This WandaVision review contains spoilers.
WandaVision Episode 5
It seems nearly impossible to follow an episode like “We Interrupt This Program,” but as we hit the midpoint of the season the team behind WandaVision has managed it. WandaVision episode 5 continues directly from where we left off and sets up some interesting potential conflicts both inside and out of Westview. With Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) thrown out of Wanda’s suburban mind palace, she’s back in the not so welcoming arms of SWORD and Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg). While Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) couldn’t be happier to see Monica, the rest of SWORD is more concerned with the massive existential threat that is Wanda Maximoff and her puppet town of ghoulish human hostages.
After another sitcom reference heavy opening credits, it seems like we might be back to the format established by the first three episodes. But once SWORD comes into play again we get our first real feel for what the shape of the show will likely look like going forward. There are two dueling realities here, Wanda’s and the world of the MCU that surrounds it. Just like last week, Parris’ Monica is our hero, and a mighty one at that. She’s the kind of complex, thoughtful, and well-drawn female hero that the MCU has often struggled with. Yet here she is and Parris imbues her with a quiet power that almost vibrates off her as she faces down with SWORD Director Hayward. See, the suspicious military man has deemed Wanda a terrorist, and although Monica was her victim, she’s loath to define the former Avenger in the same terms.
This SWORD rift sets up a nice camaraderie between Jimmy, Darcy, and Monica which will hopefully carry over for the rest of the season. If you were loving Dennings as the representation of the theorizing fans among us, then you get more of that here. She even names the Westview anomaly “the Hex,” (for the hexagonal patterns noted in the previous episode) which is a clear reference to Wanda’s Hex Magic in the comics.
But back in the world of Wanda, things are amiss with the kids, with Tommy and Billy magically aging up throughout the episode. If you were wondering how the boys might end up as permanent teenage members of the Young Avengers in the MCU, then wonder no more as they go from babies to five-year-olds and then age up to 10 when it comes to the question of whether or not they’re old enough to have a dog. It’s a creepy and narratively convenient conceit that works to the episode’s advantage.
If you were worried about the momentum slipping after the fast-paced adventure of episode 4, you can breathe a sigh of relief because the juxtaposed stories work well together, crafting something bigger and more expansive than we’ve seen yet. We also get our first examples of those dual realities colliding when Monica attempts to fly a drone in to connect with Wanda. Sadly, she underestimates just how much MCU agents love military weapons and doesn’t realize that the drone is armed.
Yes, evil old Director Hayward tries to shoot Wanda on sight, leading to a showdown on the outskirts of Westview where the Scarlet Witch reveals her full power and plan. This is her home and anyone who tries to take it away will be punished. The most exciting thing that this episode and this exchange sets up, though, is that while Hayward and SWORD might see Wanda as a threat, Monica clearly sees more, and that connection could harbor a safe way out for Wanda when it inevitably all gets too much for her and family.
Speaking of that family, they’re at the core of the action this week, with Wanda writing out most of the supporting cast. The mysterious Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) is still around and we get some hints that maybe she knows a little bit more than she should. Could she be there to help Wanda? Or does she have other plans for the powerful magic user? We’ll have to wait and see.
Elizabeth Olsen has been showing off her range throughout this season but she’s especially strong this week, playing everything from loving sitcom mom to maniacal mutant wielding world destroying hex magic (her accent from Avengers: Age of Ultron even makes a reappearance). But the undeniable truth is that this episode belongs to Paul Bettany. Spending most of the runtime in his human form, he acts the hell out of Vision’s slow realization of what Wanda is up to with emotionally devastating effect.
The tragic romance between Wanda and Vision is at the heart of their namesake series, and we are slowly learning the lengths that Wanda went to reunite them. Not only is she potentially puppeteering Vision’s creepy dead corpse around, but she violently raided a SWORD facility to get it. Now the two are playing a game of marital cat and mouse as Vision tries to uncover Wanda’s plans–in one of the creepiest sequences, freeing Norm from Wanda’s mind prison–and she tries to keep their living paradise secure. Bettany sells every wince of horror and shame as the scales fall from his eyes, and Olsen does a great job at either gaslighting Vision horribly or unconsciously revealing that Wanda might not be in control after all.
The question of Wanda’s control comes into play once again as the episode comes to a close with a huge twist. For months, rumors have persisted that Evan Peters would be joining WandaVision, and it turns out those rumors were true. As Vision finally faces Wanda and tries to demand accountability for her actions, the pair is interrupted by the doorbell. Wanda promises that it’s not her doing, but Vision can’t quite believe her, and who can blame him?
But the biggest secret is who’s behind the door. And, of course, it’s Peters. In a laugh out loud moment, Dennings delivers what will surely become a historic MCU line: “She recast Pietro!?” That she did, or at least someone did, because when Wanda opens the door, Peters is there in an ’80s sitcom approximation of his Fox X-Men Quicksilver garb (sans goggles). Although Wanda’s brother was previously played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it only takes a couple of seconds for her to say “Pietro?”
So what’s the truth? Has Wanda manifested her brother from another reality? After all, she does give a big speech today about how she can’t bring people back from the dead even if she wants to. Or is someone else pulling the strings? Wanda was telling Vision that “she didn’t know how any of this started” just before the pair were interrupted, so could Pietro be nothing more than a distraction?
We’ll have to wait until next week to find out, but no matter who is controlling Westview one thing is for sure: Disney has officially crossed the streams with their recently acquired Fox X-Men universe and things in the MCU will never be the same…