Safe to assume that all WandaVision reviews are spoiler filled. Before the fold, I’ll say that in terms of TV history, the town of Westview (huh…only just noticed that’s WV) has lurched not so much to the 1990s as the 2000’s. I guess the sitcoms of the 1990s are tougher to fit into the model. Roseanne would be the most iconic family-orientated sitcom other than The Simpsons (oh, but a nod to The Simpsons with a Halloween episode and I would have loved a cartoon episode of WandaVision). When I think of 1990s US sitcoms, Friends is the most obvious but that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead the vibe is a bit closer to Malcolm in the Middle with some fourth wall breaking asides to the camera from the kids.
Enough images have already circulate in publicity for the show, that I don’t think it is a spoiler to mention that Wanda gets to wear a home made version of her Scarlet Witch costume for Halloween (a Sokovian fortune teller, she says). Vision dresses as a ‘Mexican wrestler’ in a way that also resembles his comic book appearance. For added referencing we get the new-Pietro improvising a Quicksilver costume and hair style but he provides no rational for it. Which takes us into spoiler territory…
The horror aspect of the show is raised a notch as Vision begins an active investigation of the reality of Westview. There are creepy touches as he walks into parts of town further from Wanda. People forced into repetitive action or simply standing still as Vision journeys further out. WandaVision already has a strong Twilight Zone vibe but the feeling of the nightmare of It’s a Good Life (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Good_Life_(The_Twilight_Zone) – also parodied in a Simpson’s Halloween episode) is very strong.
Despite the top-notch production values and exemplary special effects, WandaVision has a strong feel of classic Doctor Who. Partly that is the limited serial aspect of the show and shorter time run but also there is an element of the show running through metaphorical corridors to maintain the space between actual plot relevant events. Of course the Pertwee era had it’s own small town (or rather English village) trapped within an energy dome with Unit trying to get in with the Daemons and come to think of it that serial had a witch in it as well. Rather like Doctor Who, the solution to everything won’t rest with the guys with the guns.
This episodes blasts Easter Eggs around in a way that is distinctly unseasonal for a Halloween episode. I guess chocolate is chocolate. The movie theatre is showing The Incredibles, the Pixar (now Disney, just like Marvel is now Disney) film about superheroes. There’s an oddness to that movie existing within the Marvel universe and there is also a nod to both Pietro’s powers and the arrival of super powers to Wanda’s children, with Dash of the Incredible also having super speed. Wanda makes a comment about Kick Ass, another superhero film which featured BOTH the actors playing Quicksilver (MCU and X-Men versions).
The advert break is the oddest one we’ve had yet. It’s an animated advert for a yogurt dessert with a cool shark and a kid who can’t open the yogurt and starves to death on a desert island. If there is a Marvel/MCU reference in it, I missed it.
What is Agnes up to? I don’t know. Why is she dressed as a witch? I don’t know. Did the bit where the done around Westview expand and send the SWORD operation running remind me of Area X expanding in Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy? Yes, but I think we’ll get clearer answers than that.
Wanda seems to both know and not know what is going on. She appears to be in control and not in control. Now this is one of those places where retroactively we’ll get to nod and say how well written this show was or it gets to be something we mutter about darkly as lazy writing. We’ll know in three episodes whether it was just an inconsistent script (booo) and a smart depiction of the self-deception of grief (yay!) or Agnes is really Adam Warlock and everybody is inside the soul stone (sorry, what?).
The military guys turning into clowns? That’s good writing whatever else happens though.