WandaVision Episode 2 – Don’t Touch That Dial Review
Where the first episode found its inspiration in the early fifties sitcom setting, “WandaVision” episode two leaps forward a decade and takes a decidedly ‘Bewitch’-ing approach, right down to the animated – and yes, Easter-Egg packed – opening titles.
Hoping to better engage with their friends and neighbours, Wanda (Elizabeth Olson) and Vision (Paul Bettany) volunteer to perform a magic act in the local talent show. But when Vision swallows a piece of gum, things become unstuck in the stickiest way possible.
Once again, on the surface, “WandaVision” brings us a play-by-play recreation of a typical “Bewitched” episode where the hapless couple have to secretly use their powers to save the day without being discovered by the orthodox and ordinary townsfolk of Westfield. The interior of their house has – without explanation – changed, transforming to echo the set from the classic 1964 Elizabeth Montgomery/ Dick York/ Dick Sergent-starring sitcom. This time, though, alongside the sitcom shenanigans, the outside world – or whatever alternate realities exists alongside the world of “WandaVision” – seem to be intruding more urgently and identifiably into the otherwise idyllic Norman Rockwell-esque setting.
Splashes of colour manifest, further hinting that the sister organisation of SHIELD – SWORD – is about to make its MCU debut, a familiar voice interrupts a radio broadcast with a disquieting effect and there’s even a sign of an intruder from the outside world breaking in.
Amongst all this, we’re introduced to some more of Westfield’s citizens, notably Dottie (Emma Caulfield Ford), the local Stepford Wives-style self-appointed matriarch and it’s very fitting for fans of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” that this Sunnydale alum makes her debut in an episode with features bunny rabbits so prominently. Also appearing for the first time is Teyonah Parris, introduced (somewhat hesitantly) as Geraldine but widely rumoured to be a grown-up Monica Rambeau from “Captain Marvel”.
It’s probably worth mentioning another of the unexpected treats of “WandaVision”, the ersatz commercial breaks. In episode 1 it was an advertisement for a Stark Industries toaster, this time it’s for a ‘Strucker’ brand watch. In terms of the lives of the Maximoff twins as told in “Avengers: Age Of Ultron“, the adverts seem to be proceeding in chronological order of the individuals who shaped their young lives.
By the end of this second episode, there’s a definite feeling that the show has finished setting out its stall and is ready to start telling its story. It’s also clear that whatever and however the reality in which Wanda and Vision find themselves is and came into being, its beginning to break down chaotically. Whether that’s due to malign or friendly influences from inside or out remains to be seen.
Thus far, “WandaVision” has proved to be a masterful balancing act, an almost Lynchian exercise in disquieting weirdness and subverted sitcom tropes. The pacing feels just about right too, although for the second time I’ve dearly wished this was a movie so I could keep watching. If, as Dottie advises, ‘the devil’s in the details’, there are plenty of details to obsess over until next week. If nothing else, it certainly ends on a very expectant note…