This WandaVision review contains spoilers.
WandaVision Episode 9
How do you end a series like WandaVision? Well, if the ninth and final episode of the Disney+ show is anything to go by, then the answer is… busily. Beginning with an intense and almost jarringly fast-paced action sequence that spanned most of the first two acts of the 42 minute run time, “The Series Finale” is fully aware of all it had to answer. And for the most part, Matt Shakman and Jac Schaeffer do a solid job of tying up the many loose ends. While the pacing might be a little frantic at times, by the time the credits roll–and the delightful post-credits scenes surprises–you’ll likely feel very satisfied by this experimental and emotional conclusion for a show that has been both of those things during its best moments.
We start directly where we left off with Agatha (Kathryn Hahn) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) facing off in Westview. The former is desperate for the power which the latter wields, even if she doesn’t quite know what to do with it yet. But that’s all soon to change.
Wanda’s entire life has been about adapting. Whether to the death of her parents, the powers she was gifted by the Mind Stone, the death of her brother, or her role as an Avenger, she’s always evolved and changed in order to survive. And that’s exactly what happens here. Her battle with Agatha is one that’s constantly teaching her the rules of her own magic, and the boundaries–or lack of them–that she has to work within. While Agatha thinks she’s outsmarting her lesser, Wanda is taking on the role of student, imbibing anything she can from the age old witch.
That duality and antagonistic student/teacher relationship is reflected in the equally dramatic scenes between the Vision (Paul Bettany) and his new white counterpart. While White Vision (also Paul Bettany) was sent to Westview to destroy Wanda and her family by SWORD, it’s not long before he’s outsmarted by the Vision that Wanda created to fix her grief. In one of the best moments of the series and of the MCU’s decade-plus long run, with Bettany giving an incredible performance acting against himself in a philosophical debate around existence itself.
It’s a truly powerful exploration of the character and of the idea of personhood itself. Despite all of the MCU‘s science fiction trappings, it rarely touches on the darker ethical struggles that make the genre sing, and here we finally scratch that surface. And, of course, the Vision who can love and feel convinces the new (or is it old?) Vision of his own agency, helping him to restore his memories before the pale synthezoid flies off into the sky to freedom.
With all that action going on–and there’s a lot of it–you could be forgiven for thinking that WandaVision has forgotten about the thing that makes the show so special: its heart. Don’t worry, your giant-size box of tissues will still come in handy because as much as Agatha might be a force for chaos she does seem to want to help Wanda see the truth behind her actions. When she does, our hero can no longer live in the pretense she’s built around herself and her dream family. In both the comics and on screen, creators have struggled to give Wanda agency. But this series has done a lot of work to fix that.
Here Wanda isn’t a pawn in a greater scheme or an innocent used for malevolent means. She’s a grieving woman who did something terrible and is finally working her way to making it right. While her tragedy is still front and center, it’s she who eventually makes the decisions that she needs to begin to fix it. There’s no Charles Xavier or Stephen Strange swooping in to save her from herself. Instead, we see a Wanda who sacrifices her happiness to make amends.
In case the allusion here isn’t clear, Wanda has to give up her dream life in order to save the denizens of Westview who’ve all been under her grief spell. She knows it’s the right thing to do. Once she beats Agatha and takes on the guise of the Scarlet Witch, she does it without question. It’s a transformative moment for Wanda, not only because she literally does a cool magic transformation into her new costume but because she finally knows the truth about herself and her powers, and is coming to terms with it alone. She rejects the easy option which would be to continue living in Westview under the spell of her own power with the imaginary family she’s created. Instead, she decides to truly deal with the loss she feels and begin anew as herself facing the trauma she’s both suffered and caused.
Olsen has, of course, been the star of this series, and the meta-series within a series that the show began as. But she really sells every heartbreaking moment of the finale. Both she and Bettany make every second feel unbearably tender as they tuck their kids into bed for the last time. Vision’s empathy and compassion towards his wife is a master stroke of emotional storytelling, as it’s such a great foil to Wanda’s almost impossible to navigate grief. The pair share a season best exchange as they wait for the Hex to swallow them up and free Westview while erasing Vision and the boys from existence. It’s heartbreaking and speaks to the level of care and precision that the pair have taken with their character work.
The Mid Credits Scene
The episode ends with Wanda leaving Westview, still viewed as a villain by those who were her victims but as more of an empathetic anti-hero by Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Monica doesn’t get much screen time this week which is a shame, but she gets a great hero moment and a mid-credits scene that sets up her cosmic path to Captain Marvel 2.
Elsewhere, Hayward has been arrested after being trapped by the boys and Monica, then incapacitated by Darcy (Kat Dennings) in that funnel cake truck from last week. Jimmy Woo looks like he’s in charge of… something involving the FBI investigation of what’s been happening. SWORD needs a new leader now anyway, so could he take on the role? We’d love to see more of him so we’re here for it. With Monica visited by a Skrull and the rest of the crew getting on with life, everything seems to be set up for a SWORD and space heavy MCU Phase four… at least until we get to the post-credits sequence.
The Post Credits Scene
Usually I don’t talk about post-credits sequences in reviews but this one was so cool I had to. We find Wanda at a rural mountain range, that if you’re a fan of her comic book history you might recognize. She sips tea and seems to have found a kind of peace. But as we follow the camera into the bedroom we discover another version of Wanda. It’s the Scarlet Witch reading the Darkhold and taking in all its power. It’s a striking image and one that is only interrupted when we hear Billy and Tommy screaming for their mom to help them. It’s a bold cliffhanger that we sadly will likely not see resolved or touched upon again until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022.
But until then, we should all celebrate this show that swung for the fences and hit a home run. This was a rare series that tried to do something new and different and actually managed it. That, even in the world of franchise blockbusters and corporate owned IP, had a heart, soul, and message. And that always managed to feel real and emotionally honest in spite of the metatextual shell it was presented in. We’ll miss you, WandaVision.