Jan 21, 2021
Monica Rambeau: First Blood Part II: WandaVision “We Interrupt This Program”
Previously on WandaVision: Wanda and Vision have lived a clandestine existence in three decades of stereotyped TV fantasies thus far, and in 30 years of marriage are just now getting around to having kids: twin boys, Tommy and Billy. But their friend “Geraldine” is not what she seems: she’s an interloper with some mysterious hidden agenda, who seems, Deadpool-like, to know she’s in a fictional narrative. Wanda yeeted her out of town (or would it be “yote”?) for knowing too much about her unpopular dead brother Pietro, and we’ve discovered there’s a perimeter of shady natsec types around the town of Westview, where all of this is taking place.
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There’s no stylized retro TV theme this week: the first thing we see is “Geraldine”, AKA Monica Rambeau, getting reassembled on a molecular level during the un-snappening of Avengers: Endgame. And if the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Monica Rambeau was the second Captain Marvel in the comics back in the ’80s, who has since gone through numerous name changes and is apparently now known as Spectrum. As far as the MCU goes, she’s the one who, as a little girl, picked out the colors on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel’s uniform.
Five years previously, her mother, Captain Marvel’s [cough] heterosexual life companion Maria Rambeau, was being treated for cancer, and Monica fell asleep in a chair by her bedside, disappearing during the Snap. Good thing that chair isn’t currently occupied; that’d be awkward. The hospital is a complete pandemonium right now, what with all the people who disappeared in this hospital when Thanos snapped his fingers suddenly coming back to life, but Monica manages to track down her mother’s old doctor, who fills her in on the Snap, the Blip, and Maria’s unfortunate death from cancer three years ago.
Cut to SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division) headquarters.
Monica worked here before she got snapped, in the organization that her mother Maria started, because who doesn’t enjoy a good bit of nepotism? The new director, Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg), explains that the organization has shifted away from manned space missions after the Snap, and now prefers robots, AI, and other “sentient weapons”. So what did SWORD stand for before, I wonder to myself? Monica discovers that, thanks to a rule implemented by Maria, undoubtedly as a precaution against shapeshifting aliens or some such, anyone who recently returned from the dead can’t go on any space missions. So instead, Monica’s going to go assist the FBI on a missing person’s case that they’ve requested SWORD’s help with.
Monica drives to Westview and meets with FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), who you may remember from Ant-Man and the Wasp as the guy who failed to keep Ant-Man in his apartment. He had a guy in witness protection he now can’t find, and upon following up with his guy’s known associates, finds that this guy is suddenly a complete cipher no one’s ever heard of before. Even more alarming is that, according to local law enforcement, this town that they’re looking at doesn’t exist.
“Why haven’t you gone inside to investigate?” asks Monica. “Because it doesn’t want me to,” says Agent Woo. “You can feel it too, can’t you? No one’s supposed to go in.” Monica tries to pilot a drone into the town, but it disappears. She goes to investigate in person, and encounters a wall of static that soon sucks her in.
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Soon, SWORD puts together a team full of highly trained specialists to investigate Monica’s disappearance, including Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), Jane Foster’s ditzy friend from the Thor movies. Looks like this episode’s just going to be a murderer’s row of bit parts from other Marvel movies, huh?
Darcy waltzes into a prefab military building, does a minute or so of her sassy shtick, and almost immediately deduces that the strange static is cosmic microwave background radiation—the same kind of stuff left over from the Big Bang—but there’ a broadcast TV frequency hidden in the static. She plugs her doo-bob in a thing that looks like an oscilloscope and sees a faint television image. “I need a TV,” she says. “An old one. Like, not flat.”
Director Hayward tries to send a guy into Westview using the sewers. Meanwhile, Darcy has a vintage TV set, upon which she is currently watching the previous episode “Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience”. She confirms that the guy in the series, Vision, is in fact supposed to be dead. “So the universe created a sitcom starring two Avengers?” asks Agent Woo. Men whisk away to view the recordings that Darcy’s made of the show. Darcy watches the end and goes “aww” when Vision and Wanda kiss.
It wouldn’t be a Marvel property without an enthusiastic embrace of state-run mass surveillance, and SWORD wastes no time in running facial-recognition scans on all the characters in the sitcom. They all exist in real life, and live in the town in current day, albeit with different names and occupations than on the show.
Darcy drops her Maruchan brand ramen noodles upon learning that Monica Rambeau is hiding among the cast as “Geraldine”. She hypothesizes that they should be able to technobabble their way into Wanda’s radio while she’s washing dishes. Around the same time, the team finds that one of the drones they’ve sent into the town has been discovered by Wanda (as seen in “Don’t Touch That Dial”). It’s been changed into a retro toy helicopter to match the production design. But for some reason, that effort to make it match the show didn’t extend to making it black-and-white like everything else.
Agent Woo attempts to talk to Wanda through the radio. This, as we already saw, doesn’t succeed in getting ahold of Wanda, but only frightening her and making Dottie crush her glass—which is an event that gets “edited out” of the “broadcast version”, with Darcy seeing a noticeable time skip. Meanwhile, the agent Hayward sent through the sewers is approaching the barrier of static surrounding the town. As he crawls through it, his hazmat suit is changed into the closest thing conceivable in the show’s reality, which is a beekeeper’s outfit. The cable attached to the man’s belt harness is severed and changed into a jump rope.
The mysterious beekeeper climbs out of a manhole, as seen at the end of “Don’t Touch That Dial”, but we’re not shown what happens to him. The music sting and the editing portend nothing good.
Now Darcy and Woo are almost fully caught up with us, currently watching the birth scene from “Now in Color”. They see Monica make the mistake of mentioning Ultron to Wanda. Their broadcast is censored, but from our vantage point we can see what was cut out: Wanda confronts Monica. “You’re not my neighbor. And you’re definitely not my friend. You are a stranger and an outsider… and I want you to leave.” Monica is slammed through several walls and fences and yeeted (yoten?) outside city limits. “It’s Wanda,” Monica tells Agent Woo breathlessly. “It’s all Wanda.”
Wanda seems a little perturbed at herself, and scrambles to magically repair the damage she just did. When Vision comes back in, the shock causes the sitcom facade to falter a bit, and Wanda turns to see Vision as a gruesome corpse with the Mind Stone yanked out of his forehead like in Infinity War. Is this just an illusion, or are we supposed to assume she’s actually playing dress-up with his corpse and sleeping with it and everything? Metal.
But she patches reality up, and soon she’s asking him what he wants to watch on TV tonight, and the two of them are settling in to the couch with their illusory twin babies to the tune of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”. And that neatly fills in all the mysterious things we’ve noticed on the show so far, leaving [checks internet] five episodes to go? I can’t be the only one thinking they could’ve left one or two mysteries, right?
Next on WandaVision: We’re up to the ’80s now, which means we’ll get to see Vision in a Cosby sweater. Presumably something else will happen.