Friday 22 January 2021 1:48 pm

WandaVision Episode 3 review: a not-so-groovy 70s episode

James is one of City A.M.'s film critics and a regular on both TV and radio discussing the latest movie releases

SPOILER WARNING: this review contains spoilers for all current episodes of WandaVision.

Disney+’s WandaVision opened up with a double bill of episodes last week, presumably to introduce what is quite a trippy concept if you’re not Marvel literate. Avenger Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and her android lover Vision (Paul Bettany) are living in literal sitcom bliss following the events of Avengers: Endgame. The first two episodes saw them living out the domestic ideal in the 50s and 60s, with heavy hints that not everything is as it seems, and that this may be a fiction of Wanda’s making. 

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This week, the hair got bigger, and so did the clues. Episode 3 was in the style of a Seventies sitcom, with Vision and Wanda dealing with the sudden pregnancy that was revealed in the final moments of Episode 2. As the doctor (Randy Oglesby) examines Wanda, Vision can’t help but question how they became so heavily pregnant in hours, but like all mysteries inside this bubble, it’s shaken off quickly and they get into the process of preparing for baby. 

Thus far, the show is as much an exercise in style as it is in storytelling. The look and dialogue feel very authentic as a sitcom, which is important as there are many scenes that just play for laughs (Vision speedreading a pregnancy manual, or rushing the doctor round at the speed of flight). These seemingly frivolous segments are setting us up for the moments of realisation, such as when the couple realise that “something’s wrong here”, before Wanda corrects the timeline and carries on with the delusion.

As the episode draws to a close, Wanda goes into labour and visual gags ensue. When her waters break, it rains; when the baby’s near, an actual stork turns up… you get the idea. At the precisely wrong moment, Geraldine (Teyonah Parris) turns up and after some comedy distraction helps deliver twins while Vision is fetching the doctor. All is well, until the new arrivals remind Wanda that she was a twin, and her brother was called Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Geraldine confirms that he was killed by Ultron, and this piercing of reality angers Wanda, who questions the sword symbol on her guest’s necklace. 

While this is happening, Vision is outside talking to neighbours Agnes (Katherine Hahn) and Herb (David Payton), who are concerned about Geraldine being alone with Wanda. When Vision presses, Herb blurts out “she came here because we’re all-“ before Agnes stops him. When Vision returns, we see a contented Wanda, who says that Geraldine “had to run”. In fact, it’s revealed she’s been ejected through a TV screen like portal, landing outside a military style camp and surrounded by agents.   

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There are a few reveals here, although you would have to have done some reading to confirm them. The sword on Geraldine’s necklace seems to mean S.W.O.R.D. –  Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, a kind of space-based version of the organisation SHIELD that we have seen throughout the Marvel Universe. This, and the previous Marvel press release, confirms that Geraldine is in fact Monica Rambeau, the grown-up daughter of Captain Marvel’s best friend Maria who is clearly trying to penetrate the bubble Wanda has created. Outside of the title characters, she may be the hero of the show, trying to work out what’s happening. 

But what was Herb was referring to? Will Wanda conjure up her brother to deal with her grief? It’s all still a mystery, although there’s a treasure trove of hints and Easter Eggs. The names suggested for the babies, Tommy and Billy, refer to their children in the comic books (known as Speed and Wiccan in the Young Avengers). We get another ominous commercial for bathroom product Hydra Soak (“when you want to get away…”). The end scene also suggests this reality is something tangible that the outside world can enter, provide that they avoid Geraldine/Monica’s tactics and abide by the fantasy. 

It’s confusing, but still compelling. Disney and Marvel could very well have thrown out an explosion-of-the-week action series for their first Disney+ offering, but in WandaVision it has gone for something more nuanced that will reward fans who have followed the brand for nearly thirteen years of storytelling. It will require some huge payoffs as the story progresses, but for now the breadcrumbs of information are keeping us fed. 

New episodes of WandaVision are available every Friday on Disney+.