WandaVision review: Worlds collide in “On a Very Special Episode…”

“On a Very Special Episode…” gives us some of the best performances, tension, and surprises we’ve seen on WandaVision so far. And we’re only halfway through!

After last week’s episode showed us what was happening outside of Westview, WandaVision returns to its sitcom structure…sort of. In Westview, the Avenger couple deals with their rapidly aging children, a new dog, and a seemingly self-aware Agnes. Meanwhile, outside of Wanda’s forcefield, S.W.O.R.D. prepares to infiltrate the neighborhood and subdue the Scarlet Witch. Also, a familiar face makes an appearance, and it may not be who you are expecting.

With the introduction of the S.W.O.R.D. storyline last week, the show can now switch between events happening in and outside Westview. While it catches us up on the superhero family, it also shows us how Rambeau, Woo and Lewis react to the developing situation and how they plan on stopping Wanda. Both storylines converge later as Wanda leaves Westview for the first time to confront the S.W.O.R.D. agents.

Elizabeth Olsen is proving herself the show’s strongest actor. The tension is palpable in the scene where Wanda threatens Tyler Hayward and makes his men to turn their guns on him. Olsen has done an amazing job portraying Wanda as dangerous and unpredictable, that in that moment I thought Hayward was as good as dead.

Wanda seems to be losing control of her alternate reality. She struggles to maintain her children’s ages and is thrown off when Agnes seems to know what is happening in Westview. She’s desperate to live a happy life with her family as she tries to manipulate everything around her as if nothing is wrong. When Vision confronts her about her about what she’s doing, she shuts him down, plays a laugh track, and rolls the credits. Now, that’s cold-hearted!

Paul Bettany is bringing the performance. As Vision slowly uncovers this mystery, he’s starting to distrust his wife and is horrified at what she is doing to the people of Westview. His scene with Norm at the office was unnerving and made me feel bad for him, as Wanda’s influence is really messing with these people. Their little fight at the end is one of the better moments of the show so far. It introduces a conflict between the main characters and fractures their relationship, which is the most important part of the show. I wonder what detective Vision will unearth next week.

As things start to heat up in Westview, we learn more about what happened to Wanda following the events of  Avengers: Endgame. In a scene that was most likely intended as the post-credits scene for Endgame, we see her enter a heavily guarded S.W.O.R.D. facility and steal Vision’s corpse; that’s why he briefly looked gray and beat up in the last episode. Wanda is reanimating his corpse and making him walk around Westview like it’s Weekend at Bernie’s.

This makes their fight and Vision’s concern confusing, because if Wanda is controlling him, couldn’t she make him stop and make him do what she likes? Did Vision gain sentience? Is he really back to life? Does even Wanda not want to cross that line? This is yet another question we’ll have to wait to be answer. WandaVision lets the pieces of the puzzle slowly connect over time. While some don’t like it, I appreciate its deliberate pace and rewarding payoff.

While there are many positives about this episode, I wasn’t particularly amused with the sitcom setting or the child actors. Now that the show has got the ball rolling, the sitcom world of Westview seems less interesting than it was at the start of the series. Also, while the child actors who played Billy and Tommy weren’t bad, it’s hard not to pale next to Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Kat Dennings, etc.

Maybe they’ll grow on me. And anyway, they’re one of the many elements overshadowed by the shocking guest appearance of Evan Peters, who played Wanda’s twin brother Pietro Maximoff in the X-Men franchise for Fox; in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pietro was portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and was tragically killed at the end of the movie. So we are crossing universes. We don’t know what this means for the MCU or the X-Men or the multiverse, but that reveal was incredible, and I am looking forward to what Peters brings in the show.

WandaVision continues to delight, surprise and shock. Something dark is on the horizon for Westview as Wanda and S.W.O.R.D. continue to clash, and reality continues to collapse around the small town. What is Vision’s next move? Why is Pietro there? We hope to have more answers next week!

Grade: A

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