It’s another week which means another exciting instalment of Marvel’s WandaVision. Episode 4 unfurls the story from the other side of the snow globe that is Westview, New Jersey. It is also rife with call-backs to the movies and full of Easter eggs and teasers, which we’ll try to unpack and make some sense of in this article.
The episode opens with Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau/Geraldine) unblipping in a hospital bedroom, surrounded by confusion and mass panic in a much darker representation of what happened following Professor Hulk’s snap in Avengers Endgame, as opposed to that shown in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Instantly we’re pulled away from the colourful and playful theatrics of the earlier WandaVision episodes and thrown into reality. Monica Rambeau is scrambling around the hospital in search of her mother – Captain Marvel’s Maria Rambeau – who she finds out had passed away 3 years ago, during the aftermath of Thanos’ Infinity War snap.
Cut to Monica entering the S.W.O.R.D base, with a framed photo of her mum on the wall reading ‘Maria ‘Photon’ Rambeau’ as the founder of S.W.O.R.D. Now there’s 2 things here: S.W.O.R.D. and Photon. S.W.O.R.D. is the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, founded by Maria Rambeau, following the events of Captain Marvel (2019). Secondly, the name ‘Photon’ is a direct reference to Monica’s alias as an Avenger with powers such as flight, energy blasts and phase-shifting. The story behind Photon, is that Monica was once bombarded with extra-dimensional energy causing her body to change and manifest her energy-based powers.
Further into the episode we’re greeted with the return of Jimmy Woo, the nicest FBI agent ever known, who appears to have refined his close-up magic act following his appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp, where Scott Lang taunted him with magic tricks during his house arrest visits. Woo and Rambeau appear at the edge of Westview, confronted by two local police who deny any existence of Westview despite it plainly appearing in the background of the shot, already things seem amiss. Rambeau uses a S.W.O.R.D. drone that instantly gets lost as it passes through an energy field that surrounds the town, which we later learn is the red toy helicopter from the previous episodes. Monica then finds herself going through the energy field, seemingly disappearing to the outside as all communication is cut.
Episode 4 also brings us the presence of Thor’s Dr Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings, as S.W.O.R.D.’s leading consultant on astrophysics. Marvel seem to be pulling all the stops to make their first canon TV outing as large as it can be, by drawing on these larger characters and tying them into the narrative in a way that makes sense. It’s Darcy that manages to discover the existence of the WandaVision TV show format by sheer luck – is it a fourth wall break if it’s still within the four walls? It’s here they discover that Monica Rambeau is safe and alive, and acting as Geraldine, like we’ve seen in the previous 3 episodes.
Through the use of an old, analogue TV, S.W.O.R.D. and the F.B.I. are able to monitor Wanda and Vision and even attempt contact with Wanda, which harks back to the radio interference during episode 2 where we heard Jimmy Woo’s voice reaching out to Wanda. Confusion also surrounds the room at Vision being alive, after he was very much left dead in Infinity War. We also see how Wanda’s reality resets (if you will) appear to everyone else, while in the earlier episodes we see the before and after of Wanda resetting her reality when things don’t go the way she wants, through the TV it appears as an old tape skipping, so they’re left with blanks as to what actually happened.
We also see the return of the Beekeeper from Episode 1, who’s really just an agent in a bio-hazard suit, which further highlights just how much changes when you pass through the energy field, similar to Monica Rambeau and the drone, as it helps anything blend into its surroundings, so as not to arouse suspicion.
The FBI and SWORD begin to analyse the TV episodes, discovering that all the people in the show are real people from New Jersey, although interestingly there is no profile drawn up for Katherine Hahn’s Agnes which tells us that she may not be identifiable, or human. Remember that nothing is done by mistake at Marvel, if Agnes was a normal character, they would have told us that. As the WandaVision episodes continue on, we jump back into the scene following the birth of the twins in Episode 3, the aspect ratio changes and things become far more sinister. Monica questions Wanda about her brother Pietro (Quicksilver) and Ultron at which points Wanda becomes very defensive. She begins to threaten Monica, and hits her with a telekenetic blast, that pushes her all the way through the energy field and back into the real world. Monica is left lying on the grass surrounded by a red glow from Wanda’s attack – is this the first sign of her powers manifesting? Cut back to Wanda and Vision in their 70’s decor house, Vision appears as his dead self, scaring Wanda. It’s here that we start to see the cracks in her psyche as she begins to lose it. For a while we’re left thinking that perhaps Wanda is being controlled and this is all a big defence mechanism, but now we’re left wondering if she has darker intentions – “everything is under control”, she says.
Words by Ross Carley.