by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 7: Breaking the Fourth Wall
It was Agatha all along. Amidst an expertly executed, intriguing plot twist, we can safely say that episode 7’s concluding song will likely be stuck in our heads for weeks to come. WandaVision continued in good form this week, plummeting viewers into a modern sitcom a la The Office or Modern Family. As Monica and her team try to safely defuse the situation inside the Hex, Wanda begins to grow disillusioned and Vision teams up with Darcy, all while an ominous threat operates in the background.
Compared to the last few episodes, Breaking the Fourth Wall seemed to stutter a bit in terms of its pacing and sitcom-leanings. Regarding the latter, the feel of a documentary was well executed in simulating shows like The Office, but made the episode feel at times choppy and stop-start. The edits, handheld camera movement, and monologues spoken directly to the camera (hence the episode’s title) simply don’t work as well as when WandaVision has leaned into aspects of sitcoms from other eras.
Similar to episode 6, Breaking the Fourth Wall balanced three central characters this week in Wanda, Vision, and Monica, but this time with varying degrees of success. This may be due to the fact that, at barely over 30 minutes without credits, the episode doesn’t quite linger long enough on any one character or storyline. Indeed, when the episode draws to a close, it leaves you wanting more, partly due to all that the show does well, but also because the episode felt as if it needed more meat on the bones.
This isn’t to say, however, that WandaVision didn’t yet again deliver a really entertaining, intriguing, and ominous episode. Vision’s team-up with Darcy was interesting and led to a lot of good banter and back-and-forth dialogue. The concept of a character like Darcy recapping the events of the Infinity Saga to Vision was funny, especially as we saw Vision try to put the pieces together and Darcy downplay the stakes and severity of the Snap. The journey of Monica this week wasn’t as enthralling as previous weeks, despite Teyonah Parris’ excellent performance as the character. The mysterious emergence of Monica’s powers, however, make for an intriguing talking point moving forward in the series. And, after a scene-stealing performance as Pietro, Evan Peters’ return as Quicksilver was missed this week (albeit for a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a post-credits scene).
Meanwhile, Wanda’s journey diverged from her ‘happily-ever-after’ reality of previous episodes as she struggled with the idea of Vision uncovering the truth of Westview and wanting to leave, in addition to unpredictable anomalies occurring all around her. Elizabeth Olsen once again excels in the role she has truly made her own over the course of her journey in the MCU so far. It’s incredible to see Olsen’s performance both subtly and overtly shift gears each episode as both the sitcom era and Wanda’s emotional state change. Olsen jaw-droppingly switches from a character in a sitcom to a traumatized, grieving woman with such delicacy that each episode warrants repeat viewing simply to absorb the actress’ skills on display.
We’ve saved the best for last, however, as Kathryn Hahn completely stole the show this week with her performance as Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha Harkness (!!!). Yes, Agnes was finally revealed as a classic, sinister character after much fan speculation. The writers of WandaVision played this twist very well by almost making it seem too obvious over the last few episodes that Agnes had sinister motives, in turn making the audience think this wouldn’t come to fruition. With two episodes still to go, we’re sure that there are going to be layers added to this reveal, but, for the time being, it was brilliant both in theory and in execution. For fans of the comics, Agatha Harkness has a long history dating back to Fantastic Four comics in the 1970s. Harkness’ inclusion has a number of implications for the broader, ominous nature of WandaVision, including characters like Nicholas Scratch and the Salem Seven. Regardless of one’s prior comics knowledge, the execution of this twist was superb. Wanda’s mysterious trek down into Agnes’ dark basement already sparked some suspicions, and when Agnes’ true identity was revealed, Hahn shines. The montage that follows is both humorous in fitting into the broader aesthetic of the show, but also insidious in highlighting the extent to which Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha, was operating in the background. This balance of humor and insidiousness has been one of the hallmarks of WandaVision so far, and this twist really emphasized that.
Despite some shortcomings in regards to choppy pacing and integration of this week’s sitcom theme, Breaking the Fourth Wall was yet again a great episode of WandaVision. The Disney+ series continues to reveal aspects of the mystery slowly but surely and brilliantly balances its sitcom structure and ominous undertones, making us excited to see how the events in Westview unfold in the final two episodes.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios