The last time we caught up with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) quirky adventures through television eras, we were in the curly and corny and colorful 1980s, dealing with superpowered and superaging twins (Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne), Vision’s growing consciousness of the anomalies of “WandaVision,” a dog that died for the bogus reason of eating too many of the next-door sorceresses’ azalea leaves and Wanda breaking her own fourth wall to confront S.W.O.R.D.
The sixth episode of “WandaVision” was just as replete with sitcom zaniness — heavily inspired by the early aughts Fox series “Malcolm in the Middle” — and with scenes of the investigative research of agents and scientists-gone-rogue. But that also means that this episode has left us with, yes, you guessed it, a bunch of puzzles to crack.
So, buckle-up, kids! Variety is this Volvo 940 wagon out on a burning questions joy-ride up to Ellis Avenue — and possibly, beyond into the multiverse.
Like the Westview talent show wherein Wanda/Glamour tried to cover-up for the befuddled buffoonery of her sitcom husband, Vision/Illusion, Pietro/Peter/Question Mark’s (Evan Peters) appearance was full of contradictions that altogether possibly served as a huge narrative misdirection to get the audience in a tizzy. One of Marvel’s favorite plot devices is, after all, causing panic and confusion before giving away the a-ha! moment (usually somewhere obnoxious, like the third end credits scene after a nearly three-hour movie).
Anyway, back to discussing cool uncle Pietro and his goofy hair! He could very well just be “trying to do his part,” man! As he confided to his sister in the episode, his scripted role was to: “Come to town unexpectedly, create tension with the brother-in-law, stir up trouble with the rugrats, and ultimately give you grief. I mean, that’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
But is it? As we queried in our previous episode recap, the inclusion of Peters’ Peter Maximoff couldn’t be a mere coincidence. Re-casting Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Pietro with X-Man Peter might have been Wanda’s only option since she, allegedly, can’t bring back people from the dead. And, Marvel gave us a big clue that multiverses not only exist but will also be explored in this post-“Avengers: Endgame” Marvel Cinematic Universe phase, starting with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which just so happens to feature Wanda. “WandaVision” could simply be the natural lead-up to the Sam Raimi-directed film, slated to be released in March 2022. Other supporting evidence for the “Pietro is Peter” route is: Pietro’s constant switching of accents and Pietro’s poor recollection of his Sokovian childhood with Wanda. He did, however, remember how he died in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
But, it’s hard to believe that Marvel Studios wouldn’t have an even deeper reason to borrow a character from Disney’s recent purchase’s intellectual property. 20th Century Fox’s (now 20th Century Studios) “X-Men” were a separate creative and corporate entity until 2019. Once an unspeakable word in the MCU, Mutants could finally be making their grand entry into the sphere of the Avengers. (More on that later.)
Or, maybe this silver-haired cool “broham-in-law” (a well-meaning homage to Tom Hanks’ Uncle Ned in “Family Ties,” albeit a decade off), is a villain. He made bunch of Mephistophelian references, so might he be Mephisto, the literal devil in Marvel Comics? This all might be too on-the-nose for Marvel, which likes to keep fans on their toes and frantically conjuring conspiracy theories on Reddit, but I’ll leave you to muse on some key quotes before we dive into our next burning question:
“Unleash hell, demon spawn!”
“Damn it if Westview isn’t charming as hell.”
“You were always the empathetic twin. Don’t get me wrong. You’ve handled the ethical considerations of this scenario as best you could. Families and couples stay together. Most personalities aren’t far off from what’s underneath. People got better jobs, better haircuts for sure… I’m impressed! It’s a pretty big leap from giving people nightmares and shooting red wiggly-woos out of your hands. How’d you even do all this?”
Hmmm. Impressed by trapping innocent civilians in a highly radioactive hexagonal bubble? Let’s leave it at that.
He could be both! I’m personally never going back to being — pun absolutely intended — a devil’s advocate for S.W.O.R.D. acting director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) after he made that macro-aggressive “Who’s the sassy best friend?” comment directed to Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris).
On top of being a jerk, Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) uncovered in this episode that Hayward had top-secret intel on Monica, was tracking Vision and possibly had an “accurate headcount of Westview’s residents and their wellbeing,” as FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) noted. Potential secrets are begging to be unleashed from his firewall.
Oh, if only Darcy could have hacked Hayward in time! Instead, Hayward cuffed her to a car to let Vision die, which was a major error on his part. Monica tried to warn you, dude: don’t antagonize Wanda. Welcome to Westview!
Vision disintegrating as he stepped outside of Westview’s perimeter seems to provide proof to Pietro/Peter/Mephisto’s (???) claim that Wanda’s “dead husband can’t die twice.” As he began to get torn apart while struggling to make it past magical sitcom prison to militarized New Jersey reality, it did lead one to assume that the Vision in “WandaVision” is a reanimated corpse puppet and that his state of aliveness is predicated on Wanda’s scope of control over the situation at hand. Vision may have some free will as far as his actions and thoughts went, but he’s dead-dead, or so it seems.
I believe that riddle was lurking somewhere on Hayward’s laptop, where he had a program “tracking the decay signature of vibranium.” And that laptop may have been turned into fried carnival elephant ears right at the end of this episode.
A witch’s hat, a maniacal witch’s cackle, a witch’s silver-streaked ‘do. We’re inclined to call it now: Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes is Agatha Harkness. When Vision pulled up to her Volvo 940 wagon, we saw a semi-frozen, teary-eyed Agnes, chuckling emotionlessly. But, as she snapped back to reality after Vision did his little Jedi mind-trick on her, Agnes became unhinged, screaming, “DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!” all up in our poor, disoriented Avenger’s face. And she certainly had fun with freaking out Vision, too.
The Agnes mystery hasn’t been solved, though; it’s just evolved. Is Agnes/Agatha another victim, or is she one of the wicked masterminds of this kitschy hellscape?
Hayward claimed Monica impeded S.W.O.R.D’s mission because she “doesn’t have the stomach for the job.” Well, it turned out that while Monica’s compassion might be getting in the way of Hayward’s maybe nefarious scheme, he might be getting rid of Monica before she became an energy blasting, hyper-cosmic pain-in-his-ass.
That’s right, signs were pointing to the Hex being the origin story of Photon (also known as Spectrum, also known as Captain Marvel, and a bunch of other monikers). Per Darcy, the bubble’s cosmic microwave background radiation re-wrote Monica’s cells on a molecular level — twice — and the perimeter’s expansion kind of made Monica’s re-entry into the Hex inevitable.
After all, she has to eventually become her canonical superhero alter-ego if Marvel Studios has grander plans for Monica, right? Her many powers include appearance alteration, flight, superhuman speed, intangibility, invisibility, energy duplication and absorption, and eidetic memory. Her mutation, as well as her strong inclination toward leadership, combat skills and law enforcement training, could spell out the end of Hayward’s S.W.O.R.D. and the rise of another Avenger.
If we dig a little more into our hypothesis based on Darcy’s findings and what we know about the radiation surrounding Westview, the town’s residents might also be changing on a molecular level. Wanda may, in fact, be inadvertently creating Mutants. Did you really think Kevin Feige would let that 20th Century Fox IP go to waste?
We’ve been left with the same burning question over and over since the twins’ accelerated gestation and birth in Episode 3, followed by their year-skipping childhoods in Episode 5: were Tommy and Billy conceived using slivers of Mephisto’s soul? Uncle Pietro’s comment did point us in the devil-is-in-the-details direction: the Big Bad here could be Beezlebub himself! If we’re to follow the comic book arc that inspired many “WandaVision” events thus far, Tommy and Billy are eventually reabsorbed by Mephisto and, years later, are reincarnated into Young Avengers Speed and Wiccan, respectively.
Pietro’s “demon spawn” label, however, wasn’t the most damning piece of evidence. That came in the form of the grim claymation advert (reminiscent of the Chips Ahoy and California Raisins spots of yesteryear) featuring a shark wearing sunglasses and a starving child isolated on a deserted island. In the child’s moment of vulnerability, a shark conveniently popped out of the ocean to offer him “Yo-Magic” brand yogurt, promising that it would take all of his hunger away. But there was a catch (there’s always a catch!): the yogurt couldn’t be opened. Thus, although the child got what he asked for, the pact was self-defeating. The child withered away and died, unable to satisfy his hunger at all.
A Faustian Bargain is a little dark there for the kiddos, don’t you think Marvel Studios? But, that’s exactly what this was: an animated allegory to what happens when you strike a deal with the devil. The pact’s term is based on the German folklore of Doctor Faustus, who surrendered his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for limitless knowledge and power that gave him everything he could ever want and more. The bargainer recognized that the pact is amoral, but in desperation, went along with the satanic proposal. But, the catch was that what is surrendered is always more precious than what is obtained. Faustian Bargains are, by their nature, tragic.
It’s not the first time Marvel Studios has evoked a Faustian Bargain. Think about the terms and conditions of the Soul Stone in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Endgame.”
This is all a bunch of conjecture, and the final episodes will indeed reveal the true hidden meaning behind this spooky commercial. Still, Wanda’s admission to Pietro that the last thing she remembered before sitcom wackiness ensued was “feeling completely alone, empty, endless nothingness.” That does make her seem like she was a perfect target for Mephisto.
Time will tell who or what beefed up Wanda’s borscht, though.
“WandaVision” streams new episodes Fridays on Disney Plus.