Since the very surreal WandaVision started, we’ve been seeing some cracks in the idyllic life of Westview, New Jersey. Now those cracks are becoming more like gaping chasms. Last episode focused mostly on events outside the energy barrier around the town, but this one bounces back and forth between them. We learn a lot of troubling things about Wanda, see some disturbing signs of what’s happening with the townspeople, and get hints about more heroes waiting in the wings. There’s a lot to process in “On A Very Special Episode,” which really lives up to its name. I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, but a lot happened here and I’m not sure I’ll be 100% successful.
The episode does a great job of, among other things, weaving very dark moments into the ongoing sitcom premise, and moving on now to the 80’s. Aside from the obvious wardrobe choices, the title sequence is very clearly a nod to the 80’s sitcom Family Ties. As the show opens, Wanda and Vision are having trouble getting their twins to stop crying. Wanda, possibly foreshadowing several times later when she’s manipulating people, gets Vision to leave the room and tries to use her powers to get the kids to sleep. Like the stork a little while ago, her powers don’t work as she expected. What I find interesting there is both that she knows, on some level, what she’s doing is wrong, since she sends Vision away before she tries it, and secondly, while I know that most people are saying Wanda is the one in control of all this, between the storks and this misfire, I’m not wholly convinced.
Kathryn Hahn’s wacky neighbor Agnes drops by again, wardrobe and jokes updated for the 80’s theme. Vision is getting concerned about what’s happening, and his doubts throw the scene off track in several odd ways. It’s a really weird, breaking the fourth wall exchange, which leaves Agnes looking very worried, Vision perplexed, and Wanda determinedly pretending all is well. Those chasms I mentioned are starting to split wide here. There’s a new, surprising development with the kids, and Agnes takes this completely in stride as she lounges on the counter, and offers a very interesting line in light of what recently happened with Wanda’s powers.
Out in the real (er?) world, things are buzzing in the wake of last episode’s developments. Captain Monica Rambeau is being interviewed by Director Hayward and medically examined in the wake of her time inside the “Hex” as the Westview area is being called. Darcy seems to be following in the footsteps of Flash’s Cisco Ramone for coming up with names for things. Monica talks about what she remembers from being inside and under someone else’s control, and it’s a grim picture. Woo shows up to check on her, introduces Darcy, and we get a hint that Monica might be starting to manifest powers like her comic book counterpart. Director Hayward runs a briefing about the situation, and he’s clearly very anti-Wanda. Woo protests some of his characterizations, but gets overruled, and we see some of Wanda’s “greatest hits” from various video recordings. Monica also speaks up in defense of Wanda, at which point Director Hayward shows some video that looks really bad for Wanda, and makes me wonder why he’s been sitting on this the whole time. Among the questions people have are how powerful is Wanda now, what’s really going on in there, and how much of all this is Vision aware of? There’s also an interesting bit in this scene when they go out of their way to establish that Wanda has never had a codename.
Back in Wanda’s kitchen, there is domestic mischief ala sitcom revolving around a new dog. Vision has more questions, and even more so after Agnes pops up again with
just what’s needed. There’s an in-joke about Vision’s 2015 comic book series, Wanda acting out of character and worrying Vision, and more of the “sure, whatever” attitude from Agnes, as well as another surprise from the kids. Outside, Woo brings coffee to Darcy and Monica as they scheme about ways to safely re-enter the Hex. There’s a passing reference to something that might be an Easter Egg they didn’t quite get to, speculation about how Wanda’s powers are working, a very good question about the kids, and an interesting reaction from Monica after a passing reference to Captain Marvel, who she at least used to be close to. Monica does a very interesting test for a theory, and then comes up with another way to maybe get a better view of what’s happening in Westview.
Now suddenly at work, Vision is helping the office adapt to this new-fangled 80’s innovation, computers. There are more jokes about how good Vision is with them, and then things take a turn. His work buddy Norm, who is usually just comic relief, has a very serious and dark moment. The man is clearly terrified and Vision is shocked at the depth of his reaction and what he hints at. Their computers somehow get an email from Darcy and there’s a very odd office-wide reaction to it. At home, Wanda gets several questions she can’t quite answer and essentially admits she’s manipulating Vision. Family comes up, and there’s another passing reference to Pietro.
The scene gets interrupted when Sparky the dog goes crazy and demands to be let out. Wanda goes to see what is happening, and we learn that Monica has gotten a very old drone inside Westview. Monica appeals to Wanda to listen, but Wanda isn’t having it. Hayward takes over and does something rash, which raises the stakes a lot. Immediately after that, alarms go off outside, and SWORD rushes to see what’s going on. Wanda steps
out of the energy field, and this is very much not the Wanda of sitcom Westview. She looks, and even sounds, very different as she gets rid of something she didn’t want, gives a casual demonstration of her power, and also backs up one of Monica’s earlier comments before going back inside.
As the energy field undergoes a change, we get another fake commercial. This one wasn’t as obvious as the others, but it has an interesting message. It’s an ad for Lagos Paper Towels, to clean up the mess you didn’t intend to make. Lagos is where, in Captain America: Civil War, Wanda lost control of her powers, killed 26 people, and kicked off what eventually became the Sokovia Accords. A mess she didn’t mean to make indeed.
After the commercial, Wanda and family are looking for Sparky. Agnes is the bearer of bad news, which, for a moment, made me very worried for her. Wanda gives an interesting talk about running away from feelings and not breaking certain rules, which in some lights could seem hypocritical. She even seems a bit troubled by what she’s saying. Later, things get heated at home when Wanda and Vision have a serious argument, the first we’ve seen in this series. It’s about things Vision has noticed, and he’s not accepting Wanda’s increasingly elaborate attempts to dodge the issue, including a very meta, shattering the fourth wall moment. They start using their powers as Vision gives some very anguished comments, but stop short of actually attacking each other. Wanda also makes an interesting admission that, to my mind, possibly backs up the idea that, while all this is being fueled by Wanda’s powers, she might not be in full control of what’s happening.
Their discussion gets interrupted by the doorbell, which leads to Wanda making an interesting denial. As she goes to answer, alarms go off at the SWORD base, and we see Darcy watching what happens next. The episode ends with a really big reveal, as someone very unexpected stops by. I won’t say who for spoilers, but I will say this could be the most significant, world-changing event in the MCU since the first Avengers movie. Wanda and Darcy seem equally shocked as they see who this is, and then the credits roll again.
What I liked: This was a very dark episode. Not dark for the sake of shock value, but the glamor is wearing off the illusion and we’re seeing what really lies beneath it. Wanda and Agnes had some very interesting lines, and Vision asked some great questions that have no answers so far. Darcy, Woo, and Monica make a great team. Wanda’s brief trip outside was interesting and worrying. The end reveal was astounding, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. I liked the hint at what may be coming for Monica, and am intrigued by her reaction to the mention of Captain Marvel.
What I didn’t: Director Hayward seems to be the resident dick. I don’t know if he’s motivated by fear (which I’d understand at this point), or if he has some darker agenda. The scenes with Agnes and Norm were starkly frightening, and made me feel very bad for them.
This was jaw-dropping. I’m really looking forward to next week and hoping for more developments with the new visitor especially. I’m giving this one a rare 5 out of 5.