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VERIFICATION: WandaVision – Episode 4 We interrupt this program
So you’re saying the universe made a comedy series with two Avengers?
With We Interrupt This Program, WandaVision shows most of her cards and reveals a lot about why Scarlet Witch and Vision are stuck in the world of sitcoms, who the side characters are in each episode, and what the government is doing that is watching Westview. Some things weigh a bit on credibility, especially in regards to the broader world of Marvel cinema, and the episode is a big repository of information, but they manage to keep it entertaining and fun, even if Wanda and Vision aren’t very present this week.
We interrupt this program with a phenomenal scene featuring an adult Monica Rambo, a woman who was in the sitcoms world with Geraldine. Monica is one of the trillions of people in the universe who turned to dust when Thor didn’t fight for her head in the War of Infinity, and we catch her just as she returns to Hulk Undead Thanos Snap. She wakes up in the hospital and comes out of her room to find total chaos. People who have disappeared with her suddenly appear, and doctors and nurses cannot keep up with the sudden influx of patients. This is the first time Marvel has shown us Snap’s outburst through the eyes of people who aren’t superheroes, and the execution is perfect. It would be chaos and confusion, joy mixed with fear for the survivors, while those who come back from nowhere have no idea anything is wrong. But Monica discovers that many people have left, but that life goes on without them too, and that the world hasn’t necessarily changed for the better.
Monica’s mother, Maria Rambo, died of cancer five years after Snap (I’m not calling her Snap, and I don’t know why that’s the best Marvel could come up with), Monica’s cancer disappeared, and she thought she’d won. Fortunately for Monica and the plot of the series, Monica created SWORD before her death – or at least its predecessor, the government agency mentioned in earlier episodes. Honestly, the way SWORD is presented is pretty silly and doesn’t match the MCU so far. So this huge agency has been around for a long time, was known to the FBI and no one ever talks about it? The big alien invasion in Avengers didn’t say a word about these guys? SWORD doesn’t even seem to remember how it happened; the actor-director (probably until they find someone to play Abigail Brand) tells Monica that the world has changed since Snap and that they now know that some aliens are evil. Yes? Didn’t the army that destroyed Manhattan find that out? Or a Nordic god fighting a giant robot in a small Midwestern town, an incident that gave Nick Fury the idea that maybe Earth needed a weapon big enough to fight off outside threats? The events in Captain Marvel that would have led to the creation of SWORD should have bothered them too, but this movie is already ruining the continuity, so it’s almost forgivable that they don’t know about it. Whatever you think of the MCU, it used to put a lot of effort into maintaining continuity, but now it’s trying to hold on to new things instead of piling them on, and new cracks keep coming.
Okay, talking (I whine because I care); let’s get back to the episode, which is really good. In addition to Monica Rambo, we also confirm in this program some other familiar faces who have always been in the background. The voice on the radio talking to Wanda is FBI agent Jimmy Wu from Ant-Man and the Wasp. Jimmy is a great character, a man of good will who always seems to be at the mercy of the whims of the government. Randall Park again has fun in this role and manages to hit the right chord with his humor, by preventing Jimmy from coming across as stupid with his crazy phrases. And the woman who watched the comedy series and took notes at the end of the first episode was Darcy, Jane Foster’s former intern. I know many fans don’t like the character, but I’ve always liked Darcy, and Kat Dennings balances the ironic detachment and true wonder that surrounds her in comics. Darcy also grew up after Thor: A dark world; now she is an astrophysicist herself and no longer needs Jane or Dr. Selvig to explain the intricacies of science and technology to her. Jimmy and Darcy make a great team, and they are our eyes in SWORD and his world, because even though they are recruited into this team, they are still strangers, and they retain their identity through their burden. And they’re funny.
Here, Darcy and Jimmy reveal important revelations We interrupt this program. The main thing that saved the episode for last is that Wanda created a world of sitcoms. I think we all thought it would happen, but some of us – like me – decided after the first episode that it wouldn’t. In fact, he is isolated from the city and has built his own world, and anyone who violates the mystical perimeter becomes part of the sitcoms. Most of the supporting characters are randomly chosen people from Wanda’s world. This raises an interesting question: Does Wanda know? If she built this pocket universe for herself, that would mean she knows these people are innocent and essentially her prisoners. If that’s the case, isn’t Wanda the bad guy? Is her grief so overwhelming that she doesn’t care who she hurts? This, of course, is not necessarily true; perhaps she does not know what she is doing to them, and is more ruthless than cruel. She calls Monica an alien and an outsider after Monica calls Quicksilver and Ultron, and once she knows Monica doesn’t belong, she pushes her back into the real world. Maybe she thinks everyone she meets is a figment of her imagination and not a victim of her uncontrolled magic.
We’re interrupting this program and leaving some threads hanging, so it’s premature to speculate on Wanda’s intentions with these people. First of all, some characters are not yet identified, particularly Agnes and Dotty. Are they here for a reason? Could someone have intentionally gone into the sitcom business like Monica did? Kathryn Hahn is having a pretty good time, especially on HBO; it’s hard to believe she signed on just to play the geeky neighbor. There will also be ads. No one talks about them, but they appear on Darcy’s screen while no one is looking, suggesting they are important. And the production of the sitcom itself is not explained, although it is considered important. It makes sense. There has to be a reason why Wanda chose this, other than for fun and satire.
This attitude, or lack thereof, is also one of the disadvantages we interrupt with this program. However much of a necessary respite, he loses the spirit of these satirical episodes. There’s no real commentary on the history of television (other than Darcy’s catchy line about Wanda doing the dishes in every episode), so one of the most interesting aspects of WandaVision is missing this week. I liked the subtle allusions to how the television landscape has evolved over the decades, and of course that must have faded as the series progressed as the story itself began, but it’s still a bit of a shock that it’s completely gone in a week. And while Wanda and Vision are in the spotlight, we interrupt this program, but they’re not really there, and with them out of the picture, it feels more like a reminder of what we missed than an entertaining episode in its own right.
Conclusion: On the sunny side
Despite my long list of complaints, We Interrupt This Program is an engaging episode that reveals a lot yet leaves plenty of mystery, and Darcy and Jimmy Woo keep the tone lighthearted and funny in Government Schenanigans. But with the absence of main characters and the jump to the real world, what sets WandaVision apart from other Marvel stories is lost.
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