Main cast: Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff), Paul Bettany (Vision), Kathryn Hahn (Agnes), Asif Ali (Norm), Fred Melamed (Arthur Hart), and Debra Jo Rupp (Mrs Hart)
Director: Matt Shakman
WandaVision is formatted like a sitcom from the old days—drawing a lot of inspiration, in fact, from Bewitched. Only this time, both the husband and wife have powers that they do their best to hide from their very human neighbors and all. This show is filmed in black and white, and it comes with a soundtrack of songs from and tailored to be reminiscent of the tunes from the golden age of television.
That’s right, Wanda and Vision are a happily married couple that have moved into their dream house in a town called Westview. We meet their neighbor, the nosy Agnes, as well as Vision’s co-worker Norm and employer Arthur Hart. In this episode, the highlight is the Harts coming over for dinner, forcing Wanda and Vision to do their best to really act like normal people. Wanda thinks it’s nothing to get worked up over, as they can act their best impersonation of normalcy for just one night, but of course some predictable uh-oh stuff comes up.
Now, you may be remembering how Thanos ripped the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head, causing that animated tin can to short circuit permanently, and wondering how this thing came to be. Well, I suppose we will know for sure as this series continue. My personal theory for now is that Wanda, distraught by the loss of her electricity-powered boyfriend, has created her own reality in which she and Vision are able to live as husband and wife. Since Scarlet Witch never had a normal childhood, Wanda’s idea of being a normal wife is shaped by what she sees on TV, hence her reality resembling a sitcom from the 1960s. However, this episode reveals that the whole thing is a show-within-a-show, viewed by a mysterious person on a screen. So, who knows?
Maybe things will pick up later in the season, but my reaction to this episode is best described as open-mouthed bewilderment. I don’t laugh even once, as the jokes rely heavily on the viewer realizing that Wanda and Vision have powers—very meta, in other words, and I can’t help feeling that the script is a self-indulgent navel-gazing chore that sees the screenwriter Jac Schaeffer patting himself on his back and expecting everyone to applaud him too. I cringe each time Elizabeth Olsen tries her best to sound like Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery rolled into one big puffy hairdo, and don’t get me started on Paul Bettany’s singalong session.
Still, as much as I cringe at some of the contrived cutesy antics in this episode, I still get a twinge of pity for Wanda and Vision, especially in the final scene. Those two do their best to sound upbeat and optimistic like every sitcom couple, but there is something sad about how much they still don’t fully get about leading a normal life like they so badly want to. They have no notion of wedding rings, for example, and they also have no official anniversary. They decide to magically conjure up rings for themselves in the end, and pick the date they move into the house as their anniversary.
That’s the happy ending of this episode, and it leaves me aching for them even as I feel cheered up that they are bent of making the most out of their relationship. Then I realize that this whole thing may just be a fantasy inside Wanda’s head as her way to cope with Vision’s death, and I feel melancholic again. Mind you, I never warmed up to Wanda and Vision as a couple in the MCU movies, due to how poorly handled their relationship is, so it is quite ironic that an episode that makes me cringe so much also makes it easier for me to start caring for them.
Still, cringe is cringe, so two oogies it is for this episode. I can only hope that things get less cringe-filled from here onward.