Sunday, January 17, 2021

REVIEW: 'WandaVision' - Wanda Acknowledges the Weirdness of the World While Also Rejecting It in 'Don't Touch That Dial'

Disney+'s WandaVision - Episode 1.02 "Don't Touch That Dial"

In an effort to fit in, Wanda and Vision perform a magic act in their community talent show.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Disney+'s WandaVision.

"Don't Touch That Dial" was written by Gretchen Enders and directed by Matt Shakman

Is this really happening? That's the question Wanda poses to Vision after discovering that she is suddenly pregnant. At first, Vision reacts with surprise as it happens the moment she gets up from the couch. He then offers reassurance and support the moment Wanda questions it. These subtle shifts in emotions highlight Wanda questioning the world around her and looking to Vision for support. Now, the series frames the narrative from both of their perspectives. They each have private moments apart from each other where their stories take focus. Agnes has a brief moment like that as well without Wanda being present. This internal agency is necessary to track whose motivations in this world line up with something larger happening. Reality is certainly being bent. That is obvious with the bursting of color into this world. It first happens when Wanda notices a toy plane has crashed into one of her bushes. It's a bright, vibrant red as well. It stands out in this black-and-white world. It destroys the illusion that this is nothing more than a sitcom starring a couple with magical abilities. Wanda sees that and acknowledges it. And then, she is pulled right back into the sitcom plot. This questioning happens again though. It's not color that breaks through though. Instead, it's a voice through the radio. The person on the other side is reaching out to Wanda desperate to know who is doing this to her. It's a valid question. One the audience should be asking as well. Nothing in this world is as it seems. Everything could fall apart at a moment's notice. Resetting the universe doesn't immediately calm the mind either. This one invasion is pushed away. But that also comes with a glass breaking and Dottie's blood showing as its true color. Again, it's a deep hue that highlights the life that extends far deeper than the surface that Wanda and Vision have currently explored. Right now, it's more important to deal with the gum that has suddenly thrown a wrench into Vision's operating system. It causes him to act drunk during the town talent show. In fact, that is an absolutely fabulous sequence. It's the first moment where the show pays homage to all the classic sitcoms while also being genuinely funny. Up until this point, it felt like the show copying what was so charming and funny in the past while acknowledging it's all being done in hindsight now. Meanwhile, this sequence showcases that these actors are inherently funny and know how to make this situation hilarious. Wanda and Vision had rehearsed. Things quickly go awry for them during the performance. Wanda has to think quickly in order to prevent any of her neighbors from growing suspicious about their powers. Vision unwillingly is working against her. It's amusing and an absolute pleasure to watch. That sequence is spectacular. Wanda is told that she needs to win Dottie's approval in order to have an easy path forward in this town. She receives that at the end of the talent show. That's the clear resolution found that falls in line with what the typical sitcom of this era would produce. That isn't the end of the story though. Instead, the characters deal with even more reality bending. That too introduces the concept of who is actually in charge of this reality. It is absolutely being invaded. Wanda acknowledges that. She also denies it as well. She wants to be with Vision. She wants to bask in the glow of their relationship. It's wonderful to suddenly be pregnant. The world explodes with color as the series seemingly moves forward in time a little bit. It still isn't contemporary. But it may be a new way to offer clarity and structure to this reality so that the anachronisms aren't as glaring. That may not work. It's still a wonderful sequence because it's framed around Vision being seen in all of his glory once more. He too is a figure of red. He bursts through this world in a way that is actually welcomed by Wanda. She doesn't wish to examine the mystery of the beekeeper emerging from the sewer grate. It's more meaningful to go back inside by rewinding time a little bit. Again, it's strange. It posits that Wanda has some control. She may add the color to this world. It's framed through the personal love of this relationship. That remains the central drive of the series. It's a strong focus as well. The show has earned the gravitas of this pairing in a way that is natural and relaxed. That's a big development as well. It's a welcome break from the tragedy commonly associated with Marvel productions. But again, the scope remains compelling and mysterious. Not everything is lining up quite yet. Borders are being broken though. That happens with much more frequency and urgency here. The walls of this reality may be tearing apart quickly. How will Wanda and Vision cope with that? What will it mean for their future given that this reality has been relatively happy for them? They are strong as a couple here. That support means something. That joy is absolutely radiant. And yet, their powers are being targeted. The purpose of which remains shrouded in the darkness that lurks just out of reach for them.