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WandaVision reveals painful pasts and bestows a mantle in Episode 8, 'Previously On'
Welcome back to WandaVision (WandaVision!) where it is always sunny... aside from the constant rain of chaos.
***WARNING: From this point forward there will be spoilers for the WandaVision episode “Previously On.” If you have not watched yet, then go and watch some TV on DVD and get OUTTA here Dewey! You don’t want this.***
It was Agatha all along, but Agatha still needs answers — she came here to figure out what the heck's going on. So Agatha (Kathryn Hahn) takes Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) on a journey through her past in the appropriately titled episode, “Previously On,” to try and get to the bottom of it.
Some pieces of Wanda’s Marvel Cinematic Universe history are familiar, and some are new. Almost all of them are heartbreaking, and they all involve Wanda using television to cope.
Been there, friend Wanda. Been there.
Before we go into Wanda’s past, though, we get a flashback with Agatha Harkness. We see her about to be destroyed by her own coven of witches in 1693 Salem because Agatha delved into dangerous magic that was off-limits. The coven's powers are no match for Agatha’s, though, and before long, her coven is shriveled and gone, their magic seemingly absorbed by Agatha.
Agatha does try appealing to them, saying that she can be good. Their only response was, “No, you cannot,” even when she begs them to teach her. They still refuse.
Fair enough — you’re all dead now! She snags her signature cameo brooch off of the corpse of her coven leader (who is also her mother, it seems), and makes it a part of her regular ensemble.
Back in her basement, Agatha lays this whole magic thing out for Wanda. She needs to know how magic on this scale is possible, with Wanda herself not knowing becoming a point of frustration. Wanda doesn't even know the "fundamentals" of magic (as Agatha calls them).
She was responsible for Fake Pietro ("Fietro") because the real Pietro’s body is in another country and "full of holes." We saw last week that she was responsible for much more, but the magic being turned up to 11 and running on autopilot? That has not been Agatha all along, it's been Wanda.
So, the magical duo have to take a little trip into the past to discover the hows and whys of it being Wanda all along.
Each stage of Wanda’s life that we visit is marked by tragedy, and television was always there to help Wanda through. Her Sokovian father (conveniently masked in shadows for a hot second to, maybe, give hope that we'd be getting another X-universe cameo) (that is not the case) brings home a suitcase full of shows, including Bewitched, I Love Lucy, and Malcolm in the Middle. They keep The Dick Van Dyke Show in a special hiding place. These are all shows that we’ve seen WandaVision riff on. Wanda loves the harmless shenanigans and escapism of these shows — her younger self is enthralled by them right before her parents get blown away.
When she and young Pietro are waiting for a Stark missile to kill them (as we hear about in Avengers: Age of Ultron), the television is still skipping through frames of The Dick Van Dyke Show right next to it. That’s all well and good, but Agatha wants to know where Wanda got the “big guns.” She notes that Wanda was not without power here — even guessing that Wanda used a probability spell to keep herself and Pietro safe — but she certainly had them amplified later.
Cut to the HYDRA experiments, where we see Wanda’s first encounter with Loki’s scepter (never far from our hearts), having her powers enhanced by the Mind Stone within. During the "experiment," she sees a vision of a floating woman with a similar headpiece to the one Wanda normally wears in the comics. In the aftermath, she once again copes using TV. Without assistance from the Infinity Stone, Agatha says that her powers would have “died on the vine.”
Flash to the Avengers compound after Pietro's death, where Wanda copes with television until she is joined by Vision. He comforts her, saying, “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
You can almost see Wanda transferring her coping mechanisms from the television to Vision himself.
Wanda ultimately ends up with an MCU sad-sack "go f**k yourself" pack: dead parents, dead brother, dead Vision — hello, darkness, my old friend — and nothing to hold her magic back. We see her storm into the S.W.O.R.D. base, but she doesn’t steal Vision’s body as Hayward (now firmly our least favorite person) claimed in a previous episode. She doesn't wreak havoc and break into the facility. No, Hayward invited her in, only for Wanda to find them dismantling Vision's body because it’s a "sentient weapon" and Hayward is a sentient a-hole.
Wanda doesn’t steal the body. She walks away, gets into her car, and starts driving. Eventually, she arrives in Westview.
Why is she here? From the note on the deed to the unfinished property she arrives at, which is described as a spot “to grow old in” and signed "V," we can assume it was Vision. He was going to build them a home. Then he died and left Wanda alone in the universe.
Overcome by grief, Wanda's magic goes ham, exploding outward and building up the house around her before spreading. The town transforms into the black-and-white Pleasantville from the first episode, and an entirely new Vision is created from yellow Mind Stone-ish light.
Again: Wanda did not steal Vision's body and remake him. The Vision we've been watching throughout WandaVision was created by pure magic. Is this why our Vision can't remember anything before Westview?
This new Vision looks at Wanda with love in his eyes. “Wanda," he says. "Welcome home.” The show begins.
Cut back to a set, a studio, and Agatha applauding. She has kind of figured everything out? In the street, Agatha's got Billy and Tommy by the necks with her purple magic and tells Wanda that she, "a being capable of spontaneous creation," is supposed to be a myth. This kind of power shouldn't exist. Instead, Wanda is using what power she has “to make breakfast for dinner.”
Agatha then drops a few words that Wanda Maximoff fans have been waiting years to hear spoken in the MCU:
“This is chaos magic, Wanda. And that makes you the Scarlet Witch.”
At long last, Wanda Maximoff has received her true comic book-accurate name. Where will her chaos go next? Agatha will probably be a bad influence. And, as we see in the after-credit scene, Hayward actually reassembling the real Vision (with some power from "the source") isn’t going to help anything.
It’s all bad, everything hurts, and the Scarlet Witch has run out of shows to binge. Let Wanda’s chaos reign, and let it reign forever.
New episodes of WandaVision are available to watch on Disney+ every Friday.