Written by Bobak Esfarjani and Megan McDonnell
Directed by Matt Shakman
Release Date: 29th January, 2021
Avengers: Endgame didn’t become the biggest movie of all time for nothing. Essentially a massive finale for about ten years worth of franchise movie making, it’s a film that invoked much love and appreciation from both general audiences and the biggest fans of the MCU and in light of the loss of the cinema going experience due to Covid-19, one of the few joys on social media has been videos of audiences reacting to things like Captain America summoning Thor’s hammer or the Portals sequence.
However, there were certain plot elements that weren’t dealt with. While the film engrossed us with a time travel plot involving the lead heroes trying to find a way to reverse Thanos’ universe altering snap, one was left wondering what of the larger repercussions of what was essentially a reverse of HBO’s The Leftovers.
We got some of that answered in the hugely enjoyable Spider-Man: Far From Home, but it’s the opening scene to WandaVision’s fourth episode that brilliantly parlays a real sense of horror to the situation of lost loved ones who simply scattered away like dust suddenly returning.
Where Avengers and to some extent Spider-Man played in a large pool of big stakes, bigger action and lots of jokes about having not aged a day in five years, it’s through the point of view of ‘Geraldine’, revealed here as Monica Rambeau who we were introduced to as a child in Captain Marvel, that we see more of a grounded, horror movie version and the impact on society of what it means to be returned after having been considered dead and gone.
That isn’t to say Avengers: Endgame was totally without emotional merit. The movie gave us a considerable sense of the devastation of what it meant to be functioning on an Earth where half of the population was gone, but it also seemed to suggest that if the Avengers could reverse course then everything would be back to normal. Far From Home touched on it, but the opening sequence to ‘We Interrupt This Program’ takes the situation away from jokes and punchlines and equates a real sense of terror to the moment.
The reveal that Monica’s mother has passed away in the interim, and having re-materialised at her hospital bedside where she last saw her is a massive sting, not least because Captain Marvel did a great job with the character of Maria Rambeau and the brilliant casting of Lashana Lynch, so it’s a little bit of a disappointment that future installments of the MCU will be deprived of her (if she stays dead that is, we all know this is a franchise that has real problems with keeping dead characters that way).
For anyone who has enjoyed the sitcom format of WandaVision so far, this episode might come as something of a disappointment, but in truth it works wonders as a lovely slice of bridge building between the first half of the season and what it about to go down in the second.
If the final moments of last week’s episode plunged us straight into a more normal Marvel Universe depiction, this episode pretty much is in that mode for a whole thirty minutes. The episode stays in the scope format for the majority of the episode, adding in the inclusion of S.W.O.R.D, and the first appearances on the show for both Randall Park’s Agent Woo from Ant Man and the Wasp and the welcome return of Kat Denning as Darcy from the first two Thor films.
It could potentially de-stable the good work the series has done so far, going from weird sitcom pastiche to what is essentially a Marvel procedural, but not only does it remain massively enjoyable, it sucks you further into the central mystery. It’s not essentially moving the story forward, but functions more as a side episode documenting everything that has been going on at the same time as the first three chapters, filling in gaps about where the red toy helicopter came from, who the mysterious bee keeper was, and why there have been those weird jump-cuts every time something dramatic is about to go down.
The final moments takes us back to Wanda’s confrontation with Monica in the last episode, shows us what happened, and with it another change of aspect ratio and the frightening reveal of Vision as we last saw him in Infinity War.
Some might scoff that the weekly format isn’t giving us answers at a quick enough rate, but it has turned WandaVision into a lovely weekly event, an increasingly fun mystery box that leaves you desperately wanting answers. It’s managing to be both mysterious and entertaining and being able to function like that doesn’t come easy. The week long gap between episodes isn’t frustrating, it’s giving the series a real sense of being a genuine television event.