Last time we saw Wanda she was being lured into Agatha’s secret witch pit – her kids missing, her world collapsing and her next-door neighbour turning out to be an evil magic mastermind hiding in her fake reality. We’re pretty much up to date on the sitcom history now – what’s even left to cover? Animated BoJack Horseman parodies or meta references to binging on streaming services? – meaning we’re getting close to some kind of conclusion as we head into the penultimate episode. We’re also getting closer to the much-hyped big-name cameo, but all that will have to wait another week as WandaVision episode 8 takes a big step back.
And by big, we mean 300 years – all the way to Salem in 1693 for a look at when and where Agatha came from. Tied to a stake by a coven of other witches, 17th century Agatha is on trial for using and abusing black magic. Sentenced to death by purple sucky light power, she manages to repel the entire coven at once and kill them all, showing us just how formidable she really is. The comics go even further, putting her birth sometime around 11,000 BC and giving her an important arc with Mephisto (aka the Devil), but WandaVision leaves all that alone (for now…) and returns to Agatha’s basement for a different history lesson.
Trapped by a circle of magic runes, Wanda is forced to listen to Agatha as she tells her what brought her to Westview in the first place. Drawn to the site of so many magic spells, Agatha found Wanda in the middle of her sitcom dream and conjured up a fake Pietro to try and snap her out of it (ruining so many fan theories about an X-Men crossover). When the soft approach didn’t work, she finally grabbed Wanda and forces her to confront her reality – pushing her through her own memories to try and find out how she got powerful enough to build and run an entire fake town.
“It’s time to look at some real re-runs…” growls Agatha as she pushes Wanda through a door and into war-torn Sokovia in the ’90s. Little Wanda and Pietro are back at home and dad has just got back from a day spent flogging dodgy DVDs (not VHS?) from a suitcase. Dad specialises in selling vintage sitcoms (obviously), but adult Wanda doesn’t have long to relive movie night before a Stark Industries bomb crashes through the wall and changes her whole past.
Skip forward to Wanda’s Hydra years and we see how she got so powerful after being forced to touch the Mind Stone before we watch a tender conversation with Vision in the Avengers Compound circa Age Of Ultron. Fast forward again to the moment when she breaks into the S.W.O.R.D. lab and we’re almost up to date – before Agatha forces Wanda to confront the one memory she’s really trying to forget.
Standing over Vision’s ripped-up body, Wanda breaks down in tears. It’s a heart-breaking moment, and a testament to the show’s writing and acting that so much emotion is felt for a witch grieving over Tony Stark’s broken Alexa. Yet again, WandaVision shows real emotional strength – maybe more than the Marvel films ever have – and manages to say some frighteningly real things about human grief.
Finally then, Agatha has the secret she’s been looking for: Wanda’s real magic power comes from raw, unfiltered sadness. Now fully awake, Wanda finds herself on the set of WandaVision in WandaVision (while we’re watching WandaVision… at least three layers deep into the big lasagne of meta meaning).
“You’re supposed to be a myth,” says Agatha, now holding Wanda’s real/fake kids hostage, “This is chaos magic Wanda… and that makes you the Scarlet Witch”. It’s the first time Wanda’s superhero name has been mentioned in the MCU and a big moment to end on, but this week’s backpedaling still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Stay tuned for a crucial mid-credit sting that shows S.W.O.R.D. boss Hayward reanimating Vision’s (white) corpse with Wanda’s own Westview energy – building up to a grand finale with a lot left to fight for.
- Oleg Maximoff’s dodgy suitcase of sitcoms contains all the big cultural touchpoints for the show so far: The Addams Family, I Love Lucy, Who’s The Boss?, Bewitched, Malcolm In The Middle and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
- The brief silhouette that Wanda sees after touching the Mind Stone shows us what seems to be a glimpse of the mask Scarlet Witch wears in the comics (and that Wanda wore in the Halloween episode). Does this mean a costume change for the MCU?
- Hayward’s mastery of Wanda’s chaos magic – and his earlier quote about “not everyone having the power” to bring someone back to life feeds into the theory that he’s actually been Mephisto all along… Has the devil been hiding in plain sight?