Warning — This article contains major spoilers for WandaVision.
In the opening scene of WandaVision's Episode 8 "Previously On" many fans may have been surprised by the Agatha Harkness backstory sequence, despite the major twist of Kathryn Hahn's character in Episode 7. Besides Doctor Strange, this is one of the few moments we have seen in the MCU of real magic. It also gave us one of the earliest looks at this Marvel Universe, taking place in Salem, Massachusetts, 1693.
This scene was the first of its kind in the MCU and felt especially out of place in this sitcom-themed WandaVision series. Fans may have been left scratching their heads after this opening, so here is a breakdown of what happened during this witch-filled sequence.
AGATHA HARKNESS' ORIGIN STORY
In 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts the infamous "Salem Witch Trials" took place. During these witch trials, people in Salem were accused of using witchcraft, or the Devil's Magic, and in our real-world 20 were executed. In Marvel Comics (Earth-616), Agatha Harkness formed the coven of witches that were persecuted during the trials. However, she actually approved of the trials ultimately because she thought it would weed out the weak witches, thereby making the magical people on Earth stronger.
A NEW SALEM WITCH TRIAL
Unlike the comic interpretation, it appears that Agatha's mother is the leader of the Salem witch coven. As the scene opens we see Agatha being dragged to her own trial pleading "Please, no. No. No, please." She is then magically restrained to a wooden beam and asked "Agatha Harkness, are you a witch?" She replies, "Yes. I am a Witch" and this shows how this is a role-reversal witch trial. Typically, the person being questioned will deny it, because being accused of witchcraft would mean capital punishment (often by burning at the stake). So this twist of a typical Salem Witch Trial is not about whether she is a witch or not, but what Agatha's true intentions are.
Agatha's mother, the leader of the coven, accuses Agatha of betraying them and practicing "the darkest of magic." As Agatha denies the crimes she is being accused of, her mother shouts "Enough deception" and all Agatha can do is smirk, aware of what she has done. Agatha then clarifies her denial saying, "I did not break your rules. They simply bent to my power." Agatha's mother earlier accuses her of stealing "knowledge above [her] age and station" hinting that Agatha's strength is well beyond where others would be at her age.
AGATHA'S INCREDIBLE POWER
Despite Agatha's explanation, the surrounding coven begins a chant in Latin and the situation becomes hostile. Agatha continues to beg her coven "I cannot control it! If only you would teach me! Help me! Please!" despite what happens next, it is unclear whether Agatha is being genuine or not. As she is portrayed as a young and upcoming witch with incredible ability, maybe she did just desire guidance that isn't normally given for someone of her age.
Despite her pleas, the coven proceeds to shoot beams of magic at her with the intent to kill. After a few seconds of Agatha crying out in pain, you see her magical powers begin to turn the witches' blue beams purple. Agatha realizes her strength is able to now use these beams to suck the life out of each attacking witch. After her mother shoots her beam as a last-ditched effort, Agatha is in control, breaking free of the conjured chains she was restricted to.
Agatha swings her hands and a blast of purple magic shoots to the circle of witches, killing them all. With only her mother remaining, Agatha looks up at her and says, "Please, I can be good." Her mother is not convinced, replying, "No, you cannot." As the leader of this fallen coven, Agatha's mother attempted to shoot one more magical beam at Agatha to stop her. While the final blast of magic from her mother is powerful, her fate is the same as the rest.
As the scene comes to a close, Agatha surrounded by her dead coven leans over her body and grabs a familiar broach. Many fans saw this brooch worn by Agnes in Episode 1 of WandaVision and theorized that she was Agatha all along. After she takes her mother's broach, Agatha flies out of the frame, and the scene changes back to Wanda and herself in present day.
WHERE HAS AGATHA BEEN?
In the comics, Agatha starts the New Salem, a secret city based in Colorado where only magic-users are allowed. It is unclear if we will ever get any answers to what the MCU's Agatha Harkness has been doing from 1693 to 2023, but it is clear she is aware of other magical beings on Earth. Wanda's creation of the Hex was enough to get Agatha's attention. Leading her to proclaim Wanda is using chaos magic which makes her The Scarlett Witch. If Agatha is so interested in Wanda, what about The Ancient One or Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme?
SORCERERS IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
WandaVision may not be setting up Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness the way many fans may have specifically expected. Due to the title Multiverse of Madness, many speculated WandaVision would introduce or incorporate the multiverse in some way. Despite a blatant tease at the multiverse with Evan Peters portraying another version of Quicksilver, the show has done a lot more to set up other magic users than any multiverse plot points.
By the end of Doctor Strange, sorcerer Karl Mordo has completely lost faith in The Ancient One's teachings and The Masters of The Mystic Arts. He strips Jonathan Pangborn of his magical abilities and when Mordo is questioned why he is doing this, he responds, "Because I see at long last what's wrong with the world. Too many sorcerers."
If Agatha survives the finale of WandaVision, it would be surprising not to see her make an appearance in Strange's sequel. The multiverse will be a major factor in the upcoming MCU project, but it cannot be overlooked where Wanda and Agatha fit in this world of magic and sorcery. As someone who has been practicing witchcraft for at least 300 years or more, Agatha could turn out to be a major ally or enemy in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.