*** WARNING: This review contains spoilers for all current episodes of WandaVision ***
Episode 5 of WandaVision was a huge info dump, as events both sides of The Hex began to run parallel to each other. Episode 6 has its own share of explainers, but we do get a big departure in terms of aesthetic.
We open to a frenetic title sequence similar to 2000 sitcom Malcolm In The Middle, giving us the impression we are heading away from studio sitcoms and into the single camera comedies popular at the turn of the century. We catch up with Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) getting ready for the twins’ (Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne) first Trick or Treat. The pair are dressed as a Zokovian Fortune Teller and a Luchador (in fact, these are their superhero costumes from the comics in another Easter Egg). Vision explains he’s unable to join them, as he’s on neighbourhood watch duty. Luckily, last week’s surprise guest Pietro (Evan Peters) is here to help.
Back in the real world, Monica Rambeau (Teyonnah Parris) falls out with Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) over his decision to eliminate Wanda. She believes Wanda is not the villain here, but Hayward scoffs at what he calls “the luxury of optimism”, alluding to her connection to Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) and recalling what it took to keep the country going after Thanos’ snap. Dismissed from duty, Monica, Jimmy (Randall Park) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) decide to go rogue, taking out some SWORD operatives to take their uniforms.
There is an interesting dynamic developing here, where the show seems to debate with itself who is at fault. As we’ve said in the past, Wanda does appear to be hurting people, and Marvel villains have been taken down for less (Black Panther’s Killmonger comes to mind). Is Monica the hero of the story, or someone unwillingly opening Pandora’s Box?
Later in the episode, Darcy breaks through Hayward’s firewalls to discover that Monica is at risk of going back in, as her DNA is restructured each time she enters The Hex (making a new hero, perhaps?). They also find out that Hayward is monitoring Westview’s citizens through Vision. Undeterred, Monica says she must go back in, taking Jimmy but leaving Darcy behind to do… computer stuff (we assume).
Back in The Hex, Wanda and Pietro are Trick or Treating in town, and Wanda begins to test her brother about moments from their past. Pietro realises her game straight away, and appears to acknowledge what’s happening. Character changes are mildly addressed (“what happened to your accent?” “what happened to yours?”) before Pietro offers an explanation for his ‘recasting’, saying that if he had developed his own “Shangri-La”, he wouldn’t want to be reminded of the past either.
That sound you hear is Marvel quietly covering its tracks. Pietro couldn’t very well say “well Wanda, Disney have bought the rights to The X-Men, so I might be an introduction to a new franchise”, and so seems to be using the alternate reality to blur some edges. Think of it as taking the Harry Potter approach to any flaws in logic – if you can’t explain something, a Wizard did it (or in this case, a Scarlet Witch).
It’s interesting that Pietro seem to be aware that their reality is created by Wanda, explaining how she manages to control the population as humanely as possible (keeping children asleep when not used, keeping couples together). The children, who are developing powers similar to their parents, also seem to have some knowledge of what’s happening. An extra element is added to the debate over Wanda’s intentions when she tells Pietro she’s not entirely sure how this all happened, only that she felt “endless nothingness” before this new reality.
The only person who isn’t in on the plan, however, seems to be Vision, who instead of being on Neighbourhood watch observes how citizens far enough away from the family seem to go into suspended animation. He finds Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), paused at the town’s perimeter. He releases her from Wanda’s control and she asks if he is an Avenger come to save her. When he asks what an Avenger is, she then asks if she’s dead like he is.
We come to the finale of the episode, where a confused Vision tries to break through The Hex’s wall, only to crumble because in the real world he’s dead. As he seems to accept his fate, twin Billy (who shares Wanda’s powers) senses his father’s pain and alerts Wanda, who expands The Hex to consume more land, several SWORD operatives… and Darcy, who had been arrested at the Hex border by Hayward who escapes, as do Monica and Jimmy.
It appears Westview has got a big development. It will be fun to see Dennings, a sitcom veteran herself with 2 Broke Girls, transformed into a citizen of Westview, also raising the stakes for Monica and Jimmy. However, with everything escalating so quickly over the last two episodes, it will be interesting to see how that intensity is maintained through the final three instalments. How far with Wanda be pushed? Can she keep Vision alive, despite his efforts to escape?
A prediction of the future may have come in this week’s commercial, where an animated child starving on a desert island is given yoghurt treat “Yo-Magic”, described by the voiceover man as “the snack for survivors”. The child in the ad is unable to eat, and so withers away. Could it be a spooky prediction for Wanda, telling her ‘your magic can’t save him’? More answers next week!
New Episodes of WandaVision are available every Friday on Disney+