Welcome to Westview: Episode 4 of ‘WandaVision’
Episode four of “WandaVision” provides some much-needed context within the larger MCU timeline, making the Westview anomaly that much more unusual. Old fan-favorites also make a welcome return.
January 31, 2021
And just like that, the bubble pops.
The bubble of Westview, that is, which has finally been revealed in episode four of “WandaVision” to be exactly what fans expected since the first trailer. Dedicated to situating “WandaVision” within the larger MCU timeline, episode four shows us the idyllic suburb of Westview, New Jersey from the outside, bringing back some fan-favorite characters from previous series entries to shed some light on the truth, or at least the search for it.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” first taught us about “The Blip”—the moment at which everyone Thanos snapped into nonexistence in “Infinity War” returned five years later in “Endgame”—but this episode puts us right in the middle of the action as we see a familiar face phase back into existence in a hospital chair next to an empty bed. It’s Geraldine, but really, it’s Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), daughter of fighter pilot Maria Rambeau from “Captain Marvel,” who died during the five-year period of the Blip. The world is in utter chaos as billions of people re-materialize out of thin air, but aside from her mother’s death, Monica processes this relatively quickly and returns to her post as a space captain at the brand-new SHIELD successor agency, SWORD: Sentient Weapons Observation and Response Division.
We’ve been in the Westview bubble with Wanda and Vision for three episodes now, so it might come as a shock that episode four practically shoves the Blip backstory at us, especially considering we previously only knew Monica’s fabricated Westview identity, Geraldine. It’s a story that we needed, but it’s a story we didn’t want to think about. And it feels vaguely “Agents of SHIELD,” even though I haven’t watched “Agents of SHIELD.” Don’t judge.
In the next few scenes, more familiar faces return: first the bumbling and endearing agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” then the charming and witty astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) from the first two “Thor” films. Monica, Agent Woo and Darcy all coming together at a time like this are testament to the worldbuilding capabilities of the MCU, but their grouping also reveals some weaknesses in their on-screen personalities.
Woo simply isn’t cut out for the new research-heavy position he’s been placed in, and his jokes fall flat almost every time. He’s better suited for the “Ant-Man” movies, where everything is a joke. Monica’s no-nonsense attitude certainly fits the bill much better (and Parris plays the role wonderfully), but the fact that she’s seemed to move on from the Blip after a mere three-week timeskip is unrealistic at best and insulting to her mother’s legacy at worst.
Darcy, however, is absolutely perfect as the aggressively sarcastic just-out-of-college 20-something with a PhD who somehow knows more crazy science shit than anyone else at SWORD, and we missed her so much. Oddly enough, the combination of her extraordinary intelligence, nerd-who-secretly-knows-more-than-you personality and endless mocking quips (which Dennings delivers with great comedic timing) makes her feel somewhat Starkian and helps fill the void left by Tony’s death—even though she only meets one requirement on the “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” checklist. Darcy spinoff series when?
Her scientific explanations for the aforementioned crazy science shit (which has something to do with the background radiation of the universe and television broadcasting frequencies) actually make a lot of sense and help to further bring us outside the Westview bubble. As Woo suggests in what is perhaps his only good scene in the episode, the universe simply said “let’s make a sitcom,” and now SWORD has to deal with the repercussions.
The web continues to tangle during a research montage reminiscent of the “It’s Always Sunny” Pepe Silvia conspiracy meme, and Darcy and Woo learn more about the Westview anomaly with Monica still trapped inside as Geraldine. Seeing the bubble from the outside brings revelation after revelation, such as how all the other “characters” in Wanda’s sitcom are “played” by real people with different names, the previous residents of Westview. We even get to witness Wanda’s iconic “No” scene from episode two from a different angle, making her denial even creepier and more emotionally charged.
But in a remarkable narrative turn, the end of the episode places us back inside the bubble to show us the full scene in which Wanda excises Geraldine from Westview, this time with new intensity. The trauma-laden facial expressions Olsen mastered in episode three return, and they’re genuinely frightening as she snarls at Geraldine through bared teeth like a wild animal. At this moment, Wanda is both predator and prey. Does she know what she’s doing? Probably, but when you feel threatened, what else can you do besides threaten others?
Ironically, this creates a power dynamic in which Wanda has all the control in episode four of “WandaVision,” despite taking a backseat on screen for some larger worldbuilding outside the bubble. In Westview, it’s all Wanda, and we can’t wait to see what that means for episode five.
Tune in next week for that.