Deranging Women: WandaVision “On a Very Special Episode...”

Previously on WandaVision: The town of Westview has been taken over by B-team Avenger Wanda Maximoff, who’s been driven insane by grief. She’s using her reality-warping powers to force everyone in the town to play-act a series of retro-inspired sitcoms starring herself and her dead robot lover. It looked at one point like the whole thing might be a cruel experiment being conducted by SWORD, but being a heavily militarized faction of America’s massive national security apparatus, SWORD is of course the good guy here. This is an MCU property, after all.

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The Vision-Maximoffs are in their most opulent sitcom house yet, but the nursery we saw in their ’70s house doesn’t seem to exist anymore, as the babies’ cribs are right out in the living room. Wanda and Vision are trying to get their babies to sleep. Wanda desperately tries to use her powers to soothe the babies, but notes with some consternation that her magic doesn’t seem to work on them.

“Not that I’m accusing you of being unfaithful, darling, but I couldn’t help but notice that neither of these babies are maroon.”

Nosey neighbor Agnes, now dressed in a really ’80s aerobics outfit, comes over and offers to try to put the colicky babies to sleep. Vision, overprotective, shoots the idea down. There’s an uncomfortable moment where Agnes slips into actor mode and asks Wanda if they want to give the “scene” another “take”, since Vision obviously wasn’t on the same page. Wanda scrambles to fill the gap in conversation, but not soon enough to avoid Vision pulling her aside and asking what the hell that was all about.

Agnes, as it turns out, does such a good job of soothing the babies that not only are they no longer crying, they’re not even in their cribs anymore when Wanda and Vision turn back around. The doting parents panic for a moment, only to turn around again and see Billy and Tommy, now suddenly kindergarten age, in the stairwell. “Kids,” Agnes snickers. “You can’t control ’em.”

Now everyone in the Olsen family can say they’ve been on an ’80s sitcom with a couple of precocious twins in the cast.

After super-schmaltzy ’80s credits that are clearly inspired by Family Ties and Full House, we smash cut to Monica Rambeau getting some x-rays after her adventure in Westview the previous week. She reports that from the moment she was pulled into the town, she was suffused with a powerful sinking feeling of grief. The doctor tries to get her to take another x-ray, since the last one just showed a blank outline, but Monica is too big a girl-boss to listen to a bunch of nerdy doctor crap and she power-walks off to a briefing. I’m sure that incredibly bizarre circumstance is just a random detail that doesn’t mean anything for the show later! Very subtle, MCU.

“Well, yeah! I’m black, so I show up as white on an X-ray. Sheesh, don’t you doctors know anything?”

“We now know that Wanda is the principal victimizer,” says Director Hayward hilariously. He labels Wanda a “terrorist” and cites her history of being radicalized by HYDRA and fighting the Avengers. Rambeau spars with Hayward’s Man Intelligence using her Woman Feelings, saying that despite her actions, she didn’t feel any malice coming from Wanda, only pain. She points out that Wanda has no discernible political or social agenda, and took care to keep her alive when she could have easily killed her. Hayward plays his trump card, showing a video of Wanda breaking into SWORD and stealing Vision’s body, in defiance of both the Sokovia Accords and Vision’s own last will and testament.

“What are you doing? That has to go in the recycling!”

In today’s episode, Billy and Tommy have stumbled across a tried-and-true sitcom plot stray dog, and they’ve wheedled Wanda into letting them keep it. Vision comes down for breakfast in his human face, explaining he had a hunch someone might drop by with something instrumental to the day’s adventures. Sure enough, Agnes soon comes in through the back door with a new doghouse. Vision is further perturbed by the fact that Wanda conjures up a new dog collar while Agnes is right there in the room. They squabble a bit about hiding their powers. Finally, to calm Vision down, Wanda tells the boys they’re too young to have a dog, and have to wait until they’re at least ten years old… and the boys oblige and grow to that age before their eyes. “Let’s hope the dog stays the same size,” giggles Agnes.

“I’m that classic sitcom stock character: the next-door neighbor with massive brain trauma!”

Outside, Rambeau, Woo, and Darcy are learning more about how “the Hex” (the hexagonal area Wanda has placed under her control) works. They figure out that, since Monica’s ’70s outfit is still intact outside the anomaly, the clothes and props inside the Hex must be solid matter, not illusion, indicating an amount of power greater than Wanda has ever displayed before. Monica gets a brainwave and shoots at her ’70s outfit to no effect, revealing that it was created on a molecular level using the Kevlar vest she was wearing when she went into the Hex. They conclude that the best way to infiltrate the Hex is to send something in that requires no change.

“You’ve made my butt look big for the last time!”

Meanwhile, Vision is at work. He’s hooking up newfangled (for the ’80s) computers to all the desks at his workplace. He boots up his coworker Norm’s Commodore-64 while Norm makes a bunch of tacky jokes about that durn “electronic mail”. For some reason, his Commodore-64 shows what is apparently a top-secret SWORD communique about Darcy’s findings about all the radiation in the Hex. This sounds implausible, but I don’t know enough about technology to really dispute it. The entire office has the email show up on their new computers and they all read it aloud in a robotic voice, and then burst into laughter as if it’s an office joke.

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Vision’s need to get to the bottom of this has now outweighed his fear of having his secret identity exposed, and he phases two fingers into both of Norm’s temples. Norm briefly gets a blank look on his face and wakes up terrified. “Please help me,” he says. “What day is it? How long has it been?” he exclaims. “You have to stop her! She’s in my head… it hurts so much! Just make her stop!”

“Ow, that hurts way worse! Go back to the other thing!”

Vision restores Norm’s fake identity. Back at home, Wanda hears a noise outside and steps out onto her lawn to see a drone hovering over her lawn. It’s vintage technology from the ’80s, so apparently her reality-warping field can’t change it. SWORD is watching the drone’s surveillance feed and simultaneously watching the live WandaVision broadcast, noting how Wanda has the power to keep the drone out of all the shots and “cut away” when it’s in danger of being seen on camera.

Monica tries to talk to Wanda through the drone’s speaker. She watches Wanda’s eyes begin to glow red… on the drone’s black-and-white surveillance feed, which is not affected by her reality-warping field—explain that one to me.

Either she’s about to use her powers, or she’s been tokin’ on that Wakandan kush.

Monica loses flight control, which prompts Hayward, who secretly outfitted the drone with some sort of missile, to try to blow Wanda up. This fails, and Wanda stomps to the edge of town and throws the wrecked drone at the feet of the assembled SWORD goons. “This will be your only warning,” she says, with a hint of a Slavic accent that’s completely absent from her TV broadcasts. “Stay out of my home.” She uses her powers to force all the armed agents to train their guns on Hayward as a precaution until she can stomp back inside.

“Mwahaha! My reality-warping field restores my regular clothes when I leave, but keeps your retro clothes on when you leave, simply to confuse everyone!”

This week’s fake commercial is for “Lagos” brand paper towels, “for when you make a mess you didn’t mean to,” a cheeky reference to the capital of Nigeria, which Wanda accidentally blew up a part of during Captain America: Civil War.

Marvel Studios paper towels: now with 40% more problematic depictions of contemporary Africa!

After the commercial break, Tommy and Billy’s new dog has run away. They find Agnes cradling the dog, wrapped in a towel. She apologizes profusely; the dog ate some leaves off her azalea bushes and died. The heartbroken twins tearfully entreat their mother to bring the dog back to life. “You can do that?” asks a shocked Agnes. Wanda tells the twins it’s not healthy to try to run away from their grief, and that some things can’t be undone and we just have to learn to live with them.

“These things happen, children. The dog simply didn’t test well. Viewers hated him. But don’t worry, Mommy’s going to get you a much wackier pet.”

Later on that night, Vision tells Wanda of the little chat he had with Norm. “Vision, can we just—” she begins.

“Watch TV?” Vision asks. “Turn in for the night, so you can change everything over again? No, Wanda, you can’t control me the way you do them.”

“Can’t I?” Wanda asks, and the credits roll. Vision’s not having any of it and shouts over the closing theme, asking what the “Maximoff anomaly” is. Wanda pleads ignorance, but Vision tells her about how Norm is terrified and can’t reach his family. He gets enraged when Wanda keeps lying to him, yelling, “I can’t remember my life before Westview, I don’t know who I am!”

They argue like this for a while, at one point floating menacingly at each other with their powers at the ready.

“Who decided you would get to hold energy balls in your hands? I want energy balls!”

Wanda vehemently denies that she’s consciously controlling everything in the town, admitting, “I don’t know how all this started.” As if to prove her point, there’s a sudden ding at the doorbell. She says she didn’t do this, but Vision doesn’t believe her and waits for her to answer. The camera hovers at her eye level for a long time after she opens the door and gasps.

After a moment of suspense, we get to the reveal: It’s her brother, Quicksilver! But with a new twist: instead of the MCU Quicksilver, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, this is the Fox X-Men version of Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters, whose character is now at long last the legal property of the Disney Corporation. This fact doesn’t escape Darcy (watching on the live broadcast), who declares, “She recast Pietro?”

“Good lookin’ out, fixing the timeline like that. In my universe I was born in the ’50s.”

The Fox version of Pietro, having grown up in the US and not Sokovia, has a bawdy east-coast accent. “Long-lost bro get to squeeze his sister to death or what?” he asks. The studio audience goes wild when they hug. After the hug, he points to Vision and asks, “Who’s the popsicle?”

Next week on WandaVision: Drawn by the scent of metafiction, Deadpool shows up and jokes about the inconsistencies in the X-Men timeline. “It’s fine,” he says, “We’re all Bob Iger’s butt-boys now, and personally I like his bad touch better than Murdoch’s.”

TV Show: WandaVision

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