Warning: this article contains spoilers for “WandaVision” and other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies.
In July 2019, Marvel Studios announced the Phase 4 films and the five TV series that would premiere on Disney+. On Jan. 15, the first of those shows, “WandaVision,” premiered — more than 18 months since the San Diego Comic Con announcement.
It’s been a while since we had new MCU-related content. The last, “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” was released in 2019, and in 2020, the release of “Black Widow” was moved to May 2021 due to COVID-19. What better way to celebrate the release of “WandaVision” than to excessively theorize about — I mean, provide a weekly recap of — each episode?
“WandaVision” follows Wanda Maximoff and Vision after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). The newlywed couple is living the ideal suburban dream in the town of Westview, trying their best to conceal their powers. As everything progresses and changes aesthetic based on decade, the two quickly discover things are not as they seem.
The show differs drastically from the movies’ action film style, both in tone and genre. Without the movies’ high stakes, the series takes a lighthearted sit-com format — until what I like to call “weird moments” occur.
Episode 1: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience”
The first episode begins with something resembling the typical 1950s sit-com intro: a black-and-white screen and cheerful, showtune-esque music depicting the couple buying a house after getting married. For the most part, the episode’s plot is simple, too. Wanda and Vision forget what the heart on their calendar represents. Wanda, after talking to her neighbor, believes that it’s for their anniversary, but Vision finds out at work that it’s dinner with his boss and wife, the Harts. When the dinner does happen, the two manage to work through the miscommunication with their powers (while hastily hiding them) and serve breakfast food.
Then, the “weird moment” in this episode takes you by surprise. The tone does a complete 180 as the Harts begin inquiring about their marriage. Mr. Hart presses on with questions like “What is your story?” and “Why did you come here?” before he starts choking on his food. Mrs. Hart tells him over and over to “stop it,” her words becoming more hypnotic and distressed, before he passes out. Even then, she keeps repeating the phrase, the words now seemingly directed at Wanda and Vision. The two appear confused and fearful, and Wanda orders Vision to use his powers to help Mr. Hart. Then … everything goes back to how it was. The Harts leave, thanking Wanda and Vision for the dinner, and Wanda and Vision end together on the couch. There is a picture-perfect ending with Wanda materializing a wedding ring for the two of them. The screen pans out and reveals the two on a monitor in a base … with someone watching them.
Episode 2: “Don’t Touch that Dial”
The opening montage of Episode 2, “Don’t Touch that Dial,” resembles and alludes to that of an episode of the 1960s “The Jetsons”: a jingle with each character being introduced in a cartoon form. In the first scene, the two are woken up in the middle of the night by a loud, strange noise. Hypothesizing that it may be a prank or vandalism, and believing that a tree branch was banging against the window, the two go back to sleep. The next morning, the two prepare their magic act for the neighborhood talent show. Wanda and Agnes go to the show’s planning committee meeting, led by Dottie, the top of the suburban women hierarchy, while Vision attends a neighborhood watch meeting. Here, he accidentally swallows some chewing gum when one of the men pats him on the back. Due to the gum in his internal systems, Vision appears intoxicated at the talent show and publicly reveals his abilities. Luckily, Wanda uses her own abilities to make everything seem like magic tricks. She then fixes Vision backstage by removing the gum.
There are multiple “weird moments” in this episode. The first is where Wanda heads out and finds a red and yellow helicopter in the bush. This wouldn’t be so strange if the show’s filter was not in black and white, providing a sort of “breaking the fourth wall” moment because it acknowledges their world having a TV format. Wanda stares at the toy intensely before Agnes interrupts the moment, with everything, again, going back to normal. After, they head to the country club to discuss the talent show with the committee, which is where Wanda meets Geraldine, who proclaims that “[she] doesn’t even know what [Wanda’s] doing here.” This line at first seems like it comes from someone who is intimidated, but given what happens in the next episode, it is worth noting.
Following the meeting, Dottie chooses Wanda to help clean up. Music is playing on a mini antenna radio, and everything is fine until Dottie claims that she’s heard things about Wanda and Vision. Wanda responds that she doesn’t mean anyone harm, to which Dottie says she does not believe her. The tone and style changes, the radio goes static and a voice comes on, asking if Wanda can hear them and “who is doing this to her?” The voice cuts off while repeating her name when suddenly, the radio bursts and shatters a glass in Dottie’s hand, drawing blood. Red blood. Then the music somehow returns, and everything is normal.
At the talent show, Wanda attempts to ask Vision if he’s noticed anything strange happening, but the intoxicated Vision fails to answer and they are rushed on stage to perform. Dottie, announcing the two, also talks about the show’s cause for Westview Elementary. Like in other scenes, she says the phrase “For the children,” which the audience repeats in unison. At home, after they’ve won “Inaugural Comedy Performance of the Year,” they are ready to celebrate with popcorn … when, suddenly, Wanda finds out she is pregnant. They are about to rejoice when they hear a clammer outside, and go out to check on it, believing that the noise is coming from the tree. Everything becomes eerie, music and camera angles change and they see a beekeeper crawl up from the sewers. Before anything happens, Wanda says, “No,” and they rewind back to where Wanda finds out about her pregnancy, completely ignoring that. This time they kiss, and the filter goes away, revealing color as they transition into the 1970s.
Episode 3: “Now in Color”
The opening montage of Episode 3, “Now in Color,” mimics the other episodes and matches the aesthetics of a 1970s sit-com, appearing and having music similar to that of the “Brady Bunch.” And, as the title says, everything is “now in color.” Here, it begins with Dr. Nielson at the couple’s house checking on Wanda’s pregnancy. He says she is four months along, to Wanda and Vision’s surprise, and confirms that she is fine before leaving for vacation with his wife. Wanda and Vision then paint a nursery while debating what to name their child (Tommy or Billy) before Wanda’s pregnancy progresses rapidly and miraculously to six months.
They are doing more prep work for the baby when she begins contractions and her abilities go out of control, making a mess in the house. Water falls from the sky onto them (symbolizing that her water broke) and eventually shuts down the entire town’s power. Vision runs to get the doctor, trying to catch him before he leaves, while Geraldine goes to Wanda’s house to ask for a bucket due to the power outage. Wanda attempts to mask her pregnancy (there’s a stork physically wandering around her house that represents this) and powers before she goes into labor. Geraldine, amid the chaos and movement of the house, helps Wanda deliver a baby. Vision returns and Wanda, thinking that the excitement is over (and both agreeing to name the newborn Tommy), gives birth to another boy, Billy, making them twins. After everything, Vision walks the doctor out and talks with the neighbors while Geraldine and Wanda watch over the baby boys in the crib.
The most intriguing “moments” so far occur in this episode and begin to give the audience a clue on what the show’s plot has in store. The first time Vision walks the doctor out, Herb, their next-door neighbor, is cutting through their cement wall with a hedge trimmer. When Vision points this out, Herb continues doing so. After the town’s power goes out, Wanda questions if the townspeople will figure out it’s her who caused this. Vision ponders this, and starts questioning the “moments” that have been happening and realizes something is wrong. Before he goes further, the screen freezes and it’s portrayed as if the audience is having a tech issue. It jumps back, similar to the beekeeper scene only this time they do not show the scene rewinding, and Vision instead begins discussing their fears as parents.
The ending is especially wild. Vision walks Dr. Nielsen out while Geraldine and Wanda stay inside, looking over the newborns. Before leaving, Nielsen confides that they’ll probably not vacation after all, because small towns are “hard to escape.” Again, with the ending, this phrase is particularly interesting. The scene cuts back and forth between Wanda and Geraldine, and Vision talking to Agenes and Herb outside. The two neighbors are startled when Vision greets them, yet continue to gossip about Wanda as he inches toward them. Vision goes to return inside when Agnes calls after him. They explain that Geraldine is new to town and has no family or home. Herb tries to explain why she is here, each time pausing before he gets to an answer. (The phrase “she came here because we’re all …” is the farthest he gets.) Agnes stops him from continuing and leaves, Herb doing the same.
During this, Wanda, inside, tells Geraldine that she’s a twin, telling Geraldine about her brother, Pietro, and sings the babies a Sokovian lullaby. Geraldine interrupts, asking if Pietro was killed by Ultron. (He was, in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)). Wanda begins questioning her, and Geraldine tries to cover up, but Wanda continues to interrogate and asks her to leave. She notices Geraldine’s necklace, which has the same symbol as the helicopter and the Beekeeper had, and asks about it, wondering who she is. Geraldine can’t answer. Wanda presses forward and forward … then the scene cuts, Vision returns, and Geraldine is gone, Wanda claiming she had to rush home. This part heavily implies that Wanda got rid of her, but this is ambiguous …
… Until we see an entirely different location. Despite the Westview sign in the background, this location looks nothing like the town and has the aesthetics of an action movie. Geraldine falls from the sky through an inter-dimensional portal. Agents from SWORD (a division of SHIELD that deals with extraterrestrial threats) in cars surround her, a bright light from a helicopter beams on her and everything pans out, with “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees playing as we take one last glimpse of the “real world.”
Next time on “WandaVision”?
From Wanda’s last appearance in “Endgame,” where she says to Thanos, “You took everything away from me,” I have a theory of what has happened. I’m missing details, but my general idea is as follows: out of grief from losing Vision, she uses her powers to tear a new universe in the network of multi-verses to live the life with Vision that she never had. To get her “everything” back. She has the power to shape and control reality, which is how she stopped the Beekeeper from ruining their night or Vision further questioning everything strange that has happened.
This must have effects on other realities, so SWORD is trying to get through to her. Their logo is seen on the helicopter toy, the Beekeeper and Geraldine’s necklace, all of which were able to momentarily break the reality of Westview. Given that these all appeared for the first time in Episode 2, perhaps Geraldine was the pilot of the helicopter before it transformed into a toy and was stranded in Westview. And seeing that no one can get through, maybe she was a stronger person such as another superhero. Perhaps one who understands reality and portals, like Dr. Strange? Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, confirmed that “WandaVision” is connected to the upcoming movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022), so this is plausible.
There are still so many questions I have. How did Wanda get to Westview? And how does Vision, who ostensibly died in “Infinity War” (2018), appear to be very much alive and aware? Why would SWORD attempt to get to Wanda? What is going on in the outside world? We’ll have to keep watching to find out. I’m sure I will.
Contact Kyla Figueroa at kylafig5 ‘at’ stanford.edu.