“There are red herrings, yeah. But any good storytelling has red herrings.”
WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer dropped the above quote during an interview with /Film, and goddamn, was she not messing around. If last week’s episode blew the door open on the endless possibilities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to some (maybe) multiverse shenanigans with Evan Peters’ Pietro, this week’s “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” nuked trying to guess where the hell this show is going, which is a very good thing!
After doing the typical Marvel move of holding the audience’s hand by pausing the sitcom concept to spell out what’s going on in “We Interrupt This Program”, not even two episodes later, WandaVision has dipped itself back into mystery in some compelling and dark as shit ways. More importantly, and I’m going to mention this a lot, the show is doing something that so many stories about Wanda have failed to do: Actually make her a central character with complex emotions that demand being explored. Christ, WandaVision might even be taking it one step further by making her both the hero and the villain, and I’m pretty sure it’s already showed us how.
“It’s All Wanda”
“Someone said to me when you watch any of these hero movies, you know when the villain’s about to show themselves, and you also have an idea of who the villain is. With our show, you don’t know what the villain is, or if there is one at all.” - Elizabeth Olsen to Elle
Obviously, the highlight of this episode is the back and forth between Wanda and Pietro because, let’s be frank, it’s Wanda talking to herself, figuratively and perhaps even literally. We’re watching her grapple with what exactly she’s doing in Westview and what that says about her as a person. While there are several theories about who Evan Peters’ Pietro really is, I’m going to posit the most straight-forward one: He’s Wanda’s evil side. More jarringly, he might even be Wanda manipulating yet another corpse. We saw a similar, more effective jump scare with Vision, and it turned out that, yup, she’s got the dude’s body. Which brings me to the other side of the coin.
Vision isn’t Vision. He’s Wanda.
More specifically, Vision is Wanda’s good side. Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched as Vision’s been unusually emotional to the point where Wanda specifically noted that she’s never seen him like this before when he lashed out and yelled that he’s scared in Episode 5. His behavior is extremely out-of-character, even for an android that’s learned to bone his co-worker. But it does make sense if he’s the “heroic” side of Wanda that’s an Avenger and is horrified at what she’s doing. So much so that she/Vision wants to set it right by leaving Westview and telling SWORD to save the people.
Not to toot my own horn, but that theory plays even if Marvel goes the predictable route of having Wanda being manipulated into whatever’s happening in Westview, which she clearly controls. Pietro (Bad Wanda) is telling her everything she’s doing is “ethical” and downright impressive while Vision (Good Wanda) knows this charade is 616 flavors of wrong. I mean, shit, at the top of the episode, Vision literally tells Wanda to “be good” before he leaves to play detective.
Or I could be totally wrong, and Pietro is Mephisto and Vision is just so heroic that it shines through even if he’s a robot corpse puppet. Who the f*ck knows?
Is Agnes a Red Herring or Was She Faking Vision Out?
I don’t know! But she does seem to be very good at creating situations where “Vision” realizes shit ain’t exactly right.
Hayward Is an Asshole, but Not, and I Quote, 100% a Dick
Right upfront, yes, Hayward is an absolute cock during his exchange with Monica. Full stop. Clearly, his actions were disrespectful as hell. But for a moment, let’s take off our real world hats, and see things through the lens of this fictional world and what Hayward has been through. Five years ago, he watched half of the planet’s population turn to goddamn ash following a massive alien invasion centered around The Avengers. Cut to three weeks before the events of WandaVision, and the dude watches as the missing half of the planet’s population just randomly appears out of thin air after another massive alien invasion centered around The Avengers. As the head of an intelligence organization that focuses on interstellar threats, Hayward has clearly seen some shit and has a right to be on edge. And that’s before you get to the part where a terrifyingly powerful Avenger just took a whole town hostage, which to be clear, is exactly what Wanda is doing.
That said, is Hayward handling things well? Nope! The whole secret rocket thing from last week? Butt stupid dumb. But as Monica herself notes, they are severely outgunned. And as Monica also noted, and presumably wishes she hadn’t, Wanda is violating these people’s minds. We’ve seen them scream in horror when Vision snaps them out of their sitcom roles. (And, Jesus Christ, it only just now hit me how he’s doing that. Because he’s Wanda. Goddamn…) So while Hayward works as a red herring by personifying the swinging dick, military brass trope, there is a very real situation going on with Wanda hurting people, which is punctuated even further by Vision busting out of Westview and literally pleading for SWORD to step in.
Plus, we may have got another sign that Hayward is right to want shut down the threat quickly.
Mother of Balls, What Was That Yogurt Commercial?
When WandaVision first started, I had absolutely no aspirations that Marvel would do anything but play it safe as they’ve successfully done for 22+ movies. I figured the show would get a little weird, but nothing too crazy. So imagine my whole-ass surprise when I watched a claymation child turn into a goddamn corpse on Disney+. Once again, WandaVision has made it clear that’s it has no problem going places.
As for what the commercial means, it’s easily the vaguest one yet, but there are two possible meanings. The most likely is some sort of Faustian deal with the shark representing Mephisto or some other sinister force that pulled a grieving, isolated Wanda into a monkey paw situation. The other is people in Westview are starving to death because they don’t have magic and Wanda can’t control every tiny detail of her hostages like making sure they’re eating.
Either way, super f*cked up all around.
The Fantastic Elephant in the Room
Probably what I loved most about this week’s episode is how it severely pulled back on the Easter eggs and really let the story take center stage, which is a testament to Schaefer and WandaVision director Matt Shankman’s attention to detail that they’re able to fine-tune the ebb and flow of hints. That said, the show is going out of its way to suggest that the aerospace engineer Monica knows is somebody important, and it’s probably going to be. The top contender is Reed Richards and most likely in the form of, sigh, John Krasinski. After Evan Peters showed up last week, I’ve stopped doubting what WandaVision is capable of, so I’m not even going to speculate on who the big reveal will be, but I am leaning in this direction:
How we are all going to look when the aerospace engineer isn’t Reed Richards or Hank Mccoy: pic.twitter.com/FXECzoBlH2— Star Wars & Marvel (@starwarsmcu) February 13, 2021
Although, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a giant nerd who’s been devouring each and every fancast on Twitter:
The only person I want playing Reed Richards is William Jackson Harper pic.twitter.com/2LZDPR0uRI— 𝓋𝒶𝓁𝓈•𝓂𝑒𝓇𝒸𝓎 (@valsmercy) February 13, 2021
People keep mentioning John Krasinski as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic but hear me out for just a sec pic.twitter.com/tjJrNmRb8C— Allen Chaney: Taffy Consultant (@BeastBannon) February 13, 2021
But, for real, watch it be Rhodey. Gotta cross-promote those Disney+ shows, yo.
Header Image Source: Marvel