This latest episode of Wandavision is 180 degrees from where we left the series an episode ago. The episode is a near-complete break from the sitcom reality of Westview and instead focuses on what is happening on the exterior of the first three episodes. We get our first true look at S.W.O.R.D. as well as returning MCU characters. Most important, though, we get some of our first explanations of what and where Westview actually is.
The MCU reality is back in Episode 4. The episode begins with a moment that takes place immediately after the Blip is resolved—Monica Rambeau reappears in a hospital to learn not only that she had disappeared 5 years ago, but her mother Maria had passed in that time. The chaotic moments in the hospital where countless people begin reappearing is another fleeting glimpse of what post-Blip reality was actually like. The scene reminds us, though, that there is a bigger universe at play outside of Westview, and that the reality of the MCU is back and here to stay. While later episodes will likely continue the sitcom gimmick, this episode grabs us by the hand and leads us back to where we were before the sitcom Westview made us question what was real and what wasn’t.
We get a brief introduction to S.W.O.R.D.—Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division. From what we see, S.W.O.R.D. looks like an updated and post-Blip S.H.I.E.L.D. Working for S.W.O.R.D. is Rambeau, who we last saw as a child in the 1990s’ Captain Marvel. She teams up with fellow MCU alum and FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Later, Darcy from Thor and Thor: The Dark World returns to help S.W.O.R.D. investigate Westview. The re-introduction of familiar characters further cements our hold in the true reality and reminds us that we are still in the MCU, despite seeming to leave it for a while.
The episode also gives us our first explanations of Westview, which are much darker than their sitcom presentations. Rambeau and Woo begin to investigate a missing person case in Westview, New Jersey. They find, however, that those who live nearby say they have never heard of the town. There is also an energy field surrounding the town, which Rambeau gets sucked into, giving us an answer as to how she entered Westview in the first place. After Rambeau’s disappearance, S.W.O.R.D. goes into action mode, bringing a full arsenal to camp outside of Westview. Among the specialists, they bring in is Darcy who is now wonderfully an astrophysicist like her mentors.
We find out that Westview is, in fact, a real town. It was easy to assume that the place was entirely a figment or creation of imagination, but instead, it is a consumed, warped community that fell prey to the same pseudo-reality that we saw our two titular heroes inhabit. The neighbors we’ve met, for example, are real people who are citizens of the real Westview, who have been “cast” in their new roles for the sitcom reality. Such a revelation is remarkable because we can better understand that nature of the sitcom as a physical place ripped from true reality. This also makes the sitcom universe more threatening, because real lives are being played with and manipulated.
When Darcy discovers that, among copious amounts of radiation, there is a television broadcast signal, S.W.O.R.D. is able to watch episodes of the sitcom nearly identical to what we’ve seen. However, where we’ve seen major glitches (such and Rambeau mentioning Ultron), S.W.O.R.D. only sees a subtle error in the episode, with the glitch completely omitted. This leads them to question who exactly is censoring the broadcast. It also begs the question, though, of why the reality is being “broadcasted” at all.
We get to relive the moment where Rambeau mentions Ultron to Wanda, and Wanda uses her powers to shoot Rambeau out of the sitcom reality. When Vision returns to the house to find Rambeau missing, Wanda sees Vision as a dead body—the very same dead Vision from the end of Infinity War. While the moment was brief, it is perhaps the most jarring moment we have seen from the series thus far. It now seems clear that Wanda is fully aware of her role in the sitcom reality, which was otherwise masked in previous episodes as she acted as though she didn’t remember her past or anything outside of Westview. When Vision suggests that they can leave Westview, Wanda refuses. She recognizes that outside of the space she’s created, the true reality does not include Vision and instead is something she wants to completely hide from. Another question is how Vision exists within the sitcom reality. If the other people in the community are all real and alive people, how does a dead Vision come to life?
The episode also makes a bold statement on Wanda’s powers. S.W.O.R.D.’s early theory was that the “universe” created sitcom starring two Avengers. However, as Monica Rambeau finds out from being expelled from the sitcom, Wanda is the one in control. To compare her powers to the power of the universe is a stunning revelation as to how amazing Wanda’s powers truly are. She is simultaneously living the sitcom and broadcasting it. She is working hard to keep the sitcom intact –she is still playing the part of her character from the first three episodes, but it is clearer now that she is in fact “playing” the role, rather than truly being the Wanda we’ve seen in the sitcom.
5 Eastviews out of 5
Episode 4 is a return to the true MCU universe, opening up the overall story to a place of reality. While the true sitcom episodes were admittedly phenomenal, it is a nice change of pace to be able to finally have some explanations for what is happening. The episode is also rife with heavier moments, including the post-Blip reality. Overall, the episode is a triumphant contrast to the first three episodes and a welcome and exciting move forward of the series’ narrative. Being back in the MCU never felt so good.
<li>It looks like Jimmy Woo took up close-up magic, taking after Scott Lang from <em>Antman and the Wasp</em></li> <li>There was no mention of Hydra, despite S.W.O.R.D. being able to see the commercial for the Strucker watch. Were the commercials “censored” as well?</li> <li>Darcy was mortified by the gender roles of the early sitcom eras, noting that Wanda is seen washing the dishes at least once per episode</li>