If you’ve read my reviews of the first three WandaVision series, you’ll recognize a pattern, namely a constant desire to know more about what’s going on. While Marvel fans have, for the most part, laid out a plan, or at least started putting the pieces together. So it’s a strange pleasure for Marvel to offer us a complete series about the connections between the real world and the world of Wanda’s sitcom. This is done through a storytelling method that is fairly common in TV series – with as little mention of the main characters in the show as possible.
From the outset, the showrunners fulfill what has long been one of MCU fans’ greatest desires: to see the world flicker when the snap is launched. Monica Rambo returns to the hospital where she disappeared, only to wake up confused and learn that her mother, Captain Marvel’s Maria Rambo, died 3 years ago. Chaos breaks out when the hospital is suddenly flooded with the return of patients who disappeared years ago. This outbreak becomes a topic of conversation everywhere and I suspect, or at least I hope, that this is not the last time we see this type of situation in the MCU.
Another fan theory arises when we learn that Rambo was an important S.W.O.R.D. agent. the spiritual successor to the S.H.I.E.L.D. founded by his mother. The acronym stands for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division and deals with the usual advances in artificial intelligence and robotics to prepare for a totally different world. Rambeau teams up with Jimmy Woo of Ant-Man and Wasp to explore the small town of Westview, whose inhabitants can’t remember anything. A group of experts from various fields arrive, including another familiar face, Darcy Kat Dennings. A background delegate to the Thor films, “Doctor” Darcy, as she is now known, plays a key role in discovering the sitcom nature of Wanda’s reality.
This episode was a breath of fresh air, or rather, familiar air, as it was the first real glimpse into the world of the MCU since the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Teyonah Parris shines in her portrayal of a strong Rambo and a close-knit Geraldine, although it is unclear if she was aware of her Rambo identity when she was in Wanda’s reality. Assuming no further twists and turns, it’s pretty clear that Wanda has created a world around herself in which she lives, reviving Vision’s body and refusing to see it for what it really is-a vessel from which the stone of infinity has been ripped out of her head. She will find this tragedy hard to accept, and her anger at Vision’s fate could well make her one of the franchise’s next great antagonists.
Meanwhile, the dynamic between Teyona Parris, Randall Park and Kat Dennings works well. During the initial casting, fans were confused about the inclusion of such quirks from different parts of the MCU, but the writers managed to work them into the plot. One of the hallmarks of the MCU is that the story runs so smoothly that barely 30 minutes pass, which is even more the case in this episode where the emphasis is on real revelations. Matt Schuckman directs the MCU as smoothly as a sitcom, and writer Jake Schaeffer enters an interconnected world, punching as many holes as he can in his own threads, letting the characters represent the audience and asking questions the audience might have.
One thing that is continually missing from the series is solid character development. One of the promises of the MCU series was to see and get to know the characters and see them grow and develop beyond what was possible in the 2 hour limited release films. Right now, this is still a complaint, but again, I hope that as we move further into the Disney+ world, there will be episodes that deal more and more with internal issues. For example, Wanda’s breakup after accepting the real world should be a very strong moment. And now that the cat is out of the bag, I hope Vision will talk more as a perfect image of Wanda, as someone who has her own identity.
The episode also took production values to the next level, as special effects were used to bring S.W.O.R.D.’s properties to life. Much of the episode focused on the real world of post-production, so had to reflect the importance and breadth of the films. This was evident right after the opening scene, where people recover after Ziplock is dismantled. Marvel doesn’t want to achieve anything with these episodes other than big feature films with budgets of over $100 million, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they culminate in big battles that at least, if not directly, rival the movies.
Overall, it was a very entertaining episode of WandaVision and a big step up from the first three episodes in terms of the progression of the series’ plot. This is the kind of MCU entertainment we are used to at home.
WandaVision Season 1 Episode 4 Rating: 8.5 out of 10
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