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WandaVision - The Series Finale - Review: A Lack of Vision

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I may have taken a brief hiatus, but Marvel certainly has not, and so, on this Falcon and The Winter Soldier-day, let’s take one last dive into Disney+’s first original MCU show, because hoo boy, do I have some thoughts on this. Read on for my review of the last episode of WandaVision, aptly titled “The Series Finale”:

Picking up where the previous episode left off: after temporarily disabling Agatha and saving Billy and Tommy, Wanda apologizes to Vision for not telling him the truth about Westview right away. But with multiple moustache-twirlers directly in play, the two can’t share much of a moment before Wanda has to once again face off against Agatha, and Vision becomes occupied with Hayward’s evil Vision clone.

Agatha reveals to Wanda that she, as the “Scarlet Witch,” has been written about extensively in the Darkhold - the MCU’s book of the Damned first seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 - as a magic user more powerful than the Sorcerer Supreme. Wanda denies that she is the Scarlet Witch, so to prove that she is, Agatha releases Dottie from Wanda’s control. Wanda’s former rival begs Wanda to give her daughter, who is trapped in her room, a part in Wanda’s “show” so she can see her again. Agatha then releases the rest of the town from Wanda’s thrall (which begs the question: why hasn’t Wanda done that yet?), and the townsfolk begin to gather around her, begging for her to let them go.

Meanwhile, Monica easily overpowers her captor in Pietro (a.k.a. Ralph Bohner, Agnes’ mysterious “husband” Ralph and another enslaved resident of the town). She frees him from Agatha’s spell and makes her way to the battlefield.

Wanda is now face-to-face with the insanely traumatic things she has forced upon the town of Westview - “When you let us sleep, we have your nightmares,’ Norm says. “If you won’t let us go, please let us die,” another resident (who Wanda cast as Mrs. Hart) begs. Wanda’s grief, she realizes, is literally choking these people; a powerful (and powerfully disturbing) moment that, under the circumstances of even a slightly more committed narrative, might be immensely impactful.

Agnes makes a similar point to what I did - “Heroes don’t torture people” - and Wanda begins to destroys the Hex and let its prisoners go. However, as she does so, she realizes that if Westview goes, so do Vision, Billy and Tommy. Halfway through the destruction spell, she somehow is able to freeze the spell in the “best of both worlds,” as the residents of the town have been conveniently located out of harm’s way, but Wanda is still able to reform the Hex to protect her family.

In their best impression of The Incredibles, the WandaVision family defend themselves from Faux!Vision, Agatha, and the newly arrived Director Hayward’s onslaught of attacks. While Billy and Tommy handle S.W.O.R.D., Vision and Wanda begin their round twos with Weapon!Vision and Agatha, respectively. Hayward, marking off yet another box on the supervillain checklist, shoots directly at an unarmed Billy and Tommy, but Monica jumps in front of the bullets in time, deflecting them with her powers. Hayward makes for his great escape in a SWORD vehicle, but is T-boned by Darcy, still driving the ice cream truck we left her in 2 episodes ago.

Vision restores Faux!Vision with his old memories of the Avengers, Wanda, Thanos, etc; and the machine stands down and flies away, saying “I am Vision” - now bringing Vision back into the MCU and successfully reintroducing the last dead non-Tony character* from Infinity War/Endgame into the universe again (well, except Heimdall. Sods, Heimdall).

Wanda manages to trap Agnes in a mind prison of the day she killed her coven, saying “The difference between you and me is that you did this on purpose.” She reanimates the dead witches to finish Agatha off, but instead, they all crowd around Wanda and identify her as the Scarlet Witch. She becomes restrained by them, and Agatha proposes that Wanda give her her power, in exchange for the “perfection” of the Westview spell - Wanda can live her sitcom life in peace.

Like the certifiable good guy she is, Wanda refuses and shoves Agnes back into the Westview sky, where they duel in an (oddly conceptualized?) finale sky showdown. Everyone watches from the ground as Wanda and Agatha duke it out, with Wanda significantly draining herself until it seems that Agatha has absorbed all of her power. She goes to finish Wanda off for good, but finds her powers suddenly restricted. As it turns out, Wanda had been surreptitiously spending the battle placing runes on the walls of the hex, preventing anyone but herself from using magic inside of it.

Wanda absorbs all Agatha’s power and (making herself a spiffy new outfit in the process!) completes her transformation into the Scarlet Witch. Wanda transforms Agatha into "Agnes" for good, making her a permanent nosy neighbor and resident of Westview (again, we absolutely MUST question the ethics of this. They act like they’re addressing it but they really, really aren’t! There is no way that they can have their cake and eat it too on this. I won’t allow it). Victorious(?), Wanda removes The Hex and returns home as the world she created disappears. She says an emotional goodbye to the children, and then to Vision:
“We’ve said goodbye before. So it stands to reason-”
“We’ll say hello again.”

The Hex dissolves, and Westview returns to the way it was. Wanda leaves the town, encountering hostility from the residents (although, honestly, maybe not enough). Monica tells her that she understands what happens, and Wanda says she’s sorry for all the pain she’s caused, and resolves to learn more about her power.

In the first after-credits scene, Rambeau is pulled aside by an FBI agent who reveals herself to be a Skrull, inviting her to meet with “an old friend of your mother’s” (implicitly Nick Fury) in a location the woman only identifies as “up.”

In the second credits scene, we find Wanda, now living in a remote cabin in a Skyrim-esque mountain range, making herself tea while her Astral Projected Scarlet Witch persona reads the Darkhold in another room, seemingly in an attempt to bring back Billy and Tommy.

While I’m sure some of you would disagree, I think I’ve been restraining my criticism of WandaVision quite a bit, hoping that it was putting something together behind the scenes that made more sense - that meant more, frankly - than what we were getting. But the longer the show went on, the more it seemed that it was gliding off of the Marvel name alone - its character development was sloppy and woeful, underscored by an insistence that it was committed to exploring Wanda’s grief, without actually doing so until the second-to-last episode, and then glossing over the rather dark consequences of Wanda’s actions with an the equivalent of an “Oops!”

Frankly, even some of the things that I originally identified as the show’s greatest moments felt woefully lacking in this last episode especially. The show’s initially creative and engaging premise and mystery which, in the first few episodes, brought me a taste of hope and genuine excitement for the direction of the MCU, faded rapidly as the weeks went on. The resulting arc is essentially a thoughtless mishmash of the 4th and 7th seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - which did both “sci-fi dystopian world created by grief” and “time-traveling genre tribute” storylines first and, arguably, better.

Even the performances of seasoned pros like Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Bettany - the one reliable element of WandaVision from start to finish - was pronouncedly buried under exhausting layers of CGI light bursts, heavy makeup and leftover loose plot threads galore.

Something that hasn’t been really talked about much when it comes to WandaVision - weirdly, because pretty much everything has been said about this show already, it seems - is staying power. This show was an enormous phenomenon for the past 8 weeks, overwhelming the culture in various ways, certainly. But how much of that will last? How much of WandaVision has anything to say that hasn’t been said better elsewhere? How much of it is interesting once the credits have rolled and all the questions (that are going to be answered) have been answered?

I know I sound like a buzzkill, continually pointing out the flaws in a show that the majority of audiences enjoyed. I recognize the reasons why WandaVision was beloved, and I have no qualms with them. But I am genuinely curious: would you go back to this show in a few years and re-watch it? And if so, why? With all the hype, it feels like I’m missing something here, some enormous, obvious, blinking red button labeled “The Point.” But something about WandaVision, as a whole, strikes me as being like those old Dart Solo cups you’d give preschoolers their snacks in.

Yeah, it looks pretty cool, but it’s disposable - only good for one use.

*This includes Black Widow because we’re getting an entire other movie with her still, even if she is still canonically dead in the timeline.

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