The first three episodes of Marvel’s WandaVision were a complete departure from anything we had seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a fierce commitment to its sitcom stylings, perhaps even to the detriment of casual fans left unmoored by impenetrable skepticism, WandaVision boldly embraced the inherent weirdness of the MCU with a slightly avant-garde tale of disturbed domestic bliss in the town of Westview. But just when the new series ran the risk of alienating its audience to too severe a degree, the fourth episode (“We Interrupt This Program”) pulled back the curtain for a larger view of these strange and exciting happenings.
In Episode 3, the central mysteries of the show began to push toward the center when Wanda forcibly ejected Geraldine (i.e. Monica Rambeau) from Westview and back into the real world after she name dropped Ultron (the first reference to the real world we’ve seen).
Note: The following features spoilers for “We Interrupt This Program.”
In Episode 4, WandaVison builds on the idea that there are two competing realities occupying the same space.
Instead of time-hopping into the 1980s, “We Interrupt This Program” disrupts the established flow of WandaVision as it opens on Monica being snapped back into existence following the events of Avengers: Endgame. This is essentially one supremely effective exposition dump that colors in the shades of the Blip by grounded, real-world example. It’s a disorienting first look at the inexplicable chaos that resulted from the aftermath of a chunk of humanity suddenly returning that feels far more terrifying than the humorous approach Spider-Man: Far From Home took.
Monica, who we met as a child in Captain Marvel, vanished after Avengers: Infinity War just as her mother Maria was undergoing surgery for cancer. Sadly, in the five years Monica was gone, Maria passed away. Maria was the director of an organization called SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) with Monica following in her footsteps as a top agent. On her first day back on the job, the acting director sends her to assist the FBI’s Jimmy Woo (who we last saw in Ant-Man and the Wasp) with a missing person’s case.
SWORD was initially set up as a U.S. intelligence agency that monitored potential extraterrestrial threats but has since shifted to “robotics, nanotech, AI and sentient weapons” after the Snappening. After Monica is sucked into the town of Westview, which is surrounded by an energy field that is also giving off selective amnesia to the nearby locals in the vicinity, SWORD recruits astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings, whom we last saw in Thor: The Dark World) and other experts to figure out what the hell is going on.
Darcy and Jimmy not only serve as callbacks, but also as audience surrogates as they also try to piece together what’s going on. Darcy discovers background radiation that appears in the form of the sitcom we’ve been watching this whole time, then hooks into a TV broadcast, watching Wanda and Vision’s sitcom reality just as we have been watching. Through these “episodes,” they manage to ID every one of Westview’s inhabitants (except Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes). The working theory is that Wanda has somehow assumed control of Westview by creating an alternate reality in which Vision is still alive and all of the town’s inhabitants have been “cast” as actors on the show.
Moving forward, the idea of WandaVision being comprised of an alternate reality within the real world is an exciting prospect. It allows the show to continue experimenting with form and function in unique ways while also building toward important connections to the greater overall MCU. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has confirmed that WandaVision, the untitled third Spider-Man feature, and Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness are all connected. Should we expect Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange to pop up at some point soon?
WandaVision is available to stream on Disney+.