Warning - This article contains major spoilers for "Episode 8" of WandaVision.
"Episode 8" of Marvel Studios' WandaVision, aptly named "Previously On," came in as one of the craziest (and longest) episodes in this wacky series.
Even though "Previously On" largely left the sitcom world of the 1950s to the present day TV shows, the overarching theme of this whole episode was taking a wild and sometimes depressing trip down memory lane within the MCU. There wasn't any action at all from Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, or Darcy Lewis, and the plot largely focused on the lead hero, Scarlet Witch, and the recently revealed antagonist, Agatha Harkness.
In terms of Agatha, this series took an incredibly interesting turn by delivering on a tease that was laid out six weeks ago when the very first episode premiered. That little Easter egg concerning the June 2 wedding anniversary that Agatha mentioned in "Episode 1?" This show went fully there and revealed Agatha Harkness to have been involved in the MCU's Salem Witch Trials on June 2, 1693.
Possibly more mind-blowing than getting Agatha's full backstory was getting so much depth to Wanda Maximoff's history in the MCU, finally giving some fleshed-out details from moments in her life that have only been touched on in her previous appearances. The thing about these Disney+ shows that's so exciting is the fact that they will get to dive so deeply into the MCU's past for the shows' starring characters while also debuting new heroes that will carry the future.
On top of filling in the franchise's long and storied past, "Episode 8" clarified much for what fans have seen in the first seven episodes of WandaVision in terms of why it was told through the lens of historical TV sitcoms. The way Wanda's past revealed that she, Pietro, and their parents watched American sitcoms to work on their English and bond as a family was a great way to tie everything together, and it makes perfect sense why Wanda told her story in this way with the Hex.
With so much of the plot centered around the show's lead hero and likely lead villain, it was such a rush to see just how much Agatha was able to torment Wanda and put her through pain both inside her lair and in their looks at Wanda's past. Even taking into account that Wanda has been through more pain and trauma than nearly anybody in the MCU, it was heartbreaking seeing how much worse Agatha made things for her at the moment.
Having to relive her parents' death, Hydra's experimentation with the Mind Stone, and her earliest days with Vision, it's abundantly clear why Wanda makes the decisions she makes. This show is doing an incredible job of getting inside its lead heroine's head, putting the mental side of the story on full display alongside impeccable visual effects and action sequences.
The way WandaVision continues to surprise its viewers is unbelievable, especially with the reveal that Wanda was at peace with laying Vision to rest before S.W.O.R.D. Director Hayward seemingly changed her mind. After seeing what they did to him, it was amazing seeing Wanda's full rage and anger come to life as she mourned him all over again and tried to start the new life she'd always wanted with him.
Seeing the real Westview for the first time as well was an absolute trip, as fans laid eyes on a town nearly in the dumps with a population that seemed to have given up on life. As Wanda unleashed her full magical capabilities and created the version of Westview seen when the show began, it's a complete mystery as to what fans should expect to happen as the series draws to a close.
In the end, the groundwork was laid out for a breathtaking final battle as Agatha holds Wanda's twins hostage right in front of her. Finally giving Maximoff the Scarlet Witch title that had eluded her for nearly seven years in the MCU, WandaVision is setting the stage for a season finale that will blow Phase 4 wide open.
Along with this ending comes a new version of Vision, apparently rebuilt by Hayward and S.W.O.R.D., bringing in White Vision directly from the comics. Once again, this series rips its story directly from the Marvel Comics pages while proving to be a true continuation from the MCU's Infinity Saga.
Undoubtedly, next week's final episode of WandaVision will truly be something to behold. MCU fans are in for the ride of a lifetime as things draw to a close.
As has been the case for the course of WandaVision, Elizabeth Olsen carried this episode with her portrayal of the newly-named Scarlet Witch. Not too unsurprisingly, she holds the co-MVP honors this week with Kathryn Hahn's Agatha Harkness as her full villain story was revealed for the first time after a month and a half of action.
In terms of Olsen, it was incredible to see her range this week in terms of having to visit so many time periods in Wanda's life. She had to look back on the earliest days of her childhood, live through the Mind Stone experimentation from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and work through the earliest days of her relationship with Vision before Captain America: Civil War.
The way Olsen portrayed some truly deep emotions through Wanda's anger, sadness, confusion, and pain was something truly commendable as she dove into the darkest parts of her heroine's psyche. Having to deal with the emotional pain from her past and present along with the physical pain she endured from Agatha was a tough job to complete, and Olsen was phenomenal through all of it.
Hahn should be given a ton of credit this week as well as she followed up on one of the best musical numbers of 2021 so far. Showing Agatha experiencing the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials before torturing Wanda emotionally and revealing her full villainous form at the end of the episode was absolutely remarkable. She is already proving to be one of the MCU's better villains, and she should be in for quite the finale next week.
Major kudos to both Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn, and it will be thrilling to see what comes from both of them in "Episode 9."
PRODUCTION — CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, EDITING, ETC.
With nothing too glaring to criticize in "Episode 8," this week comes as another opportunity to heap praise upon the entire team that is bringing WandaVision to life.
The cinematography did a fantastic job of not only setting the stage for each time period explored in this episode but also evoking the right feel needed for each individual scene. There were some heavy moments that "Episode 8" tackled in both Wanda and Agatha's stories, and the camera helped to bring it to the screen perfectly.
While the music of this week had a high standard to live up to after "Agatha All Along" took the world by storm, it did its job well enough to set the tone for everything coming to life. The same can be said for the editing, which helped to both draw out the more emotional scenes with longer cuts and give the classic MCU action when needed with shorter ones.
On top of everything, the special effects work this week was incredible as the team showed nearly the full extent of both Wanda and Agatha's powers. Both witches put forth powerful efforts toward whatever was in front of them, and the effects were remarkable. In particular, Wanda's creation of her version of Westview and bringing her new Vision to life were some of the most intense action moments of this series to date.
All in all, Marvel Studios continues to impress behind the scenes.
A LARGER WORLD
Just as this series has tried to do with nearly every episode, "Previously On" made its mark as it brought the MCU's past directly into play alongside the present.
Particularly in the case of Wanda Maximoff, this episode directly followed up on her backstory from both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Scenes were given that showed the Stark missile explosion that killed her and Pietro's parents, as well as Hydra testing the Mind Stone on her and unlocking her magical abilities.
Following up on plot points from this series alone, the episode did a great job by giving more depth to Wanda coming to S.W.O.R.D. to get Vision's body. It was even made more interesting with the fact that she only wanted his body so that she could give him a proper funeral instead of bringing him back to life, and it will be insane to see what Director Hayward has to do with that story in the season finale.
In that same vein, seeing the town of Westview before Wanda's arrival was an absolute mind-bender. Getting glances at characters like Norm, Herb, and Mrs. Hart in their true forms and truly depressed with their lives was a bit jarring, in fact. Whether we see them come back in a meaningful capacity in "Episode 9" is a mystery, but it was great to get that kind of detail on what this town was like before the events of WandaVision.
WandaVision continues to prove itself as a story firmly set in the MCU timeline with nearly no continuity errors, and it's something that fans can truly appreciate as Phase 4 begins.
While it may not have been the undeniable top episode of WandaVision thus far, "Episode 8" came as one of the better entries of this show as things lead up to the end.
The effects were immaculate, the story was thrilling, the reveals were shocking, and the plot did its job and more by setting up everything that's happened both in this show and in MCU projects of the past. Marvel Studios' work is undoubtedly proving to be a success in its first effort on Disney+, leaving fans on the edge of their seats with every new plot point that unveils itself.
Safe to say, the hype continues to grow as the final episode of this season inches its way closer. Likely to be the longest entry yet, there are a few intriguing plot points that need to be resolved, a Westview that needs saving, and a Wanda and Vision that must give it their all to save the day. Viewers should be ready for one of the most thrilling finales to any season of TV in recent history.