'WandaVision' Series Review
Marvel Studios' first Disney+ original series concluded on Friday with a much smaller ending than most fans expected.
Spoilers for the entire series ahead!
WandaVision finished its 8-week, 9-episode run on Friday with a finale that left many fans disappointed with the larger implications of the series but satisfied with Wanda's character arc. While I've been making weekly review videos on YouTube, I decided to hold off on a write-up until the entire series had finished.
The show began with three strictly sitcom-styled episodes that barely hinted at the problems simmering beneath the surface. "Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience" was a wonderful introduction to Wanda and Vision's newlywed bliss, but the couple's lack of memories and Vision's inability to help Mr. Hart until Wanda instructed him to betrayed some of the flaws in Westview. The episode ended on a twist that fans didn't predict: WandaVision is actually an in-universe sitcom being watched by S.W.O.R.D.! I loved that detail, and it made the show a lot more fun in later episodes as the audience got to guess at what was happening alongside the agents. Overall rating: 10/10
"Don't Touch That Dial" was my least favorite episode, because the stylistic jump from the 50s to the 60s wasn't as strong as pretty much every other sitcom. There were some great "glitchy" moments in this episode, especially with the radio and the beekeeper, but overall I thought the episode was a bit slow. However, the talent show and gummed-up Vision were funny and I loved seeing all the residents and life in Westview, something I was sorely missing in later episodes. Overall rating: 8/10
"Now in Color" was my second-favorite sitcom episode, due to the amazing 70's look for Wanda and the pregnancy storyline! Wanda and Vision preparing for the arrival of their baby was hilarious although the episode did rush by at a rapid pace. Wanda's mention of Pietro for the first time in the MCU since Avengers: Age of Ultron got me very excited, but even better was the slow, creepy atmosphere in the closing moments. We knew Monica would be thrown out of Westview thanks to the trailers, but seeing our first glimpse of the real world was still exciting and promised something more familiar to people that were bored of the sitcoms. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany did a fantastic job throughout all of the decades, but I think the 70s era was one of Olsen's strongest performances. Overall rating: 9/10
"We Interrupt This Program" lifted the lid on what's really happening beneath Wanda's perfect suburban life, and it finally introduced us to Monica Rambeau, who had been masquerading as Geraldine in Westview. This episode was much more like the rest of the MCU but offered tantalizing hints at new stories, giving us our first good look at the chaos of everyone who was blipped returning to life. While S.W.O.R.D. was introduced to the MCU in episode 4, it arrived with barely any backstory, and the throwaway line about Maria Rambeau founding the organization was extremely disappointing considering the episode killed her offscreen mere minutes earlier. Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo made their welcome returns to the franchise and seeing them attempting to break into Westview while watching episodes of WandaVision was tons of fun. Seeing Wanda throw Monica through the walls of her house to get her out of her perfect life was great, and the appearance of dead Vision shocked me because I didn't think Marvel would ever go to jump-scare shots like that! However, this episode barely moved the plot forward by ending in the exact same place as episode 3: Wanda ejecting Monica and the revelation that Wanda is in control, which was already heavily hinted at and assumed by most of the audience due to the end of "Now in Color". While I thought 3 was bit rushed, this was the first time I actually thought that the episode needed to be a few minutes longer. Overall rating: 7/10
"On a Very Special Episode..." consistently ranks as my favorite sitcom episode and my second-favorite of the series overall. While the 1980s isn't my favorite decade (my heart belongs to WandaVision's 1970s homage), Full House was one of the episode's influences, and I've actually seen Full House in contrast to the earlier sitcoms influencing the show. I loved the proper introduction of Billy and Tommy and the Sparky plot was cute even though it ultimately ended in tragedy. Kathryn Hahn continued to impress as Agnes after a two-episode drought, while Vision beginning to question Westview and Wanda's actions was explored perfectly. Elizabeth Olsen once again played both sides fantastically, from being a perfect sitcom mom to marching out of the Hex to warn S.W.O.R.D. away. I particularly liked the development of Monica and Wanda's relationship in this episode, as Monica argued against Hayward's aggressive portrayal of Wanda and tried to connect with her on a personal level. Hayward made questionable decisions here, but at this point he still had the opportunity to be an interesting enemy. The episode 6 leaks spoiled Evan Peters debuting as Pietro for me, but the reveal was still exactly what I had wanted from a surprise Pietro appearance. Wanda being positioned as a true villain in this episode was fascinating to see, and I very much enjoyed the disturbing implications of her actions and how she was defending them without remorse. Overall rating: 10/10
"All-New Halloween Spooktacular!" disappointed me for several reasons. Once again, the episode was too short and the amount of footage shown in trailers or ruined by the leaks meant that nothing was a big surprise. Everyone thought that Disney was hiding the Halloween episode so well in marketing, but it turns out there wasn't actually much to show. I thought Wanda and Vision deserved more time together, especially since Vision barely knows his children, while his exploration scenes (including his encounter with Agnes) weren't really anything new since he already talked to Norm in the previous episode and knew Wanda was controlling the town.While Vision leaving the Hex and fully realizing what's happening in Westview before being torn to pieces in the real world trying to get help was fantastic development for his character, I feel like his arc got cut off at the knees since he never got to discuss anything with Wanda. Wanda herself had great interactions with "Pietro", and it was amazing to see everyone dressed up in their classic costumes. Pietro's casual discussion with Wanda about the Hex and her mind control over the town was unsettling since neither of them seemed to care that she's hurting people, and Pietro's dead body appearing before Wanda came out of nowhere once again although it wasn't as frightening as Vision's. Billy and Tommy developing powers was something fans had been waiting for as well, but Billy barely got to use his magic while Tommy got to zoom around quite a bit. The expansion of the Hex was the biggest cliffhanger of the show so far and I didn't think Wanda would swallow up the S.W.O.R.D. base and so many agents in her efforts to save Vision. This episode was really too short though - the cliffhanger came with many questions that went completely unanswered between episodes 6 and 7, with a new base ready for Hayward immediately, no fallout from Wanda's actions, and no reunion for her and Vision. Hayward also veered straight into shockingly villainous territory out of absolutely nowhere, being extremely rude and demeaning to Monica, Jimmy, and Darcy before banning them from his operation. While Hayward had been suspicious in the previous episode and tried to kill Wanda, he was still sympathetic because he was trying to save Westview. The complete 180 in episode 6 reads as if the writers needed a villain and didn't want to take the time to make Hayward into a compelling antagonist. Additionally, episode 6 teased the aerospace engineer for the second time in as many episodes, which was a big problem for me. There were way too many teases: Pietro acting suspicious, Hayward having an ulterior motive, the twins beginning to develop powers, Monica's engineer, and the implications of Wanda expanding the Hex. Few of these teases were actually paid off in later episodes and none were satisfyingly resolved considering how long they were teased for. The classic Scarlet Witch costume in this episode does most of the heavy lifting for me, because I think the plot was very good. This episode afforded the opportunity to develop Hayward and make Wanda suspicious of Pietro, but it did neither. Overall rating: 6/10
"Breaking the Fourth Wall" was a return to form for the series, with an episode based primarily on Modern Family. I definitely appreciated the style of this episode as someone who's grown up on modern sitcoms, and Elizabeth Olsen did a fantastic job portraying Wanda's depressed and pessimistic state. Billy and Tommy were sidelined a bit here since they immediately went off with Agnes to give Wanda some time alone, but Billy had a couple great moments teasing his telepathic powers. Vision meeting up with Darcy and learning about himself was a lot of fun, but it would've been more interesting to see them remain at the circus for a bit longer. Monica got some incredibly big moments in this episode, finally gaining her powers in dramatic fashion after numerous teases. With all the Captain Marvel voiceovers and her reaction to Carol's name in episode 5, I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship has changed in Captain Marvel 2. I loved Monica's powers activating when Wanda tried slamming her to the ground, and that scene was a standout of the episode as Monica tried once again to appeal to Wanda through the lens of her own grief. Agnes may have interrupted that encounter but Kathryn Hahn really killed it here, especially with the deadpan but still sparkling sitcom delivery reminiscent of her time on Parks and Recreation as Jennifer Barkley. Of course, the episode ended with the twist we all saw coming: "Agnes" is really the witch Agatha Harkness! The "Agatha All Along" song is one of the best things to come out of WandaVision, and I love how Kathryn Hahn can switch Agatha from a creepy witch to a hilarious, theatrical baddie at the drop of a hat. The first mid-credits scene of the series was intriguing but ultimately an unnecessary tease. Overall rating: 9/10
"Previously On" stands out as the best episode of the series for me. After 6 long years of hearing about Wanda Maximoff's backstory, we finally got to see the flashbacks we've all been craving since 2015: Wanda and Pietro's parents dying in the Stark Industries bombing and her experimentation with the Mind Stone. The scene with Wanda's parents perfectly explained the prevalence of sitcoms in Wanda's perfect Hex life, and you could really see how much she idolized and dreamt of that life as a child. The retcon of Wanda stopping the bomb with a probability hex is an interesting idea, but it could have been explained a bit better because no reason was given for how she was born with magic abilities. This is odd considering that the MCU has always stuck to the story that the Mind Stone gave her powers, and I like the retcon that she's always had them, but witchcraft just needs to be explained a bit more clearly. The tease of Wanda's Scarlet Witch costume in the Mind Stone was awesome, although I expected something more interesting to happen to her instead of just being blasted by some yellow wind, like seeing the Infinity Stone's energy touching her body or unlocking her abilities fully. Seeing Wanda and Vision at the Avengers Compound was also something we desperately needed, as the couple went from flirting in Captain America: Civil War to being in an established relationship the next time we see them in Avengers: Infinity War. This scene helps smooth that transition over despite being set between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Civil War, and I really wish we had seen something like this in the latter film because the way Quicksilver was completely forgotten about has always bothered me. Wanda's S.W.O.R.D. base excursion to retrieve Vision's body shed more light on the depths that Hayward would stoop to, as he doctored the security footage to make it look as if she stole his body to resurrect him despite Hayward himself letting Wanda inside. This seems particularly confusing since absolutely no motivation is provided for Hayward, but that's addressed below. Finally seeing the creation of the Hex was an incredible moment and one of the best sequences in the entire MCU to me, especially because I love that everything (including Vision) was born out of solely Wanda's grief and not some villain trapping her in a bubble. Seeing that scene where she walks into the black and white living room for the very first time nearly had me crying since Wanda finally had the life with her husband that she was looking for. Going back to the opening scene, the Salem witch trials flashback was fantastically spooky and unlike anything the MCU has ever done before, including some very creepy life draining. I particularly appreciate the darker, horror tones that WandaVision turned towards at times and I hope that we continue to see that progression in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The Scarlet Witch namedrop came with many questions, and while I don't think they were answered satisfactorily in the finale, Agatha bestowing Wanda's superhero name upon her at long last was a fantastic cliffhanger to end the episode on. White Vision was another great cliffhanger and a much better mid-credits tease than the one in episode 7. Overall rating: 9.5/10
"The Series Finale" was a wonderful conclusion for Wanda and Vision, but sadly dropped the ball on many other aspects of the series. Much like Hayward, Agatha's villainy continued with little explanation. Her thin desire to steal others' magic was not well established since we don't know what happened with her coven or in the hundreds of years since, and while the legend of the Scarlet Witch in the Darkhold gave us a few more answers about why she might be afraid of Wanda, her motives are still very unclear. Returning to Salem through an Age of Ultron callback was awesome to see and the witches were even creepier this time around. I'm very glad that Agatha survived her fight with Wanda and I hope to see her back in the Doctor Strange sequel. Hayward's story was wrapped up in a very unsatisfying way since we still don't understand why he was trying to frame and kill Wanda, while supporting characters like Darcy and Fake Pietro (who was revealed to be Ralph) dropped out of the show with unfinished stories. Surprisingly, Monica also took a backseat and didn't use her powers in full, but Jimmy got a few good moments. Vision and White Vision's fight was done pretty well and their scene in the library discussing the Ship of Theseus was a highlight of the episode. However, White Vision had a rapid character turnaround and also departed WandaVision suddenly with no explanation. Billy and Tommy got to use their powers for real this episode, but only using them for five seconds was pretty disappointing since Billy's magic abilities weren't even acknowledged by other characters (besides Tommy) in earlier episodes. Wanda and Vision themselves were the standouts here, with Wanda's transformation into the Scarlet Witch ending her storyline on a perfect note. Her interaction with the townspeople and attempt to take down the Hex was a return to the disturbing implications teased in episodes 5 and 6, although Wanda's horrible actions were immediately ignored in order to end the series. Wanda's new costume was definitely a highlight of the entire series (I love her new headpiece) and her fight with Agatha was tons of fun since she got to unleash so much power. Wanda's acceptance of her grief and her goodbye with the twins and Vision was absolutely heartbreaking, and definitely one of the best scenes in the MCU. Wanda and Vision's romance was rushed in the films (like all other Marvel romances) but on this series, it got a chance to breathe and develop more naturally into something special. The end-credits scenes here were fantastic, from the Skrull tease that presumably points to Monica meeting up with Nick Fury in space to Wanda studying the Darkhold in a remote, mountainous location. I'm guessing that scene will tie directly into Multiverse of Madness as she hears her children calling out for her, but I'm worried that the corrupting nature of the Darkhold points to a dark path for the Scarlet Witch. Overall rating: 7/10
I'm not normally one to complain about trailers ruining things, but in WandaVision's case I think way too much footage was shown. Almost all of the big, messed-up sitcom moments were shown in various pieces of marketing, like Monica's ejection, Wanda having taken over a town, the radio, beekeeper, helicopter, residents crying, Wanda's house glitching, and more. Additionally, later TV spots and trailers even showed Monica attempting to break into the Hex, Vision leaving but falling to his knees, and Wanda developing her Chaos Magic. I wouldn't have had a problem with these shots being shown in trailers if they weren't played as big moments in the show, but episodes 3 and 4 ending on the cliffhanger of Monica being removed from the Westview bubble by Wanda offered nothing new since that moment was revealed in the very first trailer for the series.
WandaVision did so many things very well. Wanda Maximoff finally became a fully fleshed-out character and her relationship with Vision was explored and deepened after being completely skipped over in the MCU films. I loved the exploration of her grief, I loved theorizing week-to-week and guessing if she was headed down a villainous path, and I really enjoyed the darker and more disturbing aspects of the series. Monica Rambeau also got a shocking amount of character development and an awesome origin story tied to my favorite hero. Darcy and Jimmy returning was a welcome surprise and was handled very well for most of the show's run, while the introduction of S.W.O.R.D. opens up so many new possibilities. Agatha Harkness bringing witchcraft into the MCU offers another dimension of magic to explore through Wanda, and the introduction of White Vision ensures that Paul Bettany will remain the longest-running MCU actor. I love the unique way Marvel Studios and Jac Schaeffer approached this project, with its sitcom styling and Easter eggs that were so fun to hunt for (those commercials are a work of art). I never would have guessed that a Disney+ series about the Scarlet Witch and her robot husband would set up Captain Marvel 2 and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness all while exploring Wanda's grief and giving her the iconic parts of her character after six long years, but I'm mostly happy with the end result for Wanda and Vision's characters.
However, I'm left with quite a few disappointments as well. While fan theories got way out of hand (I'm sorry, but I don't understand anyone who wanted Fox's Magneto and Quicksilver to appear for no reason at all), they're not the reason WandaVision ended on a slightly underwhelming note. So many character arcs and plot lines in the finale were dropped out of nowhere or quickly resolved with unsatisfying explanations. Darcy appeared for only a few seconds in episode 9 despite being one of the most important supporting characters in episodes 4-7. She was the one who discovered the WandaVision broadcast, discovered Hayward's plan, and taught Vision about his life in the real world, not to mention all the other things she did to try to get through to Wanda and set up Monica's third journey into the Hex, which led to her superhero origin. It makes no sense that she appeared in the finale for only a single quick shot and one line. Jimmy decreased in importance towards the end, but he got a satisfying wrap-up by getting to be the hero that called in the FBI and organizing the fallout in the mid-credits scene. Meanwhile, Monica, who has been a central character throughout the show and whose grief has often been compared to Wanda's, merely stands around for the entire finale wrapping up other people's loose threads. She discovers the truth about Ralph and then takes bullets for the twins in a fantastic moment that teases her powers once more, but again there's no payoff as she never confronts Hayward or uses her powers deliberately. Her most interesting moment comes in the mid-credits scene where she meets a Skrull, presumably setting up her role in Captain Marvel 2 (but hopefully we see her before that in Secret Invasion).
Ralph suffers from the same fate as Darcy, as the show spent 4 episodes teasing his true identity before revealing him to be a nobody with a throwaway joke. If Fake Pietro was Ralph all along, that reveal should have happened in episode 7 or 8 instead of taking up valuable time in the finale considering we never see the character again. If there was going to be a mid-credits scene with him and Monica in episode 7 anyway, it should've been longer and revealed his identity there and then. I'm happy that Evan Peters wasn't X-Men Quicksilver, but dragging out the theories and fan expectation for four weeks was unnecessary. White Vision gets a rapid character arc, going from a mindless murder robot to a more human character with his memories in the span of 20 minutes. Once again, his arc is cut off at the knees as he immediately flies straight out of WandaVision after regaining his memories with no explanation, and Vision never tells Wanda that he has restored his true form's memories of their life together. That makes no sense whatsoever, as with his memories back he should be the same Vision that Wanda loved and lost in Avengers: Infinity War, and if he's not, then that should have been addressed.
Finally, many teases amounted to absolutely nothing. The aerospace engineer, which was hyped up by Teyonah Parris, was nowhere to be seen (unless we expect them to be the Major Goodner character who appeared for two scenes in episode 7). While references and Easter eggs don't have to amount to anything special, the fact that the show repeatedly teased certain elements only to have them go nowhere is extremely frustrating. This includes the missing person that Jimmy went to Westview to find and the question of why everything in the Hex involves hexagons (the Hex itself, Wanda's bedspread, the missing 6s from clocks, the shape of the sitcom cutouts in several episodes, the way Vision flaked away in little hexagons). Both of these things were deliberately teased in episode 4 and yet no answers were given, which seems very odd considering that Jimmy's missing person was an interesting plot thread that pulled S.W.O.R.D. into this story.
Agatha Harkness and Tyler Hayward had little to no character development at all, with Hayward vilifying Wanda to an extreme for no reason, going so far as to attempt to kill her and cover up the entire story of what happened in Westview by using an android he illegally brought back to life. Agatha's backstory with her coven is never explained, either - all we know is that she "practices the darkest of magic" which means nothing when witchcraft isn't explained at all and Wanda is the only person who can use "Chaos Magic". Furthermore, her entire motivation seems to be desiring power, as she states "I take power from the undeserving". This is also never explored, with Agatha just trying to take Wanda's power and telling her that the Scarlet Witch will destroy the world. Is she trying to "save the world" by killing Wanda and taking her power, thereby ensuring that the Scarlet Witch will never become a reality? Is she trying to take the power for herself because she wants power for power's sake? What even is the legend of the Scarlet Witch? What made her coven "underserving" of their magic? How does witchcraft differ from Doctor Strange's sorcery, how was Wanda naturally born as a witch, and why are there three different colors of witch magic (blue, purple, and red)? None of these answers are given, so Agatha's motivation, 300-year history, and reason for killing a dog while wasting her time living through 6 sitcoms all remain unknown. If you're interested in further examination of her character's flaws, I'm writing a separate essay comparing her to Hela and will update this post when it's released.
While Wanda's grief and fight to keep Westview under her control were handled pretty well, the introduction of Agatha stole the limelight from Wanda's horrible actions. While the finale acknowledged that what Wanda did was so horrific that the people of Westview were begging her to kill them instead of having to stay under her control, the series ended with her saying "I'm sorry" and flying out of town. Yes, Wanda had to sacrifice her family and lose everything all over again in order to save Westview. However, she never would have had to give anything up if she hadn't taken control of the town and started torturing its citizens in the first place. As the series ends, Monica tells Wanda that "they'll never know what you sacrificed for them". This statement is entirely false, as the people of Westview could feel her pain and grief every second of their lives in the Hex, and they can see that she's given up her family when the Hex comes down. This line also suggests that because Wanda sacrificed her loved ones, it somehow excuses her actions. No matter why it happened, the fact remains that Wanda Maximoff tortured thousands of people for almost two weeks and faced no consequences for her actions. I'm not saying she needs to be arrested, but the fact that she didn't have a single conversation with anyone besides Monica is ridiculous. Even the conversation with Monica should have been longer, because what does this mean for Wanda? She was already wanted for breaking the Sokovia Accords, so is she twice as wanted now? Do the authorities not care about what happened in Westview? How are the townspeople simply expected to return to their lives like nothing happened while this "Harbinger of Chaos" has been unleashed on the world? WandaVision never should have positioned Wanda as a villain and closely examined all of her disturbing, inexcusable actions if it was going to end with none of it mattering just because Vision died for the fourth time.
In the end, WandaVision's biggest problem is its runtime. Most episodes hovered around 30-40 minutes with 7.5 minutes of credits per episode (except the finale, which had about 10). This was already shorter than the "6 hours" of content repeatedly promised by the cast and crew, as the show was roughly 5 hours and 40 minutes with credits and close to 4.5 hours without. 20 minutes does matter, as that time could have been spent developing the villains or wrapping up storylines instead of letting them be cut off. Most of my issues with the show would be easily fixed or far less of a problem if just 5 minutes each were added to episodes 4, 6, and 8 to fill in S.W.O.R.D. and Hayward's backstory, establish Pietro's suspiciousness, show us what Agatha did in Salem, and give us a glimpse or mention of what she's been doing for the past 300 years. If the finale was 10-20 minutes longer, White Vision, Darcy, and Ralph's stories could be ended on satisfying notes rather than confusing and frustrating ones. WandaVision should not have been hyped up as much as it was, since all of the teasing in the show itself and out of it fueled the fan theories and expectations that have left many people disappointed. It's not unreasonable to expect an answer about who an aerospace engineer is after they've been teased in multiple episodes over two weeks and the actress has hyped it up in interviews.
I think WandaVision was a fantastic show for Wanda Maximoff and the Vision, but the series dropped the ball hard in the finale for almost every other character and storyline. Much like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, interesting character developments are undermined by rushed endings or exploration of concepts vanishing without a trace. However, despite the series' flaws, Wanda is not an evil person and did emerge as a fully fleshed-out character who's finally had a chance to process a life full of loss. Vision became a much better character as well after being sidelined in Civil War and Infinity War, while the introduction of Agatha and the twins promises exciting new developments for the MCU.
While I hope that Wanda is being set up as a sympathetic antagonist for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it's difficult to see where the character is headed since WandaVision couldn't commit to making her a hero, a villain, or even an antihero. Instead, we're left with a character who's done horrible things to too many people and yet again faces no consequences for her actions. Fans want to excuse Wanda's actions because she didn't intend to harm anyone with the creation of the Hex, but the fact remains that Wanda has consistently hurt people both deliberately and by accident since Avengers: Age of Ultron. Instead of being held accountable, Wanda's actions are always ignored because she loses something or someone close to her (Pietro, the Avengers, Vision, her children). While that's understandable in films where she's a smaller supporting character, her guilt should have been explored as much as her grief at the end of her own series.
In WandaVision, the Scarlet Witch is established as a mythical being of uncontrollable power, destined to destroy the world, more powerful than the Sorcerer Supreme himself. I can't help but wonder if the finale would have been better if Wanda's transformation was dark and chilling instead of being a triumphant "root for the hero" moment. The question of Wanda being the villain was brought up consistently throughout the series, all the way into the finale where Agatha tells her that "heroes don't torture people" - so why are we asked to root for Wanda as she becomes the Harbinger of Chaos, as foretold in the Book of the Damned? Jac Schaeffer has stated that "there will probably be reckonings" down the line for Wanda Maximoff. But in a franchise that has repeatedly declined to examine the effects of Wanda's actions, even in a television series that revolves around her, can we really expect anyone to stand in the way of the Scarlet Witch doing whatever she wants?
Overall series rating: 8.5/10
Thanks for reading!