Marvel Mondays – WandaVision: Episode 9

Plot summary: Wanda at last embraces her role as The Scarlet Witch as she battles Agatha Harkness in the collapsing Westview.

Notes

Episode Title: ‘The Series Finale’

Air Date: March 5th, 2021

Directed: Matt Shakman (9)

Written: Jac Schaeffer (2)

Benedict Cumberbatch was originally scripted to cameo as Doctor Strange and claim the commercials were his attempts to communicate to Wanda, but Kevin Feige scrapped the idea, feeling it detracted from Wanda’s personal journey.

Also cut for time was a sequence where the sidekick characters try and steal the Darkhold but are chased by Agatha’s pet rabbit, Senor Scratchy, transformed into an enormous demon.

Despite claims to the contrary, Ralph Bohner is not the mysterious individual from Witness Protection Jimmy Woo was investigating.

A car crashing through Dot’s house is a nod to Lethal Weapon, where the same house was constantly damaged near the end of the films.

The Darkhold makes its proper MCU debut here after being a major part of both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Runaways, essentially brushing both shows under the rug.

Recap

We pick up right where we left things, with Agatha holding the boys hostage. Wanda knocks her down with a hex bolt and the twins run away to safety. Agatha absorbs a portion of Wanda’s power though, leaving her hand slightly withered.

Agatha offers to let Wanda keep Westview in exchange for her powers, so Wanda chucks a car at her. No time to celebrate though, as White-Vision arrives and starts trying to crush Wanda’s head!

Wanda’s Vision comes to the rescue and the two split off into their separate boss battles, with the two Visions proving incapable of really hurting each other as they fly around Westview, smashing and shooting lasers.

They take things to the library, where the good Vision confounds the evil Vision with a logic puzzle based around the Ship of Theseus; as more and more of the original ship is refurbished with new materials, at what point does it cease to be the Ship of Theseus. Good Vision ostensibly restores Evil Vision’s memories, and he flies away.

During all this, Monica is locked in Agatha’s house with Fake Pietro, who is able to keep her subdued thanks to his very real superhuman speed.

She learns his real name is Ralph Bohner, a douchey actor under Agatha’s mental control. Using her new ability to perceive non-visible light, she notices Ralph’s necklace is glowing with magic, so rips it off, rendering him powerless and pathetic.

In the middle of town, Agatha tells Wanda that according to The Darkhold (“the book of the damned”) The Scarlet Witch is the most powerful magic user, outranking even the Sorcerer Supreme, destined to destroy the world.

Agatha frees the townspeople, who accost Wanda for what she did to them all, overwhelming her with their pleas to the point she Force-Chokes them all to defend herself. Regretting this, she begins to dismantle the Hex so they can escape, but this starts to kill Vision and the boys, so she stops.

Wanda does her sneaky hallucination trick from Age of Ultron on Agatha, taking us back to Salem and a zombie attack from the witches she killed… which she immediately turns against Wanda. She again offers her a perfect Westview for her power.

Snapping out of it, they return to flinging energy balls at each other, weakening Wanda and empowering Agatha… until Wanda reveals some runes she secretly created, turning into The Scarlet Witch and negating Agatha’s powers, trapping her in her nosy neighbour character.

The Hex slowly contracts as Wanda and Vision return ‘home’ for a tearful goodbye, putting the boys to bed one last time. The lovers kiss, Vision sheds a tear, and they express their hope they will see each other again as he and the house fade away.

Wanda strolls out of Westview as the now free population glare at her. She and Monica (who saved the boys earlier) have a heart to heart. Wanda pledges to learn more about her power and flies away.

In a mid-credits scene, Monica says goodbye to Jimmy and then gets led away by an agent who turns out to be a Skrull, who states Nick Fury wants to meet her.

Finally, in a post-credits scene, Wanda lives in a secluded cabin… but her astral form is furiously pouring over The Darkhold, hearing the voices of Billy & Tommy somewhere in the infinite multiverse…

Review

Gosh how I loathe seeing two action figures smashing up against each other in mid-air against bad CGI backgrounds. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover the finale for this quirky character-driven series involved two such battles. They try and ground it a little with Agatha’s accusations about Wanda being perpetually broken, but it falls pretty flat due to the setting. Similarly, the intended emotional weight of Wanda and Vision’s goodbye is somewhat ruined by the bombardment of special effects swirling around them.

It also felt needlessly long, with the run-times gradually creeping up as the series drew to a close, yet even with that bloated 40-minute length, a number of the supporting cast felt under-served. Yes, Monica frees Ralph, saves the boys and helps take down Hayward, who gets arrested by the FBI thanks to Jimmy Woo… but that all felt like a floaty afterthought. Heck, Darcy doesn’t even get a goodbye!

I do love the Scarlet Witch costume they finally created after a decade of rejecting it in favour of more contemporary clothing, managing to strike a balance between accuracy and on-screen badassery. They spent weeks turning this into a character audiences will truly care about going forward, and it was huge for them to stick the landing by giving her a dope visual makeover and a massive power upgrade to put her in her rightful place as one of Marvel’s absolute heaviest hitters.

Megan McDonnell was responsible for the Ship of Theseus allegory, which I think was an effective way to present a battle of logic and reasoning between two machines, and didn’t get enough love due to how the Internet was still bickering about “but what is grief if not love persevering?” I really wanted the two goodbyes to work for me, but they simply didn’t, with some pointing out that no parent could ever close that door.

Ultimately the first true MCU entry after Endgame (sorry, Far From Home) and their first foray into Disney+ did its job, rehabilitating two characters who never got enough screen time to make most audiences care about them, as well as setting up a number of teases for the future. From Wanda as The Scarlet Witch delving into the multiverse, to Vision being resurrected but changed, to Nick Fury recruiting an empowered Monica, to the potential return of Billy & Tommy as Young Avengers, and even the possibility of returns for Agatha Harkness and Tyler Hayward, there are a lot of directions to go in following WandaVision. Hell, who was the person in witness protection?!

I think it was a disappointing return to Marvel’s days of being unable to execute satisfying endings, but that doesn’t take away from the delight of the previous 8 episodes or as I said, the important work the show did for Wanda.

Most Marvellous Player

As mentioned earlier, most of the dramatic moments were severely undercut by the nature of the generic superhero finale, so as a result this is the weakest episode in terms of acting. Nevertheless, Elizabeth Olsen did her best to rise above the ridiculousness as Wanda comes to terms with the true horror of what she did to the townspeople and accepts her status as The Scarlet Witch. There is a knack to pulling off the role of ultimate badass, and while costumes and CGI help, Olsen rises to the moment and conveys that Wanda is supremely powerful. She also does an admirable job thanking the boys for choosing her to be their mom, and in telling Vision that he is made from her sadness, hope and mostly her love. For a second, she did make me feel something on an emotional level in that messy goodbye, so hats off.

Paul Bettany expressed trepidation about playing the evil Vision, having to make him distinct from the version we know, while also having to undergo a personality change almost immediately after debuting. He does a decent job, making one feel far more human than the other, and then finding a happy middle for the memory-restored white version. He is less compelling in the goodbye, but does his best.

Villain Watch

After many weeks of being one of the more enjoyable parts of the show, and rising to the task of becoming the Big Bad, Agatha Harkness kind of stinks in her farewell, with lots of flying and flinging magic and offering an obviously bogus deal to try and get Wanda’s powers. Given her immense popularity and the fact she doesn’t die, one has to assume she’ll be brought back one day… or killed in Mordo’s “no more sorcerers” crusade.

She does get in a bit of a last laugh, by pointing out to Wanda that “heroes don’t torture people.” Kevin Feige was adamant about her facing a reckoning from the townsfolk, and apparently even more was left on the cutting room floor. Some even interpret the final scene as a tease of her being the villain of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, scheming with The Darkhold. Personally I figure there will be a brief conflict between the two to conclude act one and then they’ll work together against a bigger threat. Shocking prediction, I know!

Heck, Vision is sort of a villain for a few minutes before getting talked out of it by… himself. Paul Bettany makes him suitably cold and menacing for the frustrating few minutes they’re fighting. The logic problem was good, I just wish we went straight to that and dispensed with more CGI sky fighting, especially as Vision is so difficult to hurt.

Hayward outright admits to his villainy in his final appearance, telling Jimmy Woo all about his plan to lie about bringing Vision back online and pinning everything on Wanda. Plus opening fire on literal children. Actually, I guess they’re not literal children at all… but he didn’t know that!

Plugs

Next week it’s on to Loki!

Check out The Matt Signal, in which I recap episodes of Batman the Animated Series every Saturday and Sunday. This weekend Nightwing flirts with Catwoman and Scarecrow robs Batman of his sense of fear.

The Superhero Pantheon also reviewed the whole series, obviously.

Published by

Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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