Written by Megan McDonnell
Directed by Matt Shakman
Release Date: 22nd January, 2021
Now that we’re into the 70s, it was inevitable to find comparisons to The Brady Bunch. The escalation of Wanda’s pregnancy at the end of last week comes to a head here in an episode filled to the brim with comedy, slapstick and no end of hi-jinks, but it’s the last few moments of the episode that really get at the heart of what makes the series so wonderfully unpredictable.
It’s hard to do mystery box storytelling. It might look easy, and certainly the likes of JJ Abrams has made a career out of it, to somewhat mixed effect if we’re honest (when he does it well, we end up with Alias, Fringe, and the stronger elements of Lost, but when it doesn’t we end up with The Rise of Skywalker and the weaker elements of Lost).
That balancing act is precarious, but WandaVision is making it work magnificently and by the time the final suspenseful moments of the third episode roll around, you’re well and truly itching to get to episode four which is already plunging the audience into something approaching a game changer of an episode.
That tonal turn at the end of the first episode gets a massive work out during the closing stages here. Not only does the sound drop in a way that would make David Lynch probably nod in agreement, but there is even a brilliant deployment of a screen ratio change, as we go from a televisual 4:3 screen size to the more Marvel traditional 2:39.1 scope.
It’s a message of intent that we’re about to step into a more conventional Marvel world. For those brief moments at the end, like Geraldine we find ourselves outside the realm of cosy sitcom artificiality and into the more modern, heightened world of gadgetry, black SUVs and helicopters.
Whether or not the series can make that move naturally or as engagingly as it has done with the sitcom elements remains to be seen. The joy of WandaVisison is that strange sitcom aesthetic as it works its way episode by episode through each decade of the sitcom genre, switching between I Love Lucy, Bewitched and The Brady Bunch with gleeful abandon.
Not only does the episode hit you with the shock of throwing Geraldine back into a world that is more in line with what we expect from the MCU, but we also get references to Wanda’s brother Pietro and the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. While the audience has been carrying key moments, scenes and even whole movies in their memories going into the series, this is the first time that there has been a full acknowledgment within this story of those events and it lands with a mighty charge.
It seems as if Wanda knows exactly what is going on here, although if the manner in which Bettany portrays his reaction is anything to go by when the appearance of Geraldine is mentioned, it’s possible Vision is just along for the ride as much as the rest of the ‘cast’.
Three episodes in, not only has WandaVision got you enjoying the MCU’s exploration of American sitcom history, it’s slowly and assuredly getting its hooks into you with potentially larger storytelling concerns, and that is not only helping this become surprisingly great television, but also one of the best and most original pieces of the MCU we’ve had since Guardians of the Galaxy.
Roll on episode four.