WandaVision: Episode 4 – We Interrupt This Program (spoilers)

Disney+ shows off it’s new sci-fi superhero show guest starring continuity and lots of familiar faces…It’s not an episode that can be discussed without substantial spoilers, so be warned!

No sitcom this week, instead we go into the widescreen Marvel Cinematic Universe and catch up with some side characters.

Because I watched Star Trek: Lower Decks and because I’m revisiting the history of the Puppy Debarkle, I decided to re-read (or listen to for the first time) John Scalzi’s Redshirts. This week’s episode of WandaVision is sort of a reverse version of the underlying metafiction idea. Both stories feature side characters discovering that a television show has it’s own separate physical reality. However, WandaVision has them on the outside looking in.

We meet Monica Rambeau (aka Geraldine – last seen being ejected from sitcom-land) as she blips back into existence following the events of Avengers: Endgame. The episode tracks her return to the post-Thanos world at her job with S.W.O.R.D. — Marvel’s hi-tech space agency, which I don’t think we’ve seen before in the MCU (although hinted at in earlier episodes of WandaVision.

Her first return-to-work/don’-over-exert-yourself mission leads her to FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park, last seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp) who has a missing person case…which rapidly turns into a whole missing town case. From there we start seeing the outside world events that have been intruding into the earlier sitcom episodes. The toy helicopter? A surveillance drone Monica sent in to try and get visuals of the town that has been encased in a mystery energy field.

Enter as well, Darcy Lewis — last seen in Thor: The Dark World back in 2013. As part of a bevy of experts, her experience with weird cosmic physics leads her to discover a TV signal emitting from the missing town, which leads to…the people in this episode getting to see the sitcom we’ve all been watching. Which in turn puts Darcy Lewis into a kind of viewer insert character, discussing the very kinds of theories and plot observations that we’ve been doing while watching the earlier episodes.

It’s serious fun but no wacky Paul Bettany antics or new sitcom pastiche. There aren’t many answers either about the whole “why” of the situation. However, we do know a few more things:

  • Wanda is definitely in a place and that place has it’s own alternate reality.
  • It’s not a case of her being unconscious or in a virtual reality.
  • The setting is post Avengers: Endgame.
  • In ‘reality’ Vision is definitely dead.
  • Wanda’s powers are involved.

The episode manages to maintain some of the playfulness of the earlier episodes but it’s very much an assertion of the series as part of the broader continuity.

20 thoughts on “WandaVision: Episode 4 – We Interrupt This Program (spoilers)

  1. Since it’s stated this is taking place 3 weeks after Endgame, I’m leaning towards the theory that the entire thing is the result of Wanda’s trauma. (Especially since the first scene is Monica Rambeau Blipping back. The aftermath of half the universe’s return wasn’t really dealt with in the movies, so it’s natural that this series was able to pick up on that.) Still, Vision seems to be aware, at least to an extent, of what she’s doing…..so she’s not entirely controlling him.

    At any rate, it will be fascinating to find out.

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    1. It may be that Monica’s recent loss of her mother may have made her a person that Wanda felt would fit into Westview, thus allowing her to enter the town

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  2. First thought: Too short! Want more! SO GOOD!

    I am happy to see Darcy again. I always thought we needed more of her. And she solved the conundrums and the premise with nothing but her brains, an oscilloscope, and the help and respect of Agent Woo. Notice he always calls her “Dr. Lewis”. Great team. Darcy is the perfect combo of smart, snark, and “what? I’m invested!” I bet they had some amusing conversations while waiting for the “next episode” to start.

    Now we know what all’s actually been going on, via sort of a Mobius strip technique, which proves how much mainstream entertainment has grown. They trust the audience to understand all this.

    @Bonnie: Agreed. Here everyone’s Blipped back but Vision is still dead, so Wanda’s retreated into this dream world. It’s only been 3 weeks, so of course she’s still traumatized.

    I liked how the “production design” explained the drone changing to a toy copter, and the guy in the hazmat suit into a beekeeper. But things are breaking down. Wanda’s editing of the flow of events in sitcom-world isn’t fully working any more, with either her or Vision.

    Also, that town in New Jersey is going to be pretty darn confused when this is over. They may have to call in the Men in Black with the flashy thingy.

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  3. Someone online reminded me that this is slightly recalling a bizarre ’80s X-Men storyline – which I vividly remember because of the grody horror imagery – where an evil sorcerer from the Conan the Barbarian comics had put New York City in a bubble where reality was sort of Conanized – military/SHIELD type agents kept trying to go in to see what was going on, and would be instantly changed into their sword-and-sorcery equivalents and forget what they were doing. Although that didn’t have anything like the bit where the cops just outside of the town are denying it exists, which was nicely done.

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  4. I had, somehow, managed to switch the audio to German, and it took me a few seconds to twig “this is a settings issue, not a stylistic choice in the show”. I mean, having the audio suddenly dubbed into a foreign language sounds about on-par for episode 4…

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  5. It was noted that in Spider-Man 2: Far From Home, people were shown simply popping back into existence from the end of the Blip whereas here, they reconstructed from ash, so that was a continuity error that may or may not be explained. It also was unexplained what happened to the agent in the hazmat suit that Wanda “rewound” — did he get shot back down the sewer tunnel like Monica got ejected? Did Wanda kill him? They didn’t really explain that part or if they did, I missed it.

    But beyond that, this was a quite fun payoff episode and as always Kat Dennings as Darcy is a delight. But it still raises questions. How did Wanda end up in a NJ town? What set her off? (Wanda was last seen at Tony’s funeral bonding over their losses with Clint at the end of Endgame and seemed stable.) How have her powers increased so much? And there is the issue that Vision seems to have independent existence or at least consciousness from Wanda that Wanda has to keep manipulating. He’s not simply a recreated simulacrum from her mind. So it does possibly have something to do with the mind stone that gave Wanda her powers and powered Vision alive. Steve Rogers took the mind stone brought from the past back to 2012 NY at the end of Endgame so that there would be time loops rather than alternate timelines. And the Marvel universe is moving into a multiverse related to the issue of alternate timelines so there are a lot of possible links.

    This is mostly a very nicely thought out mini-series that is launching the MCU’s second wave empire on the t.v. side. Gotta hand it to Marvel — nobody has tried a universe franchise this big and complicated before.

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    1. In Far from Home we saw the Unsnap in a home movie, I think, and from a distance. In last night’s episode we see it in (as it were) real life – which may account for the discrepancy.

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      1. No, I think it’s definitely after. Something happened and that’s part of the mystery. WandaVision is in part setting up for Doctor Strange 2, which is the multiverse and connected to that is Spider-Man 3. And then there is a space component around Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that might be involved with this, though we haven’t gotten any clear indication of that beyond SWORD and Monica being involved.

        WandaVision is the kick-off of the MCU’s Phase 4. It was not originally supposed to be — the Black Widow prequel movie was supposed to be but now that’s maybe coming in May 2021. Monica Rambeau is probably going to be in Captain Marvel 2, Darcy will probably be in Thor 4 and Woo will be in Antman and the Wasp (3): Quantumania. There are eleven series/mini-series planned for t.v. in Phase 4 and that’s right now the critical content provider while they wrestle with the movie-covid situation.

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      2. Apparently, Doctor Strange is going to show up at some point in WandaVision, probably near the end and then Wanda will be in Doctor Strange 2, so that’s obviously going to have some bearing on things.

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      3. Maybe Dr. Strange solves the problem. Because at this point, I’m not sure who else in the MCU could. He could magically get through to Wanda, maybe. Does he still have a license to prescribe antidepressants?

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  6. Man, I’ve been adoring this, and ep. 4 did a logical change-of-PoV and turned everything up a notch, nicely. (I’ve waited a bit, and actually also just watched ep. 5, at this writing).

    Things that have me hooked: 1. Assured, bravura story-telling. E.g., the intro sequence of this episode, where we immediately grasp that this starts with the fallout of the de-Blipping five years after the Blip, was so masterfully done that I got that rare sensation of being in good hands that I got with, say, early JMS scripts on Babylon 5.

    2. The theme of dealing with personal trauma is all through-and-around this series, and blessedly without soap opera but with an intuitive sense of what it’s really like to feel and respond to.

    3. I cheered at the return of Dr. Darcy Lewis and Special Agent Jimmy Woo. As great as
    Kat Dennings was in the first couple of Thor movies, she’s better here, because she’s given much better dialogue to work with. And Randall Park’s effervescent Jimmy Woo was one of the several winning parts of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

    4. The acting from Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany continues to be top-notch. E.g., Olsen’s Wanda turning focussed and dangerous when she suddenly figures out “Geraldine”, and that slight head tilt — oh my. Paul Bettany’s Vision having a dawning sense of dread — yes. Spot-on.

    I’m sold. I’m in for the rest.

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