Having now seen the entire series1, I can sum up my feelings quite succinctly: It’s f-ing awesome2!
It did not end the way I thought it would. Thank goodness it didn’t end the many weird ways that some fans, fancasts, and so-called leakers were predicting. The show ended much, much better than any of those predictions.
The last episode took the meta of all the earlier episode titles all the way to 11: “The Series Finale.” It was fun, it didn’t have plotholes, it didn’t introduce wild twists (but it had more than one surprise3). Most importantly: it is a complete story. It did not feel as if it was just setting us up for the next show4.
It also is exactly the kind of story I, for one, needed right now. But I can’t explain why without spoilers. But before I warn you not to click through or otherwise read further, may I remind you that the Disney corporation is still refusing to pay Alan Dean Foster and other authors money they are owed for media tie-in novels.
Seriously, every single sentence below is full of spoilers…
Seriously, turn back now!!!
I warned you!!!
Seriously, spoilers ahead!
For the last time, you’re on your own, now!
WandaVision is, first and foremost, a television series. I don’t just mean that it is being streamed with weekly episodes like a series, but the story and storytelling techniques are all very television. In one sense the series is a deconstruction of family situation comedies. In another sense it is a deconstruction of superhero stories. It really used the episodic storytelling format well: individual stories that add up to something more than the sum of their parts. There were also wonderful sight gags, funny dialogue, and memorable bits from each episode.
WandaVision is about grief, and it’s about a character working through their grief using narrative. Humans are storytelling animals, so we use stories to bring meaning to everything, so it makes sense to process one’s grief by telling oneself a story.
I’ve written about what didn’t happen in the ending, I should explain what did.
Action picks up exactly were it left off: Agatha is holding/choking the twins, Wanda is confronting her. At first this seemed like a bad move, and I was going to critique Agatha for taking the action outside her rune-inscribed sanctum where Wanda’s powers don’t work. It becomes quickly obvious that any magic Wanda throws at her, Agatha is ready to absorb. And just like the 1693 witches who tried to punish Agatha in the flashback, each bit of power she absorbs also takes away some of Wanda’s life force7.
So Wanda stops throwing magic at Agatha, and drops a car on her, instead.
Meanwhile the white Vision that was launched into the Hex arrives. Wanda recognizes him as the original Vision body, somehow reactivated, but quickly learns it is not her Vision and he’s there to kill her. Our Vision arrives in time to save Wanda and we get the Vision vs Vision fight for a little bit.
Agatha has explained that the Scarlet Witch is a legendary being, a witch who is forged, rather than born a witch or trained by a coven. According to the Darkhold8, the Scarlet Witch is destined to destroy the world. Agatha offers to let Wanda avoid that fate—and live in herr fantasy world with Vision, and the twins—if Wanda will just willingly give up her power. Wanda doesn’t fall for it. Agatha wakes up the denizens of Westview, and they plead with Wanda to free them, or at least free their children, or just kill them.
Meanwhile, Monica is being held prisoner by Pietro in what appears to be a stoner’s man cave. Even though is isn’t really Pietro, he has the superspeed thanks to Agatha’s magic. Monica finds a pile of unopened mail, not to mention an actor’s headshot, identifying him as Ralph Bohner10. So apparently Agatha commandeered both Ralph and his house we she came to Westview to investigate Wanda. Monica figures out that a necklace Pietro is wearing is the full of Agatha magic, so she yanks it off him a breaks it, which both takes away his speed and ends Agatha’s control of him.
Outside the Hex, Jimmy Woo, who has been arrested by Hayward (along with the S.W.O.R.D. agents who helped Monica in episode 7). Jimmy uses the magic skills that started as a joke back in Ant-Man and the Wasp to steal a cellphone, pick his handcuffs with a paperclip, and call in FBI backup.
The two Vision have a stand-off in the library, and Our Vision uses a philosophical paradox to make the White Vision question his existence, and then Our Vision touches the White Vision and manages to activate the memories that he assumes must be stored in the body’s neural net. White Vision seems overwhelmed with the memories for a moment, then says, “I am Vision” and flies away.
Wanda opens up the Hex and tells all the bystanders to run. Unfortunately this causes Vision and the twins to start disintegrating. It also gives Hayward and his troops and opportunity to charge in. Wanda puts her family back together in time to fight the troops while she takes on Agatha. The twins have both gotten good with their powers and quickly disarm them. Except Hayward, who pulls out and gun and tries to murder the twins. Monica jumps into front of the bullets, and is just as surprised as Hayward is when the bullets pass harmlessly through her body but also lose all their kinetic energy and fall to the ground.
Hayward jumps into one of the SUVs and drives at them, but is intercepted by Darcy’s timely arrival with the funnel cake truck, t-bone’s Hayward’s SUV perfect.
Wanda’s fight with Agatha moves inside Agatha’s mind. They relive part of Agatha’s confrontation with her old coven together. Except the dead witches all come back to life and try to attack Wanda to the stake. But Wanda embraces her power, and she finally gets the superhero costume she deserved all along. The fight moves out of Agatha’s memories and into the sky above Westview, where Wanda appears for a moment to be willing to throw all her power at Agatha and die so that she can be with her loved ones that way.
Except it’s a trick. Wanda has surrounded them with a smaller Hex, this one glowing in the same protective runes that Agatha had in her basement. So now it’s Agatha’s powers that don’t work. Wanda’s real victory isn’t over Agatha, but over her grief. The metaphor of grief as overwhelming waves that were drowning Wanda (and everyone trapped in Westview with her) had been used in dialog earlier. And this confrontation is when Wanda got her head above those metaphorical waves and stood up. Her grief isn’t gone, but in her penultimate conversation with Agatha, we see that she has finally decided to belief that Vision was right, shortly after Pietro was killed, to describe her grief as love for the lost one persevering.
Wanda defeats Agatha, cursing her to become Agnes the nosy neighbor with no powers and no memory of being a witch for the rest of her life11.
Wanda and Vision take the twins back inside their sitcom home. They put the boys to bed, tell them that they love them and are proud of them. Wanda specifically thanks them for choosing her to be their mom. Then Vision and Wanda get their good-bye, and lord, I was sobbing though the scene19. They just have a wonderful moment of each speaking their truth. Wanda reveals that Our Vision was made from a fragment of the Mind Stone that lives in her. Vision says, “I have been a voice with no body. A body, but not human. And now… a memory made real. Who knows what I might be next?” He also observes that it stands to reason, since they have said good-bye before, they will say hello again, too. As the mini-Hex collapses in, destroying the dream home and Vision and the twins, Vision and Wanda into each other’s eyes.
Wanda is left standing in the mostly empty lot. As she leaves Westview, she gets lots of very angry glares from the inhabitants. But she also gets to tell Monica good-bye.
The FBI has taken Hayward into custody and are busy doing clean-up. I’m a bit disappointed at how little Jimmy, Monica, and Darcy had to do in the finale, but they all had a moment, so that’s good.
There is both a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene. The first involves Monica being pulled aside by an FBI agent, who shapeshifts into a skrull and tells Monica that “an old buddy” of her mom’s has heard she’s grounded and wants her to join him. The skrull points to the sky, so it probably means that Nick Fury, who we last saw on some kind of orbital station above the Earth, is going to offer her a job12.
The post-credits scene shows us Wanda in a cabin in the woods somewhere. She is making tea and apparently just living a quiet life. Except then we see that on the astral plane, Wanda in full Scarlet Witch garb is studying the Darkhold. We hear Tommy and Billy calling to her for help, as they did when Agatha was holding them hostage. So, we’re left to infer that Wanda is going to find a way to get her son’s back, and living in the real world13.
Besides not having any of the predicted major character reveals or introductions14, there were other things that people predicted or feared the show was going to do that it didn’t. Often when a movie or show shows a character going through grief, they often slavishly follow the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In real life those stages are not really separated and don’t usually happen in that order. In real life, people can experience many of them at the same time15. Lesser writers would have insisted on marching through the stages in order, which made more than a few fans fear that Wanda was going to go full, intentional villain in the middle episodes. Sure, living their lives in a TV fantasy was a form of denial, and she definitely was full-on depressed through episode 7, but they didn’t go out of their way to act out all the stages. Which is, I think, a really good thing.
I could go on and on about how much I loved this show and the good storytelling choices they made. And there is some stuff to quibble over, but it really hung together well.
I’ve tried to avoid any other reviews until I finish and post this, though I will undoubtably come back and add links to a few I enjoy. But even trying to avoid I’ve already scene certain types of fans being irritated at the fact that most of the rumors didn’t pan out, and blaming the show for putting in what they thought were blatant clues for some of those rumors, then not explaining what those clues really meant. But most of those clues were just very pedantic fans seeing patterns where there weren’t any. And then a few of the clues were clearly red herrings.
There are questions that weren’t answered in the finale, but most of them are the kinds of threads you leave for the weaving of subsequent stories.
- With the Vision’s memories restored in the White Vision’s body, is he going to become the Vision in future projects? There are a lot of ways that could play out, and I have really loved watching Paul Bettany play Vision for the last nine weeks, so I hope he comes back in some form.
- We never found out who Jimmy Woo’s person in witness protection in Westview was. Is it ever going to be picked up in a future project16?
- We never found out who the actor and actress that appeared in all but one of the fake commercials were. I assume that they were some residents of Westview. Did Wanda realize that she was also forcing some of the residents to act out commercials?
- Hayward has been Acting Director of S.W.O.R.D. for more than two years since Maria Rambeau’s death. Jimmy refers to Hayward’s authority as provisional in one episode. Why was an Acting Director left in place that long, and who actually appoints/confirms/approves new directors?
- I’ve already mentioned this one, but I want to repeat it here for completeness: are Agatha and Ralph a couple now, and how does Ralph feel about that? I assume that Agatha will get her memories and powers back, if for no other reason than I really want to see Kathryn Hahn play this character some more!
We already know that Wanda will be in Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, so we know we’ll see her again. But are they really going to make us wait more than a year before we see Wanda1718?
A couple of other reviews you might enjoy:
1. As of the time I started writing this review, I have watched every episode other than the finale at least twice, and a few three times. They hold up on re-watch, just sayin’.
2. I decided not to beat around the bush.
3. I really need to write a blog post about how surprises are different than twists, and why twists are overrated, don’t I?
4. Which was one of the major problems with all the things that the people who make YouTube videos that explain Easter Eggs and try to predict what will happen next5. If any of the characters (Mephisto, Nightmare, Chthon, Reed Richards, Professor X, Magneto, Doctor Strange, Nightcrawler6) the rumors predicted had appeared in the final episode to either be the true Big Bad or to save the day, it would have turned the entire series into nothing more than a teaser.
5. This particular criticism, I realize having seen this very appropriate ending, also applies to my predictions of how it would end.
6. Seriously, one of the hottest rumors that turned up this week was that Nightcrawler was going to help Doctor Strange teleport into the Hex to save the day!
7. Just like the Yo-Magic! commercial from couple of episodes back.
8. The glowing creepy tome we had seen in Agatha’s basement. It’s a book that has a long history in Marvel comics, and has appeared at least twice in previous Marvel television shows: Agents of Shield and Runaways. It’s portrayed very differently in those shows, which has fan blogs chattering about how this is the nail in the coffin of any hopes folks might have of seeing Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdoch/Daredevil or Mike Colter’s Luke Cage appear in a MCU property going forward9.
9. If I believed for one moment that the executives who make the decisions about which projects to green light cared about continuity 1/100th as much as fans do, that argument would carry more weight with me. If they decide they can make money by pulling any of those characters into one of the movies or a television project, the execs will do it, and damn minor continuity issues like multiple versions of the Darkhold.
10. Who so far as we can tell is not a character from any Marvel comic, but is probably just literally a boner joke.
11. Does this mean that Ralph is similarly cursed to be Agatha’s husband? We don’t know!
12. We will likely next see Monica in the Captain Marvel 2 movie.
13. Which will make it a lot easier for Marvel to introduce the Young Avengers in upcoming movies.
14. As a said, this is a good thing!
15. When my first husband died, I certainly went through a lot of anger and depression, and certainly for the four years after his diagnosis while he was undergoing treatment I was almost pathologically optimistic that he’d get well, so there was a rather long denial period. But so far as I know I never went through the bargaining stage.
16. My gut feeling is no. For my reasoning, see footnote 9.
17. I know, the pandemic has thrown all productions into disarray.
18. Programming Note: I will probably write up something about the Making Of WandaVision feature scheduled to drop next week. I may also do weekly reviews of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier when it starts the week after.
19. I am an old enough fan that I was alive when The Avengers issue #58 was published with the story, “Even An Android Can Cry” and I recognized the shout-out that happened in this scene, but I technically didn’t read it when it came out, because I was only three years old. But my mother, who is a science fiction and comics fan and who introduced me to comics, almost certainly read her copy of the issue to me (because until I started being able to read myself, Mom often read whatever books or comics she was reading). And it just so happens that that particular issue was one of several dozen of her comics she bought in the early 1960s that she still had copies of when I was in my early teens and began collecting my own20.
20. Yes, this footnote is out of order, because I almost made the comment about the seminal Vision story when I first drafted the paragraph about the good-bye scene, but then decided not to. And then just as I was about to click “Publish” I realized that I really needed to share that story about just how cool my mom is. So there.