The spoilers are going to come right up front, so I’m adding the “read more” tag right here so no one on my front page accidentally sees anything.
There. Frankly I would have done it without preamble, but then there would have been nothing above the read more tag and that would have confused people.
I said from the beginning that Agatha Harkness, an important “witch” from Marvel’s comic book universe, could easily be Agnes, Wanda & Vision’s next door neighbor. She has taken pseudonyms in the comics to get close to heroes and meddle in their lives covertly. So this would/could be exactly consistent with her character in WandaVision. In fact, I believe she’s even taken the pseudonym Agnes before, so should Agnes be Agatha, there’s great potential for finally introducing a “villain” to the story other than Wanda herself. This wouldn’t have to be Agatha, of course, but Agatha could have been “in the know” about who might be acting badly – other than Wanda, of course.
So a big reveal of Agnes as Agatha had a lot of potential, but it just kept not happening. It was fairly frustrating for me, and then in Episode 6 Agnes seemed to be suffering just as much as any other townsperson from Wanda’s control. This made me think that Agnes/Agatha couldn’t be the villain – though she still might know more than she was letting on, or perhaps able to say. So of course it was surprising in a different way to have them reveal, “It’s been Agatha All Along” (complete with theme song & showing Agatha in the position of the director of the surreal TV life Wanda has been living. And, of course, I don’t believe it.
Sure, it’s been revealed in a way that I think would be wrong to doubt that Agnes was behind some of the magic in the town, and behind some of the important events of the town, including killing the children’s dog, but “it’s been Agatha all along” seems so brutally absolutist that it frankly makes me distrust it. Agatha at the direction of some even more powerful entity? Sure. Agatha herself? Like it’s been Agatha all along, coming up with the idea, deciding to move forward with the idea, pushing (somehow, magically or otherwise) Wanda to steal Vision’s body, determining which events deserved manipulation in the town, and all of it without an ounce of input from some other entity? No, that I’m not willing to accept.
So, yes. Agatha is Agnes. The creepy basement under Agatha/Agnes’ house really is there, and it really is a place where she plays with dangerous magic. The book so prominently featured in the basement really is a book of magic, etc. But that doesn’t mean that what’s been happening is 100% Agatha’s doing. The over the top “It’s been Agatha All Along” sequence should be seen as just that: over the top. It’s an exaggeration.
Moreover, we’ve been told outside the show that WandaVision helps set up the next Doctor Strange movie, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Agatha herself isn’t from another dimension, though she has contact with beings from other dimensions. She has also been, at times, a good force in the Marvel comic book universe, playing the role of mentor or guide to certain heroes at certain times. All of that makes me think that she may now play a role in providing information (read: exposition) for both Wanda and the audience as the series attempts to come to some resolution, with some of that information relating to the nature of the multiverse, how there are alternate versions in alternate timelines of each of the heroes Marvel media features in its main continuity, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If some of this information is necessary to set up a way for Wanda to understand – and ultimately extract herself from – her predicament, it is also information that would form an excellent backdrop for the new Doctor Strange film.
Okay, with all that said, there is of course another big reveal in the most recent episode: Lieutenant Trouble gots some POWERS. Ooh, yeah baby.
Now, I was a pretty little kid through almost the entirety of the 70s. And when I turned 4 I was just 3 or 4 months away from moving to Oregon, where I would grow up. The semi-rural (best described as ex-urban then) space in which I lived and played from 4 and a half to age 8 or 9 when Monica Rambeau first hit the Avengers was pretty darn white. There were non-white farmworkers on fields not far away, but the farm over my back fence was a wheat farm and used large machinery owned & operated by the family who owned the farm itself. But those non-white farmworkers that did exist and were crucial to the strawberry crops so prevalent in central and western Washington County were largely latinx.
All that is to say that I had literally never witnessed anyone wear a big afro in my life at that point, and they weren’t much present in the picture books I’d read while young or in anything I watched on TV or saw in the movies. I wasn’t completely ignorant of the existence of Afro hairstyles. I’m sure I’d seen a couple extras in the background on Starsky & Hutch reruns or something, but at that point in my childhood they might as well have been exclusive to Canada or Argentina or Greece. They were simply beyond the boundaries of my regular experience. And then came Monica Rambeau, who used the name Captain Marvel in those days, and who had the ability to turn into a group of bound photons, literally just a cluster of light, but who in human form had a huge, and perfectly sculpted, Afro.
Now, just having a character with an Afro wasn’t a guarantee that I would love the character, but even at that young age I have kinda figured that going faster than the speed of light in an atmosphere was just plain stupid. (It was one of the things that led me to Marvel comics rather than DC, who would have Barry Allen run multiple light-years on his living room super-treadmill to stay in shape.) With Monica turning into literal light, there was a way to travel at the speed of light in an atmosphere to which I could relate. I didn’t know much physics, of course, but this did not violate my intuitive sense of reality-as-it-should-be in a way that forced me out of my suspension of disbelief. I also saw it as creatively incorporating science into science fiction. For me, it worked.
On top of that, Rambeau was an outsider, and that appealed to me. As a result, Captain Marvel quickly became one of my favorite superhero characters and I was overjoyed when she became the leader of the Avengers.
Rambeau, in the comics, was a ground-breaking character. A black woman in the most important and prominent team-up book in the Marvel comic universe was a thing to behold. I couldn’t appreciate at the time exactly how radical that was, having a black woman in charge of men heroes. We still have men today upset that Bree Larsen doesn’t smile more in the promos for her theatrical version of Captain Marvel (an entirely different character who was going by Ms. Marvel at the time of Rambeau’s use of Captain Marvel). I can only imagine the angry letters Marvel received over her mere inclusion, much less her elevation to command.
If you saw the Marvel TV series Cloak and Dagger (which I recommend), the “explosion” which gave Cloak and Dagger their respective powers is the same event that would have given the comic version of Rambeau her ability to transform into a pack of photons. But in the MCU, Rambeau isn’t working harbor patrol in New Orleans. She simply wasn’t there. So I have been wondering if she might gain her super-powers in the WandaVision series, and if so, how and when.
There was a strong hint that she might already be “super” when Wanda threw Rambeau free from the Hex in episode 4 or 5. They took x-rays of her, but the film was dramatically over-exposed, washing out everything. I took that as a sign that her body might already be undifferentiated. She might no longer have “bones” and her substance might simply be photons packed into such a tight space that the energy of them equaled the energy passively contained by her solid mass, back when she had a normal human body. It’s hard to know, perhaps we’ll never know, if she had her powers at the moment that x-ray was taken, but she sure has them now!
There were warnings, of course, in the last couple x-rays that without knowing what passing through the Hex boundary had already done to Rambeau, there was no way to be sure that passing through it again would compound those effects. The main worry at the time seemed to be whether or not it might kill Rambeau, but when she fights through the Hex boundary in episode 7 it’s clear that something else is happening. When she’s through, she sees the world in new colors, but – tellingly – she sees special effects near the power lines above her head, including spirals and concentric curves that seemed to obviously represent electromagnetic fields. EM fields, of course, are something she might reasonably be expected to perceive differently if her body was a cohesive lump of EM radiation, rather than atomic matter.
In addition to revealing something about the character, that she was now so transformed she no longer recognized her own perceptions, the effect was simply beautiful.
I can’t say I cried, but the beautiful moment, long awaited, announced with such a beautiful pallet of colors and moving spirals affected me deeply. I’ve loved this character for 40 years, and though I’ve wondered why they weren’t bringing more women and people of color to the MCU sooner, I’m tremendously glad that when they brought this woman into the ranks of super heroes, they gave us a worthy and beautiful moment to appreciate her arrival.
I feel your pleasure.
Wandavision is turning out so much better than I think any of us had any right to hope, even given Marvel’s pretty good track record up to now for quality (at least in the films). The ending of episode 5 (Quicksilver turning up at the door… but it’s FOX UNIVERSE Quicksilver!!!!1!!1! Not MCU WTFFFFFFFFFFF????) was the most head-explodingly meta twist I think I’ve ever seen on TV, given just how much real-world knowledge (as well as comic-book and MCU knowledge) you need to realise how much of a wtf moment it is.
If you haven’t already been following along with it, I recommend Screencrush on Youtube, where a dude named Ryan Arey breaks down every reference and easter egg for each episode after it’s broadcast. He’s been speculating about Agnes/Agatha for weeks, I think even since episode one, among other things. He’s predicting maybe Mephisto will turn up as the string puller behind her, as a result of the line in episode two where Dotty says “The devil’s in the details” and Agnes says to Wanda “That’s not the only place he is…”.
The level of attention to detail in the making of this show is incredible. One thing pointed out this week was that each week the intro has included Wanda saying “Previously on Wandavision”… but if you play each one after the other in order, you notice the delivery is getting flatter and lower-energy, like someone is draining energy from Wanda. To even think of putting a detail like that in a show is great.
I’m also loving Darcy’s ascension from sidekick to star.
I’ll be amazed if Falcon and Winter Soldier is this good – the trailer isn’t filling me with confidence that it’ll be much more than a boysy quip-fest with impressive visuals. Don’t get me wrong, such things are… fine. But Wandavision has been so much more. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the level of *dread* watching a TV show that I was getting when Wanda arrived at Agnes’s place, but then the shifts in tone have been deft and brilliant since the “stop it. Stop it. STOP IT.” moment in the first one.
It’s a legit point, but they’re doing it now and blimey they’re not skimping – the initial Avengers lineup of buffed up white blokes is definitely history. An Asian lead (Shang Chi), the Black Widow movie they should have made right after Iron Man 2, Thor’s gonna be a woman, Wanda’s getting pivotal and we’re getting She-Hulk. If they can maintain the quality level of the films (which means it won’t matter that much if F&tWS isn’t *great*, because Thor:The Dark World existed) then we’re in for a treat.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
I hadn’t noticed that. That’s amazing. You’re right, it’s genius to even think of putting it in.
As am I. She was always one of the best things about the first Thor movie, which was fine popcorn fare, but definitely lower quality as Marvel movies go.
Agreed. It might be late, but they’re doing it well. The characters are getting fully developed backstories and great attention.
Actually one of the things I appreciated about Black Widow was that they didn’t do an origin story for her. Her character emerges, rather than being thrust upon us the way Thor was. (I’m actually okay with Thor being this way, but you can’t have too many characters “pop” into the world the way Thor does.”)
My BFF in Portland is watching it, and she didn’t read any Marvel comics at all until a friend of hers became a Marvel editor in the 90s. Then she got copies of everything her friend which started with a lot of bad stuff in off-brand imprints, later included some decent things as Editor Friend worked her way up, but she didn’t read much except Cloak & Dagger. Suffice it to say that after her first exposure was to the worst of Marvel, she isn’t a big fan.
Well, that’ll happen. I’m always surprised when people about ten years younger than me turn out to be into Doctor Who. I was lucky – “my” Doctor was Tom Baker, and specifically his first two or three years, the Hinchcliffe era – probably the pre-2005 high point of the show. I feel sorry for anyone who was just getting old enough to watch it when Colin Baker was in the frame. Loving that would be hard, although not as hard, I suspect, as loving the dross that’s happened since Capaldi left.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Them’s fightin’ words!
I’ve watched the entirety of the first 6 seasons at least, or, well, the entirety of what’s still extant (I’ve heard some episodes were lost). I’ve been on a long term quest to literally watch ALL the Doctor Who ever. You can say all you want that the narrative conventions of the day were different or that there were technology limitations, etc. but honestly some of those first seasons just had terrible acting. Jodie Whittaker’s run, by contrast, has featured interesting and believable protagonists with whom I can empathize.
I still have a long way to go before I hit the Colin Baker years, but unless you consider the first 6 seasons to be dramatically worse than Colin Baker’s run, I can’t imagine I’ll like Colin Baker half as much as I do Whittaker.
John Morales says
Muffet fucked-up Dr Who; it was already off the rails (the Doctor was never supposed to be an action hero), but when he became a mythic figure, that was that.
I remember watching the series as a child, and always had a fondness for it, silly and cheesy as it was. Didn’t really mind the reboot that much, when that finally came.
But then the Moffat, well, fucked it up beyond recognition.
So I stopped caring after his first season, and the female Doctor (heh) was much too late for shark-jumping.
Ah well. sic transit