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REVIEW: WANDAVISION finale finishes with hope and rebirth

The finale leaves the door wide open for Phase Four potential in the MCU.

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Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

After taking us through six decades of television aesthetic and nine episodes of fantastic television, WandaVision ends the series with a finale about deaths and rebirths, introducing us to new versions of the same characters we have grown to love while simultaneously setting up the MCU for even more shenanigans in the future. Although it got off to a slow startWandaVision ends on a high note. The following review is for the full season of WandaVision and is totally spoiler-filled, proceed with caution!

It was clear from the onset that WandaVision was going to be about more than just Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany). In fact, we knew from Avengers: Infinity War that Vision was dead-dead, not just snapped away. As each episode unfolded, it soon became clear that the town of Westview, New Jersey was not suffering under the hands of an unseen villain, but Wanda herself. The overwhelming trauma and cumulative grief of having to lose her parents, her twin brother, and the love of her life left the very powerful Wanda very hurt and lost. In “Previously On,” we watched as Wanda arrived at Westview to visit a lot of land that Vision purchased for the two of them before his death; on the housing plan, written in red ink is “To grow old in V.”

This house is the epicenter of Wanda’s magical manifestation. Drawing from her own sadness, she created the hex and a new version of Vision (having not stolen Vision’s physical body, as Hayward claimed). But we learned in the series finale that Wanda’s suffering is not just her own, but the people of Westview are also enslaved not only by her powers but her grief. When they sleep, they are plagued with Wanda’s nightmares, they feel her pain and her grief. For Wanda, who sees her mind-control as a form of protection, this thought that she is hurting people is devastating. But now destroying Westview comes with a price. Not only will she lose Vision, but also her sons, Tommy and Billy.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Elizabeth Olsen really shines in this series. I’ve always been in love with Scarlet Witch, mostly as a character from the comics, but in her film adaptations, she always felt like a severely untapped mine. After all, Scarlet Witch is one of the most powerful mutants in the comics. In the MCU, I was in love with Wanda for what she could become, not really for what she was. Often relegated to a supporting role, WandaVision gives her a chance no only to shine as a thoroughly developed character but also to evolve into her final form: The Scarlet Witch.

From a technical front, Olsen has fantastic chemistry alongside her co-stars. She jumps from effervescent to haunting with ease, one of her best episodes is “Previously On” where we watch as she explores her past, watershed moments that altered her life and forged her into who she is today. In that episode, we get pieces of Wanda from previous films but with the sort of depth that you would expect from the character instead of simply a caricature. Instead of paprikash and a girl in a cell, we see the scenes through Wanda’s eyes and it allows us to understand and empathize with this character who always was distant on the big screen.

Storywise, this series sees Wanda coming into her full power and embracing her chaos magic. This isn’t just through her creation of the Hex, but also through meeting the incomparable Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), posing as her nosy neighbor, Agnes. Aside from having the catchiest theme song (it was Agatha all along!), Agatha also brought with her a boatload of lore. She inadvertently acts as a bit of a mentor to Wanda, who knows nothing about how to control her magic. On the flip side, Agatha has had centuries of practice honing her craft. She’s obsessed with it and craves power more than anything. Her schtick has to do with draining magic from fellow witches and, after identifying Wanda as the Scarlet Witch, she can’t wait to set her sights on Wanda.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

We learn from Agatha that the Scarlet Witch is a powerful witch that is forged, not born. She doesn’t need a coven, and she doesn’t need incantation. Her power exceeds even the Sorcerer Supreme. She’s a harbinger of chaos and doom. This is far from the “miracle” status she gained in the post-credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We’ve seen her create the Hex, we’ve seen her mind-control hundreds of people, we’ve seen her shuffle through decades, hell, she made Vision out of vibranium and created her sons out of thin air. This is god-level magic. And it’s fantastic. By the end of the series, we see Wanda as completely reborn. Yes, she is still struggling with her grief, but she is no longer crippled by it. She embraces her role as the Scarlet Witch, finding solace in isolation and consumed by studying the Darkhold. (Which, considering it’s the book of the damned and basically a source for dark magic, might not be the best news…)

But this isn’t just a story about Wanda, it’s also about Vision. Hex Vision, the one we’ve had the pleasure of seeing all season, has been created by Wanda, but he’s not just that. He’s the piece of the Mine Stone that lives in Wanda. As he reasons with White Vision while discussing the thought experiment of the Ship of Theseus, he both is and is not the true Vision. His parts have been replaced, he no longer truly possesses the Mind Stone, he has his memories, but he is not in his original body. Meanwhile, White Vision is in Vision’s original body, but he has been pieced back together. When Hex Vision unveils Vision’s memories in White Vision’s mind, this becomes a rebirth for Vision. Yes, Hex Vision must die. He can’t exist outside the Hex, but that doesn’t mean Vision is gone for good.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Even as a fierce Wanda/Vision shipper before the series, I could admit that the films hadn’t really done the couple justice. The most emotional depths we explored were probably in Infinity War and we all know how that ended. But in WandaVision we’re really given time with the couple, and it reaffirms what a great pairing Bettany and Olsen are. In their final moments together, Wanda and Vision declare their love for one another not tragically, but with hope. As Wanda says, “You are a body of wires and blood and bone that I created. You are my sadness and my hope. But mostly, you’re my love.” He is a memory made real by Wanda. But, even though he has to say goodbye to her again, Vision reasons that they will say hello to each other again. We know no one ever really stays dead in comic books, but damn if this goodbye didn’t have me tearing up even knowing White Vision was out there somewhere finding himself.

It’s hard for me to find much fault in WandaVision. Aside from everything mentioned above, there’s also the introduction of Teyonah Parris‘s Monica Rambeau, whose transformation through the Hex has turned her into Spectrum and given her amazing powers. It isn’t just that Monica is a Rambeau that makes her perfect for WandaVision, but also her tie to Wanda. Having returned to earth after the Blip to learn that she lost her mom during those five years, Monica is also struggling with her own grief. She knows what Wanda is going through and advocates for her when dealing with Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and the rest of S.W.O.R.D. Her transformation in “Breaking the Fourth Wall” and her phasing through bullets in “The Series Finale” only hints at the potential of her power.

Of course, additional applause has to go to Kat Dennings‘ Darcy Lewis, Randall Park‘s Jimmy Woo, and Evan Peters‘ Pietro/Fietro/Ralph Bohner. There are a lot of great comedic moments to WandaVision, and a lot of it is thanks to these three. It’s great to see Darcy now with a doctorate in astrophysics, figuring out the Hex with ease and smart-mouthing off to Hayward. Similarly, it’s good to see Jimmy Woo back on our screens. I’m hoping he remains as a recurring character (FBI has to come into contact with Falcon and Winter Soldier right?) and we get a new and improved Phil Coulson — with no deaths! And, who can forget the Pietro recast? So many fan theories out the window the moment we see Monica pull up a picture of Evan Peters, revealing him to be Ralph Bohner, aka Agnes’ “husband Ralph”. Yes, his last name is Bohner. Goodbye, to the hours I spent on Reddit.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

WandaVision improves on a second viewing. With plot twists revealed and truths uncovered, it was wonderful bingeing the series again and seeing what I missed and what I should have seen coming. Obviously, it’s hard to tell what we’ll see in the future. With Wanda now in possession of the Darkhold and hearing the voices of her sons calling for her help, it doesn’t seem like this is the last we’ve seen of Tommy and Billy. And with Young Avengers on the horizon, might we see an older version of the twins alongside Kate Bishop and Cassie Lang? I hope so. Agatha is also out there still, even imprisoned as Agnes, we know she’ll always be a threat. Plus, if this is the last time we see Kathryn Hahn as Agatha, I will riot!

And what about the people of Westview? Will we see any of the after-effects of what happened her bleed into the other show? Will we hear mention of it in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, what about in Loki? So many questions, so many possibilities. WandaVision has kicked the door wide open for Phase Four of the MCU, with stand-out performances and outstanding thematic storytelling, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

You can watch the entire season of WandaVision now on Disney+!

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am very disappointed about the writing. I understand what they wanted
    to do but the execution is sloppy. 7 episodes of buildup/comedy, one
    episode of flashbacks and the “big” showdown where all 4 main conflicts
    are resolved by cop-out. Bottom line is she tortured a whole city for
    days, they treat is as comedy the whole time and at the end they just
    let her go. Hayward was right but they turned him in a child-shooting
    moustache-twirling Blofeld cliche. Biggest letdown for me is Pietro just
    happens to be a nobody actor who coincidentally lives next door. I’m
    sorry but no. Agatha Harkness is a beloved Kirby nanny, not a villain.
    Wanda lets her fake family disappear instead of keeping containment just
    around the four of them. Killing them was unnecessary just like killing
    Tony in Endgame was easily reversible. This show is the WW84 of Marvel.
    It’s okay to torture people for days as long as you are a woman. No
    apology necessary.

  2. hHile I wasn’t a fan of the “TV” episodes, the payoff was good. Wanda feels ashamed for what she did to the town, and knows she can’t apologise. Pietro being a neighbour and Ralph makes sense – it had to be somebody in the town. Agatha has always been dark in the comics, and almost a villian, so that sort of works. Except ultimately she wasn’t a villian in the comics, but it works here. She wants power. She didn’t cause the event. And Wanda doesn’t kill her family, she accepts that they aren’t real and are just illiusions, and the only way to stop the torture of the town is to let those illusions go.

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