SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched Season 1, Episode 5 of Disney Plus’ “WandaVision.”
First things first — and truly heed that spoiler warning, because we’re diving right into the deep end — it would appear that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) adventures through television have ripped open a tear in the multiverse. What else are we to make of the sudden appearance of Evan Peters as Pietro Maximoff?
That’s right, the actor who played the other Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Dark Phoenix” — movies that are not supposed to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — has stepped into the role previously played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The power that has! The influence that has! The cosmic implications that has!
In hindsight, the entire episode was laying the groundwork for a reveal that further cracks open not just this show, but the entire MCU. We’ve jumped into the 1980s, the era of “Family Ties” and “Growing Pains,” but the sitcom trappings are beginning to lose their rigidity, as Wanda’s grip on Westview — and Vision’s dawning awareness of his surroundings — begins to slip. Plus, super-aging twins, mysteriously reappearing accents, and bulletproof bellbottoms! Let’s get to the biggest burning questions.
No, Really, Is Wanda the One in Control Here?
So much of “On a Very Special Episode…” was designed to reinforce the idea that what is happening in Westview is emanating entirely from Wanda. Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) said that while she was inside Westview, she could feel Wanda’s voice in her head, which led director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) to declare that Wanda, once thought to be one of many victims, was in fact “is the principal victimizer.”
Later, when Vision zapped Norm (Asif Ali) out of his sitcom stupor, a terrified Norm appeared to echo Monica’s experience: “She’s in my head! Make her stop. Make her stop!”
Then there was the whole Wanda-emerging-from-the-forcefield-and-causing-all-the-S.W.O.R.D.-soliders-to-turn-their-guns-on-Hayward thing, followed by her making-the-force-field-around-Westview-glow-a-menacing-red thing. That pretty well clinched it.
And yet there was also a pervasive feeling that we’re still not seeing the full picture here. Hayward’s revelation that Wanda stole Vision’s body from S.W.O.R.D. HQ nine days ago struck Monica, and me, as a suspicious sin of omission, given that Hayward never bothered to tell Monica about it before sending her to New Jersey. And the footage he displayed certainly doesn’t tell the whole story: What caused Wanda to storm into S.W.O.R.D. in the first place? How did she know Vision’s body was there? And why did she take it all the way to Westview?
(Let’s just pause here for a moment to marvel, heh, at the revelation that everything we’ve seen has unfolded in just nine days. Nine days!)
Also, Wanda’s powers are not absolute: She wasn’t able to stop her twin babies from crying with magic, and she also didn’t seem to be in control of their rapid aging from infants to 5-year-olds and then to 10-year-olds. (More on this later.) Wanda was totally thrown by the appearance of Sparky, a dog with no collar — which is to say, not a clear prior resident of Westview — who her sons said just showed up outside their home. (Sparky gets his name from a 2016 comic book series about Vision that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige told Variety is a direct inspiration for “WandaVision” — though in that run, Vision created Sparky out of the brain of a neighbor’s dead dog.)
Most crucially, Wanda insisted to Vision that she did not cause their doorbell to ring just when things were getting intense between them. She seemed genuinely shocked to see her (re-cast) brother standing her doorway; this did not seem to be part of her plan.
Basically, we seem to be dealing with two Wandas: The first, a frazzled sitcom mom with a bland Midwestern accent who is vaguely aware that things are really off and isn’t sure how or why she got herself into this situation; the second, an enormously powerful woman whose Sokovian accent has returned and who appears to be fully aware of what is really happening and why.
So are these two halves of the same person?
If Wanda’s Not Really in Control…Is Agnes?
The episode opened with what was for my money the most unsettling moment of the show so far. Wanda and Vision couldn’t stop the babies from crying, and just when Wanda said, “Maybe we just need some help,” Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) swooped in with what she said are “some tricks up my sleeve.” But when Vision indulged in some sitcom dad anxiety about her picking up the babies, Agnes was thrown.
“Uh, do you want me to take that again?” she said to Wanda, and the laugh track suddenly faded into silence — as did the crying babies.
“I’m sorry?” Wanda replied, still in character.
“You want me to hold the babies,” Agnes replied. “Should we just take it from the top?”
Vision was unsettled by Agnes breaking the fourth wall of their sitcom lives, but Wanda stayed in character, laughing off Agnes’ behavior. What I’m more intrigued by, however, is that Agnes seemed far more aware of what was happening in Westview than any other resident, and far more game to play along. As Vision noted repeatedly, Agnes always seemed to show up at exactly the right moment with exactly what Wanda and Vision need. And she was also curiously always there whenever the twins age up: Sprinkling “lavender” on them right before they jumped to age 5, and there when they jumped up to 10 — old enough to take care of Sparky. Agnes even had a one-liner reaction: “Let’s just hope this dog stays the same size.”
Regular readers of these recaps and consumers of “WandaVision” easter egg videos are already intimately familiar with the theory that Agnes is really Agatha Harkness, an ancient sorceress who lived through the Salem witch trials. In the comics, Agatha has an antagonistic relationship with Wanda, and on the surface, that doesn’t seem to be Agnes’ M.O. — she appeared to be genuinely tearful about the death of Sparky (more on him later). But Agnes’ presence is always reinforcing Wanda and Vision’s sitcom reality, keeping them bound there when we all know that’s not ultimately healthy. If Agnes is aware of what’s happening, why is she helping? What does she get out of it?
And if Wanda didn’t bring Pietro did her doorstep…did Agnes?
Is Pietro Really Peter?
After Wanda’s encounter with S.W.O.R.D., we cut back to Wanda and her twins searching for Sparky, who has gone missing. They came upon Agnes, who was rustling in her bushes, and emerged with Sparky wrapped in a blanket and a story about him eating too many azalea leaves.
The implication was that whatever weapon Hayward fired at Wanda ended up killing poor Sparky, though Agnes’ involvement here raised even more eyebrows. More importantly, though, was what Wanda says to her sons after discovering Sparky’s body.
“The urge to run from this feeling is powerful, I know,” she said, which is a curious thing to say for a person who appears to have constructed an entire alternate reality to escape the grief of the death of her beloved Vision. Her sons persisted, however, and said that she can fix the dead — which startled Wanda. They’re not supposed to know that (and it would appear neither did Agnes, based on her unsettled reaction: “You can do that?”)
But Wanda was firm: Dead is dead (unless, perhaps it’s a synthezoid fashioned with the power of an infinity stone).
“We can’t rush aging just because it’s convenient,” she told her sons (another indication that Wanda isn’t thrilled about, or responsible for, her sons’ rapid growth). “And we can’t reverse death, no matter how sad it makes us.”
Wanda genuinely seemed to not believe she can resurrect the dead, which is to say, she cannot bring her brother Pietro back to life.
Which brings us to the big fight Wanda and Vision had at the end of the episode, with Vision pushing Wanda to tell him the truth: That he is dead, and that she — or maybe someone else — somehow reanimated his body. Just then, right when Wanda needed it most, the doorbell rang. Wanda insisted she didn’t make that happen. But if she didn’t, and Agnes’ function is to give Wanda what she needs to be able to stay inside Westview, then who else could have brought Peters-as-Pietro to their doorstep?
One could argue that Peters is just playing another Westview resident we hadn’t seen before, and Wanda gussied up his looks to make him seem like Pietro. But Marvel Studios could’ve cast anyone in that role. Instead, they cast the other guy who played Quicksilver in the “X-Men” movies that, until 2019, were a separate creative and corporate entity from Disney’s intellectual property.
But now Marvel Studios has access to the X-Men characters after Disney purchased 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios). So why cast Peters if you’re not meaning to evoke the comparison?
So here’s what I think is happening: After the time-traveling shenanigans in “Avengers: Endgame” loosened the barriers between alternate universes, whatever is going on in Westview — either Wanda’s all-consuming grief or something more nefarious — has torn a rift between them outright. And now, because Taylor-Johnson’s Pietro Maximoff is dead and gone and unable to return, the only alternative is to pluck Peters’ Peter Maximoff from his reality and plop him into Wanda’s.
Whoever this new Pietro is, his presence in Westview is only going to make things even more complicated.
Is Another Avenger Coming to Westview?
Whatever S.W.O.R.D. is doing to stop Wanda’s actions in Westview, she made it pretty darn clear that they’re no match for her abilities. So if mortals can’t stop her, perhaps an Avenger can?
As Darcy (Kat Dennings) pointed out, Wanda got her power from an Infinity Stone, and other than Vision, the only other (living) Marvel hero who can say the same is Carol Danvers, who became the superpowered Captain Marvel after an engine powered by Tesseract exploded in front of her. If anyone is powerful enough to counteract Wanda’s abilities, it’s her. Plus, Carol’s history with Monica would make Carol’s appearance on “WandaVision” especially meaningful — though its clear Monica has some tricky feelings about her mom’s bff reappearing after almost 20 years after she’d last seen her.
You don’t drop Captain Marvel’s name lightly, though — Darcy mentioned her for a reason. So will Monica finally reunite with her Auntie Carol? We’ll have to tune in next week to find out!
“WandaVision” streams new episodes Fridays on Disney Plus.