Recap & Review: ‘WandaVision’ Episode 8 dives into Wanda’s personal history

This week is the penultimate episode of WandaVision, and at a solid 10 minutes longer than the previous episodes, there is a whole lot of plot to get through and a whole lot of loose threads left for the finale to tie up. Let’s get right to it!

WandaVision

Seriously. Spoilers galore are coming. You’ve been warned.

The story starts with a flashback to 1693, with Agatha Harkness being dragged toward a pyre. It appears at first to be a witch trial, and it is of a sort: she is on trial by her coven, who they say she has betrayed. After a brief exchange in which they accuse her of practising dark magic, Agatha relents and says she didn’t break the rules, that rather they bent to her power. The witches begin a ritual to either destroy or depower Agatha, but he ends up sucking them dry of all their power instead.

The story shifts to immediately after the last episode, with Wanda in Agnes trapped in Agatha’s basement. Wanda can’t defend herself because not only does Agatha have the children, she also has magical protection spells in place that prevent anyone other than herself can use magic.

Agatha, it seems, doesn’t know how Wanda has pulled off such complicated magic and seeks to find out what is going on and who Wanda is. She reveals that fake-Pietro was her doing, possessing another person in an event to get Wanda to reveal her “true self” because the level of power Wanda displays is clearly something she covets.

Because Wanda would rather “fall apart than face her truth”, Agatha plucks a strand of Wanda’s hair and casts a spell that takes us on a tour of Wanda’s past.

The first memory we visit is the night that Wanda and Pietro tell about in Age of Ultron: the night that their parents are killed when a bomb hits their home, and then the children are stuck under the kitchen table for two days with a Stark Industries bomb just waiting to go off. It’s revealed that her father sold DVDs and tapes of classic shows, inspiring the various scenarios we’ve seen so far in Westview.

Once they reach the moment of the bomb, Agatha interrupts and while Wanda claims it was just lucky that the bomb was defective, Agatha posits that Wanda affected the situation, altering the probabilities in the room.

Next up, we head to Wanda’s time with hydra and the Mind Stone experiment that empowered her. We see her, with dark hair, approach Loki’s sceptre, and after a warning from one of the Hydra technicians that no one has survived the experiments so far, the stone breaks free from the sceptre and approaches Wanda. She touches it, and a burst of bright yellow energy envelops her, in which she sees a silhouette of a person with a familiar-looking headdress. In the playback of the experiment the Hydra techs review, it appears that nothing happened at all.

Agatha theorizes that the Mind Stone didn’t give her powers but instead woke up and augmented what was already dormant within Wanda.

Next, Wanda is taken to the Avengers compound, on an evening she spent watching Malcolm in the Middle with Vision, where they speak of grief. Pietro has just died, and Vision asks if Wanda would like to talk about it. She explains that the grief comes in waves, and she feels like it will eventually drown her. Vision offers that she won’t drown because it can’t all be sorrow. He’s never experienced loss; he’s never had a loved one to lose, but he suggests that grief is simply love persevering.

Agatha asks what happened the next time when Vision wasn’t around to pull her back from the darkness. Wanda realizes that she wanted him back, and we head to a memory of her visit to S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters. She visits Hayward, who shows him that they have been disassembling Vision for the past five years, trying to learn his secrets or at least reclaim the vibranium from his body.

She approaches Vision’s dismembered body and touches his face, confessing that she can’t feel him in a nice call back to their time together in Infinity War. She tearfully leaves and heads to Westview, where it’s revealed that Vision had bought a plot of land. On the deed reads a note from him to Wanda, “to grow old in”, circled with a heart. Overcome with grief, she breaks down and releases an immense burst of energy that builds the house around her, forms the hex and transforms the town in the 1950s version of Westview, and creates Vision, complete in 1950s Dick Van Dyke clothes. He greets her warmly, and they sit down to watch television.

Agatha again chimes in and claps, the lone member of the live studio audience, to the reality that Wanda created. She magics herself outside, where she has the children in magical nooses. Agatha reveals that Wanda is using chaos magic and that that makes Wanda the Scarlet Witch.

In a post-credits scene, Hayward is told that his strike team is ready. He walks into the tent, and it is revealed that S.W.O.R.D. has rebuilt Vision. They use energy from the drone Wanda dragged out of the hex earlier in the series to bring him back online, now completely white in colour.


Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness / WandaVision

This might be the most straightforward episode of the series so far, being the first to abandon the sitcom format completely. Honestly, I think the episode is better for it, too. Last week’s episode was probably my least favourite so far –so little happened other than Agatha’s reveal– and the Modern Family riff didn’t really work for me. This episode is also the most Marvel-feeling, in the way that many people love: it’s all about the character.

We get ou first look at Agatha’s past, starting 330 years ago. I like the detail that she betrayed her coven, but during the ritual, they tried to perform on her, Agatha claims she “can’t control it” and begs for help, but they don’t listen. She also pleads with the head of the coven –her mother no less– that she can be good, but she is denied. It’s easy to assume that Agatha is the show’s antagonist, but this scene plants a seed of doubt in my mind. Perhaps instead, she tapped into something that she couldn’t control and has been looking for redemption this whole time. It’s also the most obvious choice to make her the antagonist, which also casts doubt in my mind.

In the first flashback, the bomb the kids are stuck watching has a blinking red light the same as the radio in the commercial break in episode one. Each commercial was already linked to Wanda’s psyche and story, but this makes that ultimately more clear. There’s a whole essay to be written about the link between the commercials and Wanda’s life, but let’s save that for another time.

Wanda’s visit to S.W.O.R.D. is vastly different from the story that Hayward told a few episodes ago, and the post-credits scene reveals why: he has re-made Vision, who is now sporting the white look from the 80s and 90s comics. This look came from Vision’s memory being wiped in the comics, so there’s every chance that while this is her Vision’s body, it’s not her Vision. Not sure what this will mean moving forward for the Vision she created in Westview, but if he can’t leave the Hex, then what can happen, really? In the comics, this spelt the end for their relationship, but I wonder if the now with the inevitable Vision vs Vision battle that is coming and the fact that Wanda is a “being of pure creation”, the two Visions might end up merged, and Wanda gets some kind of happily ever after. More on that in a moment.

More importantly, Hayward has been lying or at least obscuring the truth this entire time. It’s easy to think that Agatha is the bad guy of the series, but with the above doubts and Haywards lying and “shoot first, ask questions later” approach, I wonder if he will turn out to be the big bad. Maybe he’s Ultron in disguise, or maybe he’s a jaded bureaucrat, but either way he’s certainly not a good guy.

The sequence in which Wanda is empowered features a silhouette of a person within the light from the Mind Stone, and that person clearly looks like Wanda in her comics accurate costume and headpiece. During the scene in 1693, when the coven attempts to drain Agatha’s power, her mother’s magic forms a similar shape around her head, indicating that she may have been a so-called Scarlet Witch, too. It seems that rather than a codename, Scarlet Witch is a title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe given to the rare witches that can create from nothing. This opens up all kinds of possibilities, and could also lend credence to the idea that Wanda is a nexus being: one who is the same across all realities.

Now, it would be easy for the show to have the two Visions face off and end up destroying one another for the greater good, but that would leave Wanda in a place to once again be overcome with grief and lash out. This would be a great setup for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness if they are going to roll with Wanda as the villain of that story, but I’m now hoping that she gets the happily ever after that she deserves and that she joins Doctor Strange’s adventure because she’s a nexus being, not because she’s regressed back to the place she was at the start of this story.

There is only one episode of WandaVision left, and like this episode is likely going to be a longer one. This was a good one, which is reassuring after last week’s slightly lacklustre effort, but there are still a lot of loose threads to be tied up in the finale. What are your predictions for the last episode? What do you hope to see?

Other Thoughts:

  • I know they are going for over the top with Agatha, but I’m not really feeling it. The reveal at the end of last weeks episode was a little too much (despite the great theme song), and her look at the end of this episode –and I say this as someone who really likes the cartoony nature of these things– was a little too cartoony; I feel like I could see the seams.
  • Fake Pietro turns out to be stunt casting, which is maybe the smartest thing Marvel has ever done to get people talking about one of their projects. I know we were all a tizzy about mutants in the MCU, but I have to say that I like this answer better.
  • Wanda seeing Vision’s disassembled body at S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters is an image directly out of the comics, and I love it when they create those moments so perfectly.
  • No appearance by Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, or Darcy Hughes this week. I’m sure that we’ll get a hefty dose of them in the finale, and hopefully at least one scene of a powered-up Rambeau joining into the inevitable superhero fight.

WandaVision Coverage:

  1. Review of episodes 1-3: ‘WandaVision’ is delightfully weird and intriguing
  2. Recap: Episode One: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience”
  3. Recap: Episode Two: “Don’t Touch That Dial”
  4. Recap: Episode Three: “Now in Color”
  5. Recap: Episode Four: “We Interrupt This Program”
  6. Recap: Episode Five: “On A Very Special Episode…”
  7. Recap: Episode Six: “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”
  8. Recap: Episode Seven: “Breaking the Fourth Wall”
  9. Recap: Episode Eight: “Previously On”
  10. Recap: Episode Nine: “The Series Finale”

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