Monday, March 8, 2021

Ending the Homage and Story in “WANDAVISION”: “THE SERIES FINALE”


All good things come to an end, and as of last Friday, the Disney+ streaming series “WandaVision,” set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has just concluded. Apropos to its episode title “The Season Finale,” the ninth episode of this sometimes-funny, sometimes meta show wraps up all plot threads while still managing to keep a road open for a future movie or series in the franchise. Much of a deal has been made regarding the “Scarlet Witch,” a figure in witchcraft sought by Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), who is fully convinced that Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is the one she seeks.

Harkness read of the Scarlet Witch from a tome called the Darkhold, which Marvel TV viewers might recall from ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” and Hulu’s “Runaways.” According to the Darkhold, the Scarlet Witch is prophesied to destroy the world, which Harkness plans to stop by siphoning the powers off of the still-confused Wanda. This gets complicated when The Vision, or the body of Vision (Paul Bettany) reactivated by SWORD director Heyward (Josh Stamberg), appears and tries to kill Wanda. She is saved by Vision as manifested inside Wanda’s Hex over Westview. A two-front battle rages, and Agatha springs her gambit.

She removes the spell the Hex has over the people of Westview, causing their real personalities to surface from the sitcom roles imposed by Wanda. Their anger at her causes Wanda to open the Hex so they can leave. This enables Heyward to enter, but causes Vision and his and Wanda’s Hex-generated sons (Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne) to begin disintegrating. A panicked Wanda reasserts the Hex, and though she struggles against Harkness’ magic she is overcome and her powers drained. Heyward springs in to eliminate Wanda and her family, only for Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to intervene with her powers.

Initially held captive upon re-entering the Hex by the alleged Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters), Monica begins gaining conscious control over her Hex-granted ability to disable him. Here is the big letdown of this show, of sorts. It was assumed that Wanda’s powers caused an alternate-universe version of her dead brother to appear. The reality is more banal. “Pietro” is an actor residing in Westview, who was brainwashed by Agatha first into standing as husband for her “Agnes” alias and then to impersonate Pietro for Wanda. Realizing her power of energy absorption and manipulation, plus intangibility, Monica saves the Maximoff kids from Heyward, who is then detained by Darcy (Kat Dennings).

Vision and “The” Vision’s battle concludes when the former uses his power to reboot the latter, restoring his memories before being deactivated in “Avengers: Infinity War.” This causes The Vision to escape Westview. Over with Wanda, she seemingly, futilely tries to battle Agatha with blasts of magic. When Harkness suddenly loses the ability to spell-cast, Wanda reveals her “errant” magic blasts actually inscribed runes in the borders of the Hex, similar to Agatha’s earlier rune use to disable Wanda. That done, Maximoff reabsorbs her chaos magic from Harkness, fully awakening herself as the Scarlet Witch.

With Harkness now too weak to keep fighting, Wanda punishes her by trapping Agatha underneath her Agnes personality, noting that she will only reawaken her at times she needs advice about her new nature as the Scarlet Witch. Upon reuniting with Vision and their sons, Wanda returns home, bids the kids to sleep, then gradually collapses the Hex so that she and the Hex-created Vision could have one last talk and farewell, along with a promise to meet again someday.

In the denouement, Heyward is arrested by Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and the police for overstepping his authority, but the people of Westview remain hostile to Wanda for trapping them. Monica advises Wanda to leave and she does, hiding from the public once more. She is not idle though, as Wanda took the Darkhold with her. While reading through its pages however, she hears her illusionary sons calling for help.

Where things will go after “WandaVision,” we can only speculate. We know that it ties into Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” with Agatha revealing that as Scarlet Witch, Wanda is stronger magically than Dr. Strange as Sorcerer Supreme. There is also the scene of Monica being contacted by a (male) friend of her late mother, which might lead to “Captain Marvel 2” for 2022 since Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is in space. Then again Monica could also pop up in another Disney+ MCU series, “Ms. Marvel” starring Iman Vellani. She too is crossing over to “Captain Marvel 2.” Her show could premiere in late 2021. The possibilities are just endless. But as for “WandaVision” itself, it was a nice look back in the milestone ages of TV sitcoms, with an MCU story in the bargain; unique and also a blast.

Image courtesy of The Guardian


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