WandaVision Episode 6 – All-New Halloween Spooktacular! Review
The dizzying pace of WANDAVISION continues as we effectively skip the 1990s and crash into the 21st-century sitcom stylings of MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE. ALL-NEW HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR!’s credits boast a couple of surprises themselves, with a conspicuous addition to the roster – and no I’m not talking about Pietro Maximoff’s still-puzzling presence. For all its good-natured goofery, this is one Halloween episode which manages to be both cheesy and decidedly creepy.
***SPOILERS & SPECULATION***
Ever since the promos dropped, this has been one of the most anticipated episodes, giving us glimpses of Wanda, Vision and, yes, as it turns out Pietro, in costume-store, comic book-authentic outfits. It’s a fun moment of levity in an episode which often strays into darker territory. The dialogue this week is chock full of hints, clues and moments which which are pretty gasp-worthy. We’re still not at the series’ endgame but there’s a definite feeling the pieces are in motion to set up the final play.
Wanda’s control is growing more and more sporadic and she remains puzzled as to why Pietro is different, although Vision is oblivious to the difference for reasons which become apparent later. In keeping with its early 2000s sitcom stylings, harmonious domestic bliss has given way to a more realistically occasionally fraught family dynamic as Wanda’s overtly controlling nature continues to alarm and arouse Vision’s suspicions.
On the outside, we start to learn that SWORD is just another MCU quasi-governmental organisation that’s more than a bit shady and that Director Hayward is pursuing some secret agenda – focussed not on Wanda but on Vision – an agenda which requires the removal of Agent Woo, Captain Rambeau and Darcy Lewis from the secret SWORD base.
If ALL-NEW HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR! has a binding theme, it’s that words can be weapons. Indeed, wherever you look, they’re being used to deceive, provoke and attack. Pietro’s self-confessed purpose in being in Westview is to ‘create tension with his brother-in-law, lead the kids astray and ultimately give Wanda grief’. He’s an agitant, initiating a deliberate and sustained assault on Wanda’s precarious mental balance at a time when steadying influences on her are conspicuously waning. We do get to know a little more about this ‘Pietwrong’, too, including pretty definitive confirmation that he’s explicitly not the vision of Quicksilver from the X-MEN MOVIES as he reminisces about the death of their parents in Sokovia and picks up other details of his life from AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
The kids, Billy and Tommy, start to manifest their own powers, edging them closer to their superhero identities of Wiccan and Speed and their use of these powers to go hyperspeed trick-or-treating gives Wanda and Pietro time for a brother/ sister heart to heart. It’s a fascinating conversation, too, (there’s even a delightfully throwaway reference to KICK-ASS) deepening the mystery around the whole situation and cofnriming that, if Wanda is behind all of this, it wasn’t a conscious decision – or at least not one she can remember. Pietro also points out that her powers have come a long way from getting in people’s heads and loosing the occasional energy blast. It raises a couple of intriguing possibilities as to Pietro’s true nature. Is he some manifestation of Wanda’s conscious self, or even conscience, probing her to reflect on what’s going on – or is he a physical avatar for whoever is really behind all of this, intervening to spur Wanda on to even greater use of her powers? After all, the last thing Wanda says she can remember is feeling deserpate and so alone. Who knows what bargains she might have been willing to strike in that state of mind?
Perhaps the most significant event in ALL-NEW HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR! is Vision’s choice to lie to Wanda while he conducts his own investigation in the weird goings-on in Westview, an investigation which leads to him touring the outskirts of town as if walking through some nightmare version of THE TRUMAN SHOW where the ‘star’ hasn’t turned up yet. There’s an odd moment where Vision is conspicuously breathing, his breath misting in the cold night yet nobody else’s breath mists indicating either it’s not that cold or that Vision is overheating? It must be a deliberate choice by the makers of the show, but to what end?
There’s barely time to contemplate what’s going on with Vision’s exhalations before we get the requisite encounter with Agnes (Katherine Hahn), again it’s the one that we’ve been keen to see since the trailers. Here we learn that Vision doesn’t remember the Avengers and Agnes becomes the first person to specifically name Wanda as being behind everything. She’s dressed as a witch, though, so there are huge MACBETH vibes to the scene. After all, ’tis strange and oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence. Whatever agenda Agatha is pursuing, clearly deepening the rift between Wanda and Vision is part of the plan – which may put her on the same team as Hayward.
The most powerful clue in this week’s episode, though, is the ‘radical’ advert for YoPower yoghurt. It speaks explicitly to the idea that someone, or some entity, is feeding on ‘your power’ and given what happens to the kid in the advert, it’s safe to say that Wanda – and potentially everyone else – is in real danger.
Much has been made of the length of WANDAVISION’s end credits but really what’s remarkable is how much it manages to pack into its short episode runtimes. There are rumours that episodes 7 through 9 are longer and I guess we’re going to find that out next week. I, for one, cannot wait.