Plot summary: Wanda’s sudden pregnancy advances at an alarming rate, making it difficult to conceal from Geraldine, who may not be who she seems…
Episode Title: ‘Now In Color’
Air Date: January 22nd, 2021
Directed: Matt Shakman (3)
Written: Megan McDonnell (1)
It’s on to the 1970’s this week, and the opening titles are playing on The Brady Bunch and The Mary Tyler Moore show, while the rest of the episode contains homages to Good Times and The Partridge Family as well. The house is mostly modelled after the Brady home.
Speaking of the opening titles, the fantastic theme song was written and performed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who are most famous for writing Frozen’s ‘Let It Go.’
This episode set Twitter ablaze when some people talked about moving from a 4:3 aspect ratio to “Marvel format” (2:40:1) when ‘Geraldine’ is expelled from Westview. I think we all know what these people meant, but I also understand the annoyance at Marvel-centrism.
Wanda attempts to hide her pregnancy with the same techniques TV shows frequently use to cover the same for their actresses.
The sexist Dr. Nielson confirms Wanda’s pregnancy ahead of his vacation to Bermuda that afternoon. Wanda’s belly grows in the time it takes to show the doctor out, and Vision calculates she will give birth in three days based on the current rate of growth.
As the baby begins to kick and Wanda experiences Braxton Hicks contractions she inadvertently triggers random magical events. Naturally, Wanda worries about the people of WestView discovering the truth, but when Vision begins to put it together himself, time rewinds again but this time he’s more positive.
Worried about the pregnancy advancing even quicker than estimated, Vision hurries to intercept Dr. Nielson. Conveniently, the doctor’s car broke down out of nowhere anyway just before he and his wife were due to leave.
Meanwhile Geraldine stops by and Wanda tries and fails to conceal the pregnancy, though amusingly it’s a crib in the spare room that rumbles her rather than a literal stork wandering around the house… or her giant belly.
Thus Geraldine delivers Wanda’s baby on the living room floor, which bothers Dr. Nielson less than the superhuman speed with which Vision carried him across town.
After arguing about baby names all episode, Vision concedes and they name the child Tommy… But wait! Wanda’s having twins! Billy and Tommy it is! Twins… just like their mother.
Vision sees the doctor out and then spots Agnes and Herb gossiping about Wanda. They warn Vis about Geraldine, who is new to town and has no family or home. Herb begins to elaborate but Agnes cuts him off.
Back inside, Wanda tells Geraldine about Pietro and begins singing to the babies in Sokovian, which causes Geraldine to ask about Ultron. Wanda freaks out and asks who she is, and the next we see of her, Geraldine is sent flying through an invisible wall surrounding the town where she’s immediately surrounded by a plethora of response vehicles. And the aspect ratio changes!
Commercial of the Week
This week it’s Hydra Soak, parodying one of Calgon’s old commercials. I like that there are references to reading minds, and that it features an overwhelmed housewife while Wanda is struggling with her heavy pregnancy.
Many thought that two Hydra products in a row pointed to them being behind what was going on, while others took the “Find the Goddess Within!” slogan to point towards the idea that Hydra merely brought out powers Wanda already possessed. Let’s put a pin in that…
Amusingly, there was an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that mentions mind control soap created by Hydra.
I mentioned last time about more people buying in to the series after the second episode, as it didn’t commit as hard to the living in a sitcom gimmick and instead made it clear something wasn’t quite wrong, with touches of colour, a voice over the radio and a strange beekeeper intruding on the world.
We see that ante upped significantly this week, with the not at all subtle ending as Geraldine is expelled from the town, which is confirmed to have some kind of invisible bubble around it. I liked the touch that the exit point rippled with cathode tube TV effects, in the same way that the two rewinding time moments mirrored the technology of their eras. The confirmation that the town is being monitored with a mobile military base set up outside it is as plain as things can be made: this sitcom town is under a giant spell/reality warp of some kind.
I like the early touch of the simulation breaking down (as it were) when Herb buries his hedge trimmer into a brick wall without even noticing. Not just that, he’s clearly standing in front of a painted backdrop. And Dr. Nielson’s car breaking down and then him saying how hard it is to “escape” a small town.
At the time this all felt very exciting, but I now believe episode 2 was much stronger, because beyond these two huge developments, the majority of the episode was trying to hide the pregnancy and then Wanda delivering the twins. The former was fun in spots, with Wanda accidentally causing magical phenomena, but on a second watch it’s not the most gripping 20ish minutes of television, hinging itself entirely on the big reveal at the end. It was also functionally a bottle episode, and those are always hit or miss.
Most Marvellous Player
Teyonah Parris debuted out of nowhere last week as Geraldine, who immediately took a shine to Wanda. She was perfectly fine there, but gets to flex a little more this week thanks to the Chatty Cathy scene talking about her promotion, moving right into the shock pregnancy discovery, and then capped off by the façade dropping. Parris really makes the ending work through her facial expressions and change of tone as she asks about Ultron, before trying to move back into what was obviously an act. It truly feels like she’s snapping out of something when Wanda mentions Pietro and begins to sing, and you also fully believe her fear when Wanda turns nasty.
Elizabeth Olsen continues to make multiple faces per episode that bowl me over, taking to the over the top tone of the show like a
duck stork to water. You can tell she had a lot of fun with the comically pregnant stuff, between the breathing exercises and trying to hide her that she’s going into labour.
I enjoyed Paul Bettany’s work a lot more here as well as a constantly worrying father-to-be, giant floppy hair flying everywhere as he tries to make everything okay. He also gets to slip back into more traditional Vision acting when he asks Agnes and Herb what’s going on.
Plus how can we ignore Kathryn Hahn’s wink that became a meme for weeks? She could not be more in her element in this show.
For a long time I was somewhat under the assumption Wanda was going to be revealed as the villain of the show and that she knows exactly what’s going on and is simply playing dumb so Vision doesn’t rumble her. This week played heavily into that, with her once again rewinding time to avoid an awkward moment in favour of one more to her liking, and the pregnancy causing her to lose control of her powers a little. While that made for some fun physical comedy, it also seemingly coincided with the aforementioned weird behaviour from Herb. And the doctor not being able to leave town because Wanda needed him. Plus that final confrontation with Geraldine is very much coded with Wanda as the villain shutting somebody up because they know too much…
BUT, there is the whole surveillance factor to consider. The S.W.O.R.D. logo was seen at the end of the first episode and again on the toy helicopter, and shows up once again on Geraldine’s pendent. Somebody is clearly trying to get into the town against Wanda’s will.
Then again, the voice on the radio last week did ask “who’s doing this to you, Wanda?” and Agnes sure was quick to make Herb shut up.
Check out The Matt Signal, in which I recap episodes of Batman the Animated Series every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend it’s the underrated movie Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero and the mostly unknown Batman & Robin Adventures tie-in comic.
The Superhero Pantheon also reviewed the whole series, obviously.