Plot summary: It’s Halloween and while Wanda and Pietro take the boys trick or treating, Vision decides to explore the outskirts of Westview and is disturbed by what he finds.
Episode Title: ‘All-New Halloween Spooktacular!’
Air Date: February 12th, 2021
Directed: Matt Shakman (6)
Written: Chuck Hayward (1) & Peter Cameron (2)
Despite last week being the 80s, the primary inspiration for this episode came from 2000’s Malcolm in the Middle. To be fair, many of the sitcom references in past episodes have crossed decade boundaries a little.
Pietro refers to Wanda’s magic as ‘wiggly whoos’, which was what Elizabeth Olsen called her powers during filming of Age of Ultron.
Wanda warns the boys not to cross Ellis Avenue. President Warren Ellis was in office during the signing of the Sokovia Accords.
Director Matt Shakman claims the “kick-ass” line was not a deliberate pun.
Billy & Tommy are excited for Halloween, with Wanda and Vision dressing up in home-made versions of their classic campy comic costumes.
Vision declares his plans to patrol the area for the Neighbourhood Watch, so Pietro offers to accompany his sister and nephews for trick or treating.
Wanda finally asks Pietro why he looks different, but he sidesteps the question and causes chaos at superhuman speed. Wanda learns from Herb that Vision is not on duty tonight after all…
She continues to prod, asking what happened to his accent, and he finally says he got shot in the street and then heard her calling him and now he’s here. But again, no time for that, as Tommy demonstrates super-speed.
Outside the Hex, Hayward continues to argue with our Dream Team, determined to murder Wanda. Monica protests a little too much so Hayward dismisses her, Jimmy and Darcy.
Refusing to go quietly, Jimmy and Monica knock out their armed escorts and sneak back into the facility where they learn Hayward has secretly been tracking Vision inside Westview. They note that the people near the edge of the town are barely moving…
Vision is able to confirm exactly that, as he spent the night wandering towards the outskirts of town, noticing people behaving more robotically the further out he gets, and ultimately just stuck in place at the edge.
And at the very edge? Agnes in her car, unable to turn off. Vision frees her mind as he did for Norm last episode, and she reveals his unfortunate demise to him, telling him Wanda won’t allow anyone to even think about leaving. Vis puts her back and she U-Turns back into town.
Pietro acknowledges that there were no children in Westview until this ‘episode’, complimenting her handling of the ethical issues, with families and couples staying together and their personalities barely altered.
Wanda goes from denying it, to seeking confirmation Pietro is genuinely okay with it, and ultimately confessing she doesn’t even know how she did it, only that she felt alone. She has another hallucination, this time with Pietro’s bullet wounds briefly appearing.
Darcy informs Monica that her intention to go back inside the Hex in a special rover is a bad idea as her entry and exit have permanently altered her DNA and further exposure could cause untold damage.
Outside, Vision walks through the boundary with great strain and immediately starts to fall apart in front of S.W.O.R.D.’s eyes. Darcy gets detained after she pleads for them to help.
Back inside, Billy develops rudimentary telepathy, hearing Vision’s cries of pain. He alerts Wanda who tosses Pietro aside for making light of the situation.
Freezing everything in town, Wanda telekinetically expands the bubble around Westview to get Vision back inside, swallowing Darcy and most of the S.W.O.R.D. base in the process!
Commercial of the Week
This week it’s Yo-Magic yogurt, an obvious spoof of Go-Gurt and Kool-Aid ads from the early 2000s. The slogan of “the snack for survivors” and depiction of a child starving to death because he couldn’t open it in time are presumably references to Wanda not being able to save her loved ones in time despite all her powers? Or something?
I dunno. It’s Claymation so is interesting to look at, but this one didn’t really do it for me like the others.
After seemingly making it clear what’s really going on last week, this episode did a good job of nudging the narrative along, with the ‘simulation breaking down’ as Vision neared the edge of town, and Wanda outright admitting she “did it” to Pietro, culminating in her expansion of the Hex.
It was nice to see Wanda and Vision’s conflict from last episode was not completely gone this week, with Vision instead adopting slightly more subtle tactics to subvert Wanda’s wishes, and Wanda not being able to challenge him without making a scene. Vision’s instruction to “be good” was a nice touch, as was Herb asking her if she wants something changed, a riff on Agnes asking if she should take it from the top last week.
One issue is that the adherence to the parody of the week has diminished as we’ve gotten later in the seires, as they have to dispense with the cute homages in favour of the Big Sexy Plot stuff, especially now they have to give Monica and co something to do every week. It was working well at first, with Billy talking directly to camera like Malcolm and a pair of cutaways, but all of that was quickly forgotten a little too quickly for my liking. But such is the challenge of the show’s premise.
But still, it was a great deal of fun to see everybody in their Halloween costumes, including Agnes dressed as a witch and Herb as Frankenstein’s monster. Hmm. Plus there was even time to tease Monica’s eventual destination as a super-powered hero.
Most Marvellous Player
For as much as his voice bothers me, sounding overly anachronistic beyond just the 90s, I can’t deny the charisma of Evan Peters. Given the setting, he’s obviously trying his best to channel Francis from Malcolm in the Middle, a role he suits surprisingly well. It’s good for harnessing the obnoxiousness of his character trope of a relative coming to town to cause trouble, plus he gets to cause mayhem with the little dudes (who were much better here). His evasiveness of Wanda’s questions before ultimately confronting her about it in a way that implies he has far more knowledge of the situation than anyone else was all handled pretty well too.
Paul Bettany continues to slide back into traditional Vision acting, which is tough to connect with as he’s supposed to be a machine gradually learning to feel. It worked for me here though, as he’s trying to puzzle out Westview in the same way we are, and it was pretty funny seeing him playing detective in the goofy costume for a moment. While the CGI makes it hard to pay attention to his acting, the scene of him painfully crawling out of the Hex pleading for help for the trapped citizens was great.
Kathryn Hahn had mostly been chilling on the side-lines in recent weeks, but she plays the scene where Vision temporarily frees her from Wanda’s control fantastically. Her screaming “dead!” at him over and over was unsettling in the best possible way.
And there we have it; Wanda admits to Pietro she is responsible for Westview, though does say she isn’t sure how it happened. Herb and Agnes confirm her control, and we even see one of the ‘broken’ ‘actors’ shedding a single tear as she repeats the same action on loop. One of the more subtly sinister moments in my opinion was Pietro stating she only lets the children out for holiday episodes. But in turn, their heart to heart leads to her callously throwing him aside with telekinesis and then going red eyes beast mode to reclaim Vision by force… though he was dying before that.
Hayward banishing Monica, Jimmy and Darcy and concealing that he’s been tracking Vision and the town’s residents kept him firmly in play as a secondary antagonist, right down to his cowardly evasion of the Hex expansion at the end.
Check out The Matt Signal, in which I recap episodes of Batman the Animated Series every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend it’s finally time to get into The New Batman Adventures, with a Christmas anthology episode and Tim Drake joining the Bat Family as the new Robin.
The Superhero Pantheon also reviewed the whole series, obviously.