There are a couple moderate surprise choices in the episode—first is when Randall Park (who gets some really good moments even though the action thriller aspect of the episode is very secondary) makes a Captain Marvel mention and it gets a reaction from Teyonah Parris, which is the first acknowledgement of her being the little kid from that movie grown up and there being something going on they’ll need to put a pin in until the sequel and then when Elizabeth Olsen breaks the fourth wall to confront Parris, Park, and the rest of the action thriller team. They’re only surprises in being flexes; with Parris it’s some character development we don’t need in “WandaVision” (or do we) and with Olsen it’s some agency we’ve been sorely missing. And a return to the Sokovian accent she’s been missing for a few movies. The show’s taking some big bites and showing off it can chew them without any milk.
But then there’s the finale one and it’s such a big, weird bite, such a multi-layered flex… I’ve been worried about how “WandaVision” is going to do what it’s doing and get to a satisfactory resolve and not to a proverbial refrigerator but… this episode ends with an exceptional, singularly possible gotcha moment of the show all of a sudden winking at the audience and saying, “Guess you rewatched the wrong movies.”
It hadn’t even occurred to me the “right” movies would be on Disney+.
End spoiler hints. But it’s going to be exceptional if they can get away with it. Or even figure out what to do with it. All of a sudden “WandaVision” goes from being one thing to being something else, even as Paul Bettany gets to exercise a lot of agency too. He’s realizing he’s not in the right place either and just as he’s going to get some answers….
Well, worlds collide. Whoops, wrong comic company reference.
There’s a bunch of good stuff with Park, Parris, and Kat Dennings as they get together as Team Rational against agent-in-charge Josh Stamberg, who’s turning into a generic dick of an agent-in-charge. Stamberg’s fine at it but it seems like a missed chance. Doesn’t end up mattering.
The episode in the episode—so the sitcom pastiche—is late eighties sitcom, kind of “Family Ties” but, frankly, “Step by Step” crappy. Partially just because of Bettany’s jeans. But it works, especially Kathryn Hahn as the neighbor, who’s updated to late eighties style. Though events are letting Hahn and other “sitcom” co-star Asif Ali do some character development. Marvel Studios has produced a lot of hours of content at this point, but “WandaVision” is the first project where I’m desperately interested in the behind the scenes. Lots of decisions had to be made and I want to know about all of them.
It’s also nice because after foisting Olsen off on a subplot with the twin sons, she ends up with a lot to do in the third act. The kids are fine enough at acting like eighties sitcom kids but it’s rarely interesting without Bettany around because Olsen’s still “in-character.” Even without the big surprise finish, there’d be a lot to resolve next episode, but now there’s even more.
I’m still relatively confident I’ve got “WandaVision”’s ambitions identified but if it’s able to succeed with all the hurdles it’s giving itself… it’s going to be an achievement more than a success. And potentially improbable Marvel Studios on Disney+ is going to be able to surpass it.
If they can pull it off.