Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Scarlet Witch becomes the sorceress supreme in the satisfying conclusion of WandaVision

Illustration for article titled The Scarlet Witch becomes the sorceress supreme in the satisfying conclusion of WandaVision
Photo: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios

When Vision (Paul Bettany) confronted the genocidal Ultron at the climax of the second Avengers movie, he agreed with the villain that humanity is doomed but wisely noted, “A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.” The question at the heart of WandaVision is whether Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) could ever see the beauty hidden within her grief. “The Series Finale” provides the answer in a moving final episode that lands with only a few missteps.

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Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) forced Wanda to confront her past traumas in “Previously On”, and now she makes her face what she’s done to the people of Westview. Agatha cuts the strings on Wanda’s “meat puppets” and the town’s residents beg for release like the helpless prisoners they truly are. Her grief is “poisoning” them, and Abilash Tandon (Asif Ali) chillingly states that when Wanda lets them sleep, they share her nightmares. Yikes. This isn’t tough love therapy. Agatha wants to break Wanda’s spirit so she’ll surrender her powers to the evil witch.

This is where I express some disappointment that I was proven right when I pegged the dog-killing, bird-crushing, child-strangling Agatha as an unadulterated villain. I wish Agatha’s motivations were more complex than simply craving power for power’s sake, especially since we’re never shown what she’s done with it for the past 300 years. She’s so overtly the Wicked Witch of the Westview that we even see her feet sticking out of her house after Wanda hurls a car at her. Hahn is also literally less grounded than she was in “Previously On.” That weird final shot last episode when she’s floating in the air bugged me, and there’s more of that here. The character’s direction takes a sharp turn into grandiose Disney villain. 

Yet, I enjoyed the final battle between Agatha and Wanda. Like the best Disney stories, there is a moment where all appears lost: The villain has won and is seemingly unstoppable, but from their lowest point, the hero rises up and defeats their adversary. This is a turning point for Wanda. She’s previously just reacted to her own mistakes in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. Here Wanda makes a proactive choice when Agatha offers her a devilish bargain: “Power isn’t your problem. It’s knowledge. Give me your power and I’ll correct the flaws in your original spell. No one will ever have to feel this pain again.”

Agatha’s lying, of course. She can’t change the Hex. “This world will always be broken, just like you,” she gloats before Wanda turns the tables on her. This is a badass scene, and I admit I was blown away when the Scarlet Witch emerged triumphant. Wanda doesn’t need Agatha, or anyone else, to tell her who she is. She’s the Scarlet Witch, with power beyond measure, and she’s not afraid.

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Kathryn Hahn
Photo: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios
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It’s not all “she lived happily ever after,” though. Wanda must finally let go of Vision and their children. Olsen and Bettany are wonderful in a heartbreaking scene that’s possibly the last time we’ll see them together. The White Vision or Cataract (also Bettany) is still out there, with his memories restored, but the Vision Wanda and the viewers have grown to love is but a memory.

The final scene is classic Marvel. As Wanda leaves Westview after removing the Hex, she walks past the residents who still bear the psychic scars from her breakdown. No one says anything—who would dare?—but their contempt is obvious and understandable. Mutants might not exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for now) but Wanda lives the mutant life from the comics: hated, feared, and misunderstood.

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Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) is a more traditional superhero, and I’m glad Wanda had a relationship with another woman in the series that wasn’t solely antagonistic. Monica empathizes with Wanda despite her transgressions, and she’s the one victim of the Hex who offers her forgiveness. A post-credits scene sets up her well for future adventures, and I hope she brings the always delightful Jimmy (Randall Park) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) along for the ride.

The action scenes are the weakest part of this episode, but fortunately they’re also the most superfluous. The finale hits all the right emotional beats, but WandaVision was must-see TV each week because of its mystery. “The Series Finale” provides answers to many questions but viewers might find them too straightforward and even a little mundane.

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Fake Pietro (or “Fietro” if you will) is merely “Ralph Bohner,” the poor bastard whose house Agatha chose as her personal longterm rental. Yep, Agnes’s off-screen husband “Ralph” wasn’t Mephisto or Nightmare but literally a dude named Ralph. I don’t mind this reveal. It’s elegantly simple and self-contained. I realize I’m likely in the minority, but I’m content with the meta nod to Evan Peters’ performance as Quicksilver in the X-Men movies.

Dottie (Emma Caulfield Ford) is merely some woman named Sarah, who’s desperate to see her daughter again. I’m torn here: It was “Agnes”—you know, the bad guy—who told us that Dottie was important in the first place. That’s fair misdirection, but I think Jimmy’s team not identifying her in “We Interrupt This Program” is a cheat. She played a major role in “Don’t Touch That Dial” and interacted with both Wanda and Monica as “Geraldine.” There’s no logical reason they wouldn’t have had a file on her.

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Photo: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios

S.W.OR.D. Director Tyler Haywood (Josh Stamberg) is merely an asshole. The show admittedly needed a common enemy for both Wanda and Monica, who barely interacted with “Agnes,” and Haywood’s desecration of Vision’s body was the catalyst that drove Wanda to create the Hex. But he lacked depth. Jimmy even lampshades his mustache-twirling dialogue when Haywood says Jimmy lacks… wait for it… “vision.” Groan. Sorry, but White Vision is also a big dull dud of a master plan.

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I’m very pleased, however, that there was no eleventh hour, last-minute Big Bad. Agatha was pursuing her own agenda, not playing a demonic Harley Quinn to a more powerful male heavy. That’s refreshing. There’s still a chance that we could see more of Agatha Harkness after WandaVision, and that’s good news. Hahn’s breakout performance has launched a thousand memes. Marvel would be crazy not to use her again. They just need to ease off on the Rocky Horror makeup. She doesn’t need it. She’s suitably scary in a pullover and slacks. Wanda might’ve permanently stuck “Agnes, the nosy neighbor” in New Jersey, but there’s potential for Agatha to return as an unpredictable Loki-style foil for the Scarlet Witch. Her mentor role from the comics could take on more of a Hannibal Lecter assists Clarice Starling vibe. Agatha is definitely all about quid pro quo.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) didn’t swoop in to save the day, either. This was Wanda’s victory. Showrunner Jac Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman deserve credit for never losing sight of whose story this actually was. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

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Stray Observations

  • Wanda’s new Scarlet Witch costume is amazeballs.
  • Vision tells his sons, “Good night, chaps.” I’m doing that from now on.
  • Tyler Haywood lost his job and is off to jail. Hooray! I never liked that guy, if you didn’t notice.
  • Agatha’s ironic fate reminds me of the first Skrull story in Fantastic Four No. 2.
  • So, did Wanda provide “Agnes” with any viable means of support? She’s going to stand out as far too kooky in the bleak, non-sitcom Westview.
  • Although Ralph Bohner sounds like the sort of fake name someone in witness protection receives if he pissed off an FBI agent, Ralph probably isn’t Jimmy’s missing witness. “Ralph Bohner” is what appears on his headshot photo.
  • I wonder what role Ralph would’ve played in the WandaVision sitcom if Agatha hadn’t whammied him? Agatha’s so mean she pulled from the show the one aspiring actor!
  • It’s not unreasonable that Agatha could give Ralph super speed or, more likely, the illusion of speed.
  • When saying goodbye to Wanda, Vision sheds a single tear. This is a call back to Avengers No. 58, “Even An Android Can Cry.”
  • Captain Rambeau is a lot like another noble Captain from the MCU. I look forward to seeing more of her.
  • I still don’t know why Kevin Feige would’ve needed to approve Emma Caulfield Ford’s casting as Dottie. She’s ultimately no more important to the narrative than the other Westview residents.
  • I know the Hex isn’t real, but man did everyone’s property values drop dramatically when it faded.
  • Agatha called the Darkhold the “book of the damned,” so it’s probably not a good sign that the Scarlet Witch is studying it so obsessively.
  • It’s been a treat discussing this series with all of you. Thanks.
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