Tuesday, July 16, 2024

WandaVision: Season 1, Episode 4 Review

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WandaVision Episode 4 is titled “We’re Interrupting This Program,” which is about the most accurate description possible. Rather than the supposed planned airing of Wanda and Vision adjusting to the lives of new parents, we instead get an episode that is almost completely devoid of the two lead roles. Instead, Episode 4 recaps the events of the entire season so far across the fence. And with that comes … well, pretty much everything we’d ever guessed. As mainstream internet theory had suggested long before WandaVision even started its run, the reality of the sitcom is the creation of Wanda herself. It hasn’t been clarified yet, but the haunting image of Dead Vision, with its nearly monochrome face and slumped forehead, certainly suggests that the idyllic family design is Wanda’s cure for her own grief. The reveal is heavily presented, filmed in a contemporary widescreen display and color grading to highlight that we briefly see beyond the facade. Without the laugh trail and carefree atmosphere, Elizabeth Olsen momentarily channels a darker side of Wanda, demonstrating a similar threat to what we saw when she clashed with Thanos.But while Wanda’s reveal provides the final big moment in Episode 4, it’s a chapter primarily dedicated to SWORD, which now turns out to be the MCU’s Sensitive Weapons Observation and Response Division. Wanda and Vision’s odd neighbor, Geraldine, better known in the real world as Monica Rambeau, is key among their staff. Last seen in Captain Marvel as the young daughter of Carol’s friend Maria, Monica is now captain at the agency. It is not the only MCU connection wire that SWORD has provided; the web shoots into the chatterbox of Thor Darcy – now complete with a doctorate – and Ant-Man’s FBI agent Jimmy Woo. All three bring their respective expertise to solve the WestView mystery. That makes for an episode that really hammers that MCU signature style; an interconnected world rather than separate projects under the red banner. Marvel energy is present throughout the episode, generating a very familiar feel that deviates considerably from the established style of WandaVision. SWORD’s response base on the outskirts of WestView is reminiscent of the SHIELD tents set up around Mjolnir in Thor, while also mentioning cosmic threats and scattering signals intertwined in a glue of radiation that especially the Marvel flavor of sci-fi . The episode even opens with Monica’s return from the blip, perfectly reminiscent of the MCU’s biggest event while also clarifying the show’s period. All of that considered, anyone looking for reassurance that WandaVision is a universe show close to their hearts will certainly find it here.

WandaVision: All Marvel and TV Easter Eggs in Every Episode

Seeing the events of the first three episodes unfold from SWORD’s perspective perfectly clears out much of what has happened so far. But the impact of the episode lies in your broader understanding of the Marvel Universe. If you weren’t aware of SWORD before then this acts like a major episode, pulling the curtain down on this mysterious logo that’s been dotted throughout the season. But for anyone familiar with SHIELD’s sister agency, Monica’s pendant, helicopter, and sewer “bee keeper” had already shown that the agency was clearly watching the sitcom. For these viewers, this episode aims to establish that SWORD is not responsible for trapping Wanda in a comedy prison, rather than introducing other wild quirks.

This new understanding of SWORD however recontextualizes everything that came before it and poses a new, more fascinating question: Is Wanda the enemy? We see the SWORD field team discovering that WandaVision’s supporting actors are all missing people rather than protests, and therefore the suggestion is that real civilians have been imprisoned and manipulated by Wanda to populate WestView. As much as we can sympathize with Wanda, such actions are difficult to tolerate, and thus the lines between good and evil are blurred. This makes the future of the series less clear, and with the series’ bigger previous questions now tied in, the stage is now set for a complex new mystery, potentially more morally grayer.All of that darkness and serious MCU business means Episode 4 is almost completely lacking in comedy. Kat Dennings brings, as always, lightness with Darcy, and Randall Park continues his sweetly funny and out of depth act with Agent Woo. But all of the elements of the sitcom are seen purely through the lens of an observational experience, completely bypassing the delicate balance of comedy and the underlying threat, as well as its retro camera work. WandaVision’s unique position as a lot of things to many people means that it will likely be seen as both the strongest and weakest episode to date by different camps. But whatever your feelings about WandaVision’s dedication to comedy, Episode 4 is a statement: WandaVision isn’t strictly a Marvel sitcom with a “ serious ” frame. It promises to change the dynamic of the series going forward and may well dilute the overall weirdness of its atmosphere in exchange for something that feels more appropriate for the MCU as a whole.

Digging deeper into the universe also means Teyonah Parris gets an auspicious time in the limelight as Monica, who seems to fit naturally into the MCU’s lineage of Agent Coulson-style characters. With Wanda’s newly revealed darkness, Monica is now in a position that could propel her to exciting new heights. Plus, her mother’s codename Photon – a name used by Monica in the comics – is a nice clue to what might be a more superheroic future for the character.


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