Wandavision Episode 8 (Disney+)
Written by Laura Donney
Directed by Matt Shakman
By the end of this episode, I concluded that this might have been the best thing ever made in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ll admit, Wandavision has been a little hit & miss for me. The plot has seemed fairly clear-cut despite my desire for more twists and turns. It looks like the story will end up being much more straightforward than fans would have guessed. Even the Pietro reveal gets undercut by Agatha this episode, squashing some fan theories that sprung up with his appearance. What worked so well about this episode is the depth of character & emotion it gave to Wanda Maximoff. In the films, she’s been continually sidelined as a supporting player, but finally, she has received the spotlight she deserves.
Agatha Harkness is revealed to be from as far back as the Salem Witch Trial days. She wants to figure out how Wanda managed to conjure such an elaborate illusion and delves into the woman’s past to suss out what led to this moment. We go back to Wanda’s childhood in Sevokia, seeing her personal connection to American sitcoms and how that is linked in her mind as a balm to trauma. During her time with Hydra and encounter with the Mind Gem, there’s a brief vignette that hints at her future. We see the beginnings of her relationship with Vision occurring days after the death of Pietro. And then there is her desperate last grasp to get back the body of Vision held by SWORD. It culminates with her discovery that Vision had purchased a plot of land for them to build a home together in Westview. The pain of it all finally made Wanda snapped and unleashed something inside her. Agatha identifies her as a Scarlet Witch, a purveyor of chaos magic.
Elizabeth Olsen is a godsend to the MCU, and they are certainly showing their appreciation here. Ever since Martha Marcy May Marlene, I have thought Olsen was such a fantastic acting talent. It’s a shame she hadn’t really gotten an excellent high-profile spotlight since. I have my issues with the MCU, especially how heavy-handed it can be with themes. But I have to say, Olsen gives a fantastic performance as Wanda in this one. She really gets across the sense of compounding trauma that leads to her breaking point.
Paul Bettany does a beautiful job in his single scene in this episode, consoling Wanda in the wake of Pietro’s death. I know I was more affected because we had to put our dog to sleep two days ago, so his words really touched on some real pain I’m still feeling. Wanda talks about how smothering the waves of hurt feels as she mourns her brother. Vision responds, “What is grief if not love persevering.” That was the line that got to me because it perfectly sums up this emotion I am experiencing. My grief is because I loved my dog so much, and that love is scared of going out because he is gone. But I know it won’t because I still feel this. To feel nothing would be truly sad; that would be tragic.
It’s become clear that SWORD’s director Hayward baited Wanda into coming to the facility and seeing Vision broken into pieces. That is another gorgeously played scene, made all the more painful when Wanda speaks out that she can’t feel Vision anymore. That one hit home pretty hard because I certainly find myself looking at specific spaces in our house this weekend, expecting to see our dog Clyde but not finding him there. After someone’s presence is in your life for so long, it’s hard to know how to exist without them there. You find parts of your life are large gaps where that life used to be. It can be frightening to experience that emptiness.
There was a mid-credits scene in this episode that I suspect many people may have missed. It sets up the conflict for the next episode, which appears to have Wanda, Agatha, and Vision in battle trying to untangle this mess. I am still holding out that Wanda’s story will be connected to the mutants’ rise in this universe. We still have that big cameo in the series finale, and I hope it is our first official X-Men appearance. All of this makes me look forward to following Wanda through the MCU in the next phases, where I hope she gets her due. Wandavision is proof that she is a character who should be at the forefront of these stories.