WandaVision episode four review: Back to reality
Wanda and Vision are sidelined as the big mysteries of the Marvel Disney+ series are finally revealed. But what's really going on in Westview?
“So you’re saying the universe created a sitcom... starring two Avengers.”
I mean, who'd want to watch something like that?
WandaVision slightly broke out of its shell last week, with both Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and her android hubby (Paul Bettany) beginning to notice how strange their new home is and audiences finally getting a glimpse of the “outside” world that the ex-Avenging pair are currently trapped in.
So the big question for episode four was always going to be where WandaVision goes next. Would it stick to the formula established in the first three episodes, moving to a new sitcom decade with a dedicated a-plot followed by some spooky weirdness at the end of the 20 minutes?
Or did the end of episode three hint that the story was about to change and open up, showing us what was going on in the real world and maybe even (hope against hope) giving us more of a clue about what on Earth was going on?
Well, as it turns out the latter was true - in a big way. Rather than dropping us back into WandaVision with another new theme tune, in this week's episode we stay in the "real" world, going back a little in time to an explicit Avengers: Endgame-referencing scene which sees Maria Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) re-forming from after Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet "snap" was reversed by our heroes in the 2019 film.
As in Spider-Man: Homecoming, we're being shown the more human side of the massive blockbuster action here – and as Monica barrels through the chaos, with random people re-forming in the corridors of a hospital, it's an exciting way for us to be shown the "ground" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - as well as showing the human cost.
You see, despite having closed her eyes just after her mother's surgery Monica (introduced as sitcom character "Geraldine" a couple of weeks ago) has missed her death years later, and finds herself thrust back into a world that has moved on without her. It's a shocking, affecting moment - and makes you wonder just how much the "blip" will continue to have ramifications in Marvel's various Disney+ series.
Anyway, from hereon out we remain firmly in the present, introduced to the MCU version of SWORD – standing for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division, in classic SHIELD style – where Monica works as an astronaut, but is grounded after her long absence. Instead, she's seconded to an odd missing's persons case in Westview, New Jersey, a town that even the local police don't believe exists.
“You can’t reach anyone on the inside, and everyone on the outside has collective amnesia," Monica remarks to a bashful Jimmy Woo (Randall Park, last seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp as the FBI Agent) - and at this point WandaVision begins filling in some of the mysteries we've been seeing across the series so far.
That coloured helicopter that flew in? Well, it was actually a SWORD drone transformed into a toy. "Geraldine?" What happened when Monica herself was sucked in, and transformed into a WestView resident. In 24 hours she's part of the missing persons case, a massive SWORD base has been set up and it's all hands on deck... at which point the series introduces another returning Marvel character (phew!)
Along with some other scientists, it's the Thor series' Darcy Lewis - aka actor Kat Dennings, often the comic relief in the earlier Chris Hemsworth movies – who helps solve the big mystery of Westview, managing to harness the strange TV signals coming out of Westview to access the "sitcom" we've been viewing over the last three episodes.
“I need a TV, like an old one… not flat," she says, and soon the entire organisation has a premium subscription to Westview+, leading to a few more attempts to get in touch - as it turns out, it was Jimmy Woo on the radio in episode two, and a transformed SWORD agent in a HAZMAT suit who was the "beekeeper" in the same story – and an investigation into the real people who are stuck playing the characters of Wanda's world.
Amusingly, Darcy (and one or two other characters) are actually fairly sucked into the sitcom – just like some audience members at home, presumably – and it's implied that there are a lot of "episodes" we haven't seen, which presumably don't have quite as much spooky weirdness (and instead involve a lot more washing up).
“Twins! What a twist," Darcy comments after the events of last week's story unfold onscreen. "What? I’m invested...”
However, she and Jimmy are also able to notice something strange. When Wanda confronts Monica/Geraldine, the episode does a quick jump cut to the end, losing Vision's odd conversation outside as well as most of her clash with the SWORD captain over her out-of-character "Ultron" comment last week. A similar edit took place "in-camera" in episode three, when Vision's doubts about WestView were rewritten, while Wanda and Dottie's odd heart-to-heart in episode two jumps in a way we didn't see on-screen, and Darcy is quick to notice the connection.
“Someone is censoring the broadcast," she realises... and as we go back through the screen to see what happened between Wanda and Monica (which occurred somewhat off-screen in episode three), it becomes clear exactly who that someone is.
"Wanda, I’m just your neighbour," the brainwashed Monica says.
"Then how could you know about Ultron?" replies Wanda. "You’re not my neighbour, and you’re definitely not my friend.
"Right now you’re trespassing here… and I want you to leave."
And with that, Wanda's powers throw Monica through several walls and out of Westview, back into the waiting arms of her friends and colleagues. Back inside the sitcom simulation, we see a little more of what happened when Wanda and Vision spoke from episode three, with Wanda noticing a flash of Vision's deceased, glassy-eyed body (which was his last state seen in Avengers: Infinity War) as her husband suggests that he might be more aware of their situation than we realised.
"We don’t have to stay here, we can go wherever we want," Vision tells Wanda.
"No, this is our home," Wanda replies... and outside the dome, Captain Rambeau begins to realise what she's been through.
"It’s Wanda… it’s all Wanda," she says, while Wanda and Vision stick on their own TV for the night. Sounds like someone needs to call in the bigger guns.
In many ways, this was a week of answers rather than development in its own right, solving a lot of the odder mysteries we've seen in WandaVision (the helicopter, the radio voice, the beekeeper) and showing exactly how the sitcom world fits into the "proper" MCU.
But within the narrative of the series, it manages to move things along too. It now seems clear that Wanda herself is at least partially responsible for what's going on in Westview, just as it's clear that Vision's resurrection isn't all that it appears, and as an episode it's a satisfying, story-moving entry (with some appealingly creepy moments) even if it's not quite as fun as some of the more stylised early episodes.
Would I have preferred to see more of the title characters in this episode? Well, maybe - but I'm sure we'll be back with them next week, and a little goes a long way in this story to sow seeds of intrigue as to what we can expect from them next time (beyond an '80s setting, presumably).
Is Wanda fully in control here, and was Westview her idea, or has someone put her in this position and she's fighting to maintain it? Is Vision just Wanda's puppet, or will he be able to push back against her actions? And what hope do Monica and SWORD have of freeing the Westview residents and stopping Wanda from doing something even more drastic?
Hopefully, next week will help us find out...
Want more WandaVision content? Check out our latest WandaVision review, our guide to the WandaVision cast, the WandaVision release schedule, Agatha Harkness and the creepy WandaVision commercials. Plus, we ask: is Wanda the villain in WandaVision? When is WandaVision set and how is Vision alive?
WandaVision releases new episodes on Disney+ on Fridays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year.
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