WandaVision episode 5 recap: The Disney Plus Marvel show goes to the next level
WandaVision went a bit Wonder Woman 1984, dragging the Marvel Cinematic Universe back to the ’80s as its fifth episode landed Friday on Disney Plus. We pick up after Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) gave birth to twin sons Billy and Tommy following a ludicrously short pregnancy and the true nature of Westview was seemingly revealed.
“It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda,” says SWORD agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) after being kicked out of the New Jersey town. It seems the Avenger has turned the whole town into a shifting period sitcom, and wasn’t happy when Monica tried to give her a dose of reality.
Let’s put on our fashionable leg warmers, toss back our shiny mullets and dive into the episode. SPOILERS coming.
Brother from another Marvel
The episode ends with the arrival of Wanda’s brother, Pietro (aka Quicksilver), whom we last saw played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron… in the MCU. He was killed by Ultron in that movie, a source of major trauma for Wanda.
“She recast Pietro?” asks astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) upon seeing him.
The Pietro who arrives at the door in this episode is played by Evan Peters, whom you might remember as the version of the character in the last few X-Men movies — Days of Future Past, Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. These weren’t set in the MCU, since 21st Century Fox had the cinematic rights to the X-Men characters.
However, Quicksilver and Wanda were major Avengers characters too, so Fox and Marvel Studios came to an arrangement that’d let them use their own version of the characters in their cinematic universes. That became irrelevant when Marvel Studios parent Disney acquired Fox (and the X-Men cinematic rights) in 2019, and it seemed like the Peters version of the character would fade with the Fox X-Men universe.
He’s also called “Peter” in the X-Men movies, but Darcy and Wanda both called him Pietro so I’ll follow their lead.
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“Long-lost bro get to squeeze his stinkin’ sister to death or what?” Pietro says to a shocked Wanda.
She may have been trying to undo her brother’s death and accidentally brought the X-Men’s Pietro into the MCU. We already knew the X-Men were going to appear in this universe in some form, but a reboot seemed the most likely entry point — I certainly didn’t dare hope we’d see any of the OG cinematic X-Men again (even though Dark Phoenix included a fun MCU Easter egg).
“Who’s the popsicle?” Pietro asks upon seeing Vision, which suggests his memories haven’t been rewritten to fit Wanda’s narrative (or that he’s been estranged from her within the narrative).
It’s unclear exactly what his appearance means for this universe — it could be the beginnings of the multiverse, a limited crossover, or we might see a bunch of characters from the X-Men universe show up (Hugh Jackman Wolverine and Michael Fassbender Magneto next please). The Deadpool movies are ostensibly set in that universe as well — Peters had a cameo in 2018’s Deadpool 2 — and Deadpool 3 is confirmed to be part of the MCU.
The idea of bringing Peters into the MCU has been gestating for a while, head writer Jac Schaeffer told Marvel.com on Monday.
“We were rooting for it for so long, and didn’t know if it would be possible,” she said. “It was complicated to make happen. Evan was always up for it — like, always, always, always. He is a comic book fan, and a Marvel fan. He is always up for the absolute weirdest option.”
She also noted that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige “wanted to make sure that there was a reason for it, that it made sense.”
This might also be the first instance of a mutant — a human who manifests powers due to a genetic trait called the X-gene — in the MCU. Wanda and MCU Pietro had their powers “unlocked” by being exposed to the Mind Stone as part of a Hydra experiment, but it’s possible that origin will be expanded upon or tweaked now that Marvel Studios can use mutants.
It also opens up the possibility that the J. Jonah Jameson we saw in the Spider-Man: Far From Home postcredits scene is the one from Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire trilogy.
Your move, DC.
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Them rascally boys
We open with Wanda and Vision (Paul Bettany) stressing out over their crying twin sons Billy and Tommy. Wanda tries to make them sleep with a spell, but it seems she can’t influence them the same way she can most of the others in Westview.
“Why won’t you do what I want?” she wonders.
Enter the neighborly Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), in her spectacular Jazzercise outfit, who volunteers to help with the crying babies. Vision resists the idea, and we get a weird moment.
“Should we just take it from the top?” Agnes asks Wanda, briefly breaking character and the illusion to reveal that she knows about Wanda’s ability to rewind events that displease her.
The babies stop crying for that moment, and kick off again when Agnes returns to her role. She’s not under Wanda’s spell, and seems to be playing along voluntarily. The boys also age up twice — first from babies to five, then to 10 — while Agnes is present.
“Kids, ha. You can’t control ’em. No matter how hard you try,” she says, apparently cool with the weirdness. Could Agnes have tried to control Wanda at some point? Is Westview a result of some deal they made? It’s possible Agnes is the puppet master here, and wants the boys to age up for her own purposes.
Billy and Tommy later resist Wanda’s direct control, by rebuffing her assertion that it’s Monday, and push her to remember her lost brother Pietro.
“He’s far away from here, and that makes me sad sometimes,” she responds — perhaps our first hint that she knows there’s another version of her brother in a different reality.
The boys also find a dog in the garden and name him Sparky, at Agnes’ prompting. Agnes later finds Sparky dead, having seemingly eaten leaves, and Wanda refuses to resurrect the pup.
Did Wanda consciously or subconsciously kill Sparky, mirroring her own sense of loss over Vision in Billy and Tommy? Or could Agnes be the one doing it, to shape them in some way?
Trouble in paradise
Vision is increasingly aware that Westview ain’t right, and confronts Wanda directly about it. He wonders why there are no other kids in Westview, highlighting one of the town’s creepiest attributes. Where could Wanda, Agnes or whoever is really in control have put them? Maybe they’re just in a lovely summer camp, having the time of their lives. Yes, let’s go with that.
Her ability to influence Vision is waning too — she even tries to end the “episode” by rolling the credits on him — but Pietro’s arrival provides the perfect distraction.
We don’t know if Pietro was summoned by Wanda, the twins, Agnes or some unseen force trying to manipulate events.
The in-universe commercial break in this episode presents us with Lagos paper towels — “For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to.” This is reference to the incident in Lagos, Nigeria, in Captain America: Civil War.
Here’s what happened: The Avengers stopped terrorist (and former Hydra sleeper agent) Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon, and Rumlow blew himself up in attempting to kill Cap. Wanda used her telekinetic powers to fling him high in the air, but this accidentally killed a bunch of Wakandan humanitarian workers — creating further controversy around the Avengers and indirectly resulting in Wanda and Vision getting into a relationship.
In the ad, Lagos paper towels certainly do a better job of soaking up the mess. But we hear a continued dripping sound after it’s wiped away, suggesting it’s not really cleaned up. It feels like a hint that Wanda can’t just magic away everything she doesn’t like.
Hero or villain?
Outside Westview, FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) runs through Wanda’s history for the SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) agents — she was born in 1989 to Irina and Oleg Maximoff. This show is set in 2023, so Wanda is 34. Except she was gone for five years due to Thanos’ Snap in Avengers: Infinity War, so she’s really 29. It’s also likely Irina and Oleg are the people seen in the commercials.
We also learn that this all kicked off nine days ago, when Wanda broke into SWORD headquarters and stole Vision’s corpse (what were they doing with him?). She also defied Vision’s wishes by resurrecting him.
“He didn’t want to be anybody’s weapon,” says Jimmy.
Acting SWORD director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) seems eager to cast Wanda as a terrorist (rewriting reality in his own way) for taking control of Westview and for past links with Hydra, much to Darcy’s and Jimmy’s chagrin.
He highlights Monica’s description of how being under Wanda’s influence felt — “excruciating, terrifying, a violation” — making it hard to argue with him.
When Wanda steps out of Westview to confront the SWORD agents for sending a drone in, she’s wearing her Avengers: Endgame outfit and speaks in her Sokovian accent. Monica tries to appeal to her, to no avail.
“I have what I want, and no one will ever take it from me again,” she says.
With an awesome flick of her wrist, she makes the armed agents aim at Hayward. The fact that they don’t fire suggests she hasn’t gone full bad guy.
Observations and WTF questions
- Vision mentions Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, an 1871 book in which the naturalist details his theories of evolution and the dominant role of women in mate choice. That notion might seem a bit old-school now, but Wanda did resurrect Vision to start a family.
- Could Vision’s decision to read be linked to his sense that Wanda is controlling him?
- The intro pays homage to ’80s sitcoms Growing Pains, Family Ties and Full House, the third of which saw the debut of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen — Elizabeth Olsen’s older sisters.
- Darcy calls the anomaly “the Hex,” after the hexagonal shape of the affected area.
- Hayward also wonders if Wanda has an alias or “funny nickname,” but Jimmy rebuffs that. In the comics, she’s known as Scarlet Witch, but that name hasn’t been used in the MCU.
- Sparky is the name of the synthezoid dog created by Vision in the 2015 Vision comic series.
- Monica didn’t seem eager to talk about Captain Marvel. Since Carol Danvers and her mom were friends in the ’90s-set Captain Marvel movie, it’s possible Monica is angry that the wildly powerful Carol left Earth and her friend battled cancer while she was gone.
- “I know an aerospace engineer who’d be up for this challenge.” Monica wants to create a vessel that’ll get her into Westview safely, and contacts someone who sounds quite like Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. We know the Fantastic Four are coming into the MCU, so this could be the first reference.
- Alternatively, she could have texted Riri Wiliams, aka Ironheart, who has a similar skillset. She hasn’t been introduced to the MCU, but is getting her own Disney Plus show (she’ll be played by Dominique Thorne).
- What exactly happened when the drone fired? The transmission and broadcast cut out, then Wanda steps out of the Hex.
- Wanda seems eager to “go to sleep” — could the effort of maintaining the Hex be tiring her out, is it just an effort to escape, or does going to bed “reset” everything?
- When Vision briefly frees Norm of Wanda’s influence, he immediately thinks about his sick dad. Monica also sees her late mother when she’s freed, suggesting Wanda’s influence papers over grief.
Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Friday, when episode 6 of WandaVision hits Disney Plus.
CNET’s Caitlin Petrakovitz, Eli Blumenthal and Roger Cheng contributed to this recap.