'Previously On' is like the monkeys paw of hoping for answers.
- 🔸We finally get some answers!
- 🔸The flashback scenes are simultaneously both painful and heartwarming.
- 🔸We learn an important new detail about Wanda!
- 🔸Exposition heavy.
- 🔸We also spent the whole episode "building" to a name reveal that we've always known?
The thing about WandaVision is that even when it has a weak episode, it still ends up being pretty okay. This week’s “Previously On” focuses on the past that led Wanda Maximoff to the complicated situation she’s found herself in thanks to some forceful nudges from the newly revealed Agatha Harkness. Those flashbacks vary in location, but all share a common theme: pain. Mostly because, outside of Vision, that’s all Wanda’s ever really known.
In short, Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) wants to know how Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) pulled it off. We start the episode with the knowledge that her previous coven tried to take her down for playing with dark magic, but she murdered them all for their troubles. She’s not used to not being the baddest witch in town, and she’s more than a little disconcerted that some untrained witch managed to recode a whole town. At this point, Mephisto enthusiasts can probably give up hope. That doesn’t seem to be this iteration of the character’s motivation (which is probably good news for Billy and Tommy).
Wanda is reluctant to relive her pain, but agrees in an attempt to save her sons. Her first memory is one that we’ve only heard of: the bombing of her family home. The Maximoff family shared a nice evening with The Dick Van Dyke show before the explosion killed her parents. A second bomb — a Stark Industries bomb — landed next to her and Pietro, but it never went off. Some might begrudge this episode for playing with torture for torture’s sake, but there’s very much an intent here. This flashback shows us that Wanda had powers before the mind stone. Information that, if my memory serves correctly, we did not previously know. Could still be up for debate but, so far as Agatha's concerned, the only thing that could have stopped that bomb from going off for 48 hours is a powerful witch telling it not to.
Then there’s the H.Y.D.R.A. tests. Not a lot is gleaned out of these moments other than the fact that the mind stone seemed drawn to Wanda from the beginning. Pietro’s engagement with the stone remains unknown, but we see the reiteration that this was not a Fun Time™ for the Scarlet Witch.
Finally, there’s the when and how of it all. As predicted, Tyler Hayward is a lyin’ ass creep. S.W.O.R.D. stole Vision’s (Paul Bettany) corpse from the field where Thanos (Josh Brolin) murdered him before Wanda could get to his body. Then, when she came knocking on their door, Hayward helpfully notes that she’s the only one with the potential to bring him back. We see you, sleazeball. “A misdirect” my shoe.
Wanda is tempted by Hayward’s goading. But, when she touches Vision’s body, she can’t feel him at all. The utter lack of him ends up being the beginning of her spiral, resulting in Wanda getting in her car and driving to Westview. You see, it wasn’t just some random town. Westview was where Wanda and Vision were going to start their lives together. It’s a nice nod to the comic canon, as the two very much decide to leave the Avengers for a simpler life at a point in their stories.
Upon seeing the plot for their uncompleted home, Wanda collapses. There was never any malice behind what happened to Westview, even when she starts to notice what’s going on around her. In fact, that little tidbit has ol’ Agatha even more miffed by the situation. Wanda accidentally created a whole new reality in her despair. Agatha morphed a cicada. The old gal’s feeling pretty outperformed, especially considering the fact that Wanda Maximoff didn’t steal Vision’s body as Hayward had mentioned. She literally created a new one.
Of course, if you stick around through the credits — which you should always be doing because a lot of people work very hard on these shows — you’ll know that Hayward got what he wanted out of Agatha’s pestering, too. Monica Rambeau’s (Teyonah Parris) contact might say nice things about loyalty, but she’s been working for Hayward this whole time. The rover’s interaction with the Hex gave them just what they needed: enough power to zap Vision’s real body back to life (presumably with no memories of his past).
An exposition dump is an odd choice for your penultimate episode. (Especially if, like us, you rewatched every Marvel movie in order to get here.) It’s nice to finally have some answers and to be officially vindicated in regard to Pro Slimeball Tyler Hayward, but all this time in the past sort of shunted WandaVision’s momentum. All of that to reveal the name of a character that we already know? Seems weird. So far as the Vision stuff goes… meh? That tune may very well change with whatever it is they do with their finale, but the job of a penultimate episode is to get your audience hyped. This didn’t do the trick for me.
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