This week we finally get a look at what has been happening outside of the sitcom reality that Wanda and Vision have been living in, and it’s just as interesting as what has been happening inside.
Seriously. Spoilers galore are coming. You’ve been warned.
The episode begins with Monico Rambeau waking up after re-forming. Here’s her backstory, she was snapped away by Thanos. The other time we saw this was in Spider-Man: Far From Home where it was played for laughs, but this is much more what you might expect: chaotic and confusing. She doesn’t realize that she’s been away for 5 years, and when she left, she was with her mother in a surgery recovery room after a successful procedure to remove some kind of cancer. Now she’s back, and she missed her mother’s death by three years. That’s heartbreaking, right there.
Cue the Marvel Studios title card.
Next, we see her arriving at S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters, and meeting with Director Tyler Hayward. A brief conversation about how things haven’t been the same since the blip, and how S.W.O.R.D. is now focussed on robotics and nanotech rather than human-crewed space missions. Also, Monica is grounded, a policy set in place by her mother. Because of this, she is sent on a mission to New Jersey to bring a drone to an FBI Agent investigating some weirdness.
She arrives in Westview –the town the previous episodes have been set in– and meets Randall Park’s James Woo, last seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp, who introduces himself by making his business card appear out of thin air just like Scott Lang taught him to. He’s in Jersey looking for a witness he placed in Westview who not only has gone missing but seemingly erased from the memory of everyone who knew him. When they question two local police officers, they’ve denied that Westview even exists despite standing right beside the Welcome to Westview sign. They also can’t reach anyone inside the town, and when asked why he hasn’t gone in, Woo replies “because it doesn’t want me to” and that Rambeau must feel that too.
She sends in a drone which immediately disappears. Rambeau approaches the place it disappeared and finds an energy field. She touches it and is sucked in.
A day later and S.W.O.R.D. has a base set up outside the energy field. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings, last seen in Thor: The Dark World), now a Doctor of Astrophysics shows up with a cohort of scientists and finds a colossal amount of cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR, the radiation left over from the big bang) and finds a broadcast frequency embedded in it.
Next, we see a S.W.O.R.D. agent called Franklin being sent into the sewers ina hazmat suit by Director Hayward, to try to gain some intel. Hayward argues with Woo about the mission before Dr Darcy interrupts them with the sound of a laugh track from an old TV show, the broadcast she found in the CMBR and their working theory is now that the universe has created a TV series starring two Avengers.
They start watching the series and identifying the people in it. Each of them turns out to be a Westview resident who seems to be under the control of whoever is controlling things. After a while they find Rambeau, and Darcy develops a theory that they can transmit audio to a radio in the “show”. They attempt this, and this is the other side of the scene from the second episode where Wanda has a confrontation with Dottie, but the scenes of Dottie being cut and confessing being afraid of Wanda are edited out.
They are also showed an image of their drone, now turned into the radio-controlled helicopter (once again in the second episode). When wondering why it’s colourized the agent who brought them the photo lets them know that they didn’t do anything to it.
Meanwhile, the agent crawling through the sewers reaches the energy field, and as he crawls through it, his suit is transformed into a beekeepers outfit (and the tether attached to his back turns into a jump rope and disconnects from him). As he emerges from a maintenance hole the world, he seems fades from colour to black and white, and then he is confronted by Wanda and Vision. This is the end of episode two, where Wanda says “no” and time rewinds, but once again that is “edited” out of the broadcast that the agents on the outside see.
Darcy and Woo keep watching the show and start to get invested in the storyline. They watch the birth scene from episode 3, but when Monica mentions Ultron they see the beginnings of the confrontation between her and Wanda, but it is once again edited, so they don’t see what happened. Darcy and Woo start to realize that the “broadcast” is being censored. As an alarm goes off that the energy field is being breached, we go back inside the show and see the full scene where Wanda expels Rambeau from the town. With a blast of her red magic.
Having thrown Rambeau through a series of walls, she quickly magics them back into place and Vision walks in asking what has happened. When Wanda turns around, she sees Vision in his discoloured, deceased form, complete with a big hole in his head where Thanos ripped out the mind stone. “We can go anywhere we want,” says Vision. “No, we can’t,” says Wanda, and for Vision not to worry because she has it all under control. As they sit down to watch TV for the night the aspect ratio and colour switches back from the modern, 4k look we’ve had all episode to the 1970s style signalling that Wanda is returning to this fantasy.
Outside the at the base a disoriented Rambeau says just one thing: “Wanda. It’s all Wanda.”
So first things first, the connections between this episode and the other entries in the CMU are exactly the kind of connections I like. Jimmy Woo using the close up magic that Scott Lang would have taught him (or told him where to learn, anyway), Monica Rambeau’s connections to her mother and Captain Marvel are all nice nods and exactly the right level of present but not in your face that makes me love the MCU. This whole thing is about character continuity, after all.
I like that we get the other side of the story for all of the first three episodes, too. With this being the start of the second act of the series I feel that this episode did a good job of letting us know what has been happening, and setting up the mechanisms by which things will be explained, and not actually explaining anything just yet.
The big revelation from Rambeau at the end that this is all a construct by Wanda is an interesting one from me for a couple of reasons. First, that’s really what I hope is going on. There is some teasing that there is a secret primary villain here (more on that in a moment) and I honestly think it would be more interesting if Wanda has just gone a little nuts with grief and created this world as a means of escaping it. It would also lend credence to another theory that I like: we know Wanda is a primary character in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but what if she’s the villain? That whatever is happening here ends up breaking the barriers between realities and setting up the big bad for this new phase of Marvel storytelling?
There are two mystery characters still though: Agnes and Dottie. They’re the only two people with speaking parts in the fantasy who weren’t identified by the S.W.O.R.D. agents. Odds are that one of them is Jimmy Woo’s missing witness, but who is the other? This story is loosely based on a comics run in which Mephisto, the literal devil of the Marvel universe coerces Wanda into creating her children with Vision, so that’s one possibility. Would they go with “the devil” as a bad guy? Well, no, maybe not, but cosmic being that humans revere as a god? Someone like that is an Avenger! So is that who Dottie (Emma Caulfield Ford) is playing? Or is she the missing witness? or both?
The other big theory is that Kathryn Hahn is playing gather Harkness, Wanda’s mentor figure in the comics. There is a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence to suggest that’s the case (from wardrobe to lines of dialogue) but would she be the villain, or just caught up in Wanda’s out of control manipulation of reality?
Also, that image of Vision being an animated corpse with dead eyes, no colour, and a gaping hole in his head was actually creepy as hell. When this episode leans into its horror elements (and it has plenty), it does so really well. That last moment where Wanda reassures Vision that she has everything under control makes me think that she is indeed behind all of what’s going on and that maybe it is something that she’s lost control of.
As I said, this episode doesn’t really answer too many questions about what is going on, but it does at least start to let us see more of the picture. I can’t wait to see how the fantasy world and the real world interact, and what that might mean for Vision, the babies, and everyone else in the fantasy.
- I love the detail that as Monica re-forms we hear dialogue from Captain Marvel, from when she was a kid, especially the bits about her being the toughest kid and ending on her nickname, Lt. Trouble.
- “There have always been threats in space, and allies”. nice callback to Monica having met Captain Marvel and Skrulls when she was a kid.
- The first drone that Rambeau sends in has the same colour scheme as Captain Marvel’s costume. Nice.
- The revelation that the Harts are normal people who are being mind-controlled makes the “stop it” sequence from the first episode even more upsetting.
- “Why did it change?” “I dunno, to match the production design?” bit made me laugh out loud.
- I realized this episode that super-speed is not among Visions powers in the previous films. Is perhaps Wanda mad with grief over both Vision and her brother Pietro, but imbuing all that into one being in her fantasy?