CAST: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, Josh Stamberg, Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne, Emma Caufield Ford, Jolene Purdy, David Payton, David Lengel
RUNNING TIME: 38 mins
PREVIOUSLY, ON WANDAVISION (MILD SPOILERS): Wanda Maximoff (Olsen), Vision (Bettany) and their young twin boys Billy (Hilliard) and Tommy (Klyne) live in the sitcom town of Westview, with the occasional assistance of their neighbour Agnes (Hahn). Meanwhile, outside of Wanda’s “hex”, S.W.O.R.D. agent Monica Rambeau (Parris), along with allies Jimmy Woo (Park) and Dr. Darcy Lewis (Dennings) have been conducting their own investigation as to why Wanda has created her fictional world, and how they can penetrate the forcefield surrounding it. After Vision attempts to escape, Wanda expands the forcefield to save him from dying, engulfing several S.W.O.R.D agents along the way, including Dr. Lewis.
IN THIS EPISODE: Wanda decides to take a break, Vision forms a new alliance, and Rambeau attempts to make her way back into Westview…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Remember last week’s WandaVision, where it ended with yet another massive cliffhanger that showed just how powerful Wanda Maximoff really can be, and left you on the edge of your seat as to the fates of certain characters, like an almost-disintegrated Vision, an engulfed Dr. Darcy Lewis, and Evan Peters’ Quicksilver who turned out to be a bit of a dick?
Well, at least one of those threads are resolved in this week’s episode – subtitled Breaking the Fourth Wall – but unfortunately, if you’re expecting any genuine new surprises this week, then you’ll be slightly let down here. Not that the episode itself is bad – it definitely moves the plot forward, and sets the stage for the following final two episodes – but after everything this show has given us these last couple of weeks, this one isn’t able to quite match the awesomeness we’ve come to expect from it by now.
The sitcom eras being paid homage to now reach the 2000s, specifically the mockumentary-style shows like Modern Family and The Office, complete with interludes where characters express their inner thoughts to a hidden camera crew. After last week’s haywire incident, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) has decided to put herself in a “quarantine-style staycation”, which basically amounts to lounging around the house, putting her kids in the care of neighbour Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), and occasionally finding everything begin to distort back to archaic items from the past (the flatscreen TV turns into a 70s television, and so on). Meanwhile, Vision (Bettany) has recovered from his near-brush with death after trying to escape the forcefield, and finds himself in the middle of a circus fairground, where he comes across a newly-controlled Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). Our other meanwhile, set outside of Westview, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) manage to find a way back through the forcefield to confront Wanda and get her to see the light once more – but a shock reveal finally lets us see who’s really been pulling the strings this whole time.
I say it’s a “shock” reveal, but honestly at least half of the audience had already guessed the true identity of one longstanding character in this series before it even got deep enough to hint at it. This episode basically confirms this theory, that a particular someone is another particular someone from the original Marvel comics, but somehow the reveal just isn’t that surprising, especially to those who have been theorising hard ever since WandaVision debuted its first episode. It also calls into question how different of a character this on-screen interpretation is being set up to be, because when you look more at their history in the comics, they’re not exactly known to be an antagonistic figure, which leaves open the possibility that either there are some further reveals yet to come revolving around this particular character and their overall intentions, or they’re just a villain now because there needs to be one – I’m hoping over the next couple of episode that it’ll turn out to be the former, because after all the mystery this series has done rather well to set up, to have something like this be the end result makes it a little underwhelming.
As for the episode itself, there are definitely some stand-out moments, but ultimately it’s probably the least impressive one to date in this miniseries. As ever, they’re definitely having fun mimicking some 2000s mockumentary sitcom tropes – among them the sarcastic glare into the camera, the interluding interviews, and some silly, jaunty music to go along with some of it – while still giving some of these characters extra layers of likeability that are hard to shake off. However, it doesn’t offer much in terms of further surprises (unless it went by unnoticed, we still have no idea who Monica’s aerospace engineer pal is, so keep holding on to your hopes for a surprise Reed Richards introduction, comic nerds), and the ones that it seemingly does offer have been already deduced by eagle-eyed viewers online, so it’s not so much of a genuine shock than it is a mild confirmation of what we already predicted would happen.
I do want to stress, however, that even though this is perhaps the weakest episode of WandaVision to date, it’s still far from bad. One thing you cannot take away from this series, even at its lowest, is how much fun it is; there’s plenty of laughs (beyond the realm of the multiple sitcom eras unfolding here), strong character dynamics, and of course some intriguing and often exhilarating Marvel superhero action. Hopefully we’ll get a lot more of these things as we head into the final stretch of this miniseries, and if it means we have to endure a potential series lowpoint like with this episode, then so be it; so long as it delivers something truly entertaining and surprising within however long it has left, then a less-than-stellar episode like this will have been worth it.
(On a side-note, is anyone else seriously wanting to see a spin-off set of webisodes where Kat Dennings’ Darcy goes through all of the sitcom eras we’ve seen over the course of WandaVision? How funny would it be to see Darcy, who gags at the idea of Wanda being in the kitchen for most of one episode, suddenly be forced to adopt the chauvinistic gender politics of the 50s? Maybe get on that, Kevin Feige, while you still can!)
SO, TO SUM UP…
WandaVision: Episode 7 – Breaking the Fourth Wall is perhaps the least impressive episode to date, offering little in terms of genuine new surprises while leaving certain things unanswered or resolved in a slightly underwhelming manner, but some intriguing character development and a consistent sense of fun just about keep it afloat.
WandaVision: Episodes 1-7 are now available on Disney+. Episode 8 will be available next week.