WandaVision Season 1 Episode 4 Review: We Interrupt This Program
WandaVision unfolds its real-world narrative and gives us a sense of what exactly is going on.
If you’ve read my reviews of the first three episodes of WandaVision, you’ll spot a pattern of consistent yearning for knowing more about what’s at play here. While Marvel fans have largely figured out the game plan or at least begun to put bits and pieces together. So it was oddly satisfying for Marvel to give us a whole episode of how the real world ties into Wanda’s sitcom world. This is done via a narrative device fairly common in TV Shows – referencing as little of the show’s titular characters as possible.
Right off the bat, the showrunners address what has long since been one of the biggest wishlists of MCU fans: seeing a glimpse of the world as the snap was undone. Monica Rambeau is blipped back in the hospital where she had disappeared, only to wake up distraught and learn that her mother, Maria Rambeau from Captain Marvel passed away 3 years ago. Chaos ensues as the hospital suddenly finds itself overburdened with returning patients who vanished years ago. The blip becomes a talking point all over and I suspect, or at least I hope that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of such situations in the MCU.
Yet another fan theory comes to fruition as we learn that Rambeau has been a key operative in S.W.O.R.D. – the spiritual successor to S.H.I.E.L.D. as founded by her mother. Abbreviated as Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division, it deals with the usual advances in AI and robotics to prepare for a much different world. Rambeau teams up with Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s Jimmy Woo to investigate the town of Westview whose residents have no memory of its existence. A host of experts from diverse fields are flown in to assist among whom is another known face: Kat Dennings’ Darcy. Delegated to the backseat in the Thor movies, “Dr.” Darcy as she now goes by, plays a key role in uncovering the sitcom-like nature of Wanda’s reality.
This episode was a breath of fresh, or rather familiar air, seeing as it actually served as our first proper glimpse at the world of the MCU after the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Teyonah Parris shines in her depiction of the strong Rambeau and the rather neighborly Geraldine although it’s unclear if she was aware of her identity as Rambeu when inside Wanda’s reality. Assuming no further twists are in store then, it’s ample clear that Wanda has created a world around herself, one where she lives by bringing Vision’s dead body to life and refusing to see him for what he really is – a corpose with the Infinity Stone ripped off from his head. She’s going to have a really hard time coming to terms with that tragedy and her rage around Vision’s fate could probably fuel her into becoming one of the franchise’s next major antagonist.
Meanwhile, the dynamic between Teyonah Parris, Randall Park and Kat Dennings plays off well. When originally cast, fans were left bewildered at the inclusion of such oddities from different parts of the MCU but the writers have made good on integrating them into the storyline. It’s been one of the MCU’s hallmarks to have its narrative flowing smoothly to the point that 30 minutes simply breeze by, more so in this episode that’s centered around revelations in the real world. Matt Shakman handles the MCU bits with as much ease as the sitcom pieces and writer Jac Schaeffer steps into the interconnected world, poking as many holes as possible into her own threads by having characters proxy for the audience and throw questions that viewers would have.
One thing the series has been consistently lacking is robust character development. One of the promises of watching an MCU series was to see and learn about characters as well as watch them grow and expand beyond the confines of what was possible in the 2-hour movies with limited runtime. This still remains a complaint thus far but I’m once again hopeful that as we advance into the world of Disney+ further, there will be episodes that tackle more internal struggles. For instance, Wanda’s breakdown upon coming to terms with true reality should be a truly powerful moment. And now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’d hope for Vision to speak more like Wanda’s ideal picture of him as opposed to someone who has his own identity.
The episode also stepped up the production values a notch as VFX was employed in bringing the S.W.O.R.D. facilities to life. With a majority of the episode focusing on the real post-blip world, it needed to reflect a sense and scale of the movies. This was immediately apparent with the opening sequence of people being restored after the snap was undone. Marvel has been intent on filming these episodes as nothing less than major feature films with $100 million+ budgets so I won’t be surprised if they have their own climaxes with major fights that at least rival, if not outright compete with the movies.
All said and done, this was a truly satisfying episode of WandaVision and a huge step up from the first three episodes in terms of advancing the series storyline forward. The kind of MCU entertainment we’d expect at our homes.