Tuesday, April 23, 2024

WandaVision Reveals the Audience

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I think I can call it now. WandaVision has been a fun show so far, and an appreciatingly unique one. If nothing else I have been glad up to this point to see such an interesting return to the MCU world post-Endgame. I have not been sure yet whether WandaVision was actually good, though. There is a big difference between interesting and good. This is especially true early on in a show, when anyone can introduce an interesting concept that makes people pay attention and the responsibility of delivering on the concept can be pushed to the future.

WandaVision has barely started delivering on the concept, but after “We Interrupt This Program” I am more confident than ever that this show is going to be worth the time.

wandavision monica

This one was obviously an episode of revelations, centered around the observation process happening outside of Wanda’s Westview fantasy. We start with Monica Rambeau returning to the world after the undoing of Thanos’s snap (an amazing idea that I want to see more of) and follow her as a missing person’s case in New Jersey turns into a multi-agency observation process to try and figure out what is happening inside Westview and how they can reach Wanda Maximoff.

It was yet another shift in genre for WandaVision and yet another successful execution of said genre shift. WandaVision left the sitcoms behind for a week to tell a story that felt right out of The X-Files. I again have to applaud the ease with which WandaVision shifts between genres and makes it work.

Monica gets the focus for some the episode, as she returns to a world that left her behind. Her mom Maria passed while she was gone and S.W.O.R.D. left her behind. Her disappearance beyond Westview’s barrier prompts the massive investigation that follows. If I have a disappointment about WandaVision this week, it is that I hoped we would get to see more of Monica inside the sitcom. She gets a strong introduction but is surprisingly left behind once she disappears.

I hoped to see more of Monica trying to return to her life. At the very least I wanted to see her dealing with her own grief inside Wanda’s giant trauma-ignoring fantasy world. There is so much to unpack in those opening moments in the hospital, and I hoped we would get more of it. Monica Rambeau is so closely tied to Carol Danvers and her life here so heartbreaking. She was snapped away while thinking her mother had a successful surgery she was taking her home from, and returns to find out she had passed years earlier.

The post-snap MCU will be fascinating to dive into and this was just a bit too short a taste for me. Maybe we will see more moving forward, but following Monica within Westview and seeing her own version of Wanda’s grief could have been amazing. I hoped to see the fantasy work as a grieving vehicle for more than just Wanda.

It is through the return of Darcy Lewis (of Thor fame) that we find out Westview is functioning as the sitcom we see, with multiple episodes we apparently do not get to see, which I am kind of bitter about. She finds a signal within a massive amount of radiation located inside the Westview anomaly and hooks up an old-school analog TV to display the “episodes” Wanda and company are living.

By the way, it sure felt like all these big important government men were sitting around just asking questions while depending on Darcy to do the work and answer said questions. Another day in the life of competent women.

This episode was a great example of the tiny things that make the MCU work so well after all these years. The ability to recycle characters like Darcy or James Woo and make you care that they returned is something special that you would typically only see in longer form media like books and comics. It is unheard of, at least in my experience, with a primarily film-based franchise. WandaVision’s inclusion of Darcy and James Woo, and the introduction of what is surely a coming larger arc with Monica Rambeau spanning both this show and Captain Marvel, is the kind of cross-story appeal that makes comic books so magical.

It’s just fun to see how they all interact across so many different singular experiences that collect into one shared universe. This was the reason Infinity War worked so well, after all.

wandavision darcy woo

Through Monica, we also see the literal episodic function of their Westview observation process. These agencies view her life in episodes, complete with the same commercials we saw in the first three episodes. Same camera angles, same laugh track, same everything. They begin discovering that Wanda’s neighbors are real people trapped inside the fantasy and build files on them.

In the end, we again see Monica spit out of Westview, where she comes to and tells everyone that it is “all Wanda.” Which, frankly, is no surprise.

For those who are relatively unaware of Wanda Maximoff’s power level in comic books, she has immense, world-altering powers that have led to multiple storylines where she completely breaks reality and sometimes rebuilds it. Forget something as simple as making her own pocket of reality within the existing world. Wanda is capable of completely changing reality for everyone. She has incredible power to influence multiple dimensions to her will. There is still a fairly good chance that someone else is controlling Westview in some way or put Wanda here initially, but she has immense control of this space.

The show is not only called WandaVision because it stars Wanda and Vision, after all.

If we judge by Monica’s timeline, Wanda had to have entered Westview soon after snapping back into reality herself. She helps fight Thanos in Endgame, so it was not right away, but it must have been soon after. There are a variety of candidates for characters who could do this to Wanda.

My main concern moving forward is going to be how they handle Wanda’s grief as Westview falls apart around her. She is clearly doing everything she can to repress the truth, even when it literally stares its cracked Vision forehead back at her. Comic books have used Wanda’s traumas to turn her into a villain numerous times, and I hope that is not what is happening now. Wanda has been through too much for me to accept her being a villain at the end of all this.

So far, WandaVision has built enough trust from me to assume they have something better in mind. I cannot wait to see what that something is.

Images Courtesy of Marvel Studios

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