Plot summary: Wanda struggles to maintain her grip on Westview as Monica undergoes a change and Agnes drops a major bombshell.
Episode Title: ‘Breaking the Fourth Wall’
Air Date: February 19th, 2021
Directed: Matt Shakman (7)
Written: Cameron Squires (1)
Our decade-by-decade journey through sitcoms ends in the 2000s, paying tribute primarily to Modern Family, but also The Office, Arrested Development and Happy Endings.
Conversely the ‘music video’ for ‘Agatha All Along’ (a huge viral hit) was styled after The Munsters and The Addams Family.
In a nice touch, the S.W.O.R.D. agents turned into circus performers have a new logo with the acronym changed to stand for Spectacular World of Rapturous Diversions.
Agnes’ house is the one from Bewitched, a fun nod to the revelation of the episode.
Wanda wakes up in bed alone and vows to spend the day alone in her pyjamas, doing her best to ignore that various household items are changing to different time period versions of themselves at random.
Billy & Tommy are rightfully confused, but Wanda basically tells them she has no clue what’s going on, but that ‘Pietro’ is not their uncle. Agnes drops by and expresses worry for Wanda, taking the boys off her hands so she can relax.
Vision awakes fully healed amidst a circus (formerly the S.W.O.R.D. camp). He spots Darcy, remembering her from his brief escape. ‘In character’, she rebuffs his ‘advances’ so he frees her mind.
The duo take a truck and spend most of the episode trying to drive back to Vision’s house while Darcy fills him in on Infinity War, but various obstructions keep popping up, so Vis eventually gives up and flies.
Jimmy Woo and Monica Rambeau learn via an email from Darcy that Hayward had been trying to bring Vision back online for nefarious purposes before Wanda stole his body.
Monica attempts to pilot a customised rover through the Hex, but it resists. She instead goes through on foot with great strain, her body transforming in the process just as Darcy warned, finding she is able to perceive radiation and other non-visible light.
She sprints to try and reason with Wanda who of course greets her with violence, but Monica is now able to partially resist her powers! But just as she seems to be getting through, Agnes escorts Wanda inside.
Wanda begins to get creeped out by Agnes’ house, asking where the boys are and heading down to the basement, which opens up into an elaborate fantastical dungeon-esque chamber.
Agnes reveals she is a witch named Agatha Harkness, treating us to the phenomenal musical number ‘Agatha All Along’, that reveals her hand in everything, including killing Sparky!
In a mid-credits scene, Monica attempts to gain entry to the basement, but ‘Pietro’ catches her…
Commercial of the Week
Our final commercial is for Nexus pharmaceuticals anti-depressants. Beyond the obvious acknowledgement of Wanda’s declining mental state in a show about her grief, in the comics, a Nexus being is an individual, such as Wanda, who can manipulate probability, space and time. The series has been working to massively up her power levels to mirror the comics vs her lower standing in the MCU.
The slogan “Because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?” is a fun nod to Wanda’s control of Westview and general ability to alter reality.
‘Agatha All Along’ was probably the peak of the entire show, emulating the sitcom opening credits sequences of past episodes while also delivering the eternally-satisfying trope of witnessing the same events from a new perspective as Agatha conjured and manipulated her way through the decades, including faking the moment where Vision ‘freed’ her. The song is catchy as heck, the editing is perfect and Hahn crushes it.
As the decade-by-decade sitcom emulation comes to a close, it was a smart idea to shift into Westview beginning to come apart at the seams, including the boys’ game controllers advance from the 90s to the 00s, but then revert back to joysticks and then become Uno cards. Wanda’s inability to hold the town together coming after she expanded the borders – ostensibly beyond her upper limits – but also in the only episode to not feature her and Vision together at any point is well done.
Monica’s transformation into a superhero comes to fruition here after Darcy teased it last week. I like the idea that it’s become harder to penetrate the Hex after Wanda has had to deal with outsiders more and more. The scene of her pushing through the boundary and warping was one of the more effective Marvel CGI sequences, and they repeat the trick of playing audio from Captain Marvel, but this time much louder. Her confrontation with Wanda is electric, with all the neighbours stopping to watch from afar before resuming their routines like nothing happened once it’s over.
Most Marvellous Player
Elizabeth Olsen absolutely demolishes the mockumentary format, ‘Jim-ing the Camera’ and subtly adapting her manner of speech to mimic the cringe style that was so phenomenally popular at the time… and still kind of is? But more than the gimmick of the week, she deftly portrays a woman struggling to keep it together.
But I’ve yet to give Kathryn Hahn the nod despite the fact she’s probably been the second best performer in the series overall, just never doing enough to take it from previous winners. But she is on top form here, stealing the show with utterly insane lines like “I actually did bite a kid once” during the interview portion (also doing her best to linger in awkward silences like Olsen), and the absolute tour-de-force that is ‘Agatha All Along’. The sequence reveals her as the one interviewing Wanda in this episode, and if you listen carefully you can actually tell it’s Hahn’s voice, albeit modulated in post. Honestly, while she’s been amazing as a nosy neighbour, who can’t get behind Hahn as a campy witch?
I would be remiss for not acknowledging Teyonah Parris’ continued excellence, with her portrayal of the physical toll it took to push through the Hex making the CGI easier to accept. She takes to the goofy superhero poses well, and is also great in her standoff with Wanda, reasoning with her on an emotional level.
I’ve been trying to pretend I don’t know Agnes is the secret villain of the show in order to try and simulate what it would have been like if I’d reviewed the episodes as they were coming out. It’s been fun observing her behaviour in the first six episodes now I know that, but it sure made Villain Watch a trick category before they started to present the idea it was Wanda.
Audiences spent weeks speculating Agnes was really Agatha Harkness based off the broach she wore, her dressing as a witch on Halloween and her general subtly manipulative behaviour. This episode goes all in before the ultimate reveal by having blossoming psychic Billy telling her that she is quieter inside than other residents of the town, and her shepherding Wanda back inside as Monica is starting to get through to her.
I mean… she killed a dog! And she was behind ‘Pietro’, who I guess we now have to consider a villain as well. Fans speculated he was secretly Mephisto, essentially Marvel’s take on The Devil, and that he was Agnes’ oft-mentioned but never seen husband, Ralph… Put a pin in that.
Not that it feels anywhere near as significant, but we also learn Hayward is planning to ‘launch’ soon, and that he was trying to bring Vision back online to use as a pet weapon all along. His priority has always been Vision, and never saving the people of Westview, though neutralising Wanda is a bonus.
Check out The Matt Signal, in which I recap episodes of Batman the Animated Series every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend Mr. Freeze returns with an extreme makeover, and The Ventriloquist struggles to leave his past behind him.
The Superhero Pantheon also reviewed the whole series, obviously.