If you’ve been following along with these episode breakdowns, you may remember that last week’s final topic was “Breaking the Fourth Wall, Literally.” And now here we have an episode entirely devoted to that concept. I also said that WandaVision might be the most meta television show ever made, and that’s more true than ever. As media critic Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”
We’ve reached the present day in terms of television influences, with touches of The Office and Modern Family, both known for the gimmick referred to in the episode’s title. This convention isn’t just about having the characters talk to the camera (and, by extension, the audience), but adding another layer of meaning. It shatters the artifice of the fictional world, forcing you to take a step back and consider the mechanics of the show, how it’s made, and your relationship to it. WandaVision has actually been doing this since the first episode, just not as blatantly. I’m eager to see what happens when the world cracks open even wider.
But first, let’s deal with everything that happened in the seventh episode, “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” As always, I’ll be breaking down this pivotal episode in full, so you might want to wait until you’ve seen it if you care about being spoiled.
Agatha All Along
Let’s start with the biggest revelation of the episode, possibly the biggest plot development of the series so far. Learning that Agnes was, in fact, Agatha Harkness was an exciting twist, though not a shocking one to anyone paying attention to the discourse. Almost from the moment the news broke that Kathryn Hahn would be joining the cast in an “undisclosed role” Marvel fans have been speculating that her character would turn out to be Agatha, mainly due to the character’s importance to Wanda’s storyline in the comics. That theory has gained strength with each new episode, leaving little doubt.
The writers had to know this wouldn’t come as a surprise to a certain segment of the audience, so they gave us a thrilling reveal to make up for it, built up through the tension of Wanda going down into that basement and Hahn’s thoroughly committed transformation from spunky neighbor to menacing witch. And how cool was that flashback sequence, complete with a catchy Munsters-inspired theme song (by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez, the husband-and-wife team behind the two Frozen soundtracks, who have been killing it with the theme songs since Episode 1)? Except, of course, for the part where she gleefully admitted to killing Sparky—not cool, Agatha.
Agatha isn’t really a villain in the comics, so that’s somewhat of a departure from the source material. We don’t know how much power Agatha has in this world, but everything is pointing to her being the one responsible for the television broadcast. Some questions still remain, like why the “show” is still going on when those outside the hex aren’t getting the signal anymore. And why can’t Billy read her mind? Perhaps Agatha is subject to being controlled herself. There may be stronger forces at work we haven’t seen yet.
Wanda Wanda Wanda
The Office-style opening sequence shows us a series of raw footage with the word Wanda everywhere, but the only time we see the word Vision is in the final title card. He’s gone (again) and she’s curling up into herself. As she starts to remember the crippling sense of loss she felt before this all started, the feeling manifests in magical glitches she can’t control. She admits she let her fear and anger get the best of her and intentionally expanded the boarders of the false world she created (whether or not she created it herself, it’s clear she believes she did). “I don’t understand what’s happening,” she tells the interviewer/Agnes (I went back to listen to the voice a second time and it’s definitely Hahn’s), a hint of panic lurking behind her casual facade. “Why it’s all falling apart and why I can’t fix it.”
I’ve suspected from the beginning that the show would end up being about Wanda dealing with grief and loss, and now she’s reached the depression stage (the second-to-last stage before acceptance, though as someone who’s personally dealt with grief I can tell you it’s not always a linear progression, and backsliding happens). Still, you have to give her credit for maintaining her sense of humor. She tells the camera she’s punishing herself by taking a “quarantine-style stay-cation” (the actual production had to be shut down temporarily due to Covid-19, and this episode was filmed after they resumed). “That’ll show me,” she says dryly.
Elizabeth Olsen is constantly showing us new facets of Wanda, and she completely nails the Modern Family vibe, while also showing us the depths of her confusion and sadness as she shuffles around in oversized lounge clothes. It’s a small, subtle thing, but I love the way she sniffs the milk before taking a bite of cereal. All too relatable.
This episode seems to dispel the theory that Wanda’s controlling the people of Westview (something she herself has always denied), but plenty of questions still remain about how much of it is her doing and how much is Agatha’s. She still has her powers in this world, and she was able to expand it all on her own, so there are some things she can do. Will she be the one to stop it? She’s the only person we’ve seen who can come and go from the hex at will, but doesn’t seem interested in breaking free or dealing with the pain that awaits her outside in the real world. That’s not the case with the other imprisoned residents of Westview, though. I expect Wanda’s going to have to face some hard choices in the final episodes.
Monica Levels Up
Wanda doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s not in the fight alone anymore; she has a powerful ally in Monica Rambeau. Although the Agnes/Agatha twist may have the biggest impact on the series itself, Monica coming into her power will have a huge impact on the MCU at large. The scene where she breaks through the barrier was jaw-dropping, a complete emotional journey in a matter of minutes, beautifully shot and processed. We got to witness the birth of a new superhero, and that monumental event was treated with the care and reverence it deserved. Then, just to confirm that Photon (or Spectrum or whatever name she’s going to take on) has officially arrived, she performs a perfect superhero landing. Teyonah Parris absolutely embodies that rare combination of toughness and compassion that makes Monica truly heroic. I can’t wait to see her in action for real.
Hayward’s Still Sus
Even when it looked like it might go that way, I had hope that Wanda wouldn’t turn out to be the villain of this story. Anything could happen in the next couple of episodes, of course, but it’s starting to look like she won’t be after all. And despite Agnes/Agatha turning out to be a dog murderer, I still enjoy her as a character (Hahn’s performance has a lot do do with that) and would prefer her being delightfully wicked than straight-up evil. Hayward, on the other hand, I’m completely fine with him being the Big Bad when it’s all over. His primary concern in all of this seems to be getting Project Cataract back on track (I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t get joke until this episode—a cataract to obstruct Vision, ha ha). In this episode he’s ordering his team to get ready to launch something later in the day. Is he willing to sacrifice the citizens of Westview just to get his weapon back? I have a bad feeling he is, but it isn’t going to go the way he thinks it will.
Vision and Darcy: The Buddy Comedy We Deserve
If there’s a limit to Paul Bettany’s charms, I haven’t found it yet. At the beginning of last week’s episode he channeled Bryan Cranston’s off-kilter dad from Malcom in the Middle, and this time he gives us a little bit of Vision as Jim from The Office, complete with cynical asides directly into the camera (a nod to the fourth-wall breaking in the title). The chaotic chemistry he has with Kat Dennings’ Darcy is clear from the moment she rebuffs what she thinks is a come on with a sardonic, “hard pass.” It’s interesting that the two of them are supposed to be a double act at the circus. Wonder whose idea that was. She makes the perfect partner for Vision at this point in the story, though. Besides being the person most invested in the show within a show (not counting those of us out here in the real world) and a full-on WandaVision shipper, she’s also equipped with the inside knowledge to explain the tragic events of Infinity War and Endgame to him, thanks to her peripheral connection to the Avengers. Before Vision wakes her up, she’s been cast as an escape artist, a distinction that may foreshadow her help in freeing the citizens of Westview from the hex.
This week’s commercial, for a depression medication called Nexus, is a fascinating one, with deep implications for the MCU. In the comics, the Nexus refers to the convergence of multiple realities, a gateway to the multiverse, and Wanda is what’s known as a “Nexus being,” or is a single individual within each universe who serves as an anchor point. Based on this commercial, and the fact that she’ll next be seen in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, it’s starting to look like she’ll have a similar role in the MCU. The creative choice to make it a cure for depression could also indicate that Wanda may seek out another universe to escape from her emotional anguish in this one.
“Snoopers gonna snoop”
Pietro was MIA for most of the episode, only popping up in the post-credit scene (yes!) to spook Monica when she’s on the verge of discovering Agatha’s secret. Agatha may be responsible for his sudden appearance at the end of Episode 4, but I believe he really is Quicksilver from the X-Men universe. Agatha is likely controlling him (like everyone else) to mess with Wanda, but she didn’t create him from nothing. She had to have pulled him from that alternate universe, and by the time it’s all over I predict he’ll be back to his old self and will be sticking around. Wouldn’t it be nice if—instead of feeling lonely and isolated—Wanda came out of this with a brother, a new team, twin sons, and her love back from the dead. It’s a lot to ask, but after all she’s been through, she deserves it.
That Mystery Cameo is Still a Mystery
Before the episode aired, the rumor mill was churning about an upcoming cameo and who might make a surprise appearance. Some thought Krasinski himself would show up as the Fantastic 4’s Reed Richards (perhaps because the obvious Office connection). Others saw Evan Peters’ appearance as an opening for more X-Men cast members like Ian McKellen or Patrick Stewart. These speculations were further fueled by an interview with Bettany in which teased the coming of a character no one has guessed yet, someone he’s always wanted to work with (likely ruling out his DaVinci Code co-star McKellan). Sadly for those with high expectations, there was no big guest star this week. Even the intriguing meeting Monica had set up turned out to be just a group of S.W.O.R.D. agents transporting a vehicle to get her inside the hex, which ended up becoming half a minivan in the attempt. Leave it to Marvel to keep us in anticipation. But hey, at least this episode finally had a post-credit scene.
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Have something to add to the discussion? What’s your theory about Agatha and her intentions? Are you excited about the introduction of a new superhero to the MCU? Start a conversation in the comments!