Things really got moving in this episode, “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” I think we may have learned enough that it’s possible to start making some judgement calls on some of the plot and delivery decisions made in earlier episodes. Despite the fact that there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth during the first about hour after the episode became available for streaming. Disney+ was experiencing problems. For some people the service crashed completely and didn’t come back for a while. A lot of others experience multiple long pauses in the middle of the action. Many are inferring that a lot more fans of the show are waiting up on Thursday night until the episode becomes available, and simply overwhelmed the system.
This episode gave us a couple of answers to questions swirling around the underlying mystery and hinted at more to come. I’ve seen a few people already claiming that the reveal near the end of this episode completely eliminates a few other fan theories, and I think those people are jumping the gun. Which I will get to below. But before I get into any spoilers, I think it is worth mentioning that for the first time in the series there is a post-credits scene. I won’t tell you what it is above the break, but just in case you’re one of those people who stop playing or skip to another show once the credits start, you might want to stick around this time.
One more thing before I get into it: this show appears on Disney+, and may I remind you that Disney corporation is refusing to pay Alan Dean Foster and other authors money they are owed for media tie-in novels.
I can’t say more without spoilers, so…
Seriously, every single sentence below is full of spoilers…
Seriously, turn back now!!!
I warned you!!!
Seriously, spoilers ahead!
You’re on your own, now!
This episode was in the style of Modern Family—though some people may be familiar with the gimmick of having the characters occasionally speaking directly to the camera as if talking about what just happened with a documentary film crew as being from The Office. I was just happy that I recognized the Modern Family homage because that is a series of which I have scene exactly one episode1.
Wanda seems to be going through a bit of a mental break. She doesn’t want to deal with anything, including when Billy tells her that something is wrong inside his head. She talks about blasting Pietro and expanding the Hex to engulf more of the outer wall as if she was talking about a night of binge drinking. The reality bubble is itself feeling the strain, as objects (such as the twins’ video game console, some of the furniture, even a carton of milk) keep transforming into their counterparts from previous decades.
Vision wakes up in a field outside of town where all of the S.W.O.R.D. agents and such have been transformed into a circus. Darcy is the new escape artist. Vision is mistaken for a new clown. Vision is able to short circuit Darcy’s escape artist persona and have a real conversation with her. They steal a circus vehicle and head into town, though they keep running into literal (and funny) roadblocks, which they interpret as Wanda’s subconscious trying to delay them. The delay does give Darcy time to tell Vision a bit of his life before Westview, including the fact that he died twice and Wanda had to watch it both times.
Outside the Hex, Director Hayward and most of S.W.O.R.D. is getting ready to launch some sort of attack. MEanwhile Monica and Jimmy meet up with some other officers of S.W.O.R.D. who (despite the Director’s orders) have brought her an armor space rover and related equipment which she wants to use to drive back into the Hex, and hope that the radiation shielding protects her from any more changes to her molecular structure.
Besides saying some disturbing things to the twins about not know things she ought to know, she also tells them not to trust Pietro because he isn’t their real uncle. She is also decidedly unconcerned that Vision as been missing all night. Agnes shows up and volunteers to take the boys for a while so Wanda can sort herself out. And finally see the inside of Agnes’ house. When Billy mentions that he likes it there because it’s quiet—specifically that Agnes is quiet inside—Agnes gives the camera a look which appears to be concern2, though later events will make that questionable.
Monica’s attempt to drive through the wall didn’t quite work. But she manages to force her way through on her own in a sequence that was really quite cool. Her eyes are glowing for a bit when she first gets through the barrier, and she seems to be able to see energy fields. But the important thing is that she is inside and doesn’t immediately turn into Geraldine.
So she runs into town.
When she finds Wanda things immediately get dicey. But it again is clear that Monica’s third trip through the barrier has given her some superpwers. She tries to talk Wanda down, warning her about Hayward’s plan to take Vision back and not caring who gets hurt in the process. It even appears that she might be getting through, except Agnes appears, tells Monica to go away, and drags Wanda into her (Agnes’s) house.
Wanda asks where the twins are, and Agnes replies probably in the basement. But in the basement Wanda finds something that looks like the set of a horror movie or maybe a live action DnD game. Complete with an ancient tome sitting on some sort of reading stand and I think it was glowing slightly. No sign of the boys. And then Agnes joins her, introduces herself as Agatha Harkness3, the other magical girl in Westview, and after apparently casting a spell on Wanda, a song breaks out, accompanied by scenes from the previous episodes in a revelatory montage showing how Agnes was in the background, often making magical gestures, at every crucial turning point in the series4.
The song, “It was Agatha All Along” even ends with a title card that could be the opening of a television series just about Agatha.
I’ve seen a number of people claim that this means that all the theories other people have been throwing around about various cosmic bad guys from the comics being behind all this are wrong. I have to point out that it is only a maybe. Yes, Agatha is taking credit for manipulating Wanda, but we don’t yet know why. In the comics Agatha is sometimes on the side of the good guys, and sometimes not. And that is largely because Agatha firmly believes that the ends justify the means. Which also means that she will just as soon team up with bad guys if she thinks it will prevent something worse. So it is possible that she’s doing this to thwart one of the aforementioned cosmic beings, or that she’s helping one of them with some nefarious scheme in order to prevent something much worse from happening. We just don’t know.
Similarly, while Agatha took credit for Pietro showing up when he did, that still doesn’t tell us who he is. I’ve seen a number of people saying that he can’t possibly be an alternate universe Pietro plucked from the multiverse, because Agatha doesn’t have that kind of power. I’ll just point out that one of the things Wanda walked past in the basement sure looked like it could be a magical portal.
I am fully ready to believe that the main reason the showrunners cast Evan Peters as the Pietro for this series was as a red herring5 for the fans. If he turns out to be some random Westivew citizen that Agatha implanted some false memories into, that’s okay. If that’s the case, then either Agatha has the power to grant someone superspeed, or Wanda does. Which maybe they do?
At this point it feels like a lot of the odd clues we got along the way are adding up to at least a semi-coherent answer. We still don’t know what Agatha’s motive is. We don’t know where the twins are (and where they fit into her plans). We don’t know what, exactly, S.W.O.R.D. is perparing to launch. Other than probably wanting to turn Vision’s inanimate body into a weapon, we don’t know what Hayward plans to do with him. We don’t know if there is a way for Vision to live outside the Hex. And we don’t know that there isn’t an even bigger Bad Guy waiting in the wings.
But we do know that Pietro didn’t die or vanish after Wanda blasted him last episode.
Because after a bunch of credits roll, we get another scene. Monica is searching around one of the houses in the neighborhood. Based on the color scheme of the house and where we last saw Monica, I thought it was Wanda and Vision’s house. Lots of other folks think it’s Agatha’s house. And even though Wanda had just been taken into Agatha’s house, Monica doesn’t know that neither twins nor Vision aren’t inside Wanda’s house. She might be looking for them. If appealing directly to Wanda on her own was starting to work6, if she could enlist Vision’s help in talking to Wanda, it might go better.
Which ever house it is, Monica finds the outdoor entrance to its basement. She pulls the doors open, and we see a bunch of ominous roots or vines covered in small purple blossoms or similar. Soemthing similar had been visible in Agatha’s basement, but Agatha’s basement also seemed much bigger than the part of the house above ground. So I thought her basement might actually be a large sprawling subterranean complex, that undermines many homes in Westview.
We only get a moment to ponder this before Pietro suddenly appears beside Monica, startling her. He says, “Snoopers gotta snoop!” And we jump back to the rest of the credits.
All in all, a very fun episode!
A couple of other reviews you might enjoy:
1, I’ve also seen some clips and gif sets of scenes that fans consider especially funny of iconic, but just one episode.
2. I mean, there are so many things Agnes could be concerned about regarding Billy’s apparent powers.
3. And one popular theory is hereby confirmed!
4. She even takes credit for killing the puppy!
5. In the last couple of reviews I have not talked about the fake commercials that pop up in the series. One of the reasons why is I think at least half of them have been red herrings.
6. Causing Agnes/Agatha to intervene.
7. I was a little disappointed that Jimmy was left outside the Hex. But then I realized that with Darcy and Monica inside, we still need a sympathetic character outside who may be able to help thwart whatever Hayward and S.W.O.R.D. are going to launch. And Jimmy, though he was almost comic relief in Ant-Man and the Wasp has proven to be surprisingly more than he seemed in this series8.
8. One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying all through this series is how many of the action centers on characters that have had small supporting roles in the previsous MCU properties and frequently in the comics, as well. Wanda and Vision themselves have more often been supporting characters for decades in the comics, so giving them their own series was a big deal. Even Agatha Harkness is far more often a supporting characters in the comics. So seeing Darcy, Monica, and Jimmy have such consequential (and still fun and true to their previous portrayals) roles has been nice.