No one pulls a twist quite like Marvel. After only three episodes teasing the mysteries of WandaVision – building up a world with the potential to run for full seasons without ever fully explaining itself – the show decides to spill all its big secrets at once in a flashback episode that fills in more gaps than it probably should. It’s a shame to see WandaVision blink so early, but episode four is a real treat for fans who have been desperate to know exactly what’s going on.
We pick things up a few years ago right after The Blip – when half the world’s population starts reappearing after The Snap gets reversed (see Avengers: Endgame). First to wake-up/reassemble is Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) – who we last saw drop-kicked out of Wanda’s reality at the end of last week’s episode. With no memory of the past few years, she heads back to her old job as the head of S.W.O.R.D.
The intergalactic agency (the space wing of S.H.I.E.L.D.) has been teased throughout the first few episodes, but Monica takes us inside for the first time as she meets up with Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and gets assigned to a mysterious missing person case in a small town called Westview.
The local cops seem to have selective amnesia, the FBI haven’t got a clue what’s going on (enter Randall Park’s Agent Woo, from Ant-Man) and there seems to be a weird energy field surrounding the entire town, giving everything a strange sheen of TV distortion – sucking Rambeau inside as soon as she touches it.
With the S.W.O.R.D. spy now lost in the field, the organisation sets up a huge operation base outside the town and calls in Dr Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings from the Thor films, keeping the MCU streams crossing) to explain all the science-stuff. It turns out cosmic microwave background radiation from Wanda Maximoff is causing the anomaly – relic radiation from the Big Bang that’s now entwined with a broadcast frequency that lets S.W.O.R.D. pick up what’s happening inside Westview via a vintage TV set.
“So you’re saying the universe created a sitcom starring two Avengers…” asks Agent Woo, laying out all the exposition we really needed. Over the course of the rest of the episode, all the weird stuff from the earlier chapters of WandaVision get explained, one by one.
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Remember the red helicopter that suddenly appeared during episode one? Turns out that was just a S.W.O.R.D. drone that got partially de-aged when it flew through the energy shield. The creepy beekeeper from episode two? A S.W.O.R.D. agent in a hazmat suit, turned into something more suitable for the ’60s reality when he crossed the town’s boundary via the sewer. As agent Woo tries to talk to Wanda via portable radios (explaining the voices that made Wanda temporarily freak out at the pool party), we finally get up to date – watching Wanda use her Scarlet Witch powers to shove Monica out of her bubble.
“You’re a stranger here, you’re trespassing and I want you to leave,” she says, pushing Monica through the walls of Westview and temporarily seeing Vision as he really is – dead, with a whopping big hole in his head. The real truth, of course, is that Wanda is the mastermind of her own reality, and the whole sitcom thing is her way of dealing with the trauma of losing Vision.
“It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda,” we hear, just as the blissfully happy couple settle down with their fake new twins to watch another episode of fake TV in a fake ’70s sitcom reality. The show obviously still has a lot of secrets up its sleeve, but the series now has two threads to follow at once – watching Wanda playing make believe inside her own head, and watching S.W.O.R.D. attempting to stop her.
- There was no sign of Agnes (Katheryn Hahn) on the cast list board that S.W.O.R.D. assembled, giving more weight to fan theories about her real identity as Agatha Harkness – Wanda’s witch mentor from the comics.
- Is S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward any relation to Brian Hayward, Hydra soldier and evil goon in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
- Notice the colours of the (modern) S.W.O.R.D. drone match Captain Marvel’s suit – a personal touch in homage to Monica’s mum’s best friend.
- Things spotted on the S.W.O.R.D. whiteboard: “What is behind this? Skrulls?” (See the scaly aliens in Captain Marvel…), “Why hexagonal shape?” (See multiple theories about witches and hexes…), “Is Vision alive?” (Unlikely…)