Features and Columns · TV

‘WandaVision’ Episode 8 Splays Wanda’s Trauma for All to See

With her pain out in the open, will she finally be able to heal? Not if a few nefarious characters have anything to say about it.
Wandavision Episode 9
Marvel Studios
By  · Published on February 26th, 2021

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 8 (“Previously On”) and consider its final two BIG reveals. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

What the hell is going on here? We’re not the only ones confused by the hows of Westview. As quickly divulged at the start of this week’s WandaVision, Agatha (Kathryn Hahn) is a real-deal witch, and she’s seen some wild things since her Salem shinanigan days, but she’s never witnessed a creature as confoundingly powerful as Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). When the Hex first arose in New Jersey, Agatha invaded to uncover a mythical being. She was not disappointed.

WandaVision Episode 8, entitled “Previously On,” is a forced march down memory lane. Magically shackled in Agatha’s basement, Wanda is compelled to retrace the events that lead to the Westview Hex’s creation. We see her sitcom origin story with her family huddled around the boob tube, enjoying The Dick Van Dyke Show before an explosion obliterates the serene setting. We’re there for her first Mind Stone encounter and even glimpse what the Hydra scientists couldn’t: a shadowy yet golden haloed Sokovian fortuneteller reaching toward Wanda from some unknown region. And we’re there when Wanda attempts to claim Vision’s splayed corpse from Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and his S.W.O.R.D. goon scientists.

Wanda fails to recover Vision (Paul Bettany), but before she leaves, she telekinetically probes his mind. “I can’t feel you,” she whimpers and escapes the compound defeated. Traveling to Westview, she enters the empty lot Vision purchased for their home. Scrawled on the property deed in Vision’s handwriting is a tiny heart, and within it, a message reads, “To grow old in.”

It’s an agony too far. After a lifetime of loss, Wanda erupts. Her Hex magic rushes from her body, transforming reality into the sitcom fantasy of her youth. It’s a realm where the greatest threat is “silly mischief,” and true darkness has no place. And along with this new Westview, so too grows a new Vision.

The reveal is what we’ve suspected from the beginning, but Vision’s total fabrication gives pause. Yeah, so the Vision playing house throughout WandaVision is not our Vision. He’s an invented entity crafted from Wanda’s grief and will.

Does that make him a fantasy as well? What about their children? Are they mere figments of Wanda’s imagination? Not necessarily.

Their existence is an astonishment to Agatha. She can manage many supernatural spells and is happy to show them off to her captive. Brainwashing, check. Transmutation, check. Spontaneous creation? Uh, that’s some mojo generally reserved for gods.

WandaVision Episode 8 ends with Agatha calling Wanda out. With Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne) on her leash, Agatha dubs Wanda “The Scarlet Witch.” It’s a title joyously tossed around in the comics, but one never before uttered within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The new moniker requires a reevaluation of Wanda’s origin. She’s not merely a Mind Stone byproduct. There was something witchy about her beforehand, which allowed her to access the Infinity Gem when so many other volunteers previously died upon contact. It’s the same something that possibly paused the Stark Industries rocket from exploding when she and Pietro were cowering children.

Wanda’s comic book counterpart began her life as a mutant. However, when the X-Men became a popular cinematic franchise over at 20th Century Fox, Marvel Comics sought to tinker her biology so that it would align with the characters they still controlled under the Marvel Studios banner. The company concocted a storyline that revealed Wanda’s mutant status as false and that she and her brother were not children of Magneto, but that of Natalya Maximoff, an absurdly potent magician who first took on “The Scarlet Witch” mantle.

By the way, there is also this incredibly strange strand to this story involving Wanda and Pietro as genetic experiments operated on by The High Evolutionary. He’s a wonderfully goofy villain obsessed with creating a flawless Earth by evolving animals into humanoid perfection. When Natalya died in a battle with The High Evolutionary, the madman took pity and returned her children to their Uncle’s family. So, could he be WandaVision‘s Big Bad pulling Agatha’s strings? Mmmm…he’s too crazy. We’re not there yet.

Before Agatha dubs Wanda “The Scarlet Witch,” she also claims Wanda is wielding “Chaos Magic.” This wizardry is some deliciously ancient evil from the comics. It’s the kind of magic used by Elder Gods and Arch-Demons. One of these wretched brutes was present during Wanda’s birth, and when she touched him, a shard of his Chaos ability absorbed into Wanda.

This Arch-Demon is not Mephisto, but Chthon. For eons, he ruled over Earth until he was banished into another dimension. He wrote The Darkhold, which is the scary spellbook briefly mentioned in last week’s recap, that’s also popped up as a McGuffin on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Runaways. If we’re looking for a cameo in WandaVision Episode 9, Chthon is starting to look more and more likely as this series’ last-minute Final Boss.

What we’re witnessing in WandaVision Episode 8 is a similar retcon to the one in the comics. Wanda is a witch, like her mother before her, and mom is most likely not the lady who exploded while watching Dick Van Dyke. Wanda’s mom is that golden-haloed Sakovian fortuneteller we saw in this week’s flashback whom Wanda masqueraded as during the “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

Now, returning to the question of who and what are Wanda’s Westview family members: Is her Vision real? Are Billy and Tommy real?

Yes. They appear sentient, the definition of which is something that is “able to feel and perceive feelings.” Vision, Tommy, and Billy all act outside of Wanda’s will. They even reject her point of view and happily challenge her actions throughout their time on WandaVision.

Not only that, but Vision appears to be made of legit Vibranium. Director Hayward was tracking the Synthezoid in the Hex using his metallic signature. Hayward also desperately wanted to get his hands on his sweet, sweet multi-billion dollar body. Vibranium doesn’t grow on trees.

But Vision, based on the horror we experienced at the end of Episode 6, cannot exist outside the Hex. He crumbled when he broke through Wanda’s barrier. Is Wanda witchy enough to sustain her family after her fantasy bubble pops? Right now, that seems unlikely.

So, if they cannot exist in the MCU outside, are they real? Yes, they’re still sentient. Until they’re not. Dead is dead.

Yeeeeaaaah, about that. As we see in WandaVision Episode 8’s post-credits scene, the Vision last observed in pieces on Director Hayward’s laboratory tables is reconstructed. There are, however, a few distinct differences. This Vision is white, and he does not have the Mind Stone powering his forehead.

Using the missile Wanda irradiated with Hex Magic, now known to be Chaos Magic, Hayward’s team can bring the old Vision back online. Watching his eyes open and glow does not bring cheer. It elicits dread.

The comic book Vision has died and returned several times. When he first expired at the hands of the time-traveling Immortus, Dr. Hank Pym (a.k.a. Ant-Man) rebuilt the Synthezoid and slapped him with a fresh coat of white paint. Unfortunately, his original brain patterns were not available, so the new Vision did not have the old Vision’s personality. Without the Mind Stone, it’s a good bet that this Vision will not have the same feelings for Wanda as her sitcom creation.

A happy ending does not seem possible for Wanda. Her Hex cannot stand. Without it, her children and her husband will fade. What will remain is a Vision who will not know her. He’ll be a dark mirror, reflecting all that she’s lost, and she will not be able to bear his sight.

Will she end WandaVision as she began it: alone? No. Wanda has Pietro. Agatha might have a fun nickname for him — “Fietro,” fake Pietro — but he’s not a fake. He’s real. Agatha is not The Scarlet Witch. She cannot conjure humans from nothingness. She grabbed Peter (Evan Peters) from 20th Century Fox. He’s a real boy, and the multiverse is very real. Due to Agatha’s tampering, it could use a strange doctor to suture some cracks, though.

Free from Agatha’s brainwashing, Peter will also experience a crushing solitary inside the MCU. He’ll need support. Wanda will need support. They can find it in each other.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)