Martin Carr reviews the penultimate episode of Marvel’s WandaVision…
This retrofitted Charles Dickens fable repurposed for the Marvel multiverse is savvy, subtle and entirely in keeping with its progressive cannon. Playing like a narrative homage to that Endgame changer, episode eight provides back story and flexes its intellectual story telling muscle. Central to this conceit is Agatha Harkness, played with a perverse pleasure by Kathryn Hahn. Elsewhere, Wanda’s character arc reveals in Elizabeth Olsen something that many had only suspected up until now; namely that her range has never been fully exploited.
This is real origin story stuff laid bare as audiences get an opportunity to peek behind the Maximoff curtain, delve into her darkest recesses and finally garner some genuine understanding. For comic book fans there are also some game changing moments, which intentionally break the seal on phase four and usher in something wicked. Those familiar with the many and varied storylines of those involved, will doubtless be having kittens about now. Then taking to Twitter in their droves and throwing late comers under the WandaVision wheels.
Beyond the reveals which are numerous, comes another opportunity to enjoy Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen acting. Their enduring union is the centrepiece of a series with an immense amount of heart. Ruminations on the meaning of love and companionship provide an essential reality to everything else. Whatever plot devices are being applied to tell this story within stories, dating back in memoriam, there is no doubt we are beyond mere comic book pen and ink right now.
Secrets which have been festering for decades, reaching back into the lives of countless individuals are finally being revealed. There will be repercussions, there will be suffering and ultimately a price to be paid. What episode eight does is broaden the playing field and demonstrate just how limitless this Marvel sandbox really is now. Past events are tied together through a central point opening the doorway to infinite possibilities. A tactic which appeases diehards whilst simultaneously engaging an ever expanding audience demographic.
Unlike A Christmas Carol however, this plot device is not there to merely rectify wrongdoing, but inform and illuminate future choices. It unveils the mystery of psychic mutation, provides a richer understanding of why our central protagonists are so drawn to each other. Yet also offers a cautionary indication of what that union may create in its wake. As we head into the final episode next week, all evidence points towards something monumental. Not only is it likely to swing the doors wide on a new era of Marvel world building, but also herald a mass mourning period as WandaVision winds down.