WandaVision‘s ninth and final episode dropped on Friday, a surprisingly straightforward 49 minutes after one of the most sprawling and ambitious experiments in television history.
That’s refreshing compared to the increasingly bloated run times of superhero movies and depth of Marvel comics lore. “The Series Finale” brought WandaVision full circle with a powerful emotional arc and classic MCU fight sequences. It wrapped up the season with just enough new material to hype us the heck up for Phase 4.
The Scarlet Witch
It’s only been a week since the first actual utterance of the phrase “Scarlet Witch” in MCU canon, because WandaVision, it turns out, is an origin story. The artist formerly-and-still-currently known as Wanda Maximoff taps into a new tier of power thanks to Agatha’s jealous exposition and study of the Darkhold — the book of the damned.
The Scarlet Witch is not born, she is forged — in this case by the Mind Stone and Hydra. She has no coven, doesn’t need incantations, and her power exceeds that of the Sorcerer Supreme (hey we know him!). Even in the throes of battle Wanda can’t deny she fits the bill (okay she does immediately deny it, but the evidence begs to differ).
“Power isn’t your problem; it’s knowledge,” Agatha tells her. Wanda has the raw talent, more than enough, but not the tools to control or direct it the way Agatha does. Think of Stephen Strange and his rapid ascent to Sorcerer Supreme; Stephen is driven by knowledge, and grew powerful by through study and practice.
But Wanda’s a quick learner. Agatha gives her a choice: Save the people of Westview or save Vision and the boys, but Wanda fights back. By the time they’re dueling in the sky, Wanda has figured out how to cast runes, protect herself, and absorb Agatha’s power. She takes her true form as the Scarlet Witch and dooms Agatha to live in New Jersey forever — and she’s stuck as nosy neighbor Agnes! She might be defeated, but she’s definitely not gone.
The Ultron of it all
We noted last week that WandaVision reframes existing MCU films with more context about these two characters. Disney+ is hardcore pushing Avengers: Age of Ultron to pair with WandaVision (a weirder choice by the week as allegations accumulate against writer/director Joss Whedon).
Famously one of the least-popular MCU movies, Age of Ultron is messy, but surprisingly pivotal to the Infinity saga. It sets up multiple Infinity Stones, fills out the Avengers with Wanda and Vision, and the importance of all those in retrospect makes it much more watchable.
In the WandaVision finale, NegaVision questions and ultimately refutes his programming — is there anything more Ultron than that? The dueling synthezoids talk identity metaphysics while floating in a library structurally reminiscent of the center of battle back in Sakovia. Wanda even sneaks up on Agatha the way she snuck up on all the Avengers in Ultron (before joining them) to flex some mind control and warped reality. Maybe she got the idea from Agatha’s reference to puppets with cut strings.
We don’t trade lives
In Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America refuses to destroy the Mind Stone because doing so would kill Vision. “We don’t trade lives,” he tells his friend, a line Vision will repeat later on. Many died in battle to protect Vision and the stone (to say nothing of the billions snapped out of existence by Thanos as a result), but this time it’s the opposite: Wanda sacrifices her family and pocket of suburban peace in order to free the people of Westview.
Enough can’t be said about WandaVision‘s emotional journey. For fans who love the MCU but aren’t familiar with comics, these two characters are wild cards and almost peripheral in some of their movie appearances. It was hard to care about them in Ultron, Civil War, and Infinity War. WandaVision makes you care so much it hurts.
After subduing Agatha, Wanda and her family head home while the WestView anomaly continues to shrink. Wanda and Vision know what’s coming, but they treasure their final moments of domestic bliss. In their last moments together, Vision asks her what he is; the Mind Stone was destroyed years ago and his original body is flying loose around tri-state airspace. Wanda explains that he’s the part of the Mind Stone that lives in her, that gave her powers. He is the embodiment of her joy, grief, and comfort — everything Vision was to her in life and in death. They don’t say goodbye, because they’ve said it before, yet they always find a way to see each other.
Which brings us to…
The Multiverse of Madness
If you’ve been following our WandaVision coverage, you might notice that we get a little jittery around the M word. Not just because it’s the title of the next Doctor Strange film, but because Disney owns the X-Men now and Into the Spider-verse slapped so damn hard.
But the show has been nothing if not an emotional rollercoaster to those salivating for MCU’s world to widen. It brings together characters from Thor, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel movies. It sets up Captain Marvel 2 with Monica’s new powers and the skrull in the mid-credits, seemingly sent by Nick Fury (there is not nearly enough Monica in this finale, but that’s probably why). It did all that while also effortlessly integrating literal witches and an actor who played Quicksilver in a totally different franchise.
At least it wasn’t all for nothing (looking at you, Ralph Bohner). After that deliberate Sorcerer Supreme reference, we find Wanda in the post-credits sequence, studying her little crown off to become a certified witch and looking like Stephen Strange in peak form. As she studies the Darkhold and pores over space and time, she hears her sons yell through it all: “Mom, help us!”
Billy and Tommy disappeared with the Westview anomaly mere minutes ago, which can only mean one thing: MULTIVERSE. FOR REAL THIS TIME. It only makes sense that Wanda, now versed in the mystic arts, will join Dr. Strange and the other sorcerers for The Multiverse of Madness in 2022. For now, she and the rest of us will just miss our favorite show.
All of WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.
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