The following is a recap and review of the fourth episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers.
In the fourth episode of WandaVision — titled We Interrupt This Program — we are introduced to Monica Rambeau (played by Teyonah Parris), as the show switches perspective and shows us the events of the first three episodes from the perspective of the outside world. Monica Rambeau is ‘Geraldine,’ the neighbor who was thrown out of the bubble universe after having mentioned Ultron to Wanda. In this episode, when Monica disappears after having investigated a missing person’s case, FBI, S.W.O.R.D., and several scientists set up a base outside of Westview, New Jersey for the purpose of figuring out what exactly is going on.
Like I mentioned in my review of the previous episode, the cat was now well and truly out of the bag. Naturally, with ‘Geraldine’ having been thrown directly out of the bubble universe, the show now needed to explain what was going on. And explain they did. However, my initial reaction to the episode as a whole was that, for those who know how the Marvel Cinematic Universe works, this episode really did not reveal very much. It felt more like an episode designed to catch up and fill in the narrative gaps for those people who may have been confused by the first three episodes. Now, that’s all well and good. I totally understand why they would make an episode with that purpose. But I’m not sure it is as effective when this explainer episode is fourth in line, which is to say that those people, who needed the revelations of this episode to understand the show, probably didn’t stick around to watch the fourth episode. But, hey, I may be wrong on that account.
With all of this having been said, though, I did think this was a very intriguing episode, even though I don’t think it moved the plot ahead very much. It was an episode with a lot of exposition jam-packed into its much too measly runtime. The episode’s cold open, however, was absolutely fantastic. It took place during the events of Avengers: Endgame, after Bruce Banner had just snapped everyone, who were dusted after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, back to existence. It turns out that ‘Geraldine’ was one of the people who were dusted. When she is brought back to life, she is sitting in the hospital where her mother was apparently admitted years earlier. The ‘real-world’ implications of Bruce Banner’s life-saving snap — or the blip, as it has been called — look terrifying. At the hospital, people are coming back to life extremely fast, the un-dusted individuals are naturally confused, and the hospital workers don’t know what to do. It is a terrifying opening to the episode, but it also felt like a proper Marvel Studios movie, which is refreshing since none of the earlier episodes had felt that way.
In this opening, they also reveal that ‘Geraldine’ is actually Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau (Captain Marvel’s earthbound best-friend from 2019’s Captain Marvel movie). I think it is a shame that Maria Rambeau dies off-screen, but perhaps the Captain Marvel sequel will grant her actress, Lashana Lynch, additional scenes. Monica, or ‘Geraldine’, works for S.W.O.R.D., the mysterious organization whose logo we’ve seen appear over and over again in previous episodes. After being informed that she can only take part in missions on Earth, Monica heads to Westview, New Jersey to meet with an FBI-Agent who you should recognize. You may remember Jimmy Woo (played by Randall Park) from Ant-Man and the Wasp, where he was the FBI-agent on Scott Lang’s heels, who also had an interest in magic. Woo fills Rambeau in on what’s peculiar about a missing person’s case. The local police don’t recognize Westview as an actual town, even though they are standing next to a sign indicating that they are on the edge of said town. For some reason, Monica and Jimmy decide to use a mini-helicopter surveillance drone before they walk towards town. After it disappears, Monica examines the ‘energy field’ surrounding the bubble universe, and she is then pulled inside much to Jimmy’s surprise.
“So, you’re saying the universe created a sitcom starring two Avengers?” — Jimmy Woo.
In the rest of the episode, S.W.O.R.D. and FBI agents set up camp, investigate things, and analyze clues. It is important to note, of course, that S.W.O.R.D. or the FBI have also hired Darcy Lewis (played by Kat Dennings), an astrophysicist who we last saw in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. Darcy is actually the one who figures out that, well, there is a sitcom happening inside of the bubble universe. Again, the rest of the episode is basically just devoted to this perspective shift. We see how and why each and every notable mysterious event from the previous three episodes happened the way they did. Though the episode is interesting to watch, the episode doesn’t really give us much new information, except for the fact that most, if not all, of the individuals in the sitcom are actually real people (though I’m not sure if they actually identified Agnes or Dottie).
And, now, let’s talk about the scariest and most unsettling moments of the episode. Because we see exactly what happened while Vision spoke with Agnes and Herb in the previous episode. Wanda recognized Monica as an outsider (and a trespasser) and then used all of her powers to throw her out of the universe violently. Again, it’s not something that we couldn’t have already figured out. But actually seeing it is very unsettling. I have two more things that I need to mention. The first one up is arguably the first horror movie moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After having thrown Monica out of her bubble universe, Wanda turns around to face Vision, but what she sees is incredibly startling. She sees Vision’s cold caved-in dead face. It is frightening, and also to Wanda. But she quickly fixes him up (or shakes that image out of her head) and insists that she has everything under control, which brings me to my final point.
At the end of the episode, we see Monica wake up on the outside of Westview, and she basically screams that Wanda is doing everything. That it’s all Wanda. That could be. I mean, it is definitely what the show wants us to think. But, stick with me, I think this actually made me less convinced of the fact that Wanda could be the villain. It feels like a red herring now that the show is basically underlining the theory this early. Furthermore, Darcy mentions that it looks like someone is ‘censoring the broadcast,’ and I think it’s important to note that we actually saw more of the scene between Dottie and Wanda than Darcy did. So, did someone else prevent Darcy from seeing Wanda actually hearing Jimmy Woo’s voice, or has Marvel actually turned Wanda into an antagonist? Only time will tell.
I have mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, I think that this episode was extremely necessary because the show eventually needed to fill in the narrative gaps for those viewers, who may not have theories about every minute of the show like many True Believers have. On the other hand, I don’t think this episode did much to advance the central plot, which may be slightly unsatisfying for viewers who were ‘watching closely.’ But, when it comes down to it, I think I need to give the episode a lot of credit for actually managing to make an expositional episode this entertaining. There are several references to other films, exciting surprise appearances, and it somehow manages to be both funny and genuinely unsettling in its much-too-short runtime. I think there definitely is an argument to be made that the opening sequence and the scene between Vision and Wanda at the end of this episode may be the two most memorable moments in the show thus far.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.