4 Mind-Boggling Takeaways From WandaVision's Penultimate Episode
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR WANDAVISION EPISODE 8!
Well, folks, it's the day we've all been waiting for. It's finally Frida -- sorry, I mean WandaVision day! After a long week of speculation, analyzing every last detail presented in WandaVision's 7th episode, a new installment, the series' penultimate episode, is finally here, providing us some much-needed clarity into the Westview phenomenon. From why we got X-Men's Quicksilver to why Westview is fashioned like a sitcom, here are the four biggest takeaways from WandaVision's latest episode.
1. Agatha's backstory is a play on her Marvel comic character, alluding to the magnitude of her power and manipulation abilities.
Considering that it was -- sing it with me, folks -- "Agatha all along!" (or was it?) it's only natural that we glean a bit of insight into the backstory of the Wicked Witch of Westview. Generally staying true to Harkness's character in the Marvel comics, where she begins her own coven in New England with the aspiration of openly practicing magic, the sorceress's origin story takes place during the days of the Salem Witch trials, where several individuals accused of witchcraft were tried and killed in colonial Massachusetts.
The episode begins with two cloaked figures leading Harkness through a dark forest in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693, a third hooded individual lighting the way ahead. As our antagonist pleads with them to stop, they remain silent, walking her to a wooden stake and binding her hands with a glowing blue magical force. "Agatha Harkness, are you a witch?" asks a gray-haired woman standing before the soon-to-be pyre.
"Yes!" Harkness cries, the camera panning to a circle of cloaked crowd standing around the stake. "I am a witch!" she exclaims.
"Yet you have betrayed your coven," the apparent elder witch remarks, removing her hood as those surrounding follow suit, Harkness denying the allegations. "You stole knowledge above your age and station. You practice the darkest of magic," she says.
"I know ... I know nothing of these crimes!" Harkness replies, looking out at her accuser. Soon, the condemned witch's fearful exterior begins to crack, revealing a smirk. "I did not break your rules," she says. "They simply bent to my power." Seeing through her, the coven begins chanting, their hands glowing blue. Agatha attempts to talk them down. "I cannot control it, I ..." she trails off. "If only you would teach me!" she remarks, a phrase weirdly foreshadowing the rest of the episode. She even begins begging the elder witch -- who may or may not be her mother -- for help to no avail, seemingly prompting her to join in the group's chant. To put it bluntly, they're over her antics. Nothing she can say or do can save her from her fate ... or can it?
Suddenly, Harkness -- intentionally or unintentionally -- fights back, the glowing blue beams attacking her shifting to her signature shade of mystical purple, now draining the magical and life forces from the coven around her. Soon, her mother steps in, adding her own magical force. Able to break herself free, Agatha slams those around her before turning her powers on her own leader, killing her. As the circle of witches lies dead around her, she walks towards her deceased "mother," grabbing the now-iconic cameo necklace from her corpse. Brutal.
This grim throwback clip proves what we've suspected all along -- Harkness is a magical forced to be reckoned with -- and a master manipulator, no stranger to using the acquisition of knowledge to her own advantage. For centuries, the sorceress has been known to use dark magic and betray those around her, a trait we've seen in all of its terrifying glory through WandaVision's last two episodes. Furthermore, it also raises the question of how much control Harkness actually has over her incredibly powerful magical abilities. As the glowing streams first change colors, a look of genuine surprise splashes across the witch's face, as she notices the witches struggling around her. Although this could easily be another act of manipulation, this subtle detail makes one wonder what, exactly is the scope of her magic and what challenges she may have faced to hone her powers.
2. X-Men's Quicksilver -- not the MCU's -- visits Westview out of convenience.
Moments after the flashback, we return to where we last left off, with Wanda standing baffled in Harkness' lair. "Hmmm? hmmm? What?" the sorceress says, bringing her pet bunny, Senor Scratchy to her ear. "No I know, she does look shocked to meet the real us, doesn't she," she giggles, a potential clue towards the long-running theory that the rabbit may have a secret identity as Nicholas Scratch or demonic Marvel Villain, Mephisto. Potential Easter egg aside, Harkness launches into a villainous monologue, mocking Wanda's wavering European accent and discussing the protection spells blocking our hero's magic abilities, before answering the question we've all been wondering since episode five: Why exactly X-Men's Quicksilver appears in Westview instead of the MCU's.
Aside from being generally regarded as the superior Pietro (sorry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson!), his appearance was calculated by Harkness, conjuring a "fake Pietro" or "Fietro," as she calls him, to exist in Westview as her "eyes and ears," attempting to learn more about how Wanda launched the phenomenon through a relatively convenient magical technique called a "crystalline possession."
"Necromancy was a nonstarter since your real brother's body is on another continent, Not to mention full of holes," she explains to captive Wanda, referencing Quicksilver's Sokovian death in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. "But you were so crippled by your own self-doubt that you believed it."
Although as of right now, it is relatively unclear what exactly a "crystalline possession" does, based on Harkness' explanation, this could mean that she, as many suspected, selected Evan Peters's iteration of the character from the (conveniently now Disney-owned) X-Men universe, dropping him off in Westview. Furthermore, as many are pointing to Wandavision to help establish the MCU's multiverse, this choice may also act as a clue, hinting at the MCU's laws of interdimensional order.
3. Wanda's trauma and long love of sitcoms shaped Westview's format.
In an attempt to understand how Wanda created Westview, Harkness takes a hint from episode six, where she tells "Fietro" that her only memory of building the hex is "feeling completely alone and empty." As such, she forces our hero on a trauma tour, delving into some of Wanda's most painful memories: the night her parents died, partaking in human experimentation as a part of Hydra, and the aftermath of her brother's death.
In each of these situations, sitcoms play an integral role in her experience, providing her comfort as the world (sometimes literally) crumbles around her. As we see in the first flashback, her father sold tapes of American TV shows, bringing back those left unsold for family TV nights. The evening her parents passed away, they were sitting around their television set, watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, specifically Wanda's favorite episode, "It May Look like a Walnut." In the episode, the show's titular protagonist is haunted by a scary movie he watched in which characters lose their imaginations, thumbs, and grow eyes out of the back of their head after opening a walnut, which could be interpreted as an allegory for Wanda's possession of Westview's residents. Halfway through the episode, a bomb hits their apartment complex, instantly killing their parents. Another device falls near young Wanda and Pietro, but even as it beeps, they remain safe, the work of a coincidence -- or perhaps Wanda's emerging powers.
Next, we're transported to her time at Hydra, where we see Wanda partake in a deadly human experiment where she's asked to touch the space Infinity Stone. Upon doing so, the stone explodes, glowing yellow, ultimately making her faint. As a result, her existing magical abilities only grow, and she's the only "subject" to survive direct contact with the gem. She is immediately sent to isolation. While sitting in jail-like quarantine space as Hydra officials review tapes of the incident, Wanda remains transfixed on a small TV, playing an episode of The Brady Bunch entitled "Kitty Karry-All Is Missing." The episode, much like that of The Dick Van Dyke Show also provides some fascinating symbolism to an element of Wanda's Westview predicament. The sitcom, centering around the theft of Cindy's baby doll, acts as a parallel to our hero's search for her missing sons.
Finally, we visit Wanda sitting on her bed in the Avengers compound, processing the death of her brother while watching an episode of Malcolm in The Middle, in which Hal attempts to fix their patio, only to have it collapse on top of him. "It was the first home Vision and I ever shared," she notes, staring back at her past self. Soon after, Vision enters the room, where they discuss grief and Wanda's mourning process. "Wanda, I don't presume to know what you're feeling, but I would like to know," Vision says, suggesting that she may find comfort in talking about her loss. "The only thing that would bring me comfort is seeing him again," Wanda retorts, seemingly foreshadowing the entire series, describing the ways in which she feels all-consumed by her grief. "It's like this wave washing over me again and again," she tearfully explains. "It knocks me down and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again."
Amid their discussion, Vision mentions the complex relationship between mourning and love. "It can't all be sorrow, can it?" he muses. "I've never experienced loss because I've never had a loved one to lose, but what is grief if not love persevering?"
Alongside the symbolism of the three episodes featured in the flashbacks, these anecdotes, most explicitly in the final clip, prove that sitcoms carry an intense emotional weight for our protagonist, serving as both a source of comfort and a reminder of several traumatic experiences. Considering Wanda's emotional state surrounding Vision's death, leaving her heartbroken and searching for comfort, we now understand why her reaction to these feelings of grief would be to design a world modeled after several iconic television programs.
4. We learn how Wanda created Westview
With seemingly no one to lean on following the death of her lover, Wanda's intense emotions, and the future she could have shared with Vision lead her to create Westview. Following the three sitcom-heavy flashbacks, we're transported to the S.W.O.R.D. headquarters shortly after Vision's death, as Wanda attempts to pay her respects and recover his body, after learning they took his corpse following his run-in with Thanos.
Although visiting with the intention of giving her partner a proper burial, Wanda is horrified to discover Vision's corpse being desecrated, chopped into pieces. "We're dismantling the most sophisticated, sentient weapon ever created," S.W.O.R.D. Director and the series' non-Hex villain, Tyler Hayward tells Wanda, slipping in an offhanded comment about how she could potentially harness the power to bring him back online. Despite Wanda's pleas, he refuses her request to bury her lover. "I cannot allow you to take three billion dollars' worth of Vibranium and bury it in the ground," he callously explains.
Soon, Wanda's anger and grief overcome her, breaking through the glass to his body below. Although she tries to touch him, she fails to sense him. "I can't feel you," she says, hovering her hand over his head. Heartbroken, she runs out of the facility --notably not taking Vision's body with her, as further proven through the post-credits scene of S.W.O.R.D. attempting to put him back online sans the infinity stone -- driving to a plot of land in a New Jersey suburb named Westview. She then exits her car, bringing with her a piece of paper carefully folded in an envelope. "To Grow Old In" the document reads, inside of a heart shape marked. "V." Heartbroken, Wanda then steps onto the lot of their would-be home, collapsing to the ground in tears
As she cries, the world spins around her, a home -- and Vision --materializing on the lot, the world around them shifting to its 1950's form in episode 1.
This week, much unlike any WandaVision episode until this point, provides a significant amount of clarity surrounding the reality of Westview and its origin. Although there's much to explore in the coming episodes -- Agatha's specific role in terrorizing Wanda, if Senor Scratchy has a deeper identity than just a bunny rabbit, or if Vision can exist without an infinity stone -- there's a lot we now know, and plenty of Easter eggs to dissect. Until next week, folks.