This WandaVision review contains spoilers.
WandaVision Episode 8
Recap episodes are a mainstay of sitcom TV. This week WandaVision takes on the trope in what is easily the most heartbreaking episode of the Marvel series yet.
While WandaVision began its season as a broad comedy playing on the archetypes and style of classic American television, there was always something darker lurking underneath. This week in a darkly entertaining adventure into the past, Agatha leads Wanda through a nightmarish house made of Wanda’s own memories.
But first let’s learn a little more about that big twist. After the reveal last week that Wanda’s nosy neighbor Agnes was actually the witch Agatha Harkness, we get an opening that begins with a purple Marvel Logo–hinting at Agatha’s powers–and a flashback to Agatha’s history as a witch in Salem. Hahn is spectacular as always and it’s a complete tonal shift that the show handles well. In fact, this whole episode slips between worlds, moments, and atmosphere seamlessly, once again showing the skill of the creative team who are never afraid of getting weird.
Back in the present, Wanda is trapped in Agatha’s basement and being interrogated. It’s revealed that the elder witch is obsessed with learning where Wanda’s mystical powers came from so she forces the grieving woman back into her own mind to come to terms with the reality of what’s happened.
They begin in Sokovia. Wanda and Pietro are children spending an evening with their parents watching their favorite sitcoms. But then disaster strikes, a Stark Industries bomb hits their home, killing the adults and leaving Wanda and Pietro stranded. We knew all of this already but Agatha’s recreation introduces something new… was the reason the bomb never went off actually just luck or was it Wanda using her latent powers? It seems like the latter and Agatha definitely thinks there’s something deeper going on.
Hahn is having a blast here, and it’s a joy to watch. Not only does she get to play an antagonist but she gets to play one who’s a complete and utter magical know-it-all and can also steal other people’s magic with her cool purple rays. Impressively, she also manages to keep the obvious humor that the character was introduced with to a minimum. This is a serious episode full of loss and grief. And while we might not discover exactly what she’s up to, Hahn gives a performance that lends credence to the possibility that Agatha is an anti-hero rather than a straight up villain.
Olsen, meanwhile, is the perfect foil. Silent, heartbroken, and desperate to both know the truth and conceal it at once. Fans of the MCU have long felt that Wanda had been sidelined and not given her due but WandaVision and this episode in particular feel like a hard reset. This is a Wanda with nuance, defined by love and rage more than trauma. She’s a whole human being and Olsen sells every tear, lip tremble, and horrified gasp.
The pair also venture to the HYDRA base where Wanda (no sign of real Pietro) volunteered to become a superhero for the Nazis… good choice. Interestingly, we learn her penchant for editing video footage with her mind began here as she stops the HYDRA agents from seeing a moment in which she connected with the Mind Stone and had a strange vision.
Speaking of Vision, we learn the truth about his disappearance from SWORD and, shock horror, Director Hayward is a lying scumbag who deepfaked that footage of Wanda stealing Vision. Why? Well, you’ll have to stay to the mid-credits scene to find that out.
It turns out that Wanda never stole Vision, never actually attacked SWORD, and was generally pretty chill for a grieving widow who just came back from being snapped out of existence. This is just more confirmation that Hayward could be the real antagonist here. Honestly, this has been an almost impressively anti-military arc for the MCU, seeing as it’s a franchise known for encouraging and actively promoting the US military.
All of this revisiting has a purpose outside of exposition for Wanda fans. Agatha is pushing Wanda to realization. Agatha needs Wanda to see the truth about how Westview and her new life was created, which we learn about when we see her head to Westview for the very first time.
It turns out that Vision had bought a plot of land for the two of them in Westview, which is what drew Wanda there. We get to see normal, non-WandaVision Westview for the first time and even see some familiar faces pop up. Surprising (probably) no one who’s been watching the show or who enjoys Scarlet Witch comics, the remade Westview was manifested from Wanda’s own trauma and grief. While it doesn’t look like it was intentional, she was definitely the one behind it as we saw when her hex powers went wild and built a whole new world for her and Vision… but if she didn’t actually steal Vision, how is he even there?
Here comes a little more heartbreak. We learn this week why Vision can’t leave the Hex. Wanda was so sad and missed her synthezoid lover so much that she created an entirely new version of him, knitting him together with the power of her mind and her Mind Stone enhanced powers. That means, just like Billy and Tommy, to some extent Vision inside the Hex is just a figment of Wanda’s very powerful imagination. With that truth finally out there, Wanda thinks she’s free to save her sons. But they’re trapped by Agatha Harkness, who has one final secret to reveal: Wanda is a prophesied creature in some archaic lore… she’s what’s known as, according to Agatha, “the scarlet witch”
It’s the first time the words have been uttered in the MCU and seems to be leaning into later comics iterations of the character where the name is more of a legacy and an inherited title than a superhero moniker. It’s a great way to end an episode and Hahn delivers the first mention of Scarlet Witch with all the gravitas and ham that it deserves.
But that’s not episode eight’s last big reveal as in the mid-credits scene we learn what Hayward has really been up to. Using the missile he tried to kill her with–which is still imbued with Chaos Magick–Hayward manages to bring Vision to life. And if you’re a fan of classic Marvel comics you’ll likely recognize this bleached out synth as White Vision. This sets up a huge possible conflict for the final episode as Wanda will likely have to face down the man she loves who won’t even remember her name. Devastating.
With only one episode left, WandaVision seems like it has a lot of work to do to establish whatever comes next for Wanda. But the team behind the show has constantly surpassed our expectations and we can’t wait to see them hopefully stick the landing on what is turning into one of the MCU’s best projects ever.