It’s extremely commendable that a show like WandaVision is so consistently well executed in each successive episode. I think that part of the reason is also because no one really expected it to be this good. ‘Something you’ve never seen before’ is what every third showrunner uses to describe their show, but within the Marvel universe, WandaVision has certainly delivered on that aspect.
This week’s episode, ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ is based on iconic shows from the mid to late 2000s that popularized this medium of storytelling. The Office comes to mind immediately – and is paid due homage in the initial credits and in the occasional ‘Jim stares’ at the camera – but the bulk of the episode follows the household setting of Modern Family, which is known for its mockumentary style of filming and use to cutaway flashbacks to complement narration.
As always, Elizabeth Olsen is a delight, especially when shrugging off her expansion of an alternate reality the same way one would a night of excessive partying. Her world is literally falling apart around her, and her response is, ‘Must be a case of the Mondays, amirite?’ Being hilarious in almost every possible genre of sitcom is no mean feat, and WandaVision has been a crucial platform for Olsen, Bettany, and Hahn to showcase their versatility as comedic actors.
Over the course of the show, we have seen the sitcom based parts of the episodes gradually lessening in screen time. As Wanda steps into the creepy dungeon at the end of ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’, the aspect ratio changes within the sitcom universe itself, from full screen to the cinematic widescreen so far reserved for real life events. This may indicate that the sitcom universe within WandaVision has caught up to reality, and this may be the last we get of the television references within the show.
I do hope I’m wrong, though, because it would be truly glorious to see which shows from the 2010s that WandaVision could incorporate within itself. Kathryn Hahn in a Moira Rose-esque role would be a sight to behold.
It must be said that the music department on WandaVision has been crushing it week after week, and this episode is no exception. The opening credits feature a clearly ‘Office’ inspired theme song, and the montage references the introductory sequences of both The Office and the short lived sitcom Happy Endings.
(Interestingly, Happy Endings was executive produced by veteran Avengers directors Joe and Anthony Russo.)
Although the opening theme was a strong start, the musical highlight of ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ would definitely be Agnes’ personal theme song. Based on the theme song from The Munsters, ‘Agatha All Along’ fits perfectly with everything we’ve seen about the character so far, and if anyone on the show deserves her own title track, it’s Kathryn Hahn.
That brings us to the big reveal this episode – turns out it was Agatha all along! ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ confirmed what many had theorized from the start, that Agnes’ true identity is actually that of ‘magical gal’ and witch Agatha Harkness. As posited in last week’s review, her encounter with Vision in ‘All-New Halloween Spooktacular!’ was all an act – designed to manipulate the scenario the same way that Agnes was behind the magic show in episode 2, Herb’s soulless wall trimming in episode 3, and even Pietro’s apparent return from the beyond in episode 5.
Here’s the thing, though: validated as I am about my Agnes-related suspicions being proven correct, I am still inclined to leave space for an even bigger force that could be controlling Westview. WandaVision has made its audience highly expectant of twists by now, and something about the smug surety of ‘Agatha All Along’ is reminiscent of Monica Rambeau confidently saying ‘It’s All Wanda’ back in Episode 4. I’ve got my eye on you, WandaVision.
The other major happening in ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ is that Monica gets her powers. In the comics, Monica Rambeau is briefly Captain Marvel, before she takes on the title of Photon and then Spectrum. As she passes through the barrier for the third time, we see that she can view the spectrum of light in Westview, which is consistent with her superhero name in the comics. The aerospace engineer mentioned in the previous episode is nowhere to be seen this week (I was hoping it was Reed ‘Mr. Fantastic’ Richards), unless she meant her mother’s friend Major Goodner from the Air Force, which would be rather anticlimactic.
Paul Bettany continues to be great in ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’, particularly in the scenes where he tries to make sense of his storied past while being constantly and inexplicably blocked from returning home (à laThe Truman Show). Vision and Darcy make a well matched duo, each playing the straight man whenever necessary. Meanwhile, Director Hayward continues to be a toad of the first water, and is revealed to be attempting the same thing he had previously accused Wanda of – using Vision’s body as a sentient weapon. This is also in keeping with what Hayward mentioned in the first episode about S.W.O.R.D focusing on ‘robotics, AI and sentient weapons’ in the five years since the Blip.
According to showrunner Matt Shakman, the entirety of WandaVision will be 6 hours long. If that is to be believed, then the last two episodes will have a supersized runtime, going more than its usual half hour slot. Ending seasons on a high is extremely important for television shows in general, but even more in the case of WandaVision, which has been ending almost every episode on a cliffhanger.
While more reveals would no doubt up the stakes, I also hope that in the last two episodes, the show focuses on giving satisfying explanations for the bombs it has already dropped on us. It pains me to think of the inevitably tantalizing note on which Season 1 is bound to end, because it would mean that we have to wait more than a week for answers. But considering that this is the MCU, I also know I will be fed enough crumbs to keep me coming back for more.
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WandaVision continues to excel in every way, and pulls the curtain back on its biggest reveal yet.
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