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WandaVision: Season 1, Episode 6 Review

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WandaVision has gone from strength to strength with each new episode, and that trend certainly doesn’t stop with Episode 6. While it may not have a surprise up its sleeve as outlandish as last week’s unexpected visitor, Episode 6 returns to the uneasy mystery vibes of earlier chapters for quieter, but no less spectacular effect.Episode 6’s first half feels more like the earlier half of the season, played out as a straight comedy homage and letting the stranger elements play out beneath the surface. This week writers Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron make the pitch-perfect decision to pastiche ’90s classic Malcolm in the Middle, which lends the entire episode a fun directorial style with cutaway gags and to-camera jokes. There’s an almost zany quality to the tone, which complements the meta storyline, which itself continues to escalate its joyful weirdness.Much of that comes from the introduction of Evan Peters’ Pietro Maximoff, who is a mainstay throughout the episode. His existence inside the sitcom means he’s written in-line with his cheeky portrayal in the X-Men films, strengthening the connective tissue between the two universes. Smartly, the show isn’t ready to blow his secrets just yet, and so the episode is just peppered with small moments of confusion from Wanda about his history. That calls into question exactly how he’s arrived, because it certainly seems like Wanda didn’t make him.On the sitcom level, he works as the perfect weird uncle, and acts as a catalyst to make Billy and Tommy more interesting characters. They’re still largely kid stereotypes, but the evolution of their super powers helps bring them closer to their comic book origins and thus more important to the story. It’s also particularly cute to see Billy dressed in a Wiccan Halloween costume, and Tommy’s Quicksilver costume hints at his comic book counterpart, Speed.

The Halloween setting of the episode also finally gives us our first ever look at Wanda as the Scarlet Witch.. sort of. Her ‘Sokovian Fortune Teller’ costume is, naturally, based on the classic comic look, and Vision gets a similar set of threads. These comic ties are mirrored in the more serious moments, too. During a heart-to-heart with her brother, Wanda explains how she doesn’t know how she made Westview, but just remembers feeling completely alone in endless nothingness. While we know in the context of the show this is due to the death of Vision, this is a neat adaptation of the darkness that Scarlet Witch deals with in the comics during the years leading to events such as Avengers Disassembled and House of M.

On the subject of the death of Vision, this episode sees our favourite synthezoid play detective following his fight with Wanda. There’s an almost X-Files vibe to Vision’s story this week, as he cuts loose from his family to try and uncover exactly what’s going on. This produces some of the show’s most unsettling imagery as he reaches the edge of town; a crying woman hanging decorations is particularly eerie. But his meeting with Agnes, in which she finally breaks character and reveals that he is dead, is the hammer that truly cracks Vision’s understanding of the world.Episode 5’s stand off between Wanda and SWORD on the edge of the hex is neatly mirrored as Vision breaks through to the other side. But where Wanda’s scene was confrontational, demonstrating her defensive headspace, Vision’s scene is all about compassion. Rather than attempting to escape, he pleads with SWORD for them to help the people trapped in Westview. As if that wasn’t sad enough, Vision begins to flake and splinter as his dead body breaks down outside of the illusion. The effect parallels that of Thanos’ snap, which is effectively the MCU’s signifier of fragile mortality these days.

Wanda’s extension of the hex to save Vision from decaying is both a huge set piece for the episode, and a visual summary of where we are so far. Wanda just can’t let Vision go, and as heartbreaking as it is, her insistence on keeping him prisoner is a growing problem that’s hurting more and more people. I do hope we get to visit the SWORD carnival next week, though, as tragic as its origins are.

Speaking of SWORD, the agency is once again a major part of the episode, and the rift between Hayward and Monica widens. With Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy essentially a splinter faction now, it’s safe to say that SWORD are definitely our bad guys, and Hayward’s shouty bravado is pretty easy to hate. It also paves the way for upcoming reinforcements; Monica mentions a friend who can help her get back into Westview, which is a fun tease for what will hopefully be a big-name cameo or a new character entirely. With X-Men characters now in the fold, all bets are open as to who this could be. But if you need a scientist who can break a barrier, perhaps a certain Fantastic thinker may be worth calling?

Also offering a tease for the future is Darcy’s discovery of Monica’s bloodwork, which shows her cells being re-written on a molecular level. This adds an additional layer of danger to the trio’s ambitions of breaking back into Westview, but ultimately works as a nod to the comics and a hint at what could potentially be a superpowered future for Monica Rambeau. It also raises the question as to how this affects every single person trapped inside of Westview. In the comics, Wanda wiped out all mutants in House of M. It would be a clever reversal if she’s actually responsible for all mutants in the MCU.

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