WandaVision takes a break from Westview’s constructed reality to inject some MCU-style narrative drive
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, and Randall Park
After three episodes bridging three separate decades of sitcom-inspired adventures, it was only a matter of time until the real world collided with WandaVision. “We Interrupt This Program” gives the series a real sense of tension and narrative build in contrast to the largely standalone false reality of Westview that we have been living in.
The fourth instalment establishes the world beyond Westview, and gives context to some of the mysterious happenings we have witnessed in the earlier episodes. The opening sequence sees the MCU collide with the series in a meaningful way, as Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) rematerialises after “The Blip” to discover the world in chaos. It’s an interesting new angle on the dramatic climax of Avengers: Endgame about the real-world consequences of those people who reappeared after five years away, as well as the impact that would have had upon hospitals that were already struggling with dramatically reduced staff.
Though the audience have seen Monica playing the role of Geraldine, this episode does quick work in establishing her as a character with massive amounts of personal trauma, as well as grit, determination, bravery and heroism. Suffering upon discovering that her mother, Maria Rambeau, who we saw in Captain Marvel, survived the operation that she was recovering from when Monica was snapped out of existence, but then died two years later before discovering that Monica survived is a painful moment that is contrasted by the rest of the world’s jubilation at being reunited with their loved ones.
Monica is summoned to Westview to assist Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) with a missing persons case, when they discover that nobody can actually remember the town of Westview even existing, and a hexagonal energy field extending around the town. Even though Monica, predictably, gets sucked into Westview to exist within the sitcom world, this episode still has the capable audience surrogates Jimmy as well as fan-favourite Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) who continue the investigation regardless. They are highly relatable and likeable characters, firstly because the audience will be familiar with these characters already, but also because of both actors’ charismatic performances and the realistic way in which they respond to the bizarre situation.
Having been exposed to the artifice and the forced jollity of Westview’s false reality, there’s something incredibly refreshing about Darcy and Jimmy’s responses, which lack those levels of control and performance and instead come across as incredibly genuine. There’s also something delightfully tongue-in-cheek about Darcy and Jimmy watching the events that the audience have already seen on their own screen, with Darcy squealing along and eating popcorn.
The episode gives a context to the more sinister events in the earlier instalments of WandaVision, namely the mysterious voice in the radio, the technicolor helicopter and the unsettling beekeeper – identifying them all as attempts by S.W.O.R.D (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) to break through into Westview. There are also some delightful sequences in which S.W.O.R.D theorise about what is happening in Westview in much the same way that Twitter has been abuzz about the series since it premiered.
This episode also filled in the gaps as to how Monica was ejected from Westview, showing a dramatic confrontation between her and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). It’s here where the cracks really begin to show in Wanda’s breezy facade, and the hurt and pain that lingers underneath threatens to come to the surface as she vengefully, forcibly propels Monica out of her world. When she then turns around to see Vision (Paul Bettany) as his own corpse, it’s clear that the reality around her isn’t as stable as we perhaps thought it was, though is reassuring to see that the programme will perhaps tackle Wanda’s intense trauma over Vision’s death.
It’s small secret, after all, that Thanos likely would have met his end far before if Wanda had had a chance to confront him directly. Her powers are derived from the same source as Captain Marvel’s, and we’ve really just seen the tip of the iceberg of what she can achieve. The fact that she managed to fend off Thanos with all six infinity stones while also destroying the mind stone and killing Vision is indicative enough of the incredible power, but the fact that she went through this heart ache of killing her love only to have that decision reversed and to have him murdered instead is sure to leave a gaping wound, and if the show unfolds as is currently suggested, it would really lend some gravity and emotional weight to the spectacle of MCU’s film offerings.
The final statement of this episode is, “It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda!”. This certainly plays into most of the online theories, and I must say I prefer this version of events where Wanda has autonomy and control over the situation instead of her being manipulated or used for somebody else’s goals. It will also be the best way to delve into her feelings over Vision’s death which will be majorly emotionally satisfying, and everything so far seems to feed into the theory that Westview is a different reality that Wanda has created for herself to shield herself from her grief.
Not only is this suggested through Wanda herself throwing Monica out, demonstrating that she’s aware of the illusion, but also the fact that the parts of the episodes where the real world has bled through have been erased from the in-universe broadcast, presumably by Wanda herself. However, with still five more episodes to go, there must be multiple twists ready to keep the premise interesting.
Though Episode 4 doesn’t dramatically shift along the plot or offer any new revelations, it does give the series a sense of urgency and consequence that has sorely been missing before. Additionally, the involvement of S.W.O.R.D as a concept does suggest a potential clash as the series rumbles on, as there may be a present worry about how safe Wanda is considering her cosmic level of power.
What’s more, there are still several questions about the other inhabitants of Westview and how much they are aware of, considering some cryptic comments made by Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) last week – whose real identity was noticeably not revealed compared to the other notable players in Wanda’s world. Who Jimmy was trying to track down is also a mystery, and considering his previous missions have involved people like Ant Man, there could be an introduction of a new hero to the MCU here, or the return of a familiar one.
A new and slightly bizarre inclusion in this episode is the revelation that Westview has a hexagonal energy field around it, which seems oddly neat and convenient and will likely need some more unpacking. It seems oddly convenient and precise for this to have come from Wanda, as that suggests an element of control that she doesn’t have. Sure, set up an entire alternate universe, no problem, but a hexagonal shape just seems too scientific. Doubtless there will be countless theories as to the provenance of this, though the only thing that springs to my mind is beehives.
Another macabre suggestion from this episode is the sudden change in Vision’s appearance to reflect his corpse. It raises questions about just how real Vision is. Has he actually been created by Wanda, and is he able to exist outside of Westview, or is he merely an illusion, or, worse still, his reanimated corpse? It would certainly be a very dark place for the series to go, but with five episodes still to come, those answers doubtless won’t come soon.
Episode 4 injects the real world into the bizarre and stylised WandaVision universe. Though there’s still some more sitcom eras to tackle as the series unfolds, but with reality sitting just outside the town limits, the faux reality seems to be falling apart as a real sense of urgent narrative drive takes hold.
WandaVision is streaming exclusively on Disney+, with new episodes released on Fridays