“Is this really happening?” asked Wanda at the end of last week’s episode – leaving us with a new baby bump, a sudden shift to technicolour and a creepy beekeeper who lives in the sewer. It’s the question that hangs over the whole show, and WandaVision episode 3 finally gives a pretty definitive answer.
We’ve had homages to The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy and Bewitched, but Wanda and Vision have now made it to something that looks like The Brady Bunch or All In The Family – with new hairstyles, new fashions and a new aesthetic that would put them somewhere around the early 1970s in the real world.
Of course, this isn’t the real world at all (probably), and Wanda skips a few trimesters in the first few minutes of the show. As soon as the happy parents have finished magicking themselves a new crib and practising a few nappy changes at lightning-speed, Wanda’s super-contractions start in full – causing all the pipes in the neighbourhood to start busting (cue the inevitable “my water’s broken” jokes). “Do you think something’s wrong?”, she asks at one point, before a visual glitch suddenly skips the tape skips backwards, resetting the scene to something safer and funnier involving a stray stork.
Geraldine (or, as we also know her, Monica Rambeau, daughter of Captain Marvel’s Air Force friend, Maria) has turned up at the wrong moment asking to borrow a bucket and Wanda spends a good chunk of episode three using comedy fruit bowls to hide her bump, barely containing her contractions, and chasing a cheeky magic bird around the set. It’s a sweet bit of old-fashioned farce (although we do miss seeing a bit more of zany ’70s Vision while he runs around looking for a doctor), and it all builds up nicely to the birth of the twins, Tommy and Billy.
Fans of the comics will know that these kids don’t exactly have a happy future, (and that Wanda’s eventual tragic realisation about them causes a rift in the Marvelverse that ripples out to every other character), but it’s nice to see the WandaVision family growing for now. Not that the show gives Wanda long to enjoy it.
As soon as the twins are born, she starts thinking about her own brother, Pietro. “He was killed by Ultron, wasn’t he…?” asks Geraldine, breaking the spell, casing Wanda’s mind to drift down to the S.W.O.R.D. (a top secret spy organisation) pendant she’s wearing around her neck. After the neighbours try to cryptically warn Vision about who Geraldine might be, he rushes back inside to find her alone.
“She left, honey. She had to rush home” says Wanda, with a slightly pained expression. The screen slowly expands to full widescreen in high definition as Geraldine comes bursting out the sky in the real(?) Westview, presumably dropkicked out of Wanda’s fantasy bubble. As the camera pans back and ‘Daydream Believer’ starts playing, we also see that Wanda’s bubble is exactly that – with her fake world surrounded by a military base and a giant protective sphere, Truman Show style.
Is Wanda’s self-made reality being manipulated via her own powers of neuro-electric interfacing (read the comics to get into the science…) or is this something bigger and more sinister? We know that S.W.O.R.D. is involved in everything bad that happens in the show and that, at best, they’re monitoring Wanda’s sitcom world via hidden agents like Geraldine. In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. is the alien sister agency of S.H.I.E.L.D., so they’re not necessarily the bad guys, but last week’s creepy neighbourhood chanting of “for the children” coupled with the arrival of the twins also suggests Wanda’s world might be a cover for some kind of evil super-baby breeding programme.
It’s surprising that WandaVision has spilled so many big secrets so early on (we would have been more than happy to watch Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany ham it up through another dozen straight-up comedy homages before things started getting too Marvel-y), but there’s still more than enough that we don’t know. Next week, the ’80s?
- This week’s fake advert gives us ‘Hydra Soak’, a bar of soap for “when you want to get away but you don’t want to go anywhere”. Other than the obvious nods to the evil Hydra agency, the tagline “find the goddess within” could be hinting at any character in the Marvelverse from Hecate to Goddess.
- The soap is also a neat reference to Agent Coulson’s “blue soap theory” that we first heard in an episode of Agents Of S..H.I.E.L.D. – is this how Hydra is mind controlling the population?
- Look out for the name ‘Wentworth’ on the shopfront in the opening credits – surely a reference to Deidre Wentworth, aka key Marvel villain Suspiria (and another link to the A.I.M. criminal organisation that we saw alluded to last week with the creepy beekeeper’s costume).