Marvel’s WandaVision Glitches Spell Trouble for MCU Reality
Every now and then, Marvel's WandaVision takes a second to show that things aren't what they seem. What do these moments truly tell us?
This article contains WandaVision spoilers.
We’re a third of the way through WandaVision and a lot of the show has been establishing the setting via era-spanning sitcom stories while occasionally taking a break to show cracks in the façade. Something is definitely wrong in Westview, but while we can see the errors like comparing two pages in Highlights, we don’t have the full picture yet.
There are many theories out there already. Some completely outlandish, others far less so. As we wait for the other six episodes to hit, I want to focus on the moments in the initial three where reality is questioned. The times when “the real world” starts to seep into the fiction within the fiction. What are these scenes and what do they really tell us?
I’m not going to include the opening credits or commercials. While there’s plenty to pick from those, neither one directly interacts with the narrative. It’s not like Vision looks around after an ad and goes, “What the hell was that?”
VISION AT WORK
Ignoring that Vision should be dead and that this superhero couple is living as 1950s sitcom newlyweds when it’s supposed to be 2023, the first moment that truly sticks out as odd is when Vision is at work. We see him blazing through his assignment at superhuman speed, but then he takes a second to ask what it is they actually do at this job.
Since we already know that there’s something “off” about the show, but nothing especially serious has happened yet, this bit is more humorous than anything. It’s a fictional character becoming just aware enough to point out how slapped together his reality is. While Vision does get a decent enough answer in the end, it’s weird that he only finds out about this after supposedly applying for the job and interviewing. Not to mention the fact that he’s already quite good at it.
Whatever is going on, Vision is just self-aware enough to be curious about the world’s nonsense, but he’s too much of a cog in the machine to go against the script just yet.
Dinner is served! The first episode revolves around the tried-and-true sitcom trope of having the boss and his wife over for dinner and everything going wrong. Wanda uses her sorcery and cooking skills to serve “breakfast for dinner” and everything seems to be working out. That is, until Mrs. Hart starts asking about Vision and Wanda’s past.
The two seem to be at a loss, unable to recall anything about their relationship and why they moved to Westview. Mrs. Hart is forgiving about this, but Mr. Hart grows increasingly impatient. The first trailer for the series made it seem like he was just mad about their inability to remember, but the outburst in the episode itself feels like something more. After knowing what we know by the end of the third episode, Mr. Hart appears to be furious over the fact that they moved to Westview, turned the Harts and their neighbors into slaves to their story, and can’t even explain why they did it.
Whatever he’s trying to say, he chokes on his food and gradually collapses. Mrs. Hart playfully tells him to, “Stop it!” She keeps repeating this over and over again, like her dying husband is making them look bad. Soon enough, she starts looking in Wanda’s direction. She continues to laugh and repeat, “Stop it!” but she’s crying and directing her words towards Wanda.
Wanda and Vision share an awkward stare before Wanda asks Vision to help Mr. Hart. Vision uses his phasing power to remove the food (using modern special effects instead of the ’50s-style effects from the intro) and Mr. Hart is saved.
In other words, shit just got real.
Only nobody brings it up. They go through the motions with the end of the dinner and the Harts go home. But while Wanda and Vision don’t go over what the hell just happened, they do pay lip service to their lack of coherent background and at least come up with a wedding anniversary to fill that gap.
Revisiting this moment, it’s like both of the Harts know that Wanda is in control of their reality and Mrs. Hart wants to stray from conflict. It isn’t until her husband is dying that she begs Wanda to spare him, feeling that the choking his her doing.
With the lovers happy and smiling at the fourth wall, the first episode ends and we slowly zoom away to see a full-color setup of somebody watching the show. Not counting a red light in the episode’s toaster commercial, this is the first time we see any color on this show. There’s a SWORD logo in there, letting us know the organization keeping tabs on what’s going on, but we’re left wondering what this even means.
That entire half-hour sitcom that we watched as an audience was also witnessed by this SWORD agent and possibly many others in that exact form, just without the Marvel Studios fanfare intro. How does that even work? After all, these stories aren’t told in real time…or are they?
The first episode appears to be roughly 12 hours condensed. The second one is probably in that ballpark. Does this mean that the exploits are magically edited into an abridged broadcast or are those events magically rushed into that time frame and then broadcast “live?”
Based on the relationship between the second and third episodes, I think we can at least establish that each consecutive episode takes place on a different consecutive day. With a definite Halloween episode on the way, I’m wondering if we’re getting multiple holidays that just happen to rush together.
THE TOY HELICOPTER
The opening of the second episode is about some loud noise disturbing Wanda and Vision, which is revealed as a tree hitting the window. Allegedly.
Early in the same episode, Wanda hears a loud noise and goes to investigate, finding a red and yellow toy helicopter in her bushes. At first, we’re more focused on the fact that it’s in color while the rest of the show is in black and white. Wanda looks around for where it might have come from, then gets distracted by Agnes.
At this point it seems like an actual helicopter did enter Westview and reality recreated it as a toy to fit in. Even then, it’s in color because at the same time, it doesn’t belong. This is presumably where Geraldine came from. In the initial viewing, we’re supposed to see this as Wanda trying to figure out this reality, when revisiting makes it look more like she’s investigating a disturbance in her peaceful world. Knowing what we know later, it’s definitely more sinister.
On the other hand, something swept under the rug in all of this is that Wanda does try to bring this up to Vision. When their magic show is just beginning, she’s about to tell him about the helicopter situation (as well as the Dottie/radio situation), but then he distracts her with his gum-based inebriation. If all of this is Wanda’s fault, why would she want to squeal to Vision?
DOTTIE AND THE RADIO
Wanda meets with the high-strung Dottie and their discussion suddenly gets a bit meta. Dottie talks about how she’s heard all kinds of things about Wanda and her husband. Wanda assures her that they mean no harm and Dottie doesn’t believe her. It’s an odd conversation.
They are interrupted by someone infiltrating the signal on the nearby radio, yelling, “Wanda, who’s doing this to you?” Dottie gets less vague about her suspicions and straight-up asks Wanda about who she is and what’s going on. Suddenly, the radio explodes, the glass in Dottie’s hand shatters, and Wanda is horrified to see blood on Dottie’s hand. Actual red blood!
Dottie shrugs off the situation and goes to clean up by herself.
The mysterious question from the radio is a hopeful one. Wanda Maximoff is an Avenger. She’s done a lot of good and rather than damn her for what’s going on, the presumed SWORD agent (we’re guessing this is James Woo) wants to believe that someone more sinister is behind everything. Many would call that foolish. In retrospect this scene feels like Wanda is proving herself wrong by presumably destroying the radio with her own powers to keep her dream reality while inadvertently hurting an innocent person.
FOR THE CHILDREN
During Wanda’s meeting with the other housewives and several times during the magic show, someone mentions how it’s all, “For the children,” and the entire group would repeat it. Every time, they come off as a creepy cult. It’s especially off-putting when you notice that there are seemingly no kids whatsoever in Westview.
At the end of the day, Wanda turns out to be pregnant, seemingly from her pre-credits snuggle with Vision. It’s a magical reality and she’s a magical person so, sure, she’s able to get working sperm from a being whose insides are made up of cartoon gears. We already know that the world of WandaVision is unnatural.
Wanda definitely wants children, but the chanting from throughout the day (not to mention the occasional badgering in the first episode) is some other force at play. Somebody wants Wanda to want children. Someone is egging her on and she has no reason to resist.
Yes, it could just be her subconscious causing everyone to moan, “FOR THE CHILDREN,” but I don’t buy it. There are hints of another party being involved and whether it’s Mephisto, Nightmare, HYDRA, AIM, Swarm, Grim Reaper, High Evolutionary, or whoever…somebody wants our protagonists to spawn.
It’s not the most out-there theory. I mean, one of the biggest X-Men villains is Mr. Sinister and he spent years being obsessed with married couple Scott Summers and Jean Grey having at least one kid. Takes all kinds.
At the time, the beekeeper seemed like the biggest twist due to its freaky nature and placement at the end of the second episode. Vision and Wanda’s happy moment is interrupted by a loud noise outside, Vision straight-up says “damn” out of frustration (saltier than what you would normally see on ’60s TV), and they investigate. What they find is a guy in a beekeeper outfit crawling out of the sewer and glancing at the couple.
Wanda refuses to accept whatever this means and we suddenly rewind back to the living room, where the beekeeper’s interruption no longer happens.
The beekeeper was considered an ominous intruder and had people wondering if he was a reference to AIM’s comic book uniforms or the supervillain (and star of Broadway!) Swarm. He also has the SWORD logo on his back. At this point, I’m about ready to call him a red herring. Just a SWORD agent trying to infiltrate this reality and reality makes sense out of his hazmat suit appearance by turning him into a beekeeper.
The real story here is that we have the first definite moment of Wanda altering reality to get what she wants. Earlier scenes could be seen with different context, but she absolutely sees a threat to her happiness and removes it completely.
The interesting thing is that the SWORD agent trying to contact her STILL believes someone is doing this to her at the end of the episode.
NOW IN COLOR
Once the beekeeper is negated, Wanda and Vision share a tender moment and everything starts to turn to color. It’s a hard scene to explain because what does it even mean in the basic narrative? Their world is evolving? Their perception is evolving? It’s the only time they really acknowledge the altering timelines and it’s hard to make sense out of it.
On one level, I suppose it’s a defense mechanism for Wanda. If outside anomalies are taking the form of color in a world without color, then maybe make them no longer stick out.
HERB AND THE WALL
Early in the third episode, Vision sees his neighbor Herb cutting through a brick wall using nothing but electric shears. Not only should this be impossible, but Herb doesn’t even see it as that weird. This could be seen as a glitch in reality, but I feel like it’s Herb trying to communicate to Vision that something is wrong.
It almost works, too! Vision almost brings it up to Wanda before being distracted and it later sticks with him enough for the next big moment.
Wanda talks up the basic plot of the show where they have to hide their powers and identities from their neighbors despite numerous close calls. Vision starts to note how there’s more to this. Things just aren’t adding up. The dinner with the Harts ended all weird and what he just saw with Herb makes no sense.
Vision outright states that something is wrong. Wanda looks worried about this for a moment before the feed glitches and backtracks to Vision agreeing with her and not getting sidetracked.
If anything, this is a sign that Wanda will never be truly happy, and things are going to end badly. We must accept that this version of Vision is probably her mental recreation. He’s the artificial version of an artificial man. Vision as Wanda knows him would question and reject all of this. All Wanda can do is knock him off course or even rewrite his personality here and there to make him more agreeable. This is going to come to a head sooner than later. Either the man she loves will have to confront her for real or the man she’s with will no longer resemble his true self.
Dr. Nielsen starts the third episode with the claim that he and his wife are going to Bermuda. Later on, when Vision needs him to deliver the baby, it’s shown that Dr. Nielsen and his wife can’t get their car started and therefore can’t leave Westview. Nielsen helps Wanda give birth to the second twin and has a final moment with Vision outside.
In this moment, he admits that he probably isn’t going to go on vacation to Bermuda after all. He doesn’t give an actual reason or even note his car problems. He just points out that in small towns, it’s hard to escape.
That’s pretty straightforward. Nobody can leave Westview, even if there’s an in-story reason, as the town will find some reason to keep them there. It’s very much like Cabin in the Woods or the “24-Hour Diner” issue of Sandman.
Shortly after Dr. Nielsen leaves, Vision greets Agnes and Herb before noticing the two gossiping about Wanda’s pregnancy. Vision talks to them about the power outage and it’s notable that after Agnes makes a crack about her never-before-seen husband Ralph, we never hear the audience laughing. In fact, it’s the natural awkwardness of the conversation compared to the ’70s sitcom aesthetic that really drives home that something is wrong.
The two bring up Geraldine, at the time making us unsure if we should be scared for her or Wanda. Herb tries to explain why Geraldine is there. She’s there because he, Agnes, and all the others are…blank. He can’t finish his thoughts, despite trying several times over. Vision tries to interrogate him further, but finally an uncharacteristically serious Agnes turns to Herb, tells him to stop, and gives a very panicked shake of the head.
Afterwards, Agnes slips back into character and rides off on her bike while Herb seems a little more tired as he shrugs back into his sitcom personality.
We don’t know how much this will linger in Vision, especially with the way the “sitcom” aspect of the episode abruptly ends with no credits or freeze frame. He is being pushed further towards understanding the nature of his surroundings, as he might be the only thing capable of saving everyone.
The final moments of the third episode are the most chilling, where Wanda namedrops her doomed brother Pietro and Geraldine brings up that he died thanks to Ultron. Wanda confronts her over that line and seems to realize that Geraldine is an agent of SWORD. Wanda then wishes her away back to reality (sadly, not in a literal cornfield) and we see that SWORD is heavily monitoring some sort of static dome affecting the reality of Westview.
Ignoring her true identity, as it hasn’t been officially announced on the show as of yet, Geraldine’s attempts to infiltrate Westview have to be seen as admirable. Sitcoms of this style where the main couple has a sci-fi/fantasy secret tend to last long enough for one or two supporting characters to become aware of what’s going on to shake things up. Geraldine comes off as trying to play the game and situate herself as that kind of friend, always somewhat aware of what Wanda is capable of, but not overtly so. Not yet, at least. She is literally a self-insert character and she almost pulls it off.
Mentioning Ultron is her attempt to bring Wanda back down to earth. Wanda’s too far gone at this point for it to work, but at least she lets Geraldine live.
OTHER TRAILER STUFF
Before we get to the fourth episode, it’s worth revisiting the show’s previous trailers. Most of them are made up of footage from the initial three episodes, some of which are edited to give a different vibe from what’s actually happening (ie. Geraldine stating she doesn’t know who she is). From new footage for later episodes, these moments stick out:
- We see what might be Wanda seeing Vision for the first time post-death. He’s in black and white and is greeting her, which is something we didn’t see in the initial episodes. Expect a flashback.
- That would probably tie into the surreal shots of Wanda confronting the Mind Stone itself, whatever that signifies.
- Vision waking up Agnes as she’s sitting in her car on Halloween. He zaps her awake with a yellow light, suggesting his connection to the Mind Stone. Agnes points out that Vision is dead and wonders if she is too. She also asks if Vision is there to save them. This is worth revisiting as it means she doesn’t recall her moment with Herb and Vision in the third episode. Unless she’s up to something, that is.
- Agnes also screws up one of her lines and offers to leave and come back so they can do the scene over again.
- On Halloween, a woman is putting up decorations while crying, as if her movements are being forced. Vision notices this.
- Wanda mentions that Westview is their home and Vision offers to fight for it. This definitely reads different after watching the episodes. In fact, I’m not even sure Vision is offering to fight on Wanda’s side. It’s just as possible that he’s challenging her.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch the “Legends” episodes of the Justice League cartoon and wait patiently for Friday to come.