Last week brought us the 6th episode out of 9 of WandaVisiom, entitled “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” I’m still enjoying the series a lot. But I realized after I finished my review last week, that if the answers to the various mysteries they are aiming to aren’t close to my guesses, the series may have gone completely off the rails. Two of my favorite fan writers have commented that it’s nearly impossible to review this series because you can’t tell whether things make sense if you don’t know the ending. So maybe it’s okay that I’m somewhat conflicted. This review is so late because I kept trying to write it without it being a long recap of the episode.
Before I begin my spoiler-heavy review, because this show appears on Disney+, I am morally obligated to tell you that the Disney corporation is refusing to pay Alan Dean Foster and other authors money they are owed for media tie-in novels.
This is the first episode where I was completely clueless as to who they were doing an homage to during the opening credits. I mentioned previously that due to various life events I watched virtually no television in the 1980s, right? So, due to very different life events1, I wound up missing a lot of television and other pop culture events in the 1990s.
Other viewers, more knowledgeable than myself tell me that the show skipped over the 1990s entirely to make a full-throated embrace of Malcolm in the Middle which aired from 2000 until 2006. And I’ll take their word for it.
The rest of my review/partial recap is rife with spoilers, so don’t scroll down or click below if you don’t want to be spoiled!
I can’t say more without spoilers, so…
Seriously, every single sentence below is so full of spoilers you need a vomit bag…
Seriously, turn back now!!!
I warned you!!!
Seriously, spoilers ahead!
Okay, you’re on your own now!
The title of this episode is “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” which made me expect something very Simpsons-esque… and if you squint at certain bits we got that, but we also mostly completely jumped over a decade of television which isn’t what I expected at all. I’m going to accept on faith from a number of other reviews that both the opening sequence of this week’s episode and the format of the episode was an homage to Malcolm in the Middle, a sitcom of which I have never seen an entire episode.
Thee were lots of things to love about this episode. It being Halloween is an excuse to put the characters into costumes that match their comic book counterparts. Wanda’s red Scarlet Witch duds is, she says, a costume of a Sokovian Fortune Teller. Vision’s comic book costume is supposed a Mexican wrestler. Pietro, when he gets a costume for himself and one of the twins after volunteering to take the kids trick or treating, since Vision has Neighborhood Watch isn’t explained2. But the exaggerated hair (trying to match the comics rendering of the character) give him a devilish look. Which might be intentional3.
Half of the Pietro segments involve Wanda trying to figure out if he really is Pietro, while he knows she’s testing him, and he pushes back asking sometimes awkward questions about the situation in Westview. He knows things that he shouldn’t know. Such as when he points out that there were no children seen anywhere in Westview other than her twins before that day6. He asks Wanda where they’ve been up until now? All sleeping peacefully in their beds? Wanda claims she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. At another point in their conversation she admits that she doesn’t remember how the whole Westview incident even started.
Vision had lied about having Neighborhood Watch duty in order to get away and try to find out what is really going on. We get one of the most horrific scenes because of this, as it is revealed that inhabitants of Westview who aren’t near Wanda and the action, are stuck, some of them not moving at all, others forced to go through repetive motions as background characters. One woman is stuck repeating the move of handing up a spooky decoration, while a tear runs down her cheek.
Vision finds Agnes and wakes her up similar to how he short-circuited Nom in the previous episode. We get mixed clues from her this time. Still some indication that she knows some of what’s going on, but also that she doesn’t know everything and wants to be rescued. This conversation is also where we confirm the Vision remembers nothing from before coming to Westview, as not only doesn’t he know that he used to be an Avenger, but he doesn’t know what an Avenger is.
Outside the bubble (or the Hex, as Dr Lewis has dubbed it), things heat up as well. We knew that the Director of Sword was an asshole, but we find out its worse than that. He orders Monica, Jimmy, and Darcy to be escorted off the base because they argue for finding a way to negotiate with Wanda rather than throwing in more weapons. One of my favorite moments in the whole series happened after that, as before they get all the way out of the camp, Monica and Jimmy punch out their escorts. They hide the unconscious soldiers, put on disguises, and take Darcy to a computer room where they can try to get more answers.
What Dorcy discovers makes the Director look very bad. Not only does he have some means of tracking Vision inside the Hex and ascertaining how many people are near him (information he has not shared with anyone else), but also his computer tracking program labels Vision as “The Asset.”
Jimmy and Monica head out to meet “her guy”7 who is going to help them get inside the Hex. Darcy stays behind to keep looking for useful info in the computers.
Vision got out of the Hex, and even as he seems to be being torn apart and killed, he pleads with the soldiers to help the people trapped in Westview. The Director obviously doesn’t think that’s a priority.
Among other things back inside the Hex worth commenting on are that Tommy develops superspeed, just as he will in the comics, and Billy manifests some psychic powers. And on one of the occasions where Pietro makes a comment that seems out-of-character, pointing out that Wanda’s dead husband can’t die again, Wanda blasts him.
Before we got to the second bit, there was a sequence that I didn’t quite understand what was going on while watching it. And a few reviewers were also confused. Pietro and Tommy do a bunch of pranks at superspeed. They smash all the pumpkins. They steal candy from other kids8. They cover everything with silly string. While they are doing that, Herb is talking on his neighborhood watch radio, and he repeats back what the other person is saying: they all the pumpkins have been smashed, candy has vanished, and there is silly string everywhere. The weird part is that he says each of those things just before they happen.
This caused at least two reviewers to wonder whether Herb is actually the Big Bad in disguise. Which didn’t jibe with HErb’s previous appearances, but I couldn’t think of a better reason. I finally read in yet another review that this was another homage to Malcolm In the Middle. There is a running gag where someone, usually one of the parents, lists off all the bad things that might happen, just before those things do. So it was just a joke. Probably.
Anyway, once Billy alerts Wanda that something bad is happening to Vision, her eyes went red and the Hex expanded. This has the effect of pulling Vision back inside, where presumably we’ll be back in one peace. But it also pulled the entire Sword base in. Which means that Darcy9 and the soldiers are all inside the bubble. We saw the soldiers all transform into clowns and all the Sword equipment and temporary buildings turned into carnival rides and circus tents. I don’t think we saw what Darcy turned into.
The show ended with the Director and a couple of his men speeding away in an SUV, trying to outrun the expanding Hex.
As mentioned near the beginning of this review, it is really difficult to review each episode, because until we know what the central mystery is, we don’t know if they’re doing a good job of foreshadowing it and moving the plot forward. It continues to be engaging and intriguing enough that I am guessing and invested in watching the next episode. So they’re succeeding at that.
If I’m right about what’s happening, I think the episodes are all still holding together.
I remain convinced that while Wanda’s powers seem to be the source of most (if not all) of what’s happening in Westview, but she’s not really the mastermind behind it. I think she was being as honest as she can be both when she told Vision in episode five that she doesn’t know what’s going on, and when she told Pietro in episode six that she doesn’t remember how it started. So I think she was manipulated/tricked into setting this up. I also think the person(s) who tricked her have at least some control over what it happening inside the Hex.
Will Jimmy and Monica meet her guy outside the Hex, and then have to mount a rescue mission of everyone else? Will her guy turn out to be a new MCU major character10? Did the Director outrun the expanding Hex? Is Vision going to remember what he saw when he was outside the Hex? Is Agnes one of the good guys, a bad guy, or just a victim of all of this? Will Billy and Tommy age up again? Will the next episode jump another decade (they’ve almost caught up with the present, so presumably the jumping will stop before the final episode)?
We’ll find out some of those answers in just a few hours!
And I’m really going to try to get my next review up a lot sooner!
A couple of other reviews you might enjoy:
1. I came out of the closet, got divorced from my wife. I moved in with my boyfriend, we had our commitment ceremony…. and then my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and given less then two years to live. Their prediction was slightly off, he lived about four years after said diagnosis. For a large chunk of the 1990s I was either dealing with the fallout of coming out and getting divorced, trying to start a new life with my first husband, then dealing with treatment regimes, and then grieving his death.
2. One of the twins, Billy, is wears a costume that looks like that of his comic book counterpart, Wiccan. His brother Tommy at first is going to eschew a costume entirely, until Pietro puts him in a costume that’s just a miniature version of Pietro’s. It so happens that in the comics as the superhero Speed he wears colors very similar to his uncle’s costume, so this works on two levels.
3. Lots of fans have been speculating the Mephisto4 will be revealed to be the real villain. Which could make sense since in the comics Mephisto was involved in Wanda getting her twin sons. One of the reasons that I’m not completely sure that is the case is because Mephisto is a really big Big Bad type character, and there hasn’t been any hints of his existence in any previous MCU movie or series. Previously Marvel has teased the existence of really big villain5 in several movies before they get to be the main adversary in one of the shows.
4. Mephisto is essentially Satan in the Marvel Comics, usually depicted as an archetypical devil.
5. Post credits scenes and so forth.
6. And since he just arrived the night before, how would he know that?
7. Presumably the aerospace engineer she mentioned in the previous episode.
8. Wanda makes them give all the candy back.
9. Who had come out of the server room and yelled at the Director that he ought to help Vision, and then gotten herself handcuffed to a jeep.
10. A lot of fans are betting he’ll turn out to be Reed Richards, since Disney got back the rights to the Fantastic Four but haven’t yet introduced them into the MCU.