The picture above is Vision (Paul Bettany) staring directly at the camera with a little “you’ve got to be kidding me” smirk on his face.
It’s from a scene in WandaVision’s latest episode, appropriately titled “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” in which he and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) are driving toward Wanda’s house and get stuck first by a red light, then a repair crew and then a crossing guard with a long line of small children crossing a street in the middle of nowhere.
He suspects—as do we, the audience—that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is behind these shenanigans. The fun trick this episode plays on us by the end: Wanda isn’t. While Wanda is certainly responsible for some of whatever’s going on in the Hex, she’s not the one pulling the strings—or the one making everything go wrong time and time again.
Hayward, we discover, isn’t the show’s only bad guy, and Wanda isn’t a villain at all.
It was Agatha all along.
Well, it was Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) all along—until we learned that her name was, indeed, Agatha Harkness. I wrote about this theory a couple weeks ago, and while the Agatha of WandaVision is very different from the comic book version of the character, it still works like a charm.
Agatha Harkness is a witch from the comic books who is actually not a villain at all, though she gives birth to a villain. Her and her offspring and grandchildren play a pretty major role in the story of Wanda and Vision in the comics (and their two boys, Billy and Tommy) and if you want more background, it’s all in this piece. Well the short and condensed version anyways.
So much happens in this episode. Really, in most WandaVision episodes it feels like a ton of crazy things happen. There’s virtually no filler. Each 30 minute (or so) story is perfectly paced with moments of humor and action and sadness and mystery and big reveals. It is, in many ways, the perfect television show. It has quickly become one of my favorite bits of the MCU and is starting to become one of my favorite seasons of television of all time. That’s how good this show has gotten.
Things kick off with Wanda laying in bed and noticing that Vision is not beside her. The scene cuts to Wanda, in her bathrobe sitting in a chair, talking directly to the camera like a scene out of Modern Family or The Office.
We’ve entered the age of the “mockumentary” style TV show and throughout the episode Wanda, Agnes and Vision all speak directly to the camera between scenes. Wanda’s bits are all about being in denial. “Must be a case of the Mondays,” she jokes, laughing goofily, as her reality flickers around her, the flat-screen TV changing back into an old black and white box; the stairs and couches and wallpaper all shifting in-between decades. “I’m fine,” she tells the camera.
Agnes provides all the funny bits. When she comes by to take the kids off of Wanda’s hands, she tells them “Don’t worry, I won’t bite.” The camera cuts to her looking directly at the camera and she says: “I did bite a kid once.”
She takes the kids over to her place so that Wanda can have some alone time. Wanda, meanwhile, jokes that her day of doing nothing is punishment for her expansion of her make-believe world.
Speaking of which, this is where Vision wakes up—in the circus. He sees Darcy standing nearby and tries to talk with her, but she calls him a “creeper” and assumes he’s just coming on to her. He persists and manages to brain zap her back into reality, and the two of them head to meet up with Wanda. Darcy doesn’t know anything about what’s going on now, but she fills Vision in on his past. Ultimately they split up when Vision is forced to fly away rather than wait in the truck any longer.
Bettany and Dennings are both very funny, and it’s fun to see the two of them in a scene together like this. Actually, this is one of the funnier episodes we’ve seen in a while. Olsen really hams it up also, and Agnes—even when she becomes Agatha—is hilarious.
Where the humor ends is back in the real world. Monica (Reyonah Parris) and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) meet up with the engineer Monica has been talking about for the past couple weeks. People were expecting this person to be a member of the Fantastic Four or some other big cameo but it was just . . . an army officer loyal to Monica’s mother. Kind of a letdown, to be honest, but more than made up for the by everything else.
She’s brought Monica the tank-of-sorts she requested and Monica suits up in a space suit and tries to break through the barrier. As the trailers hinted at, this is not a success. Monica has to bail and the tank, after getting halfway through and half-transforming into a pickup truck, is spit back out.
But this only gives Monica more determination. Without even putting her helmet back on she charges toward the barrier, with Woo shouting at her to stop. She presses her hands into the red forcefield and then her arms and then she’s in all the way. But it’s not a thin barrier. It’s several yards deep, and as she presses through it—walking against a strong, digital wind—we see versions of herself and the fake selves she became in Westview, scattered around her like a kaleidoscope.
Finally she bursts through the other side. Her eyes have turned a glossy blue and as she glances around the world looks like a painting if the artist had used energy instead of paint. She blinks and her eyes change back and the world is normal again. Then she runs off to find Wanda and warn her about Darcy’s discovery: Hayward was trying to recommission Vision’s body and use it as a sentient weapon. Our suspicions about his intentions were right all along, though I still don’t know if he’s Hydra or just a rogue director. I wouldn’t love it if SWORD was controlled by Hydra the same way SHIELD was for a spell.
Monica races to Wanda’s house and confronts her and Wanda reacts with rage. She hurls her into the air and then slams her to the ground—where Monica lands in a pulse of blue energy, her knee and fist slamming the ground unharmed. This is Monica’s superhero origin story, it turns out. She’s becoming either a new Captain Marvel or one of Monica Rambeau’s other titles over the years: Photon, Pulsar or Spectrum, take your pick.
Agnes/Agatha looks out the window and sees the two talking—calmly now. Monica is pleading with Wanda, trying to get through to her and it looks like Wanda is starting to actually listen when suddenly—
—Agnes intervenes. She tells Monica to leave Wanda alone. She’s had a rough day. And she leads her away back to her house, just next door. Monica stares on in frustration.
Agnes leads Wanda into the living room. There’s a kids’ show on TV and half-eaten peanut butter and jelly squares on the coffee table, but no sign of Billy or Tommy. There is a curious rabbit in a cage next to the couch and a cockroach clambering down a curtain. But no boys.
When Wanda asks, Agnes says they’re probably down in the basement playing. But we all know that basements are scary places you should never venture into alone.
Wanda makes her way slowly into the basement. She sees vines growing on the walls. Soon she finds herself in what appears to be an old stone chamber filled with strange runes and what appears to be a glowing spell book. It looks like a witch’s dungeon from some old Medieval castle, ominous and forlorn. We hear the sounds of babies crying, insects fluttering their wings. Bones glow orange in old cabinets.
Then Agnes walks in. She says “Wanda, Wanda…you didn’t think you were the only magical girl in town, did you?”
She holds her hand in front of her face and it’s crackling with purple energy. The door slams suddenly. “The name’s Agatha Harkness. Lovely to finally meet you, dear,” she says grinning wickedly, petting the bunny in her arms.
The next segment is the great musical “Agatha All Along” song/montage. We see her black magic at work in episode after episode. She lands outside of Wanda and Vision’s house in the very first episode, transforming from a purple-and-black garbed witch into the black and white version of herself we met in episode one. Then we see her casting hexes during the talent show, casting a spell on Herb, and manifesting the strange version of Pietro.
When Vision finds her in her car “lost” and mind zaps her, we learn that the whole thing was just a trick. She was faking—throwing us off the scent after we all started to wonder the week before.
It’s even Agatha behind the camera as Wanda gives her little mockumentary-style interviews which, interestingly enough, are not being broadcast outside of Westview this week. And she killed Sparky, too.
The credits roll, but there’s one final scene in the middle you should go back and watch if you haven’t already.
In it, Monica follows Agnes and Wanda and finds an outdoor entrance to the basement. She opens it and sees purple-glowing vines splayed out around the door below. An eerie hum emanates from below. Suddenly Pietro appears inches from her face. “Snoopers gonna snoop,” he says.
Wow. This show. It is so much more than I ever expected it to be. There is so much going on but it all works, it’s all carefully pieced together. Each week we learn just enough to be satisfied, but never enough to really fully know what’s going on. It’s so rare to watch a show that fits together so neatly, especially one with so many moving pieces and mysteries to keep track of.
- Just because Agatha Harkness is the villain doesn’t mean other Big Bads are off the table. My guess is that Agatha is either working for someone else, or is working to contact/commune with someone else. Possibly Mephisto. While she may indeed be the central antagonist of WandaVision, or at least share that role with Director Hayward, I suspect she’ll lead us to a more powerful foe, and that this will then spill over into Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
- Speaking of the good Doctor, this week’s commercial was definitely an allusion to Strange. It’s about an antidepressant called Nexus. The ad, which features the same woman we’ve seen from so many of these, features a narration: “Feeling depressed? Like the world goes on without you? Do you just want to be left alone? Ask your Doctor about Nexus, a unique antidepressant that works to anchor you back to your reality, or the reality of your choice. Side effects include: feeling your feelings, confronting your truth, seizing your destiny, and possibly more depression. You should not take Nexus until your Doctor has cleared you to move on with your life. Nexus: because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?”
- It seems most likely that this is a reference to the Nexus of All Realities. Without diving too deep into all that, this seems like a good explanation for Wanda’s power. She has somehow tapped into the Nexus, maybe nudged along by Agatha, and she’s fully become a Nexus Being. It seems likely that Doctor Strange—the ad does say “Ask your doctor about Nexus”—will show up at the end of the season to help sort everything out. And since he and Wanda are both in the upcoming film, it also seems likely that not everything will be sorted out perfectly.
- I love how the kids’ video game controllers’ keep transforming.
- Also Wanda eats a lot of cereal. I can relate.
- There were lots of clues about Agnes being Agatha, the witch costume being a big one. But maybe the best was when Tommy (or is it Billy?) looks over at her and says to her that she’s “quiet on the inside.” Almost like she’s blocking his newly discovered psychic abilities.
In any case, this was a tremendous episode and I can’t wait for the final two. We’re in for an epic conclusion as Vision and super-Monica and Agatha Harkness and Wanda and SWORD and possibly Doctor Strange all come into collision course with one another. I’ll be sad when it’s over.
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