This post contains spoilers for WandaVision.
Strap in, all. Momma's got a theory, and it's going to take a little bit of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D knowledge for it all to make sense. I promise I'll be as brief as possible, but in tonight's episode of WandaVision we meet current acting S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward. Now, that name rang a bell, but I'm not going to pretend it dinged in any meaningful way. I was pretty sure I'd never heard of a Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) in Marvel, but the comics universe is huge and there are a lot of names out there.
Names like one Brian Hayward.
Don't feel bad if you watched the series and still aren't quite sure who the heck that is. Brian wasn't in the show long. But, when he was, he was an Afghanistan vet who found himself as a part of Project Centipede (essentially a cyborg farm). The project has been long-since dissolved, and Brian long-since dead, but it was only an arm of a larger organization: HYDRA.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Brian's only family mentioned is his sister Laura. But let's not pretend that Marvel is a) big on coincidences and b) forthcoming on all their knowledge on bit characters in their ginormous universe.
So, what am I getting at? Well, it's pretty simple: Tyler Hayward is a big fat Nazi and he's answering to whoever's pulling the strings on this whole WandaVision operation.
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Could Tyler be the good boy in the family? Sure, it's a possibility. But I'm not buying into his "aw shucks" routine with Monica (Teyonah Parris), and I'm certainly not buying into his "respect" for the late, great Maria Rambeau. Nah—this guy's fishy, and if the farmboy routine with someone obviously more capable than him wasn't enough, take a look at the armaments he defended being built in the S.W.O.R.D. bunker that Monica protested against.
Then there's his reaction to Darcy's (Kat Dennings) findings. Instead of sticking around and learning more about the situation, he needs to call transportation back to S.W.O.R.D. HQ. How come, Chief Willoughby? Where you going, you creep? Him skipping off the second he had new intel also hints at the fact that he's not the one really pulling the strings here. He's got a boss, and he needed to go tell them some very uncomfortable news.
The most damning evidence against Tyler isn't his apparent ties to a deceased HYDRA agent, or his chronic White Guy™ syndrome. It's that Chapter 4 made it clear that Wanda (Elizabeth Olson) is at least somewhat aware of what she's doing. If that were the full answer to whatever's going on, we wouldn't have gotten it until the very end of the series. The MCU does not play around with their mysteries in their episodic storytelling and they're not going to stop that behavior on the first Marvel property in a year.
We see more credence given to this theory "On a Very Special Episode" as well. The Darcy line where she's calling him a dick and he interrupts with terrorist is hilarious, but it has a softer punch than the actual subject matter of Hayward's scene. The current director of S.W.O.R.D. spends every second on-screen in this episode fighting to make it abundantly clear that Wanda is the big bad here. He even has footage that "S.W.O.R.D. HQ allowed him to release" showcasing Wanda "stealing" Vision's body from their labs.
Not only has Hayward made it abundantly clear that the agency has made a hard shift into weapons focus since Monica's disappearance and Maria's death—thus making Vision's body a specific interest to them—there's also no one above Tyler on the S.W.O.R.D. food chain to be telling him to release footage. At least not on paper. Because Tyler Hayward is unquestioningly working for H.Y.D.R.A. or some other unknown big bad.
The Aftermath of "Previously On"
I'm not saying your girl yelled "Vindication!" Brooklyn 99 style, but I'm not not saying that either. "Previously On" basically confirmed what many of us already knew about the current acting director of S.W.O.R.D. — the guy is the worst. Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) must be rolling in her grave knowing that slime is running her organization while her daughter fights to actually help the situation. Some folks had mentioned that it must be a misdirect since the Hayward name already belongs to a previous jerk in the franchise, but sometimes one rotten apple really does spoil the whole bunch!
Here's what we know now:
Wanda didn't break into S.W.O.R.D. HQ, she was invited by Hayward after she showed up on their doorstep. Why was she there? Well, because Hayward and company literally stole Vision's body off of the battlefield after Thanos killed him. As we assumed, S.W.O.R.D. wants his body as a living, breathing weapon. Hayward wants it so badly that he goes so far as to mention that Wanda could bring him back. It's also worth mentioning that Wanda doesn't take the disembodied corpse of her love with her when she flees the facility, either. The Vision we see in Westview is an entirely new entity created solely by Wanda's power.
Tyler Hayward isn't miffed this whole season because his weapon was stolen. He's mad because he can't harness the power he needs to bring that weapon on line. That is until Monica Rambeau seeks out the help of a friend who also happens to be a snake in the grass. The rover her "friend" tried to send her through the Hex in was never meant to make it through. It was just meant to collect enough energy from the field to zap life into Vision's corpse. One that will, presumably, be returning to life without any memories of his past.
Stay tuned for more of Tyler Hayward's villainy next week for the WandaVision season finale! (He's the worst!)
WandaVision Finale Involvement
Well, the creep tried it! Tyler Hayward really thought his mediocrity was going to help him skate on through to take down one of the most powerful entities in the world. Sure, dude. You have White Vision on your side, but what exactly did you think was going to pan out here?
Ultimately, Hayward doesn't get an opportunity to be involved in much of anything. He does finally make it into the Hex with a metric ton of S.W.O.R.D. agents in tow, but he doesn't get far. It's kind of nice to see him shoehorned into a car wreck and left there to deal with the whiplash after Darcy Lewis nails him with a truck — but it still would have been nice to see some real vengeance unleashed on the dude who tried to unload an entire clip into Monica, Billy and Tommy. But this isn't his story, and WandaVision isn't about that kind of justice. So, we'll catch up with you later, Tyler Hayward. We've got your number, and you'll get what's coming to you someday.
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Amelia Emberwing is the Entertainment Editor and lead critic here at What to Watch. She survives on a steady IV of caffeine, rants, pixie dust and fangirling, and will probably sass you. You can find her on Rotten Tomatoes as an individually approved critic. She's also a member of the Television Critics Association and GALECA.
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