R E V I E W – S E R I E S
Ever since the birth of Superman, the creation of super-powered individuals has risen exponentially. With popular characters like Miles Morales being developed as late as the 2000s, and the MCU kicking off on Disney+ strongly, we may doze off peacefully knowing that this art form is not dying anytime soon. But is it the existence of this very medium, the flabbergasting concept of superpowers or the real life possibilities that let us have a good night’s sleep? We have, in us, hope to survive a little longer not because superhumans exist to ‘save the day’, but because them being humans is what elevates us to be supers. As tough a feat it is to pull off, episode 8 of WandaVision, despite being technically a filler, has managed a character development – unrivaled.
Kicking off with a backstory transiting from the Marvel Studios intro, they succeed in prompting a pre-credit scene style starter, immediately setting up the cinematic ambience of the studio’s films. This subtle approach is sufficient to incite in us that we will no longer be blessed with light hearted eye candy sitcoms, which makes the paradigm shift to the dark arts feel effortlessly smooth.
Blending fantasy lore and magical cauldrons in an otherwise futuristic Earth is a challenge the MCU has already aced with Doctor Strange. Yet, not altering the back story of our supposed antagonist and adding colour to the comically accurate origins was bold on their part. With the minute screen-time in a historical (and thematically different) event, their honest efforts at developing this character with a pinch of the classic ‘sympathetic misunderstanding’ is laudable. We jump off to where we left from. And we are met with a heavily overused plot armour of a setup, the lazy writing behind which renders our alpha protagonist powerless. Again straightforwardly titled “Previously on”, this filler episode, recap if you will, was thought to have either rewinds as a waste of film or documentary equivalent information dump. Surprisingly, finding a sweet spot between the cinematically despised exposition and ‘main character moment’, they made the ride bearable plot-wise, though the necessity still weighs in on the negative end.
With the witchcraft setting, they owned the recent trend of dynamic dialoguing via switching places constantly, which is otherwise plainly illogical. And the eerie tonal shift in the background score brings back the Marvel cinematic experience, specifically Avengers: Infinity War, implying that the stakes are high. We finally got some satisfying answers to minor questions which we had to think were there at random. The direct nod to the inspirations for their sitcom styles is appreciable. And they handled the meme logics quite brilliantly — that Wanda should’ve seen a mental therapist instead. With a plot twist later that was uncalled for, they put the hammered nail in the coffins of the logicians by portraying Wanda’s sense of responsibility.
In fictions dealing with: ambiguous identities, not revealing character names or having multiple versions of the same character — one common problem us fans face is addressing a character clearly by the name. With Fietro, we finally got a writer’s pool that cares about our ease in ranting. Still, the little to no screen-time of Evan Peters, or of our favourite trio in this episode of 47 minutes is disheartening. Our hopes to catch a glimpse of them, or getting answers about a brand new question that has risen was shut off, but thankfully not by the words ‘Please Stand By’. And the latter — a semi-major plot twist uncalled for — was addressed in the mid credit scenes. Nevertheless, the episode ended with a long sought name drop, one we have been waiting for just as long as the phrase ‘Avengers Assemble’.
Suffice it to say that the little progress in plot has raised the bar of expectations for the final episode to colossal heights. And the motives or motivation for both antagonists still don’t pack a punch. While we hope for more character development for them in the finale, we have to address Marvel’s success with the development in this one. A series of throwbacks starting from Wanda’s childhood — each just kept on adding an extra layer to her persona. The sequence with the plot twist was written and executed incredibly, so much so that it easily outshines the couple’s final sequence in Avengers: Infinity War. A heartwarming scene from back when things started to reignite for her, accompanied by Vision’s extremely wise words became a life saver for many viewers. And finally knowing how the events of WandaVision were initiated (which by itself is underwhelming), looking back at the short-spanned arc that Vision had during the middle speaks volumes about Wanda’s stability, or her instability for that matter.
Liz Olsen’s acting skills need no telling. Completing a recap cycle and a look back at the previous episodes, the more we come to think of it, the faster we fall into her abyss. A genuine sense of loss and grief could not have been portrayed better, something our other General Grievous — Thor has been sadly lacking. A bulk of the audience expecting high-flyer action still deemed the episode unnecessary, as for any newbie the missing pieces would have still worked out just fine. Now that we finally care about her character, a trait not found in other newer heroes, we can only hope she surpasses the grief and reaches acceptance as suggested by her loved one. For grief is nothing, but love persevering.
Shudipto is a replicant with the emotional range of a labradoodle.