REVIEW: WandaVision – “Breaking the Fourth Wall”

Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the seventh episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the seventh episode of WandaVision — titled Breaking the Fourth Wall — Darcy (played by Kat Dennings) brings Vision (played by Paul Bettany) back up to speed, while Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) decides to have a day all to herself, which means that ‘Agnes’ (played by Kathryn Hahn) has to take care of the twins. Meanwhile, Monica Rambeau (played by Teyonah Parris) tries to get back inside the Hex.

WandaVision‘s in-universe journey through the eras of American television sitcoms has been incredibly entertaining to watch. Granted, some eras have worked better than others, but, on the whole, it has been a really fun experiment that the cast and crew have seemingly had a lot of fun with. On top of that, the lead actors — Olsen and Bettany — have proven that they are absolutely phenomenal at copying the mannerisms, and the like, of the characters from the respective television eras’ biggest shows. In Breaking the Fourth Wall, WandaVision appropriately imitated arguably two of the late 2000s and 2010s most popular shows.

Modern Family (2009-2020) and The Office (the US version, 2005-2013) were both mockumentary-style sitcoms, which means that characters would frequently look into the camera and have interviews with someone off-screen. While I must admit that I don’t think the comedy in Breaking the Fourth Wall was as successful as in previous episodes, I thought the cast and crew did a fantastic job of capturing the basic elements and tropes that made Modern Family and The Office what they were. I thought Elizabeth Olsen did a fantastic job of really capturing Julie Bowen’s mannerisms, and I absolutely loved it when Paul Bettany did the now-classic “Jim look” (a The Office favorite) facial expressions and stared into the camera. I also absolutely loved the way this episode’s title sequence theme music emulated the theme song from The Office.

In this episode, which the title sequence indicated, Wanda and Vision were separated and it felt deliberate. It felt like someone was trying to make sure that Vision couldn’t get back to his home, confront his partner, and make her question the state of the Hex. At the end of this episode, the show made it clear exactly who had been trying to keep them apart all along. But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the end of the previous episode, things weren’t looking too hot for Darcy and Vision. The former was being pulled into the Hex and being rewritten at the same time, while Vision, who was being torn apart by the outside world, was being saved by the expansion of the Hex.

When Vision wakes up, the S.W.O.R.D. base has been turned into a circus, and he is quick to spot Darcy, who, over the course of the episode, basically tells him the story of the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while they try to reach Wanda and Vision’s home. To be perfectly honest, I was underwhelmed by the Vision portion of the episode. While it is nice that he was briefed on the MCU that is pretty much the only thing that happened here for him. There are fun moments here and there, but the fact that he and Darcy were constantly prevented from getting back into Westview eventually got not only predictable but tedious.

Wanda’s portion of the episode was much more interesting as it further emphasized the fact that while Wanda is in control of some things, she is unaware of why she is losing control. I think it is very interesting that Wanda is tuckered out in this episode after having expanded the Hex. I think it’s clear that either she is reaching her powers’ limits or her powers are being siphoned off by someone else. In this episode, after having arranged for ‘Agnes’ to watch over the twins, Wanda Maximoff starts to lose control of the Hex yet again. The items in the kitchen area are changing eras rapidly, the same can be said for her television, and her home’s walls. It’s not just a ‘case of the Mondays’ as Wanda suggests. Something bigger is going on, and it’s happening right under her nose.

I want to talk about the twins for a moment before I talk about Monica and the biggest moments of the episodes. I think that Billy (played by Julian Hilliard) is a really interesting character and I think he is more perceptive than he — or his mother — realizes. When he and Tommy wake up their mother, Billy says that he is hearing a lot of noises, which I understood as him being able to hear the inner thoughts of the possessed people of the Hex, and, later, we get another huge hint that ‘Agnes’ isn’t who she says she is (Marvelites and True Believers have suspected this, ahem, all along). Billy says that ‘Agnes’ is quiet on the inside, which is eerie. Billy was basically starting to realize that his babysitter is one of the only people in town who isn’t in pain.

Okay, let’s now talk about Monica Rambeau before we get to the big reveal at the end of the episode. Previously, Monica had been mentioning an ‘aerospace engineer’ that she was going to meet for the purpose of finding a safe way back into the Hex. Fans had naturally been speculating for weeks about who this aerospace engineer could be, and, when Monica and Agent Woo (played by Randall Park) acquire the vehicle that is meant to pierce the Hex’s force field, you would think that we would meet this mysterious individual. But I actually don’t think we do. We meet Major Goodner (played by Rachael Thompson), who is apparently an old friend of Monica’s. Perhaps it’s just the fact that it felt like a bit of a letdown (after having indicated that we were about to meet someone special), but I just don’t think that is the aerospace engineer. Call me crazy, but Goodner did mention that they were loyal to someone, who may be the fabled engineer.

Predictably, the aerospace vehicle is unable to get Monica inside, so she decides to be the hero and risk her health by going in on her own. In the coolest sequence of the episode, we see Monica being torn apart and rewritten by the Hex, but it doesn’t work. When she pushes herself through, she hasn’t lost her mind, and she is still in control. However, as her next scene indicates, she has now been rewritten and changed so many times that she now has some sort of abilities. Marvelites and True Believers will know who she may be turning into, and it is exciting, even though I do think the episodes prior to this one had been hinting pretty strongly at this development.

Speaking of plot developments that you could see coming, after a brief confrontation with Monica Rambeau that ‘Agnes’ interrupts, Wanda is led into her nosy neighbor’s home. But something is off about this. The twins are nowhere to be seen, and Agnes tells Wanda to go into a dark and dusty basement. But Wanda doesn’t find her twins there, instead, from out of the shadows, Agnes steps forward and reveals her true identity. Like Marvelites suspected months ago, Agnes is really Agatha Harkness, a powerful witch, and after introducing herself to Wanda, she seemingly uses her powers to get inside the mind of Wanda.

Now while the revelations of the episode are predictable — and the episode, in general, is poorly paced — what really saved the episode for me was the way in which the episode concluded. No, I’m not talking about the mid-credits scene. I’m obviously talking about the Agatha All Along-musical sequence that was accompanied by music that resembled the music from The Munsters. It revealed a lot — like the fact that Agatha was controlling ‘Pietro’ all along — but it was also just incredibly funny. It was the highlight of the episode for me.

Oh, right, before I reach my conclusion, I should briefly discuss this episode’s curious in-universe commercial. This is possibly the most difficult commercial to pick apart yet. At the very least, it is not plain and simple for all Marvelites and True Believers to grasp what’s going on here. This time around it was a commercial for anti-depressants (with side effects that included ‘more severe depression,’ or something along those lines) called the ‘Nexus.’ Now, obviously, this is likely referring to Wanda Maximoff and her depression, which was probably the cause for the creation of the Hex (since Wanda is able to control its borders).

But what exactly does ‘the Nexus’ mean? Marvelites will probably point you in two different directions. On the one hand, it could refer to the idea that Wanda is possibly a ‘Nexus being,’ i.e. a rare individual that anchors their reality and possesses great abilities. However, ‘Nexus’ could also refer to a comic book-specific cross-dimensional gateway. As such, the comic books give us a lot of options for interpretation here, which will keep fan theories alive for at least another week, but we need some definite answers soon.

There are a lot of really neat and cool things about this episode. But this is also easily the most predictable episode yet. The revelations here are, frankly, not as surprising as I suspect the writers wanted them to be, though I may be wrong. This wouldn’t have been as big of a problem for me if it were not for the fact that this episode was incredibly fast-paced. For Marvelites, who were watching closely, not a lot of new and unexpected things were revealed. But, again, the Agatha All Along-sequence is a series highlight, the cast and crew did an incredible job of imitating the sitcoms of the 2010s, and there were some interesting character moments in this episode. All in all, while this is still a solid episode of ‘television,’ this is easily my least favorite episode of the series thus far. But I am glad that the show is starting to show its hand now, and I am excited to see what WandaVision‘s final two episodes have in store for us.


– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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