WandaVision Explained is our ongoing series that keeps tabs on Marvel Studios’ sitcom saga about TV’s happiest tragic couple. In this entry, we turn our channel to WandaVision Episode 4 and contemplate the tragedy that links Wanda’s fantasy to the MCU’s reality. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.
Is Vision alive? FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) scrawls the question on a whiteboard within the S.W.O.R.D. compound outside Westview, New Jersey, asking what we’ve all been wondering for the past three weeks. The answer is not definite, but WandaVision Episode 4 brings us the closest we’ve come to the truth. Whatever Paul Bettany is portraying inside the sitcom bubble that imprisons Westview should not be. You know it, I know it, the world knows it, and most importantly, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) knows it.
WandaVision Episode 4 exemplifies its title, “We Interrupt This Program.” Refusing to pick up immediately after the events of Episode 3, this one jumps us back to the unimaginable madness that occurred on Earth after Tony Stark snapped Thanos away and brought the vanished home. We see Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) reform in a chair next to an empty hospital bed. She stumbles into the hallway and is greeted by chaos—doctors, nurses, patients frantically scrambling.
Monica recognizes the doctor in charge of her mother’s care. She grabs hold of her, but the doc is aghast. Maria Rambeau (last seen in Captain Marvel) died three years ago, which was two years after Monica dusted into an ash puff.
Here is the agonizing portrait of what went down when Thanos achieved his mission in Wakanda during the Avengers: Infinity War climax. Spider-Man: Far From Home played the horror for weird laughs, but WandaVision sells the grotesque reality and the mundane lives forever shattered. Monica was robbed of the last moments with her mother. She awakens in a world rearranged by cosmic shenanigans.
As a lowly human without special abilities, the resulting epiphany is one generated from tremendous fear. How can she prevent such horror from occurring again? A diety with the power to shape existence to their will is a catastrophic threat. Gods must be stopped.
WandaVision Episode 4 reveals that Maria Rambeau formed S.W.O.R.D. sometime after Carol Danvers freed the Skrulls from their Kree shackles. We also get confirmation that the S.W.O.R.D. acronym differs slightly from the one in the comics — here, it’s Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department. Although, before Monica got dusted, they were heavily involved in cosmic threats similar to their comic book counterparts.
Monica wants back into space, but the newly appointed Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) is not ready for her to take such large leaps. Instead, he tasks her with answering Agent Woo’s plea for help. He has a problem. Westview, the New Jersey town, has disappeared, not only from our reality but from the memory of anybody who once had a connection to it. What was meant to be a menial job designed to ease Monica back into S.W.O.R.D. quickly transforms into one with global significance.
Local law enforcement attempts to assure Woo and Monica that Westview doesn’t exist while they’re staring down its main street. When Monica asks Woo why he hasn’t investigated further, he states that the town itself is somehow psychically pushing him away. Monica doesn’t fear such absurdity and pilots a helicopter drone into the danger zone, which promptly disappears. Unphased, Monica steps forth, and we see how Episode 2 and Episode 3’s “Geraldine” came into being.
Space suddenly doesn’t seem that interesting. S.W.O.R.D. erects a massive observation facility outside Westview, recruiting the country’s top scientists to aid their investigation. Amongst these bright minds is Thor‘s Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), who uncovers a broadcast signal beneath the “Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation” emanating from the Westview bubble. She connects the signal to some old school Cathode-ray tube television sets, and S.W.O.R.D. can now observe what we observed in WandaVision‘s first three episodes.
They start to ask the questions we’ve been asking: Why the repeating hexagonal shape? Why sitcoms? Same time and space? Is Vision alive?
As they evaluate the situation, we witness how Monica’s drone was translated into the red toy helicopter of Episode 2 and how a hazmat S.W.O.R.D. agent attempting to sneak into Westview via its sewer system transformed into the same episode’s creepy beekeeper. Wanda captures these invaders and reinterprets them to fit the fantasy she’s so desperate to hold onto. The same goes for Monica.
While inside, Monica struggled to hold onto her identity. The sitcom veil made her Geraldine, but even as the friendly next-door neighbor, pieces of Monica fought through her programming. As we saw in Episode 3, she managed to confront Wanda regarding Ultron’s attack on her brother Pietro. The violation of real-world trivia stung Wanda, and she reacted against Monica in anger.
WandaVision Episode 4 presents the final scene from Episode 3 in a much different light and aspect ratio. Gone is the 4:3 box. We now experience the Wanda and Monica clash in the glorious Marvel Cinematic Universe 2.39:1 widescreen standard. We also see exactly how Wanda booted Monica from her realm — and yeah, it’s HER realm.
“How could you know about Ultron,” asks Wanda. Monica can’t come up with a good answer. “You’re not my neighbor, and you’re definitely not my friend. You are a stranger and an outsider…you’re trespassing here, and I want you to leave.”
Wanda viciously expels Monica from her sitcom bubble, flinging the S.W.O.R.D. agent through her living room wall, across the fields of Westview, and outside the energy field where it’s dark, gloomy, and infested with confused G-men. Wanda dusts her hands from the dirty business and gets back to the blissful escape of raising two twins with her sweetheart Vision.
Vision’s dead. When he wanders into his home and asks his wife if everything is alright, Wanda sees him as we know him. She recoils as we do. Vision’s radiant fuchsia hue is gone; his skull is a crumpled gray zombie head missing the mind stone that birthed him. The sight is incredibly upsetting but brief.
Outside, Agent Woo and Darcy come rushing to Monica’s side. “Are you okay,” they ask. She responds, “It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda.” She’s formulating Wanda as the season’s big bad.
Inside, Wanda gets ahold of herself. Vision looks concerned, but through her positivity, he straps on a smile. Jimmy Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” trickles over the airwaves, and the 2.39:1 widescreen ratio shrinks into the 4:3 box, and we discern Wanda’s fantasy as a prison of her own making.
WandaVision Episode 4 reveals the darkness we sensed in the previous chapters. Wanda is in distress, and she seems responsible for the sitcom universe. She needs rescue. She needs a hero. She needs Monica Rambeau.
Given her run-ins with god-like powers, Monica may not initially have sympathy for Wanda’s plight. She’ll want to stop the witch Avenger from causing any more disturbance, but the more she explores the trauma fueling the sorcery, the more Monica will come to relate to Wanda’s pain. They’ve both lost someone dear to them. They’ll see each other through their grief.
There are still many more questions stewing on Agent Woo’s whiteboard. Why the hexagonal shape? Are the recurring formations merely a natural manifestation of Wanda’s hex powers? Or is there another force guiding Wanda’s actions?
We didn’t see anything of Agnes this week. What’s she and her unseen husband Ralph up to? While Woo managed to place names and drivers’ licenses next to most neighborhood guest-stars on his conspiracy board, he has yet to identify Agnes. Pinning down her person will prove most difficult. In her origins, we’ll discover another dark hand channeling Wanda’s remote.
WandaVision Episode 4 interrupts the charm that colors the premise. It’s heartbreaking to see Wanda so clearly troubled. She’s being positioned as a villain, or at the very least, culpable to the madness erasing Westview from the map, but don’t be fooled by her tremendous power. Wanda is not in control. There is another puppet master at work.