WandaVision ★★★★

This is a story about grief, and told in dramatic Marvel fashion. Wanda Maxmioff as we know lost the one thing she loved, and she had to be the one to sacrifice him. While everybody was eventually reunited with the ones they lost, poor Wanda never got to get hers back, and this series presents how she is dealing with that loss, where she refuses to let go of Vision and that relationship, questioning whether she can get proper closure. A brilliant beginning to Marvel's Phase 4 and slate of limited series, which is an experimental mystery box style show, where with every episode you just never know what it is going to be, or where its going to go. While not quite as weird as Guardians of the Galaxy, WandaVision has an excellent form of storytelling that builds suspense and momentum, where everything eventually falls into place perfectly after a tense start where everything is questioned, but begins to neatly make sense. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany give excellent performances that made it worth revisiting Vision's character and continuing Wanda's story, finally giving both their characters a proper chance to be fleshed out, and allowing Wanda to do more then accidentally kill people.

Originally I wasn't a big fan of watching new MCU content at home for the first time as opposed to a cinema, but as the episodes continued to release, the feeling grew on me due to the audience being able to discuss and share theories while the story was still progressing, as opposed to the films where we talk before and after we have seen it. It took some getting used to, but now I really love the fact that we have ongoing Marvel content tied with the cinematic films each week, its like a gift that keeps giving and the excitement measures up. The term I have been using to try sell people on this and future Disney+ series is that they are literally movies broken up into episodes, they have the same production, budget etc, its just so characters in the Marvel universe who might be considered 'second-tier' get a longer and deeper chance of character development as opposed to the bigger characters who only require a trilogy of movies. Do you need to watch series' like WandaVision to understand the bigger picture? Absolutely. This is imperative going forward, and cannot afford to be missed.

All the credit really has to go to how amazing and spot on the production crew were able to achieve the look of each sitcom decade. I have seen ones from all the way back to the 50s and it really did capture the visual style and known tropes each had, particularly the first episode following a commonly used plot from the 60s era where an episode would revolve around 'the boss coming over for dinner' and things turning into a disaster while keeping up the charade everything is okay. The cinematography conducted by Jess Hall involved using camera lenses and lighting that were relevant to the time period it was portraying, and I don't think any of them were meant as a parody of any sort, given that Wanda had clearly been highly influenced by sitcoms, giving her the idea of what a 'perfect family life' looks and feels like, as she never got one with her parents being killed at a young age. Very quickly did I pick up on the fact we never see Agnes' wife Ralph, and never will, as he is WandaVision's answer to the show Frasier's Maris Crane, a character who is repeatedly mentioned and has specific qualities that are described, yet we never see them, a common gag for older sitcoms. Boy, did that turn out to be one hell of a twist further down the line, one I wasn't too happy about and I think would piss a lot of the fans off.

My favorite episode would have to be Episode 5, set during the 80s and capturing the magic of such a great decade, one I wish I could visit. I honestly felt like I was watching an episode of Family Ties, and not only did it replicate it, but it also managed to feature several turning points and developing moments to the story, such as Wanda's questionable psych, and Vision becoming suspicious and finally confronting her about it. Then there was the final twist at the end which was a literal jaw-dropper of a cliffhanger. My god I was not ready to see Evan Peters appear in the MCU as Quicksilver. I instantly let out a giant happy scream, which resulted in my mum walking into the room asking what the hell I am making so much noise about.

It was also fun with episodes switching back and fourth from 'The Hex' and the 'sitcom era of the week' style/look, with scenes set the 60s and 70s being in 4:3 aspect ratio and then scenes set outside the hex being in traditional 2:40:1 cinematic ratio, just like many MCU films. A Fun-fact, Vision was actually blue during the black and white episodes, since it appeared better in the grayscale imaging.

As the show progressed, it became confusing as to what direction the story was heading into, like where is all of this going? What is the endgame here? (no pun intended). Clearly everything was building toward something, but it was really hard to predict what. I think the finale could have been setup up earlier then the seventh out of ninth episode, which resulted in the villain swooping in at the last minute and suddenly filling the box for an opponent Wanda suddenly needed. Agnes' antagonistic role was obvious from the very early stages, nobody in a Marvel movie is ever that nice and who they say they are, and with a prominent character, it was clear that she was going to have a transitional moment that is completely different to this 'nosy neighbor' type. The twist was still done well thanks to the comedic tone and 'Agatha All Along', placing the cherry on the cake by admitting she killed Sparky the Dog at the very end. Kathryn Hahn was the show-stealer no doubt, however im still on the fence in terms of how I feel with this character, I feel as though Marvel had fixed their common villain problem they had in the earlier years, but took a step backwards with the writing for Agatha Harkness.

Its clear Marvel wants the audience to acknowledge and be aware that a Multiverse exists, and aside from the title of Doctor Strange 2, we clearly know that one exists. My idea of Phase 4 on-wards has been that this new era we have entered into is centering around it, the same way 1-3 were about the Infinity Stones, and therefore I refer to the present as being 'The Multiverse Saga'. Doctor Strange taught us that there are other dimensions, and Far From Home acknowledged the possibility of it before appearing as a fantasy, but WandaVision was probably the closest it has come so far as to acknowledging and encouraging it. They wanted us to think that this world we are watching is outside ours, and in some other dimension where Wanda and Vision live happily ever after and are a normal couple, before dropping the anvil on us that its not another reality, but just inside a bubble that Wanda has created called The Hex. The way I see it is that this Multiverse wont just be dragged in out of nowhere, it will be introduced overtime at a slower pace, just like the Infinity Stones, but obviously at a faster pace. Originally, I thought this centered on another dimension, and that The Decimation from Avengers: Infinity War and The Time Heist from Avengers: Endgame had created a literal hole in time, space and all of reality, having long lasting effects and different dimensions in the Multiverse were clashing with each other, that's why Monica as 'Geraldine' somehow knew Ultron had killed Pietro in 2015, despite not being there and it appearing to be 1960. This would explain why certain moments were happening in ways they weren't originally meant to (Visions boss choking at dinner) and triggering an alternate reality. Of course none of this turned out to be true, but I love brainstorming possible theories and scenarios for Marvel's ongoing narrative, im literally just like Charlie Dale in that popular meme involving the diagrams. Did I think Agent Hayward was Mephisto in disguise? Yes, yes I did.

The finale, titled 'The Series Finale', was a controversial one, a sad but mostly satisfying ending to a 9-episode narrative. My response was pretty divided and its worth discussing separately. I felt that the battles between Wanda and Agatha were climactic and got as big as they could, but for many moments was difficult to understand how or why it was happening, there were so many parts that made little to no sense, and I felt like I had missed a critical detail, yet I hadn't, it just hadn't been explained properly. Agatha had Tommy and Billy at her wrath, and her ultimate goal being to obtain all of Wanda's powers for herself after learning she is the incarnation of the titular old legend, and of course is someone who knows exactly what to do with this power.

My belief of what the message and fate of Vision was that, he is more then just a machine, as we have seen him grow as a character over the years and in this series, and getting to love him, we accept him as being just as human as the rest of the group, he cannot just simply be rebuilt and replaced, and White Vision proved just that, he was a replica sure, but his personality and memories were not of the Vision we know, that's something only he has, but still yes, he did transfer all of that into White, but you get my point. It was good to finally see Wanda get the closure she deserved to have, and finally let Vision go, or 'saying goodbye until we say hello again'. The events felt like what I would describe as a 'sequel origin-story', being that we know how Wanda obtained her powers, but her current role defining what she is and who she will become - The Scarlett Witch, a milestone in her character evolution.

My biggest problem is how it raised unnecessary questions for the sake of setting up future installments or possibly seasons, in a way that appeared lazy. Lets take White Vision for example, what happened to him? There was this huge moment where it was like the original Vision had passed himself onto his doppelganger and this was as good as we would ever get to having the character revived and back in the real world, such a big moment. Poof! Suddenly he flies out of the library and into the sky as a huge battle is taking place, never to be seen again, or questioned about by Wanda. The post-credit scenes did my head in, why did we need to have the possibility of Wanda's fake children being alive and trapped somewhere? Things were well the way they were in the ending, with the family giving a sad goodbye to each other, 'thank-you for choosing me to be your mum' probably broke me, but it all wrapped up nicely with Wanda putting this illusion of reality to rest and moving forward.

Evan Peters' alternate version of Peter/Pietro Maximoff turning out to be a ruse was a good twist that was stupid being that we knew who and why he was brought in in the first place. It was shocking to realize that 'Peter' turned out to be Ralph, Agnes' only-mentioned spouse, and it was just a coincidence that it happened to be the same face that played Quicksilver in the X-Men films, set in a separate universe from the MCU. This was very meta, originally having a very exciting prospect that all universes/movie series' were finally capable of crossing over with each other, because we were led to believe that the Multiverse now exists, and the fact that Disney brought out Fox, the studio that produced X-Men. I felt like the result was a huge cop-out, and a bit of a slap in the face to the fans because they know what we want and make a twist out of it in a sleazy way.

Every minute and every episode of watching was I critically engaged and enjoying myself, and the crazier it got, the more I loved it. Who could have ever thought in 2008 that we would be watching an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where we see ANY of the things that happen here? Its unbelievably whack, yet we find it acceptable because Jac Schaeffer and Matt Shakman were able to create the perfect balance of emotional depth with outrageous, campy, avant-garde storytelling, and using two Avengers who were often treated as bench-warmers to do so. Here, both characters got a real chance to shine.