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wandavision-series-finale.jpg

So 'WandaVision' Had a Bit of a Rough Landing

By Mike Redmond | TV | March 7, 2021 |

By Mike Redmond | TV | March 7, 2021 |


wandavision-series-finale.jpg

Right upfront, this has been the hardest WandaVision recap I’ve had to write. I’ve spent all weekend grappling with “The Series Finale,” and trying to find something to say that doesn’t just parrot 95% of the reviews out there — because I agree with most of them! Bottom line, I still very much love the weird swings this show took, and the experience was a welcome bit of fun. I live in Pennsylvania, which has been a frozen tundra on top of a pandemic, so WandaVision hit very hard in our house. We got up early every Friday to watch it before I clock in to Uproxx, and we would spend days talking about theories and our favorite moments. It led us down a rabbit hole watching the X-Men prequel films, and my kids surprisingly fell in love with them. My son is still obsessed with Evan Peters’ Quicksilver while my daughter is probably the most hardcore stan of Eric and Raven you’ll ever meet. (She refers to them by their First Class names, and will only refer to them by their First Class names. And, yes, we made the mistake of watching Dark Phoenix. That was a fun night.)

Anyway, my rambling point here is that I’m going to dunk on some of the choices made in the WandaVision finale — and, boy, did it make some — but please know that it’s out of the purest love. To echo Tori’s essay a few weeks back, it is f*ck-damn amazing that this show exists and that the creative team pulled off even 1/10th of the story that it set out to tell within the confines of the MCU. Granted, those confines came crashing down on them in the end, but that was to be expected. We all knew what we were walking into when that Marvel Studios banner kicked in, but to WandaVision’s credit, it spent several enjoyable weeks making us question that assumption.

More importantly, it gave us Vishawn, so I will go to my grave saying WandaVision is the best damn TV show ever made. You’ll never convince me otherwise.

And, now, on to the recap.

Congratulations, You Just Witnessed the First Badass Graphic Novel About Wanda That’s Actually About Wanda

Here’s what makes WandaVision an outright triumph in my book. It took two, at best, C-list characters like Wanda and Vision and made you give a whole bunch of shits about them. When this show first started, one of the biggest and understandable questions was “Why is Marvel basing an entire series on an underserved romance that was awkwardly crammed into Infinity War?” Obviously, the answer is to finally serve that romance and elevate these characters to basically A-list status. Specifically, Wanda who has been criminally misused in the comics. By the end of WandaVision, she’s finally a fully developed character and kind of a messy bitch, which personally, I think is the true marker of an intriguing MCU character. (What was the best relationship in the MCU? Bucky and Steve. Why? Because they’re messy hoes who’ll do anything for each other including blowing up half the Avengers.)

By the end of the show, Wanda — I’m sorry — THE SCARLET WITCH is both the hero and the terrifying villain, and that’s a neat dynamic. I’m going to bite my tongue and try not to fall into pessimism over whether that dynamic will survive her next appearance in Doctor Strange 2, and instead, highlight that I hope this is a pattern that Marvel continues with its Disney+ series. And judging by the interviews I’m seeing for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, that definitely seems to be the case. Marvel does appear to be focused on going deep on characters that we’ve come to love without forcing them to share screen time with 48 different heroes. In short, they’re delivering the TV equivalent of a 12-issue run in the comics, which has always been the dream scenario for fans. The Netflix shows tried to chase that rabbit, but they constantly overshot and spent way too much time treading water. Disney+, on the other hand, seems to be hitting the sweet spot by erring on the side of keeping things short. Falcon and Winter Soldier will have longer episodes than WandaVision, but there will only be six of them, so it’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out.

(Without being here all day, I also think it’s fascinating how audiences grew tired of solo Marvel movies by the mid 2010s and wanted more characters crossing over. But now, we’re drooling over the show that’s nothing but the witch lady and the robot. Life’s funny that way.)

Ok, but if You Love WandaVision So Much, What’s Wrong With the Ending?

I mean, look, I don’t want to dog on this show too much because, honestly, the finale was actually pretty good! WandaVision was always going to end in an overly-CGI battle, and to be clear, I had absolutely zero expectations about any of the fan theories coming to fruition. Those were pretty much out the window by the end of Episode 8, and WandaVision director Matt Shakman spent all week frantically telling people not to get their hopes up for Fantastic Four or X-Men cameos. (That said, hats off to Paul Bettany trolling people. That was cold, yet hilarious.) I am extremely fine with WandaVision being its own self-contained story for the most part.

My quibbles are basically the same as everyone else’s. Namely, the whole Scarlet Witch stuff coming out of nowhere. Here was a show about grief, and suddenly, in the last 45 minutes it’s actually about Wanda being a mythical witch of destiny all along. On top of that, there was the weird grappling with Wanda torturing people even if she didn’t fully understand what her chaos magic was doing, and how Monica’s sole purpose in the show (besides franchise-building) was reduced to letting Wanda completely off the hook for some pretty messed up shit. Oh, no, wait, I’m sorry. Monica played another pivotal role: Selling the boner joke about Evan Peters’ Fietro who was not a universe-bridging expansion of the MCU that Marvel specifically wanted you to think when they stunt-cast him. That was a nasty kick in the teeth. Not gonna lie.

Now, this isn’t a quibble with the show as much as my old enemy, social media. I’ve seen people say that what Wanda did to Agnes constitutes the same “torture” she did to the residents of Westview because God knows Twitter likes to frame everything through the Bush Administration. I would disagree with that characterization for two reasons. One, the Hex is gone. Wanda is no longer running a full town on magic autopilot, so the circumstances have changed. Two, just from her brief fight with Agnes, we’ve already seen Wanda get a better grip on her powers, so her spell on Agnes would presumably be a more humane solution that wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of Westview. Or not! That’s just my two cents.

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And then there’s that “emotional” ending. If the final moments between Wanda and her family moved you, awesome. I know a lot of people loved it, and I do not want to take that away from them. But, folks, the show literally threw those stakes out the window before they could have a chance to land. While Wanda is having her tearful last moments with the Hex Vision she created, the real Vision (who’s had his memories and personality restored by Hex Vision) had already floated off to wait for Wanda to get horny and call him. It really zaps the moment of her losing Vision again knowing full well that he’s literally right over there.

As for the kids, OK, that was a little more impactful. It was always a coin toss over whether or not they’d survive the show. Wanda created them with magic, so there’s historically been a huge question mark around their existence, which is something the comics have constantly gone back and forth on for decades. In that moment when Wanda closes the door on the twins after tucking them in for the night (and forever), I gotta hand it to the show, it works. I genuinely believed Wanda made a very tough call.

And then it entirely reversed that decision barely five minutes later in the end credits scene.

On a narrative level, it’s very on brand. Because as much as WandaVision just taught us about the futility of fan theories, everyone’s heads started spinning about what it means that Wanda heard their voices while studying the Darkhold. God knows mine did! What kind of shit is she about to pull that will play out in Doctor Strange 2? I get all of that, and I’m here for it. But let’s not pretend that it didn’t rob the “emotional” goodbye in Westview. Vision is still alive. The kids are still out there. So what did Wanda truly sacrifice?

Final Thoughts (As if I’m Not Going to Obsess Over This Show for at Least Two More Weeks)

Like WandaVision, I’m going to bring this baby in for a wobby landing because, unlike previous weeks, I don’t have any theories to get into because we’re all out of show! Although, that’s not entirely true because, like the sucker that I am, I am on board with the theory bouncing around that Pietro was Jimmy’s witness protection suspect (a subplot that was just completely abandoned) and “Ralph Bohner” was his new name from the government. Think about it, “Ralph” did act a whole lot like Quicksilver from the Fox films, and because he’s my son’s favorite character, I’m going to cling to that. Even though I shouldn’t because, deep down, I think the more Marvel forgets the Bryan Singer-tainted X-Men universe happened, the better. Start fresh. Do your own thing.

But I’m getting away from the witch lady and her flying vibrator show: Again, overall loved it even with the shaky ending. As much as WandaVision collapsed under the MCU-ness of it all, it took some interesting swings that I hope Marvel will do more of in the future. What I truly enjoyed the most is that it captured what really great comic book writing can do with basically any character. This is why my bookshelves are creaking with graphic novels because these characters are malleable as f*ck. Just think about how crazy it is that freaking Wanda and Vision are now top-tier Marvel characters. That’s insane.

But best of all, the real chaos magic are the memes we made along the way.

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Mike is a Staff Contributor living in Pennsyltucky. You can follow him on Twitter.



Header Image Source: Marvel