WandaVision Episode 9 – The Series Finale Review
So here we are at last. Nine weeks seem to have flown by as Marvel Studios have served up, piece by piece, one of their boldest, most emotional and most fascinating productions yet. WANDAVISION has surely surpassed all expectations and THE SERIES FINALE (as if it would be called anything else) doesn’t disappoint – unless, that is, you’ve allowed yourself to be brainwashed by internet rumour and gossip.
When the series (and its peers) was announced, I initially took them to be some kind of conciliatory gesture to the fans, an acknowledgement that although we wouldn’t be seeing these characters any more as we charted the exciting new frontiers of the likes of SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS or ETERNALS. How wrong could I be? Instead, we’ve been treated to a broadening and, more importantly, deepening of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s scope through the prism of a sensitive and soulful exploration of one character’s grief.
If you removed the super-heroic saddlebags, WANDAVISION would still stand on its own merits as an exploration of sorrow, mental health and the solace we find in television in times of stress. It’s a show that would have deserve airtime and your attention without the cache of the world’s most successful entertainment brand. The MCU connections are just icing on the cake.
***SPOILERS & SPECULATION***
We pick up exactly where we left off, with Agatha confronting Wanda in the street (or, technically, above the street) and holding Billy and Tommy hostage. After trading some witch-slaps, Wanda temporarily gains the upper hand as Agatha unwisely gives into the temptation of monologuing. There’s barely time for the amusing shoutout to THE WIZARD OF OZ, though, before things get even more complicated as Hayward’s reconstructed Vision turns up and almost immediately turns nasty.
There’s more than a hint of STAR WARS in the construction of the episode as it splits the final confrontations of THE SERIES FINALE across a variety of pairings. There’s the obvious Wanda versus Agatha battle, and a battle of Vision versions and, slightly later, we’ll get Monica, Billy and Tommy versus the Agents of S.W.O.R.D. (with a little help at a crucial moment) – but only after a wonderfully sly nod to THE INCREDIBLES.
Of the two title bouts, it’s the Vision-on-Vision throwdown that provides some of the episodes most delightful moments. Of course, being Vibranium synthezoids who can alter their molecular density at will we get plenty of super-powered punching and sidewalk-smashing crashes but the way their conflict is finally resolved is simply the most on-brand way for it to happen for the character. Where other properties would be tempted to explosively escalate the devastation of the conflict, the makers of THE SERIES FINALE understand their characters well enough to know there’s only one way to resolve a clash of competing Visions.
Where the Visions’ battle is won or lost in the intellect, Wanda and Agatha’s fight involves far more emotional stakes as Wanda is forced to confront the reality of her manufactured one, and the toll it has exacted from the innocent townsfolk of Westview. Once again, Elizabeth Olson delivers a performance of tremendous depth and range – as she has done across the entire run – and it’s the strength of her performance, complimented by a playfully malevolent turn by Katherine Hahn that elevates the trading of magical firebolts to something rather special as Wanda’s raw power is tested against centuries of experience.
While the prestidigitatory pyrotechnics are as impressive as you might expect, the most powerful blows in THE SERIES FINALE land after the fighting has done. The raw emotional implications of what Wanda knows she must do are heart-breaking, especially in the way she and Vision shelter Tommy and Billy from what’s about to happen. That’s nothing, though, compared to the scenes where Wanda and Vision must part once again. At least this time, they’re given the opportunity to properly say goodbye in a scene where the dialogue comes close to equalling the ‘grief persisting’ line from PREVIOUSLY ON.
As the series draws to a close – with a fully satisfying conclusion of its story arc – THE SERIES FINALE opens up intriguing new pathways for the Marvel Universe going forward. Vision – or a form of him – is back, Wanda is irrevocably The Scarlet Witch and Agatha is alive, albeit imprisoned; ready no doubt for any future storylines which require her involvement for good or ill. While the mid-credit scene may not lead where you’re expecting it to (it nudges Monica in the direction of not only CAPTAIN MARVEL 2 but possibly SECRET INVASION too), the post-credit scene provides the much-anticipated and ominous lead-in for the forthcoming DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS.
Having been forced to take a year-long furlough due to coronavirus, the MCU returns without having lost a step. If this is what they open with, you can only imagine what they’ve got in store for us with THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER, LOKI, HAWKEYE and MS MARVEL, let alone what big screen revelations await us.
But those questions are for another day. For now, in the afterglow of THE SERIES FINALE and everything that preceded it, perhaps its enough to wonder what you would do if you had Wanda’s powers. If you could bend reality and others to your will, what would you do? Would you be kind? Petty? Beneficent? Vengeful and cruel? If you were able to act on every petty whim and wish which occurred to you what would the world look like? Makes you think, huh? That’s the power of good storytelling; that’s the power of WANDAVISION.