Friday, February 5, 2021

REVIEW: 'WandaVision' - Wanda Shows Everyone How Much Power and Control She Wields in Westview in 'On a Very Special Episode'

Disney+'s WandaVision - Episode 1.05 "On a Very Special Episode..."

Wanda addresses Vision's worries when he grows suspicious of the neighbors' strange behavior.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"On a Very Special Episode..." was written by Peter Cameron & Mackenzie Dohr and directed by Matt Shakman

Who is in control of Westview? The obvious answer would be Wanda. Her powers are vast and incredible. This world has been created so that she can have everything she has always wanted. It's a complete fantasy. Her subconscious may also fundamentally understand the illusion and acknowledge that she needs help from various people. Some are independent in this world. Vision can't be controlled as easily as the other citizens of Westview. He is questioning what is going on. He too receives a peak behind the curtain. It's miraculous and strange when Billy and Tommy age in an instant. It may solely be a perception of what the parents are capable of handling. It's easier to skip over the trying periods. It's fun to embrace the joys of what parenthood should offer. When it's too difficult to put the babies to sleep, they are aged up to toddlers. When the story doesn't make sense for them to responsibly care for a dog, they become 10 years old to make it more believable. That's how the structure works in the time frame this episode pays homage to. It has become the 1980s. The ideal of the family unit is still powerful. And yet, an undercurrent exists to tackle more difficult subject matter. It presents the case for serious stories while never straying too far from the basic structure. It doesn't even go far into the tropes of being a "very special episode" either. It's all about a dog. It brings joy to this family. Their lives expand in ways that feel rewarding. And yet, it builds to the climatic moment of Sparky dying. Wanda has to comfort her sons about grief. It has to be experienced. It can't be undone. Her words ring hollow because the audience understands that she doesn't fully believe them. She has refused to accept Vision's death. She broke into the facility holding his body. She brought him back to life so that she can live out this fantasy. She refuses to allow any of the S.W.O.R.D. agents to disrupt that now. Director Hayward is quick to label Wanda as a terrorist. It's an assessment he makes because of her radical background. She and her brother were tortured. They lost their parents because of war fueled by the sales of weapons capable of mass destruction. It's a narrative that paints her as a villain. When Monica offers her debrief about her time in the Hex, she says it was absolutely agonizing. Another force was in her head controlling her actions. She argues that Wanda needed her to ensure that her babies were delivered safely. That broke Monica free of this illusion. Wanda then broke it much more forcefully. Monica wants to help. She doesn't see Wanda as the villain. And yet, Wanda has complete control. There is nothing she can't do. She is essentially bending reality to her will. That may have grave consequences though. It extends far deeper than simply being able to deconstruct matter so that it becomes period appropriate in this simulation. She can edit the broadcast that is going out about the sitcom life she is living with Vision. This world is aging quickly though. The ambitions of sitcoms evolves over time. It deconstructs family life. Wanda tries to do her best as a wife and mother. She struggles. That's fine. She knows they can't skip over the tough parts. But it's also hard to believe her when she says that she is in the dark about all of this as well. She can return to the real world. She can confront the S.W.O.R.D. agents and prove they are no match for her. Vision yearns for the truth. In the end, they only get more mysteries. Wanda's brother, Pietro, shows up at the door. However, it's not the version of the character that was previously seen in this universe. Instead, it's Evan Peters from the X-Men film franchise. That further establishes a multiverse in this expanding world. That is a huge development. But Westview may be breaking down because Wanda yearns for so much to be simpler and more peaceful for her as she deals with grief. She deflects in order to embrace what could have been. It's a powerful disruptor. One that centers the story. She and Vision clash though. He is not engaged with anything that is happening. He can no longer trust Wanda. The world keeps on changing. He doesn't know what to think. The audience is in the dark to some extent as well. Wanda has control. That power can corrupt though. Some view her as the terrifying villain who can't be stopped. Others look for her humanity. She fought alongside the Avengers. But now, reality is bending in a way that should make everyone absolutely question everything. That may bring new connections to this world. That further complicates the narrative and may drive it away from the character stakes that have been so effective so far. It's still Wanda's story though. Right now, she remains in control even though it is slipping and she can no longer explain every sudden development that happens. That just ensures more volatility which could mean more lives lost because of the power that is now colliding in Westview.