WandaVision: Now in Color (episode 3) travels to the era of 70s sitcoms, as the show begins to open the door on its underlying mysteries.
Hello, ladies, gentlemen and synthezoids!
It’s nice to be back to discuss our new favorite sitcom/superhero show, WandaVision: Now in Color!
Thank you, thank you – you’re all far too kind! But you’re almost as intrusive as the laugh track on this week’s episode!
I’m sorry, friends! I’m kidding. About you, at least. This week the laugh track was heavy, wasn’t it? Even heavier on beats that were not even intended to be funny in the sitcom’s universe. Perhaps our Wanda is trying to keep the shields up in the show’s sitcom reality to help deflect the pesky underlying emotions that keep bubbling up?
With its third episode, now with a helpful subtitle WandaVision: Now in Color, the show has made the leap forward to a 70s style sitcom riff. Now The Brady Bunch serves as our primary influence on Wanda and Vision’s life. The Bradys permeate the show-within-the-show, from the catchy new opening music riff to a site gag of Vision trying to build the same swing set the Brady kids once used. It’s every bit as precise in its homage as WandaVision’s first two episodes.
Here, we get to see Wanda and Vision become parents! Every gag about parenting in the book is tossed on the screen in short order, but, like the one-day pregnancy in the show, there’s a feel that the plotting is speeding up. When twins Tommy and Billy are born, the scene feels less like an emotional climax as Wanda and Vision become parents and more like someone perusing the Wikipedia page of a life they’ve never lived. The disorientation feels purposeful and targeted at undercutting the show’s quasi-reality.
So, what’s going on here?
Audience: Leans Forwards in Chairs…
The difference now is that the show’s underlying mystery has started to creep closer and closer to the forefront. Nearly every comedic scene now sees itself undercut by the mystery. When the friendly neighbor greets Vision he is, for reasons unknown, carving a slice into the Vision family fence. The neighborhood doctor ominously notes how it’s never easy to get away from a small town. Characters seem, at times, to teeter on the brink of a reveal only to close themselves up at the last moment.
It appears clearer now that the sitcom construct is something the Scarlet Witch has created for herself in the wake of her many personal tragedies. For a woman who has seen a small amount of screen time over 23 films, she sure has had to deal with an awful lot of difficult moments. Her debut, Age of Ultron, saw her experimented on by a Hydra scientist in the wake of the death of her parents as a result of Stark munition. The film’s climax sees her twin brother killed in the battle with the film’s big bad Ultron. Her next appearance in Civil War saw her carry the emotional burden of an explosion caused by her powers that killed a number of civilians and set into course the Superhero Registration Act. Finally, her arc in Infinity War sees her briefly try to live a life outside of the superhero business with Vision only to see herself targeted by Thanos’ henchmen because of the Infinity Stone in Vision’s skull. Eventually, Vision is murdered by Thanos, and she herself is dusted in The Snap.
When Wanda returns from the snap, her loss is treated as an afterthought. As most of the heroes mourn Tony Stark, Wanda and Hawkeye are left together reminiscing about Vision and Black Widow, characters largely forgotten by the assembled Avengers. In Wanda’s reality, Vision’s death is extremely raw – only a few days old.
It’s easy to see how someone forced to carry so much tragedy in such a short time could start to crack up. When that same someone has powers that can alter reality? Well it’s easy to see how she might want to throw herself into the blessed simplicity of a classic TV sitcom. What speaks to a happy life more than the harmless shenanigans of a family unit who sees each of their conflicts resolved in 30 minutes with a few laughs along the way?
The expulsion of neighbor Geraldine, revealed here as an Agent of S.W.O.R.D., makes clear we seem to be living in Wanda’s hand-crafted reality. Geraldine’s reference to twin brother Pietro’s death at the hands of Ultron beings out a darkness and intensity in Wanda. Just as she rewound the A.I.M. beekeeper last episode, Wanda now rewinds a Vision who starts to notice the unreality of his situation. It’s an unsettling moment as Wanda appears to be replacing the emotional truth of the Vision she actually knew with the salve of a Vision who embraces the unreality.
Let’s take a moment to talk about some of the Marvel lore found here, ok?
There will of course be some speculative spoilers about what may come in the show below.
Ok good, you’re still with me. Comic readers will know that Billy and Tommy, children of Vision and Scarlet Witch, will grow up to be lesser heroes Wiccan and Speed. As the children seem to be fictional constructs here, that does not seem a likely outcome for our new sitcom tots. There’s also a winking meta gag that Elizabeth Olsen is the younger sister of perhaps the most famous pair of sitcom twins ever, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen from Full House, so of course she would birth her own set of sitcom twins. Vision, as well, builds his own synthezoid children Vin and Viv in Tom King’s Vision arc, one of the clearest influences on WandaVision.
S.W.O.R.D. has taken on a greater prominence as well. This episode reveals that Wanda has the power to expel people from her world, and that a group which appears to be S.W.O.R.D. has built a large base around a town that appears to be trapped inside an electromagnetic bubble. As Geraldine is expelled and crashes to the crown, we see little glimmers of the red hex magic powers we’ve seen from Wanda in other films. The Annihilation style set-up seems an intriguing way to balance the unreality of the show’s sitcom spoof with ties to the greater MCU on the outside.
WandaVision: Now in Color starts to step away from the sitcom premise – and I suspect the show will continue to deviate from the format more and more over the next six episodes. But the show has done an effective job setting up a compelling mystery outside of Westview, and I’m excited to see what sort of fun future weeks bring us.
Episode 3 of WandaVision is now available to watch on Disney Plus.