WandaVision Episode 4 – We Interrupt This Program Review
With events last week reaching a crisis point in Westview last week, all eyes were on the fourth episode of WANDAVISION to see how the story would be continued. The answer is to crank the metatextual dial up to ‘11’ in WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM and show us the same three episodes again, but from the point of view of the characters who, like us, have been watching and puzzling over the events of WANDAVISION unfolding on our TV screens.
In a TV-tweaking trope, the episode starts with the ultimate ‘don’t touch that dial, we’ll be right back’ as we see the aftermath of the Hulk’s infinity anti-snap as those vanished in ‘The Blip’ rematerialize before our very eyes – specifically, we’re present for the return of one Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Returning to her job at SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), Rambeau learns she has been grounded and instead is assigned to a low priority mission, liaising with FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) who’s baffled by a missing person case in the sleepy New Jersey town of Westview.
The most surprising – and tantalising – thing about WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM is how many of the audience’s early questions it answers, with an almost casual generosity that makes this reviewer feel distinctly suspicious. First off, though, it deals more honestly with the real ramifications of ‘The Blip’ and Tony’s selfish ‘snap’ decision in AVENGERS: ENDGAME, confirming that your worst suspicions about the grisly downsides of saving half of humanity (indeed half of the universe) must have had. It’s pretty clear now that, even just on Earth, thousands of people’s post-snap return must have resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths.
In showing us how the outside world of the MCU has been dealing with the events in Westview, it gives us a chronological fix on the events of WANDAVISION – we’re three weeks or so after the defeat and erasure of Thanos and sometime before the events of SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (which makes Fury’s comments about the availability of rumoured guest-star Doctor Strange all the more intriguing). It also confirms that time is behaving very differently inside the Westview Perimeter than outside, given the past three weeks events seem to take place over the course of 48 to 72 hours.
The reintroduction of FBI Agent Jimmy Woo involves a smart call back to ANT-MAN AND THE WASP with another of the pitch-perfect small flourishes for which the MCU is rightly lauded and also sets the scene for another MCU alumni to return, in the form of Kat Denning’s Darcy Lewis, last seen in THOR: THE DARK WORLD. It’s through her that we learn a great deal more about what’s going on – providing many answers to our questions and confirmation of our theories to date while, simultaneously, opening up whole new avenues of speculation, not least of all the casual revelation that what we saw as episode one of WANDAVISION may not have been the ‘first’ episode being transmitted. While one set of variables are, Schrödinger-like, observed and their quantum story state fixed, WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM offers us a whole new set of boxed narrative cats, introducing some fundamental ties to the deep lore of the MCU as we know it.
Most importantly, we get confirmation that Vision (to date the series’ most obvious Schrödinger’s cat) is believed ‘deceased’, despite the ample observational evidence to the contrary. Reassuringly, the authorities are as puzzled as we are – and at least Darcy appears to be enjoying the show as much as we are too.
By the end of the episode, befitting this series’ tricksy and contradictory nature, we know much more than we did before and yet are no further forward. It may push the needle further into the “it’s all Wanda’s doing” territory but if that’s the implied reveal this early in the series, you’ll forgive me if I anticipate more twists to come.