Friday, January 29, 2021

REVIEW: 'WandaVision' - The Television Bubble Is Cracked as Monica and Her Team Find Answers in 'We Interrupt This Program'

Disney+'s WandaVision - Episode 1.04 "We Interrupt This Program"

Monica Rambeau, tasked with a special assignment regarding sentient weapons, goes missing.

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.

"We Interrupt This Program" was written by Bobak Esfarjani & Megan McDonnell and directed by Matt Shakman

Throughout the first three episodes, the series has largely maintained its sitcom premise. It has been an homage to classic comedies of the past. Brief moments shattered the illusion of this reality Wanda and Vision were suddenly in. However, they were completely fleeting. They never lasted long. In fact, it suggested that Wanda actually had some control over her reality. People should rightfully be questioning what exactly is going on. This episode provides some of those answers. It spells out a ton for the viewer. That is a welcome development because it helps put everything into better context. And yet, the episode also doesn't have the fun and style that was evident in the first three episodes. Now, it's clearly a Marvel project with the directorial style that people have become accustomed to across several dozen movies. This show was exciting because it offered something different. It also brought some fresh comedy to the proceedings as well. Moreover, Wanda and Vision's relationship was the focus. It brought new context to this couple and what they had together. It may never be destined to last. This is simply the reality Wanda has created for herself. It's better for her to play along with the sitcom conventions because she gets to be a family with Vision again. The family is expanding as well with the births of Tommy and Billy. The S.W.O.R.D. agents are outside Westview trying to understand what is going on. It's an escalation of a simple missing persons case. Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis work together to realize a static field consumes this town. It pulls people into the fantasy. That can prove quite costly as well. One agent is sent through the sewer system. The audience knows his fate is probably grim. No follow up is immediately confirmed though. Monica survives her time interacting with Wanda. Her banishment is simply being sent back to the real world. That destructive moment proves to her that Wanda is responsible for all of this. She isn't simply an Avenger who is being tricked or attacked by some outside influence. Mysteries are still likely to persist in this world. The agents are able to identify most of the people who currently make up this reality. A real identity isn't given to Agnes though. That is notable. It's also clear that the episodes Darcy is recording of WandaVision don't line up entirely with what the audience has already seen. We have already seen some glimpses behind the curtain. We see the tension and clarity that informs Wanda's perspective. She can deny it. She can push it away. She has that power. Once reality breaks for her though, then she is forced to see all of this for what it truly is. That includes Vision's true form. She loved him as a synthetic being. She loves him as a bumbling sitcom dad. And yet, she truly is playing dress-up with his corpse. This may essentially be a way for her to deny that he is truly gone. Half of the world's population came back to life after they were snapped out of existence. The Avengers succeeded in that mission even though it cost them some heroes in the process. Monica was one of the departed as well. She returns to life only to learn that her mother died three years ago when her cancer returned. It's devastating news. She returns to work eager to continue her life. This situation forces her into something entirely new. She handles herself well. She tries reaching out to Wanda. She knows details about what happened to her. But she never truly became her neighbor and friend. There wasn't enough time for that bond to develop. The audience sees this fantasy for what it is now. That can no longer be denied. Of course, that robs some of the fun out of the storytelling. It's replaced with horror which is effective. A lot of this also has to be inferred about Wanda. This episode extends the focus to beyond the city. It's important to help the story develop. And yet, the series worked when the focus was maintained on Wanda and Vision. This story has to fundamentally be about them. The world comes alive when they are driving the story forward. These other details are important. They contribute to the larger universe. It's just not as specific and rewarding as the character journeys happening within the city limits. That too may highlight some of the shortcomings of the series. The Marvel world is figuring out how to tell its stories in episodic formats. This show is a grand experiment. It takes wild risks. It plays around with the format and tone. That is invigorating. However, this episode makes it feel more performative and meant to show off to the audience instead of coming across as a natural extension for the evolution of these characters. Those details may still be coming. This episode is meant to be shocking with how it blows up the formula. That will likely continue. But again, the best moments come from the references to the past while highlighting the tragedy of the present for Wanda. It's fascinating to see her powers as destructive. She can be the antagonist because of her grief. That puts it in more typical terms of a Marvel story. But it's still different enough to leave the audience craving for more as soon as possible. Plus, it allows Monica to be seen as a potentially fantastic foil to Wanda because they can bond over this sudden grief in the aftermath of the latest Avengers story. That represents new futile storytelling ground for this universe to explore. So, the benefits still outweigh the sudden exposition explaining everything here.