WandaVision is a triumph.
Was a triumph, that is. After a roller coaster of a season, the grand experiment – rolling out phase 4 of the MCU in the form of a TV show – has been a magnificent success. It seems poetic that a show trying to tap into nostalgia for classic television, and all its finicky little trappings, has brought back the most television-y thing of all: event viewing. Every Friday, viewers tuned in for nine exhilarating weeks, and every Friday the stakes were raised. Bit by bit, audiences grew more and more certain that WandaVision was maybe, just maybe, going to stick the landing.
Our finale brings a whole lot to the table. Monica Rambeau is stuck in a stoner’s loft with Quicksilver, who turns out to be an actor named Ralph Bohner. Does this mean Evan Peters isn’t the first member of the X-Men films to enter the MCU continuity? Is this all a meta-textual joke at the expense of fans? Or will we see Evan’s Quicksilver in a future iteration?
The finale episode of WandaVision ostensibly has two jobs: set up the pieces for the next plot beats of the MCU.
The final episode’s second job? Wrap up this gorgeous nine-part story about Wanda Maximoff dealing with her grief, and becoming Scarlet Witch. Both of these things happen, and whilst the episode does at times feel a little rushed, I suspect that’s because this story is setting up countless dominos to be tipped over down the line. Rambeau has superpowers now, and she’s clearly being recruited for the upcoming Secret Invasion series, which will see Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull goodie, Talos, fighting off an invasion of shapeshifters invading Earth by masquerading as some of it’s mightiest heroes. Then, we’ve got Jimmy Woo who is clearly going to show up in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Darcy, who crashed an icecream truck into our muggle antagonist, will hopefully show up in Thor: Love and Thunder. So whilst there’s a lot of setup for future stories taking up valuable story time, I’m beyond confident it’ll be worth it.
But there’s a second thing this finale needs to do: create Scarlet Witch. Wanda has been Wanda through several films now, and only in last week’s episode did we hear Agatha utter Wanda’s superhero name. Hinting that a Scarlet Witch is some kind of cosmic aberration, this week we saw Agatha and Wanda duke it out. Agatha’s power – absorbing the magical force of others – seemed set for a win, but the heist-like reveal that Wanda was using the fight as a smokescreen to hide her decorating the inside of the Truman-show-esque Hex with enormous runes was… well. Magic. Which is to say, misdirection.
Wanda became what the Mind Stone showed her she would all those years ago. And in the end, she let the townspeople go, and sacrificed her family to make things right. She even spared Agatha, trapping her in the body of her sitcom persona. A hero is born.
The core of WandaVision, though, has been how people with power process grief. Wanda didn’t mean to do what she did, and as she points out to Agatha, the difference between the two of them is that Agatha hurt those around her on purpose. Intent is a potent through line of WandaVision, and heroism in the MCU in general, but it’s never been more evident that it is here. And when the time comes to let Vision go, we’re given an absolutely transcendent coda where our power couple put their kids to bed one last time, and say goodbye to one another. Vision asks what he is. And Wanda replies “You, Vision… are the piece of the Mind Stone that lives in me. You are a body of wires and blood and bone that I created. You are my sadness and my hope. But mostly… you’re my love.” And Vision, contemplating a tear he’s just somehow shed, muses “I have been a voice with no body. A body, but not human. And now… a memory, made real. Who knows what I might be next? We have said goodbye before. So it stands to reason…” And Wanda, smiling, realizes he’s probably right. And she replies, tearfully, “…We’ll say hello again.”
The MCU gives us something no other superheroic pantheon does: optimism. At it’s core, the MCU is about people doing the right thing, and it is rife with those good things being rewarded by it’s storytellers. When Vision confronts White Vision, the soulless, reassembled corpse bearing his visage, they fight at first. But their real battle takes place in a library, where they muse on the Ship of Theseus, a philosophical conundrum which posits the very dilemma they face: who is Vision?
After one of the most sublime scenes in the series, our Vision (Wanda Vision, if you will) convinces White Vision that they are both Vision, and yet, neither of them are. He suggests that memories are the thing that make the man, and he does what looks to be some kind of data transfer, unlocking the memories lying dormant in White Vision’s brain. Does the headpiece turning momentarily yellow indicate that Wanda Vision’s memories, and warmth, and life have also been absorbed? I’d wager, given the optimism of the MCU, that the humanity of Vision will reassert itself – that Vision cannot be Vision without both Vision’s merging, and that that merging will take time.
The episode closes out with one more setup for a future story. Wanda, sipping tea in a cabin in the mountains, has reached such a level of power that, Doctor Strange style, she’s astrallay projecting and is researching the magical tome used by Agatha. She then, improbably, hears the sound of her sons crying for help. Given that the next Doctor Strange outing is called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, are we going to find out that Wanda somehow created a parallel universe? Does this mean her idyllic world wasn’t erased, but instead yanked out of our reality and sent somewhere else? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, DAMMIT?
In the end, WandaVision asks more questions than it answers, but there’s no doubt those questions will be answered in the most epic fashion down the line. We’ve just witnessed nine absolutely stellar episodes of television, and proof that the Marvel universe is just getting started. Wandavision is sublime, genre-bending genius. WandaVision is, in a word… magical. I can’t wait to see where it’s denizens end up next.
WandaVision is streaming on Disney+.