WandaVision: Season of the Witch

SPOILERS for WandaVision through Episode 7 ahead…

Have you ever noticed that the stories of the Marvel heroines, from Jessica Jones, to Captain Marvel, to Wanda Maximoff, are about overcoming gaslighting? I wonder if Black Widow’s solo story will follow suit, with the other assassins of the Red Room. Anyway…

WandaVision episode 7 absolved our heroine of wrongdoing with the catchiest earworm of revelations: it’s been “Agatha All Along.” While this was presented as a big reveal, was it really? There was a certain joy in the confirmation–sold entirely by Kathryn Hahn’s gleefully wicked performance. But even casual readers of Scarlet Witch comics knew that Agatha Harkness was the likely identity of “Aunty Agnes.” In the comics, Agatha was more ally and mentor than adversary, and the only time she really went against Wanda was when she removed Wanda’s memory of her “children”–who weren’t really her children at all. Ooh, now that sounds like a clue. Regardless, there are now witches in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In Spider-Man: Far From Home, one of the teachers is convinced that witches are behind the Elemental attacks

WandaVision has two apparent antagonists so far. This episode confirmed that Tyler Hayward, Director of S.W.O.R.D., was indeed trying to reactivate Vision as one of his sentient weapons, against Vision’s living will. Is it a mere nod that the ABC show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a character, Brian Hayward, who ran a Hydra version of the super-soldier program called Centipede? Probably. The MCU keeps Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuity at arm’s length. But Hayward didn’t have any success with Vision until Wanda revived him, and his tactics make him seem like a blunt instrument, not a villainous mastermind. If Hayward was trying to use Vision, Agatha was trying to use Wanda–and she is more of a villainous mastermind. But to what end?

For the Children

Why is Westview a series of progressively more modern sitcoms? Why did Agnes seem to go in and out of character in front of Wanda, sometimes revealing complicity in the illusionary world? What is this whole elaborate show-world for? And why did Agatha choose to end Wanda’s show now (this is the first episode with a traditional MCU mid-credits scene)? There is a clue in the final line of her song: “And I killed Sparky too!” Why would she do that?

  • Agatha offered to quiet the infant twins, and they reappeared on the steps as young boys.
  • When Wanda and Vision decided the twins would be too young to take care of a pet until they were ten years old, they became ten years old.
  • When the twins discovered that Sparky had died, they were about to grow older again–until Wanda told them not to escape their pain by aging out of it.
  • When Billy told Agatha that she was “quiet on the inside,” she seemed to realize something about the twins. And they disappeared.

It does feel like the entire point of episodes 1 through 7 of WandaVision was to use Wanda to bring Billy and Tommy into the world, have them grow up and, er, ripen, and then… harvest them. In the dream/show-logic of WandaVision, it didn’t feel overly strange for the twins to age so rapidly. But even this feels incomplete. What are the twins? Why Wanda? And is Agatha a solitary predator, or working on someone’s behalf? These questions feel entangled with another concept raised by episode 7’s commercial: “Nexus.”

Nexus lets you choose your own reality

The Multiverse Is Confirmed

Spider-Man: Far From Home teases the multiverse, but it’s a fake-out

Or is it? Going only by the show, Wanda’s choice of “realities” seem to be her sitcom construct or the world outside of the Hex. But after the appearance of a Pietro with the face of Fox’s X-Men Universe Quicksilver, this is the second suggestion there are other realities. (And if Agatha is responsible for Evan Peters’ “recasting,” it implies she has knowledge of his reality. Maybe she’s from it.)

When Monica Rambeau charged through the Hex wall, she seemed to split into versions of herself and hear voices from her past. When her powers manifested with her Tesseract-colored eyes, she pulled herself together and broke through the wall.

No need to belabor it here, I think my arguments for the Marvel Multiverse still hold water as of Episode 7, even if Pietro isn’t the actual Fox Quicksilver. So why here? Why now? In the comics, Wanda Maximoff is known as a “nexus being,” someone who has versions of herself in every universe, each with a different power set. There is also a Marvel comic concept of a nexus of realities (such as the M’Kraan Crystal) which is a gateway to other universes. The show may be playing with both concepts.

If Agatha Harkness is a solo predator, her character may be conflated with the comic book character of Lore, an evil other-universe Wanda who went from universe to universe, devouring and absorbing the powers of her counterparts. Snackin’ on Yo-Magic and all. But this feels unsatisfying, because it doesn’t address the importance of the children.

In Scarlet Witch (1994) Wanda is attacked by a parallel universe witch called Lore

If Agatha Harkness is working on behalf of another, there are a few possibilities.

The comic book story that seems most immediately relevant is that the Marvel Comics devil, Mephisto, used Wanda to birth two pieces of his fragmented soul into the world so he could absorb them and become whole. There are certainly many callbacks to the Mephisto story in WandaVision: “The devil is in the details / That’s not the only place he is!”; “Unleash hell, demon-spawn!”, the Mephisto-faced Halloween decoration; “Señor Scratchy” (like Old Scratch, a moniker for the devil); Agnes’s never-present husband “Ralph”; and that fly crawling on Agatha’s curtains. And Agatha Harkness has a creepy, orange-lit Darkhold-looking grimoire in her basement. There’s enough groundwork for Mephisto, but that feels unsatisfying to me too. It comes out of a place that isn’t rooted in Wanda’s personal mythology, and WandaVision is, fundamentally, a personal story about her. I’d rather the payoff of this story comes from Wanda’s MCU history than her comic history.

If there were a devil-figure, I’d much rather it be the Red Skull, whose association with the Soul Stone provides a source for two souls to be born into the world. But I’ve already written about that.

Scarlet Witch and the Infinity Coven

A more interesting notion is that Agatha Harkness, like any witch in good standing, is working with a coven. When we first see the world outside of the Hex, Director Hayward asks if Wanda has a “funny nickname,” and Agent Woo insists she doesn’t. The words “Scarlet Witch” have never been uttered in the MCU, to my knowledge.

Red has been part of the show’s visual language around Wanda ever since it transitioned from black-and-white. Her wardrobe, her power effects, the flowers outside her home, and the smoke in which her troublesome stork appears and vanishes. This became even more pronounced once we saw purple–wardrobe, powers, flowers–associated with Agatha.

Dottie is back, and her roses are yellow

It’s enough to make one pay more attention to the use of color elsewhere. Remember where the “all for the children” thing started? At Dottie’s meeting. Agatha called Dottie “the key to everything in this town.” In a show like WandaVision, that’s not a throwaway line. Dottie disappeared until episode 7, and now she’s back, with a yard full of yellow roses–that bloom under penalty of death, according to Agatha.

Emma Caulfield doesn’t want us to forget about Dottie

And now Monica Rambeau has glowing blue eyes. It feels like there is a coven of superpowered women associated with colors. Powers and colors sound awfully familiar, don’t they? I’d theorized that, since the Infinity Stones were Celestial technology, and the Celestials in the comics had seeded the potential for superpower in the human race, exposure to the Stones might be unlocking that potential. “Unlocking the goddess within,” so to speak. Like they did with Wanda. And Captain Marvel. We mustn’t forget, the WandaVision show was being broadcast through radiation from the Big Bang, when the Infinity Stones came into existence. There is a link. Even the wizards of Doctor Strange’s order are associated with an Infinity Stone.

The Infinity Stones and their colors

The witches don’t seem limited in their power by their color. Wanda was empowered by the Mind Stone, and while her powers started as psionic, her Hex seems more of a Reality Stone effect. Agatha appears to be using Wanda’s old mind-control powers, though that may have come from “snacking on Yo-Magic.” The twins seem to have localized Time Stone powers, but then, so did Wanda and Agatha when they decided to “take it from the top” and redo a scene.

How do the children figure into an Infinity-powered coven? They may be trying to manifest souls from the Soul Stone. Or they may be sacrifices that the Soul Stone seems to demand. Or they may be recruits for the coven. It does seem significant that Agatha’s creepy book in the basement leaks the orange light of the Soul Stone.

Agatha Harkness’s book has a Soulful glow

How does an Infinity Coven tie into a multiverse? I don’t know! Maybe that’s how they manipulate reality; by shuffling things around. Maybe there’s power to be tapped across realities. Maybe their coven is spread across universes, but they’ve figured out ways to cross over to collaborate.

We have two more episodes to get answers. And to see if Vision can survive without Wanda. And to see if Wanda will be able to beat her gaslighting and face her grief.

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