The following is a recap and review of the third episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers.
In the third episode of WandaVision — Now in Color — the now-pregnant Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) is losing some control of her powers, as her pregnancy progresses extremely fast. Meanwhile, her husband, Vision (played by Paul Bettany), is trying his best to read up on what is expected of him and Wanda during the pregnancy. However, as Wanda’s pregnancy causes the whole neighborhood to lose power, Vision starts to notice that something isn’t right in the small town of Westview.
As the conclusion of the previous episode revealed, WandaVision would now be ‘in color’ as the series’ homage-time-jumped from the 1950s and 1960s to the 1970s. It is still a single-camera setup sitcom, and the laugh track is still there, but it must be said that the laugh track now feels more out of place than it has previously (this is obviously, in part, due to the fact that this episode becomes increasingly more mysterious and, as a result, less funny and more intriguing). The premise of the episode also feels like a good Marvel spin on a classic sitcom premise, with Wanda and Vision grabbling with the idea that they are going to become parents sooner rather than later, even though they are completely unprepared for what awaits them.
Of course, their superpowers do complicate the matter, as Wanda completes her pregnancy and gives birth in less than a day. This is all very odd, naturally, with the sudden out-of-the-blue pregnancy baffling Vision so much that he eventually starts to question the nature of their reality. I think that the fact that Vision now suspects that something is amiss is also very revealing. After three episodes, it seems clear that Vision is not just a figment of Wanda’s imagination. He has his own scenes and he is asking the right questions now and again. How Vision was brought back to life after the events of Avengers: Infinity War is still very much a mystery, but it does seem like he is actually present in some way, shape, or form.
Wanda, however, has never seemed more suspicious than she does now. As her pregnancy progresses rapidly, it becomes clear that she is losing some control of her powers, which is incredibly frightening for, arguably, the most powerful Avenger to do. And this time, her insistence on living in this warped reality reveals that Wanda is, at least to some extent, in control of the events in the ‘bubble universe’. In the very moment that Vision, who, in a previous scene, had noticed that Herb was not responding or acting normally, starts to question what exactly is going on, Wanda essentially rewinds time again. However, it is a very strange moment, because it doesn’t look like a rewind (like it had previously). Instead, it looks like a missed cut, a jump cut, a glitch, or a rewrite.
Wanda is basically seen covering up the cracks and erasing what she doesn’t like to see or hear. This all culminates in a couple of scenes towards the end of the episode that may seriously change the relationship between Wanda and Vision, unless, of course, Wanda turns back time again and undoes what has transpired. After Wanda gave birth to Tommy and Billy (names that True Believers would not at all have been surprised to hear), Vision goes outside to say goodbye to the doctor and have a chat with neighbors Agnes and Herb. The doctor basically says that he cannot escape the town (to go on vacation), and both Agnes and Herb stop just short of revealing to Vision what exactly is going on. Never before has this show felt as much like The Truman Show. This is obviously troubling because it would appear that many people in town know that something is amiss. That is, everyone except for Vision.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” — Vision quoting Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Furthermore, Agnes and Herb specifically point out to Vision that ‘Geraldine’ is a threat, since she doesn’t have a husband or a home. As they put it, she is there because of, well, something. They don’t actually say why, but, as the episode later indicates, the implication is that ‘Geraldine’ is there because everyone in town is trapped. However, I don’t trust Agnes (played by Kathryn Hahn) in this scene. It felt to me like she was deliberately sowing doubt in Vision, and it seemed like she didn’t want Geraldine to be there. And why wouldn’t she want ‘Geraldine’ to be there? Because it would appear that Geraldine is not who she says she is (her real identity can be googled, but I would advise that you don’t do that).
While alone with Wanda (and her newborn twins), Geraldine is seen wearing a necklace with a sword-like symbol (likely a reference to the S.W.O.R.D. organization whose involvement has been hinted at in the previous episodes), and, when Wanda mentions her brother Pietro Maximoff, Geraldine crosses a line that Wanda isn’t comfortable with. Geraldine reveals to Wanda that she knows how Pietro died, and this piece of information — or perhaps the fact that she mentions Ultron — startles and awakes Wanda, who, with piercing eyes, becomes increasingly menacing before she expels ‘Geraldine’ from her little bubble universe. As the episode comes to a close, we see agents or soldiers circle around Geraldine, as she wakes up outside of Wanda’s bubble universe.
I guess, you could say that the cat is out of the bag in more ways than one. Because, in this episode, Vision and Wanda basically revealed their powers (including Vision’s superspeed, which was, of course, also Pietro’s superpower), or abilities, to the community without any repercussions. On top of all of that, Vision should now suspect that something is seriously wrong. It may be very revealing to see how Vision acts in the upcoming episodes, as we still need to find out exactly how he has been brought back.
I think this is the episode that essentially changes the nature of the show. Now the series cannot, and likely won’t, rely as much on situational comedy and artifice. There is a world outside of Wanda’s ‘Truman Show,’ and now we need answers. The faux sitcom world is coming apart at the seams. And with ‘Geraldine’ alive on the outside, I ‘guesstimate’ that we will get some of the answers that we want in the upcoming episodes.
It would be very remiss of me if I neglected to mention this episode’s in-universe 1970s-styled commercial. In previous episodes, the commercials have referenced both Stark Industries, Wanda’s childhood, Baron von Strücker, and Hydra. In Now In Color, we see a commercial for a blue soap called ‘Hydra Soak’ that, the commercial claims, can help you to escape your world, make your problems float away, and, interestingly, allow you to discover your inner goddess. It is obviously a reference to Hydra, but there is more to it than that. The commercial monologue seems to indirectly reference exactly what is going on in the show, with Wanda having become more powerful and eluded her grief. I should also say that the entire commercial may also double as a reference to a line of dialogue from Agents of SHIELD (more specifically a line of dialogue spoken by Agent Coulson in the season four episode titled ‘Identity and Change’).
Although I think the scene with the stork was overlong, I think Teyonah Parris and, especially, Elizabeth Olsen are spectacular in this episode. They both change styles effortlessly, and, with Olsen, it is sometimes frightening. I love that Marvel has found a way to let Olsen show her range, which I think this show is already doing.
It is true that WandaVision is still deliberately paced and that this is another setup episode. In the long run, that may be frustrating for some viewers. But I think they found a pleasing balance between the sitcom and the mystery in this episode. On the whole, I quite like how the artifice of the bubble universe is coming apart at the seams after only three episodes. The laugh track is becoming jarring and ominous, Vision is asking the right questions, and the neighborhood is starting to slowly show exactly how much they know about the bubble universe. I love that the show is now starting to become something akin to The Truman Show but with moments that are genuinely unsettling every now and then.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.