shenanigans where Vision’s personality was pulled from a different Vision and placed in MCU Vision’s body, while Pietro’s mind was placed into Fox Pietro’s body?

Maybe Agatha did all this on purpose, and both are just her puppets, but I do not get that impression about either Vision or Pietro.

I got the impression from the mid-credits scene (I hope you didn’t skip it!) that Pietro will help the newly super-powered Monica rescue Wanda. Vision is on his way and Darcy is a wild card. Ultimately, this is going to revolve around Wanda making at least some peace with everything she has lost, and it will take the efforts of those she has lost to help her find that peace. With the sitcoms seemingly all caught up on, we are probably in for a couple of traditional MCU-style episodes to close this out.

I’m okay with that, and I think WandaVision will rock these episodes.

Images Courtesy of Marvel Studios

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  • Bo

    Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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