Spoileriffic thoughts on Wandavision

I got a recommendation from a friend to watch the first three episodes of Wandavision in a block. That suggestion was solid. It’s slllooowww to get going, especially, if you’re not bathed in American sitcom culture. Fiona and I watched the first episode together and didn’t get much out of it. We started the second, and she bailed before we reached the opening credits, feeling it was more of the same. As a matter of pacing, I think they needed to bring the red helicopter into the first episode, so there’s something there other than a 1950s sitcom of the kind that 2020s TV has left far behind for a reason.

In fact, I wonder whether the best way to watch this show isn’t just to skip episode 1 completely.

Anyway, with Fiona having dropped out, I watched the other eight episodes alone, and mostly really enjoyed them. I feel like Wandavision aimed at actual greatness and just missed — or maybe we should say it lost its nerve and fell short.

At the end of episode seven, while I loved the theme-song reveal of Agatha, I felt that bringing her in was multiplying entities without necessity. And while the crucial-moments-of-Wanda’s-past tour that made up episode eight was interesting, it felt a bit laboured in places. (I wonder how much of that is because Katherine Hahn is not quite good enough to sell the character — unlike Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.)

So that meant that even more rested on the finale than it usually would.

And while there was a lot to like about the final episode, far too much of it devolved into the now rather tedious trope of two equal-powered matchup combats: Wanda vs. Agatha and Vision vs. White Vision. I think in 2021, if you’re going to do that, you really need to keep the combats pretty short, and you need to end them in a way that results from a conceptual shift rather than just from (say) the Hulk hitting the Abomination slightly harder than previously. Vision’s fight meets that criterion, though it took rather longer than necessary to get there. Did Wanda’s? Well, maybe. “I made some runes while you weren’t looking” is not inherently clever, but it works that the space she’s controlling with the runes is not just a basement but the entire world she’s created. But it doesn’t explain why Wanda gets de-aged.

In the end, this unique show had an opportunity to give us a unique ending that was entirely focussed on Wanda’s grief, but it didn’t quite have the courage to do it. Superheroes are, or can be, a medium to tell important stories about ordinary people. Wandavision could have shown us a physical manifestation of grief like nothing has ever shown it before, but it chickened out.

I still enjoyed it — enough that I’ve watched it again. But I wanted to love it more unreservedly.

3 responses to “Spoileriffic thoughts on Wandavision

  1. “ I wonder how much of that is because Katherine Hahn is not quite good enough to sell the character — unlike Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.)”

    Wow. I thought Hahn stole the show and her reveal/character/acting was excellent. Don’t understand the “not quite good enough” perspective

  2. Well, I agree that she stole the show, especially with the It Was Agatha All Along song at the end of episode 7. But that’s not at all the same thing as good or persuasive acting.

  3. I’ve watched the series at least 4 times. I think she did an incredible job. She annoyed me as the nosy neighbor the first time until the reveal. Every other viewing I appreciated what she was doing much more.

    I also liked the series more than you appear to have. So that’s probably part of it.

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