From its very introduction, “WandaVision” has been pushing the boundaries of just what sort of stories can be told in the superhero-centric world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea that reality warper Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) settling down in married bliss, but in a constantly changing setting that reflects succeeding decades of TV sitcoms, seemed like quirky fun at best. Still, as the episodes rolled ever closer to the current time period, sneak peeks of the world outside the couple’s residence of Westview quickly remind the audience that this is still set in the MCU.
In the fourth episode, all pretense of “WandaVision” being an affectionate sendup to oldie situational comedies went out the window after the POV switched to the people outside Westview, featuring an ensemble of returning characters (one of them a grown-up version of her child self from “Captain Marvel.” Episode 5, “On a Very Special Episode,” deals somewhat with the fallout of the big reveal that Wanda seems to be keeping the town in a reality-warping field (called the Hex for its shape) where she is (apparently) animating a still-deactivated Vision. Following the report of Geraldine/Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to her SWORD superiors after exiting Westview, the danger threshold is passed.
SWORD director Heyward (Josh Stamberg) is hell-bent on labeling Wanda a terrorist for her actions, corroborated somewhat by security footage he shows of Wanda stealing Vision’s body from SWORD storage. While Monica believes Wanda is in control within the Hex, she has doubts on her being actively malevolent, a sentiment Heyward does not share, as he is now authorizing extreme measures to neutralize the Avenger, bypassing the “period-appropriate” warping effect.
Inside Westview, the era is now the 1980s, and Wanda and Vision are affecting the “sleepless nights” personality of parents with constantly-crying (twin) baby boys. Their neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) has volunteered to babysit for Billy and Tommy, but her “breaking character” leads to the infants suddenly aging to 5 years old (Baylen Bielitz and Gavin Borders, respectively). When a stray dog appears at their doorstep the boys beg mom and dad to take it in as a pet. Their opinion that the kids are too young to care for a dog is rendered moot when they change to age 10 (Julian Hillard, Jett Kline).
SWORD has sent an email to Vision in Westview (the tech was already in development during the Eighties), followed by a remote strike at Wanda using an armed 1980s drone. Fat chance of that working, and Wanda actually leaves the Hex, reverting to her Avengers gear and Sokovian accent (you almost forgot about that, yes?) just to (magically) threaten Heyward to leave her world alone.
The “Special Episode” thing kicks in when the adopted dog dies, and Billy and Tommy beg Mama Wanda to revive him. Wanda (hypocritically to viewers) tells them to deal with their grief, as even she cannot bring the dead back to life. She is later confronted with Vision who admits he remembers nothing of life outside Westview. Their “subverted” fight scene is further interrupted by a visitor at the door, somebody Wanda never even expected.
It is her twin brother Pietro, but as outside observer Darcy (Kat Dennings) points out, he looks different from the Pietro Maximoff killed during “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” saying he has been “recast” in TV casting-speak. That is because that is not Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but rather Evan Peters, who plays Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver in the “X-Men” films by 20th Century Fox. While the fact is that both Marvel and Fox are now under Disney, nobody expected a character from the separate “X-Men” film-verse to go MCU.
There are many possible interpretations to the changed Pietro appearing in Westview, ranging from him being an alternate-universe version or being the true mastermind to Wanda’s Hex-world in disguise. These explanations can be cross-referenced with the complex histories of these Marvel characters in the comic books. But in MCU terms, the “AU version” thing seems to be more plausible, due to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige noting how this show sets up the upcoming Phase 4 film “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” How exactly that will tie in, viewers (in real life and in-universe) still have four more episodes of “WandaVision” to go, exclusively available only on Disney+.
Image courtesy of Insider