Written By ReysSpeeder with contributions from Raven and Conn8d
WandaVision came to an end on Friday, March 5 and while there is much debate to be had about the outcomes of that season finale episode, we at the SWSC present something that’s not up for debate: some of the top moments that made WandaVision such a captivating storytelling experience. Because aspects of this show were so good they are worth remembering even if the ending wasn’t personally what you had hoped for. Rewatching them is like jumping back in line for your favorite roller coaster: at this point you know all the twists and turns by heart but you still just can’t get enough of the rush of a great ride. That’s WandaVision.
Obligatory warning for spoilers below
1. The Zoom Out
Part of what made WandaVision so captivating was how subtle the clues to the mystery were initially peppered into the introductory episodes. Aside from Mr. Hart’s near-death experience and Mrs. Hart’s repetitive commands (pleas?) to “stop it,” there was no other indication in the first episode that WandaVision would be anything more than a 1950’s style sitcom. And if you looked away, or worse, skipped the credits, you’d miss the first big eyebrow raising clue that things were not necessarily as they appeared. While the credits are rolling on the 1950’s WandaVision episode, our screen zooms out further to reveal a vintage-style television sitting on a high-tech S.W.O.R.D. data monitoring station, with an unknown person taking notes. Oh, you wanted to know more? You’ll need to please stand by.
2. That Spooky Bee-Keeper
You’ll never look at your friendly neighborhood beekeeper the same way again. Not after Episode 2: “Don’t Touch that Dial,” when the S.W.O.R.D. agent infiltrates Wanda’s Hex and emerges from a manhole transformed into one, complete with swarming bees. It’s the pinging sound that sticks with me. The tempo never changes–instead it moves up and down from one note to another as if it’s as unsure of the situation as the characters are. And when the mysterious beekeeper turns his gaze to meet Wanda and Visions, Wanda barely whispers, “No,” before rewinding the broadcast and returning to the moment between her and Vision before the interruption. By the way, what did Wanda end up doing with the beekeeper? Someone should check in on him, maybe.
3. Screen Widening
The first hint that Wanda might not be the “good-guy” of the story comes less in the form of a scene and more in the form of something from a nightmare. After speaking with Agnes and Herb, Vision rushes into the house to ask Wanda where Geraldine is. Wanda, facing the camera and standing over the crib, answers flatly, “Oh, she left, honey. She had to rush home.” She raises her gaze almost high enough to meet the camera lens, but not quite, as if she is avoiding eye contact of both Vision and the ‘audience’ while lying about Geraldine’s whereabouts. A low rumbling sound is heard as the screen slowly shifts from standard width into a widescreen. Chanting is softly heard to emphasize the unknown in this creepy turn of events.
Did you notice that there are two versions of the screen width changing, one that Wanda censors and an uncensored version? Which one do you think is creepier?
4. Everyone’s Coming Back
In a rare departure from WandaVision’s usual vintage themed programming centered around Wanda and her family with Vision, Episode 4: “We Interrupt This Program” begins from the point of view of a different character, Monica Rambeau, five years after The Blip. Longtime Marvel fans know exactly what the Blip is, but never before had viewers been given a behind the scenes look at what it was like to come back after disappearing. “Where did you go?” asks Dr. Hartland, and it becomes evident from Monica’s answers that she wasn’t even aware that she disappeared, let alone where she went. What was a triumphant and victorious celebration in the 2019 Avengers Endgame film, bringing back those disappeared persons is given a different perspective with Monica Rambeau when she and many others reappear to chaos, confusion, and overcrowding in the hospital.
And the question could be asked…why Monica? Why is she so special as to warrant her own point of view in a show about Wanda and Vision? We here at SWSC theorize it’s because this story not truly about Wanda and Vision. Vision is integral, surely, but in a story about grief and loss, Wanda and Monica represent two different sides of the same coin in losing the ones they love the most. For Wanda through her loss of Vision, and for Monica through her loss of her mother. One within the walls of the Hex, and one outside trying to get in. This introductory scene establishes all of this and more in a very short period of time. And the episode is only beginning!
5. The Premature Showdown
First, special honorable mention to Wanda rolling the credits on Vision as he tries to have a discussion with her. Although it has dark implications this may never stop being funny. Actually, maybe it’s partly due to the preceding humor that makes the next scene, despite its very minimal action, feel like the most intense duel in the entire show. Or maybe that’s owing to the way the credits abruptly stop and the music cuts off. Maybe it’s how Vision changes from mild-mannered father of two into an undisguised Avenger who raises his voice to his wife. Maybe it’s all of these things combined.
The only thing we know for sure is that when Wanda issues her final gaslight denial: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” (when she very well knows exactly what he’s talking about), it’s like a match in a kerosene factory. That last spark catches and Vision is set ablaze in anger, matching his scarlet complexion. He screams, “Stop lying to me!” strong enough to lift himself into the air. Wanda lifts up to match him, her red powers glowing in her palms, her red shoes now fully visible, one raised above the other. Anger explodes out of this scene the way Wanda’s crimson powers will later erupt from her grieving body in the following episodes. This fight is arguably the most epic battle of the entire season. And even though it lasts only a mere minute, it’s effects last and reverberate throughout the rest of the season.
6. Expanding the Hex
Stakes are already high when Vision sneaks off to explore the outer edges of Westview in the sixth episode, “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” Once outside of the Hex, Vision is becoming torn apart, unable to turn back as the onlooking S.W.O.R.D. agents watch, unwilling to help. It’s only when Billy senses the danger that he runs to Wanda for her to save his father.
From the music to the editing to the acting, this act pulls the audience in as if the hex were located on our very own screens. Vision’s desperation matches Wanda’s as they both reach out to things they cannot quite grasp. Wanda spreads her arms, symbols ring, and the reel slows as she uses her magic to expand the boundaries of her false world. To those outside the Hex’s ever-increasing borders, it’s impending chaos. The reel seems to skip and speed up as the Hex walls swallow straggling SHIELD soldiers, including Darcy. Our own screens are enveloped too as we watch a flying helicopter transform into a hot air balloon once through the Hex.
This is a moment that is as suspenseful as it is fun. And it doesn’t lose its impact the more times it’s watched: if anything, it only gets better with multiple views.
7. Monica’s Confrontation
While there is certainly a need to critique the excessive harsh treatment that Wanda reserves only for Monica for reasons never explained, one reading could interpret Monica as truth personified, specifically in contrast to Wanda’s lies. Monica may be able to break through the Hex barrier because it is truth alone that threatens the integrity of Wanda’s deceptively fragile false world. It’s for this reason that the brief showdown between Wanda and Monica, the red against the blue, lies against truth, feels especially powerful. Because where initially Wanda had been able to manipulate and eventually expel Monica from the Hex, Monica returns as a formidable force of honesty to be reckoned with. “All you do is lie!” But contrary to her accusation, it is only Wanda who lies, not Monica.
“The worst thing I can think of has already happened to me, and I can’t change it, I can’t undo it, I can’t control this pain anymore and I don’t think I want to. Because it’s my truth”Monica Rambeau
If there were a theme to explore in this episode it might be the unending maintenance of denial and the cutting integrity of the simple truth. The setup of conflict between Monica and Wanda reached new levels of tension as Monica came to realize the potential of her newfound powers. Somewhere, perhaps in an alternate timeline, they are battling in the final duel for the fate of Wanda’s Hex.
8. The Walnut Episode
The eighth episode, “Previously On,” cycles through Wanda’s relevant memories and experiences with newly revealed magical girl Agatha Harkness as a tour guide. And while each of Wanda’s memories are full of emotion, it’s her first childhood memory that holds the most impact. Wanda, looking roughly 10 years old, gathers with her brother, mother, and father, as they sit together to enjoy watching The Dick Van Dyke Show (Season 2, Episode 21, “The Walnut Episode”) not unlike the way many families probably gathered to watch new episodes of WandaVision. Akira Akbar, playing Wanda as a child, radiates delight at getting to watch the episode, surely for at least the twelfth time. She looks back in between her laughter to check if her parents are enjoying the episode as much as she is… her mothers air kiss promises that they are. The light from the television screen reflects in her eyes as if they are stars, and we realize in this moment that this was how Wanda discovered the experience of joy.
And there is a lot to be said about that, the childhood discovery of joy. It is special, so we hold onto it and carry it with us throughout our entire lives. The specific way it was discovered for Wanda, through watching shenanigans on sitcoms with her family, reveals Wanda’s humanity underneath her superhuman feats. WandaVision delves into a lot of very hefty topics. Trauma, grief, and loss all come to mind. But the one that stands out the most is the experience of joy, and how keeping hold of joy, especially through trauma and grief, is a struggle.
9. Please Stand By
Of course, these are only some of the best moments from this excellent series. The only debate here is whether we missed some. If you had a favorite moment that didn’t get mentioned, please share in the comments!