CAST: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Evan Peters, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, Josh Stamberg, Asif Ali, Debra Jo Rupp, David Lengel, Amos Glick, Emma Caufield Ford, David Payton, Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne, Jolene Purdy
RUNNING TIME: 50 mins
PREVIOUSLY, ON WANDAVISION (MILD SPOILERS): Grieving for the loss of her beloved Vision (Bettany), Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) created the sitcom world of Westview and recreated Vision using her own powers, which attracted the attention of not just S.W.O.R.D., which had secretly reactivated the real Vision’s lifeless body, but also a scheming witch named Agatha Harkness (Hahn) who is desperate to figure out Wanda’s incredible power. After diving into Wanda’s tragic past, Agatha concludes that Wanda is a force known as the Scarlet Witch.
IN THIS EPISODE: Wanda and Vision battle for their home against Agatha and S.W.O.R.D.’s newly-activated White Vision, and hope to set things right once and for all…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
It’s been an interesting nine weeks for Marvel fans, hasn’t it? Since the debut of WandaVision, the Internet has been rife with endless theories about the potential secrets of Marvel Studios’ first miniseries, such as if any major villain from the comics would turn out to be the one pulling the strings, or if there would be any surprise cameos from major characters from elsewhere in the MCU, and possibly even beyond. It seems the show itself was aware of its highly inquisitive audience, as it made a large number of reveals that sent the community into an even greater spin; everything from the multiverse to fan-favourite comic icons were discussed in great detail concerning what might happen when, inevitably, the series comes to its conclusion.
So now that it’s finally here, does the WandaVision series finale – handily titled The Series Finale – have all the answers we were hoping for? The short answer: not exactly.
As for the long answer, let’s start with the basic set-up for this episode. Last week, we discovered that Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is so powerful that she even has her own label amongst her fellow witchkind: the Scarlet Witch (a name-drop in the making for six years since the character’s MCU debut). It’s a level of power which Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), herself a rather devious witch, is desperate to claim as her own, and so she puts Wanda’s family on the line in order to force it out of her, leading to a fight across Westview where Wanda may or may not fully embrace her newfound title. Then, of course, there’s the small matter of the re-animated actual Vision (now white as snow for some reason), which has been sent in by that dastardly S.W.O.R.D. chief Hayward (Josh Stamberg) to eliminate Wanda, and must now be fended off by Wanda’s fabricated Vision (Paul Bettany, playing both versions of the character) across the rest of the town. Everything and everyone else, including the newly-powered Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and whoever fake Pietro (Evan Peters) truly is, all come into play during this rather action-packed episode, which is far more in line with MCU standards than this series has produced thus far.
It all comes to a head here, as it normally should do during a series finale such as this, but audiences hoping for clear resolutions to some of the most hotly-debated issues will no doubt be left wanting far more. As it turns out, this is one of those finales that leaves more questions than answers, leaving future MCU instalments to potentially solve rather than containing it all here; in a way, this hurts WandaVision a little bit because this ultimately means that it doesn’t stand quite as comfortably on its own as it could have done. Some of the strongest Marvel outings like Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy did a grand job of being their own self-contained stories while also connecting to the larger cinematic universe as minimally as possible, but while WandaVision does manage to wrap up a lot of elements concerning its main story, leaving some of the more pressing questions for other films or shows to resolve leaves it with a slightly unfulfilled feeling.
Some of the answers it does have to offer here, though, are met with an equal balance of frustration and acceptance. A major reveal some episodes prior is completely undone by a far less satisfying one that disappointingly diminishes any excitement one might have had from its very presence, and makes the casting in this particular revelation seem like a cruel practical joke; on the other end of the aisle, there are things in this episode that some fans – especially with one of the title characters – have wanted to see for some time, and it’s pretty cool how they are integrated into the story while serving its purpose decently. Given its heavy leaning on emotion in the last episode, there are a few additional moments of heartfelt sorrow here too, and as ever they are well-handled by these actors and director Matt Shakman who bring out the emotions without going too over-the-top.
Overall, it is a bit of a mixed-bag of a finale. There are elements here that do really work, and other parts which fail to live up to certain expectations (though that’s probably down to nine weeks’ worth of absorbing online fan theories which, looking back on them now, were pretty ridiculous), but like I’ve said previously, even at its weakest this show is still nowhere near what you’d call “bad”. This episode perhaps won’t go down as a series highlight, but in terms of concluding this story it serves its ultimate function, and as ever these are still some highly entertaining characters and performances which are all enjoyable to watch whenever they’re either engaged in full-on battle or settling down for an evening in suburbia. It might not have had all the answers we were hoping for, but the series finale of WandaVision leaves things on a reasonably pleasant note.
So, now that it’s over, what are my thoughts on WandaVision as a whole? For the most part, it’s been a pretty fun ride; all of its call-backs to past sitcom eras have been nothing short of spectacular, with tons of credit going to these writers, filmmakers and actors who clearly studied a lot of classics from Bewitched to Malcolm in the Middle inside and out, and near-perfectly replicated the kind of dialogue, performances, camera angles and even effects to create their own homage that also works well as its own entity. When it has to be more of a traditional MCU entry, it’s not as endearing but you’re still enjoying the ride, being introduced or re-introduced to characters that are easy to like and root for, and setting up some intriguing new paths for them to follow in the future. Not everything flows as smoothly as it’d like, with some episodes tending to drag in terms of pacing, and some of the mysteries it initially sets up aren’t resolved in the most satisfying of ways, but it’s a show that never becomes boring, for there is at least one thing per episode that keeps you hooked, from a surprise character reveal or a catchy-as-hell theme tune.
One other thing you cannot possibly take away from this series if you tried is how both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have well and truly grown into these characters. They are not only having plenty of fun paying tribute to sitcom performances like those of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, but they also show great humanity and ferocity in their turns that make their characters just leap out of the comics and onto the screen; Olsen, in particular, has frankly never been better, fully showing her range throughout this show while staying true to the Wanda Maximoff we were first introduced to back in 2015. She’ll be back in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (but as for Vision, how this episode ends leaves his fate both final and somewhat ambiguous), but we’re already counting down the days until the Scarlet Witch is officially back in our lives.
Next up on Marvel’s roster is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and if WandaVision is anything to go by we’re in for something that’ll make cosying up in front of the TV truly cool once again.
SO, TO SUM UP…
WandaVision: Episode 9 – The Series Finale doesn’t offer many satisfying answers, but still manages to leave off with some decent MCU action and some long-awaited reveals, concluding a series that has served as a beautiful homage to sitcoms and a fun showcase for its two titular characters and their actors.
AND NOW, FOR THE OVERALL SERIES GRADE: