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Recap and Review of WandaVision, S1E8: “Previously On”

Last week ended with the first big bop of 2021 and it told us something that many had suspected: It was Agatha All Along. That brings us to a two episode sprint to get to the end of this series and for us as an audience to see what is truly going on.

  • Will Wanda and Vision break free and be able to live in love and peace?
  • What is happening with their children?
  • Is Agatha the sole source of the Westview situation or is there someone else hard at work?
  • And do we get any kind of television homage in these last two stories or is it hold on to the ride story and plot from here?

Let’s find out!

Recap of WandaVision S1E8 “Previously On”

And, as the title of the episode suggests, we are getting started with a flashback, but not one we have seen before. This one goes all the way back to 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts.

But it is a witch trial of another kind, as Agatha is tried not by the Puritans but by her own coven of other witches. Her crime: trying to use powers above her level. Her eventual confession does nothing to stay the trial, which is led by her own mother.

Having found her guilty, they begin the punishment, with blue power coming from each of them, blasting into Agatha, who is tied to a post.

Only, the punishment does not work. Agatha seems to instead feed off their witch energy with her own purple powers, leaving all of them as corpses. She promises her mother that she can be good, but Agatha is not to be believed, doing the same to her mother as she did to the others, removing from her mother’s corpse the brooch we have seen her wear in other episodes of WandaVision.

The story then moves back to what we ended last week with, Agatha and Wanda having a conversation in the basement of Agatha’s house, where Wanda went looking for her children. When Wanda fails to read Agatha’s thoughts and then her power to blast her fails, Agatha mocks her by pointing out the basic runes that protect Agatha in the basement, one on every wall.

After mocking Wanda’s lack of magic knowledge, Agatha gets to the point–when Wanda cast her spell over Westview, that amount of power got Agatha’s attention.

When Wanda doesn’t give her any answers, Agatha, using the threat of harming Billy and Tommy, starts a series of re-reruns, only these are of real life scenes from Wanda’s life.

The first scene is from Wanda’s childhood in Sokovia. As the family gathers around the television to watch American shows, Wanda picks an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show. But in the midst of the laughter and smiles a bomb hits their family home. And we watch as a heartbroken young Wanda uses her power to stop a bomb from exploding.

Once Agatha determines that scene isn’t telling her enough, the scene changes into the next stage of her life, where Wanda and Pietro were experiments under Hydra’s control. We watch as Wanda is in a room with the staff that Loki used in the first Avengers movie. As we watch, the stone unhinges itself from the staff and while floating in front of Wanda, it explodes into a yellow light when Wanda touches it.

The tape of the experiment doesn’t seem to show her interaction with the Infinity stone but it is nothing for Agatha to theorize that the stone’s contact with Wanda kicked her basic level baby witch powers into overdrive. But it still is not enough, so they take the next life re-run on.

This scene is now of her and Vision at the Avengers compound. While watching a sitcom, Vision offers to comfort Wanda and help her. Wanda resists that effort and is short with him but we can tell her pain over losing Pietro is real, especially as she begins to speak about how she is really feeling.

Vision tries to offer her some words of comfort and then go on to watch more television. But Agatha still isn’t getting what she wants. So she pushes Wanda to talk about how Wanda dealt with her pain when the Vision wasn’t around to comfort her.

That leads us to the footage we have only seen previously without sound, of Wanda going to visit the headquarters of SWORD. In it, we see her patient but firm demand to have the Vision’s body, as his next of kin. But the Deputy Director Hayward shows her the stations where they are dismantling the Vision.

After some discussion, Wanda gets to the body of the Vision and when her powers try and interact, she sadly says “I can’t feel you.” Walking away, she jumps into her car and while driving through Westview, we see the characters we have seen before in the sitcom episodes of the show.

And we finally see why Westview, as Wanda looks at the lot where Vision had started to build them a house, with a deed and building plan in her hand where he had written “To Grow Old In.”

The heartbreak becomes too much and falling to her knees, Wanda unleashes her full red power. We watch as she shapes Westview for the first time into what she wants it to be, not what it was or is, going all the way back to the first sitcom set.

But even more so, we see Wanda, as yellow power comes through and reconstructs the Vision himself.

When she snaps back form this memory, Agatha gives her a sarcastic slow clap from an audience spot before teleporting. Wanda then hears her boys yelling for help from outside. Rushing out, she sees Agatha holding her sons hostage.

And with a short diatribe, we learn that Agatha “knows” who Wanda is, and the chaos magic that she uses is far too powerful, even if she is “The Scarlet Witch.” We get the closing credits.

Thoughts on WandaVision S1E8 “Previously On”

I suspect that people are going to really like or really dislike this episode. And truthfully, I can see arguments on both sides. If you were fired up and completely ready for a rapid move towards resolution, you are waiting at least one more week. But, I also think this episode helps us get a clear understanding of what is going on in some deeper capacities.

I think the flashbacks were great character building for Wanda. Certainly these at least are all moments we have heard about but to see some of them lived out in a more dramatic way before us helps us move to understand what we get when we hit that moment of Wanda unleashing all of her angst on the world. In some levels, it helps us understand what she did even if we cannot justify it.

But some of the scenes are limiting in some ways as well. For instance, Acting Director Hayward just seems to be another butthead with a big gun who is too dumb not to pull the trigger. His whole “I cannot let you bury that much Vibranium” line is crap which we all know. (See note below.)

Seeing Agatha drive the story forward was interesting. I think we can see that she isn’t the ultimate evil of the scenario; she just loves draining magic from other users, so when someone like the Scarlet Witch shows up, she has to take note.

So what are some of the dangling questions as we head to the season finale?

  • Is the title the Scarlet Witch meaningful to all witches and warlocks? And maybe a Sorcerer Supreme, like Dr. Strange? I am curious to see if they lay this one as a name across time or specific to Wanda.
  • When do Monica and Pietro get to come back into the action?
  • And thanks to the post credit scene, we now know that we have 2 Visions, the one that Wanda created and has been interacting with and the one that SWORD put back together and is releasing sans pigment. (The “Ghost” Vision.)
  • What about the boys? With the push seeming to be full on for the Young Avengers, I cannot imagine that we don’t get to see one more age up for them.
  • Is Pietro alone going to be the dangling plot thread that connects this movie with the Multi-verse, and hence, the Dr. Strange movie?
  • Was that really all we get from the “aerospace engineer” comment?
  • What happens when full pigment Vision catches back up with Wanda? There has been one epic line from the various trailers that we have not heard spoken yet. While it certainly isn’t impossible that Marvel put the line in as a decoy, I think it is going to be real.
  • The call out to the specific Dick Van Dyke episode is a nice hat tip. That episode is titled “It May Look Like a Walnut”. The gist of that episode is about a show Rob watches where human beings losing autonomy when they are attacked by walnut looking aliens.

There was post-credits scene this week. We see SWORD prepare to deploy a new weapon, a Vision that they had to siphon magic off of a transformed drone in order to power. They give us “Ghost Vision.”

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