WandaVision: “Breaking the Fourth Wall” Review

We’ve seen Wanda go through the decades with her sitcoms, and this latest episode brings us to the present with a Modern Family style fourth wall break.  All this and more on the latest episode of WandaVision!

(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)

Talking Heads
As is common with many sitcoms of the past decade or so (Modern Family, The Office, Parks and Rec), this episode makes use of the “talking head”.  Both Wanda and Vision speak directly to the camera, and it’s left sort of vague (until the end) of whether or not there’s someone on the other end.

Wanda even gets weirdly defensive when the “interviewer” directly asks her a question.

Much like the series it’s emulating, it’s a tricky thing to pull off, especially when deciding how much of an active role the camera crew should have. For the longest time, The Office avoided having the camera crew getting too involved, and was criticized in the final season for relying on them too heavily.

Given that this is a fantasy sitcom world, it doesn’t exactly need to follow the same rules of logic.  That said, it was a bit disappointing that we didn’t get an Office style mockumentary of Vision’s workplace, but there’s always next week.

Team Vision and Darcy
Picking up where the last episode left off, the “hex” has grown in size and consumed many members of the S.W.O.R.D. field team.  Darcy resurfaces as an escape artist at the carnival (because she was handcuffed when she was absorbed into it).

It would have been a fun meta joke to have Darcy as a diner waitress like Kat Dennings was in 2 Broke Girls. But the carnival motif is pretty cool.

She is quickly approached by Vision (who also woke up near the border) as he recognizes her from the night before when he was briefly outside the hex.  Using his powers to snap her out of the “trance”, she remembers everything and they team up to try to get to Wanda.

On the way, Darcy catches up Vision with the events of Infinity War, and honestly it’s kind of tragic.  Up until now, Vision had been suspicious and didn’t approve of what Wanda was doing with Westview, but he honestly didn’t know.  In fact he seems to not have any memories of who he was before the series began.

However, Darcy fills him in on Jarvis, Ultron, and Thanos.  And while he still doesn’t agree with what Wanda’s done, he understands the trauma and tragedy that she’s endured.  Darcy tells him that she’s not sure why he can’t seem to exist outside the hex, and it seems clear from the expression on his face that deep down he knows.

It’s a testament to Paul Bettany’s acting skills with how much he’s able to emote under all the heavy makeup. He seemed otherworldly in Age of Ultron, but WandaVision is the most “human” we’ve ever seen him be.

He knows that once this is all solved he will most likely cease to exist.  In Infinity War, he was willing to sacrifice himself to save half the universe, and while he doesn’t remember doing that, he’s still the same character, with the same values, and sadly this will probably have the same outcome.

Meanwhile Monica (with the help of Jimmy Woo) attempts to breach the barrier with a space rover, hoping that its molecular makeup won’t be changed.  Unfortunately it proves to be a failure, but Monica herself manages to get through and remain unchanged.

She does this by focusing on her memories, and we’re treated to a series of voiceovers featuring Nick Fury and Carol Danvers.  It’s a nice little touch that helps connect the series back to Captain Marvel and the rest of the MCU.

Upon seeing Monica again, Wanda is immediately defensive and demands that she leave.  Agnes then immediately comes to Wanda’s side, telling Monica that she’s done enough and inviting Wanda inside.

Granted, the spacesuit looked really cool!

Not the Only Witch…
The last few weeks have seen the internet explode with theories about WandaVision and whether or not Mephisto was involved.  Wanda’s neighbor Agnes was the subject of many such theories.  Well this episode finally confirms what many have suspected, that Agnes is in fact Agatha Harkness, a famous witch from the comics.

Agatha Harkness first debuted in a Fantastic Four comic in 1970, and her backstory goes all the way back to Salem!

The reveal is genuinely creepy as Wanda becomes more and more uncomfortable in Agatha’s house.  It almost plays out like Zodiac when Jake Gyllenhaal is in the house of who he believes is the killer. It’s a cool reveal but it has some implications that are both positive and negative.

On the one hand, it is cool that we’ll get to see a showdown of two different witches, and as a horror fan, it’s awesome to see a character like Agatha Harkness even get included in this series.  But at the same time, if she’s the villain who’s been pulling the strings all along, it takes away the moral conflict of Wanda being the villain.

It was easy to understand why Wanda did what she did after losing everything.  And if she’s the villain of the series, it makes her a compelling one.  But if Agatha is secretly behind everything, it robs us of the moral/ethical dilemma of understanding Wanda but knowing that she’s wrong.

It’s just too easy on her character growth to say that she’s not really responsible.  Sort of like how Marvel retconned Loki’s motivation in the first Avengers when they said the Mind Stone was having an effect on him.  It takes away his arc of redemption in later movies where he starts as a villain but becomes a hero.

But we’ve only just learned of Agatha’s treachery, and we still don’t know the full extent of who was behind what, so we’ll just have to find out more next week.

What did you think this episode?  What do you hope to see next week?  Let us know in the comments!

WandaVision is streaming exclusively on Disney+

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