After the long drought of delays and rescheduling, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally moving ahead again. WandaVision, going first in this new era of, well, everything, is making up for some of the gap by releasing their first two episodes in the same night, before returning to the more usual format of one episode per week. This is a very different show, and between the serious stylistic difference and the long gap between releases, it’s getting a lot of intense scrutiny from comic book and movie geeks like me.
After an odd opening scene of what sounds like distant explosions that’s been shown in many, many trailers and gets played very lightly, there’s a new title sequence. The animated opening, very much in the style of both Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie, is crammed full of interesting little Easter Eggs. Among them: the title being surrounded by six glowing stars, the same number as the Infinity Stones that had such an impact on the characters in the movies; an ad for “Bova Milk,” with Bova being the evolved cow (it’s comics, don’t ask) that helped raise Wanda and Pietro in the comics; a shot of the Grim Reaper’s helmet in the walls as Vision phases through them (the Reaper is an Avengers foe with a particular hatred of Vision and Wonder Man, who we haven’t seen so far in the MCU); and a statuette of what looks like the Whizzer in their living room. The Whizzer was a Golden Age superhero who was, for a time, thought to be the father of Wanda and Pietro, and died during their limited series in the 80’s. Are we reading too much into some of these things? Maybe, but the MCU has a track record of little things becoming really important later.
Still in sitcom mode like the first episode, the second is also in black and white. The surface plot is a fundraiser for the local school, and our heroes are worried about doing well in it and fitting in. Fitting in is a major theme of the episode, with various difficulties along the way. The refrain of “for the children” comes up repeatedly throughout the episode, which is creepy for two reasons. First off, it sounds very much like a cult response the way everyone says it. Secondly, two episodes in, we haven’t seen any kids in this town.
Wanda and Vision, fittingly for a couple with a witch, are doing a magic act. They use the stage names Glamor and Illusion, which was a couple that lived next door to our leads in the comics at one point. They were stage magicians who used actual powers to enliven their act, reminding me a bit of DC Comics’ stage magician/sorceress Zatanna. They rehearse and seem to have everything down pat… so you know disaster waits in the wings.
Hearing the noise again, Wanda goes outside to investigate, and finds a strange toy with a unique appearance, a familiar color scheme, and a logo we’ve seen before. Wanda goes to a neighborhood committee meeting to further their “fitting in” plan, while Vision goes to the neighborhood watch to both try and join and find out about the odd sounds last night. Nothing goes quite right. Wanda doesn’t blend in from the start, being the only woman wearing pants for one thing. She’s accompanied by nosy neighbor/comic relief Agnes, who we met in the first episode, and makes some apparently fourth-wall breaking comments. Dottie, the “queen bee” of the neighborhood, rules her fiefdom with an iron fist. Vision gets initially snubbed from the watch, then finds it’s more interested in gossip than security. Something goes wrong there in sitcom logic, with the effect that Vision ends up acting drunk for much of the episode. Wanda helps clean up after the meeting, gets several barbs from Dottie, and there’s another strange incident.
The pair get through their respective meetings and then it’s time for the show. Again, not exactly blending in, Wanda is wearing a costume that’s kind of daring for the 60’s-ish time period this seems to be set in. Vision’s new demeanor threatens their secret several times, leaving Wanda to do her best to cover for his indiscretions with increasingly creative uses of her powers. We also get a lot of screen time for new neighbor Geraldine, who was also the only one to appear in the opening cartoon with Wanda by herself, instead of part of the group. I believe I know who “Geraldine” is, but we’ll see as the episodes go by.
Eventually, things come to a close with a few more odd events. The talent show is a success, Dottie might be on her way to accepting Wanda, their secret remains safe, and all’s well that ends well, right? Not quite. There’s another commercial that’s a lot more disturbing than the last one, a mysterious figure who might have ties to a villainous Marvel group shows up, there’s an atmospheric change that will likely affect things from this point forward, a surprising development with Wanda, and a demonstration that Wanda’s powers are growing or that things are even odder than they seem here. Also, I’m getting increasingly curious about Agnes’ often referenced but not so far seen husband.
What I liked: The intro was entertaining, and I’m intrigued by the number of references they squeezed into it. The surreal nature of what’s going on is making me more and more curious about where and when Wanda is. The overall production values are impressing me, and the atmosphere drawn from early sitcoms is really nicely done.
What I didn’t: Not much, really. I have a lot of questions, but they’re more in the nature of “What’s going on with this story?” than “Why did they do that?” I’m intrigued and curious, and they haven’t hit any wrong notes so far with me as a long-time comic fan.
I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. I’m looking forward to next week’s episode.