blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

WandaVision (2021) s01e07 – Breaking the Fourth Wall

I’m going to be very basic about “WandaVision” and the reveals in this episode. The show’s been very subtly leveraging one of the cast for a big turn—with this alternating intensity device—and it works and it’s the only easy out I’d be okay with. It was rumored a few weeks ago but I didn’t pay attention, even though apparently it’s very comics accurate. At least per a little bit of Googling. I hadn’t realized there was a comics accurate thing they could do, figuring they’d just, you know, do House of M a little different. Bit smaller.

But it does certainly foretell a not particularly deep conclusion to the series. While my knee jerk is it’s Disney, what were they really going to do, I do have sympathy. I did once scream “are you <insert expletive here> kidding me” at Vanilla Sky. So I get it.

Now I just want to bask in the tone-shifting glory of “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” Their sitcom riff this episode is what I assume is “Modern Family;” single camera, interviews with the characters as asides, occasionally risqué jokes run through a couple filters. Elizabeth Olsen spends some of her part of the episode reflecting on the previous one—we don’t get a resolve to the cliffhanger, picking up the next morning—and while she’s doing absurdist pastiche, she’s really good. Not as a “Modern WandaVision Family” mom caricature, but as her character trying to reason through it. It just occurred to me during the episode we’ve never determined how she’s experiencing life in the Hex either, outside the instinctual controls.

I’ll bet the series is going to rewatch well. Though I’ll also bet the scene where we find out Kat Dennings somehow has seen Avengers: Infinity War so she can tell Paul Bettany how he died in the movie plays just as shrug. Like… was it broadcast? Can they establish it? It goes on for so long it’d have worked better if Dennings had turned to the camera, winked, and reminded us we could watch it on Disney+ whenever we wanted.

Otherwise, Bettany and Denning are fantastic together. We’re in the endgame of “WandaVision” now and Bettany knows something’s really wrong and knows he can’t leave the Hex, so he’s impatient and confused but still in a sitcom. It works out. And Dennings can easily handle this comedy stuff. Her timing’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, we get some big developments on Teyonah Parris’s arc, including a perfectly eighties—perfectly Marvel Comics—sequence in a superhero origin story, complete with affecting Captain Marvel sound clips. It’s awesome bigger scale superhero stuff confined quite naturally to a TV screen. Really cool.

Other regular cast members are gearing up for duty in the rest of the series presumably, with Josh Stamberg not learning anything and starting to concern his subordinates as his secret plan becomes clear, Evan Peters getting a part-time job subplot (though you have to wait through credits to find out what, so make sure to stick around), and then Kathryn Hahn babysitting Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne while Olsen does her mindfulness sitcom mom thing. Hahn’s so good. Just so good. She gets to do a lot of winking at the camera thanks to the format and it’s incredible.

“WandaVision”’s got two more (I thought it was eight, it’s nine) and it seems very likely they’ll get it done inventively and successfully. They could tank it, sure, but they’ve ably weathered their biggest reveal and have come through fine.

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