Previously On shows the rich tapestry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a stark reminder we’ve never seen such effective storytelling across a franchise for such an extended period of time.
By now, most skeptics have come around on the show, but for any stragglers, Previously On proves to be one of the most emotional and well told stories we’ve ever seen from the MCU.
Also, let’s start that clamoring for an Emmy Best Actress nomination for Elizabeth Olsen pronto as she’s done such a stellar job of exploring Wanda’s tremendously overwhelming sense of grief and despair.
First, we take a very deep glimpse back into time — Salem 1693 specifically— as Agatha is set to get magically burned at the stake by her fellow witch coven, including her mother. Agatha’s abilities overwhelm them and she leaves them desiccated husks.
That establishes that Agatha has some major league power, but even she is baffled by Wanda’s abilities and wants to know her secret. Wanda has no clue what she’s talking about so Agatha makes her take a trip through memory lane. This was a pretty clever way to do WandaVision’s equivalent of a clip show.
We start off with a look at the Maximoff family. Wanda’s father has a briefcase full of classic TV shows, which clearly served as her inspiration. The family used these to help teach Wanda and Pietro how to speak English while the war in Sokovia unfolds outside.
There’s a real sadness here watching the happy family knowing what’s going to happen. Even then it was shocking to actually see the aftermath of the bomb with Pietro and Wanda huddled under the bed while the Stark missile ticks as they focus on the still operational TV playing Season 2 of The Dick Van Dyke show.
As bad as they made it sound in Age of Ultron somehow actually seeing it play out is so much worse. Agatha raises the question if Wanda used a probability hex to stop the bomb from going off.
Next is Wanda’s encounter with the Mind Stone where Wanda sees a silhouette of a costumed Scarlet Witch. Interesting… I kinda wish we could have gotten a cameo from Aaron Taylor-Johnson here to show their bond before the Avengers and Ultron. Agnes rightfully wonders how Wanda could survive an encounter with an Infinity Stone. Fair point.
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The next stop on the tour takes Wanda back to Avengers Compound days after Pietro’s death. Vision checks in on her as she watches Malcolm in the Middle, her default coping method after losing a loved one.
There’s some great lines in this segment from Wanda’s “the only thing that would bring me comfort is seeing him again” to Vision’s “But what is grief if not love persevering?” This is the first sign of their connection and a really nice moment. We’d gotten enough from Civil War to Infinity War to fill in the blanks but it was nice to actually see this unconventional bond form.
Finally, we’re back from The Blip and Wanda goes to SWORD asking for Vision’s body to give him a funeral. At least. Heyward shows Wanda the in-progress dismantling of Vision. “Are you sure all you want to do is bury him? Not everyone has the power to resurrect their soulmate.” And in the harshest cut, Heyward tells Wanda Vision isn’t hers.
This is where we see Heyward might have been a bit sketchy in how he relayed this story to Monica. Wanda doesn’t go off and just take Vision. She calmly heads out and takes a drive to Westview, prompted by a property deed from Vision with a note that it’s their home to grow old in together.
That stability is something Wanda never enjoyed. She was an orphan, revolutionary, Avenger and fugitive. She couldn’t even have a “normal” relationship with Vision as they had to stay on the run while she checked in with Black Widow. The idea of a permanent place to stay — a true home — must have felt like a welcome fantasy come true for Wanda. And the reality that it wasn’t to be now set her off.
Westview wasn’t in any great state as she arrived. The town was in its own state of depression. Storefronts were closed. Residents were joyless as if they’d taken too many devastating body blows from life like their new neighbor. Only Wanda had the power to do something about. In a massive transmutation, Wanda puts Westview back to her ideal starting point — a Dick Van Dyke era — when she had a complete family.
And she conjured up her own version of Vision, which explains why he had such trouble breaking through the hex wall in the same way Monica had breaking through. He’s a part of the fabric of Wanda’s massive illusion. Olsen was amazing throughout the episode, but the SWORD encounter and Westview breakdown was incredible.
Agatha says she knows what Wanda is and just how dangerous she is for tapping in to chaos magic. That makes Wanda…the Scarlet Witch. Excuse me while I geek out a moment on that bit.
There’s another post credit scene and this one is a doozy. Now that we know he’s a liar, Heyward prepares the troops to invade Westview and gets ready to unleash his secret weapon now that he’s harnessed enough of Wanda’s energy— a rebuilt Vision, cast in white just like the comic.
Previously On was another masterpiece episode of WandaVision. It had all the energy and payoff of the penultimate episode of a Game of Thrones season. But it definitely feels like this finale could be just as good as it establishes the next phase of the MCU.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+