The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the box office for the entirety of the last decade, breaking record after record with their releases. The success of these films meant that all eyes were on their new release WandaVision. Since this was Marvel’s first show on Disney+, it quickly gained a massive audience. As the weeks went by, fans were analyzing every detail to see what exactly was going on. Now that we have the full picture, let’s take a look at what we got.
When the show premiered, many viewers said on social media that they were left confused by the strange vintage sitcom format. Fans felt like they were looking for answers, and at the same time, the show wasn’t asking any questions. It was simply an old-fashioned sitcom. Wanda Maximoff and her synthezoid husband, Vision, were living an idyllic TV life in Westview, New Jersey. If you were to ask someone what the plot of those first few episodes were after showing it to them, they’d probably just give you a confused look and say, “I don’t know”. How did Vision come back to life? What was the significance of Westview? Why were they in a sitcom? We could only watch the following episodes and hope everything would start making sense.
As the show went on, it started to turn into a more conventional Marvel cinematic universe entry. We find out that Wanda has trapped an entire town in a ‘hex’, creating a perfect life for her and her husband. However, there were still many questions left unanswered. For one thing, Vision was supposed to be dead, yet he was walking around in Wanda’s sitcom paradise in every episode. The audience found themselves represented in the characters Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, and Darcy Lewis, who were also trying to figure out just what exactly was going on in Westview. Shortly after, we find out that Wanda is being manipulated by a witch named Agatha Harkness, who has one extremely catchy theme song. I felt that the show did a good job of pacing these constant revelations, giving the audience ten new questions with each new answer. It hooked me into its story, leaving me desperate to figure out just what was going on.
The constant reveals and plot twists encouraged fans to make their own theories as to what was going on and going to happen. With each week’s new episode, these theories cemented themselves more and more in people’s heads. Instead of rooting for a good ending, viewers were specifically rooting for their ending to happen. As WandaVision neared its end, cast and crew members were publicly telling people to lower their expectations and just judge the finale on what it was. So, did WandaVision’s finale satisfy expectations?
When I first watched the finale, I probably would have said no. The internet had convinced me that there was some big twist that would be revealed in the final episode, and while I knew that this didn’t matter in terms of the show’s quality, I just kind of felt strange solely getting what I expected. However, as I have now had time to sit with it, I have changed my mind. There was no need for a plot twist, because the conflict in the show was extraordinarily simple. While Agatha All Along may have been in everyone’s heads a few weeks ago, it wasn’t Agatha that was the villain. It was Wanda.
As shown through one flashback episode (cleverly titled, “Previously On”), we see Wanda’s tragic backstory. As a child she loses her parents, as an adult she loses her brother, and then a few years later, she loses her husband. It’s enough to make anyone break. However, this grief causes her to lash out and hurt the people around her. The residents of Westview, who were trapped in her hex, tell her that they are in constant pain because of her. When she finds this out she lets them go, but the damage has been done. Superhero stories tend to simplify conflicts into good and bad/heroes and villains, it’s in their nature. WandaVision explores the greys in between. What happens when a good person does a genuinely bad thing? Can they be forgiven? Is it justified? There aren’t any clear answers in the show’s finale, but that’s for the best. There are no clear answers in this kind of situation.
Throughout the entire season, every single actor was on their A-game. Most of the main characters had to both accurately portray the era of sitcoms that an episode was based around and do some genuine dramatic acting. The lines that they were given were also extremely poignant. Some have accused the line “But what is grief if not love persevering”, as being overly sentimental. However, I thought it worked well in the context of the moment, and was exactly what the scene needed. On the other hand, I felt that the action in the last episode was kind of boring to look at, and the magic spells should have been more visually interesting rather than just blobs of color being thrown between the two witches. Also, there were certainly a few problems I had with the show plot-wise (I think they should’ve explored Jimmy Woo’s missing person and why Agatha killed Sparky), but those are just minor gripes.
Everybody has lost so much this past year. Seeing a show about someone’s grief consuming them hit a lot closer than it might’ve under different circumstances. The main character decides to ignore all her problems by obsessing over TV. In a way, isn’t that what most WandaVision viewers were doing? It’s the perfect show for the current moment, and I’m glad that we got it.