Whew. The fifth episode of WandaVision shifted not only the course of the remainder of the show’s only season—it potentially just altered the future of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the series’ biggest reveal yet, WandaVision closed this week’s wild episode by resurrecting Pietro Maximoff … from a completely different film franchise. As the ever-observant Dr. Darcy Lewis notes in fourth-wall-breaking fashion, Pietro has been recast—Quicksilver is no longer being played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Instead, it’s Evan Peters who shows up at Wanda’s doorstep in the episode’s closing moments. Quicksilver is walking back into his sister’s life, years after his death, and at the same time, the X-Men are finally entering the MCU.
But even beyond Pietro’s return, and Peters’s reprisal of his role from the X-Men films, there were several big moments packed into the eventful episode. Every week of WandaVision has been significantly different from the last. And in the fifth episode, appropriately titled “On a Very Special Episode …,” the series again takes a new direction, blending its fake sitcom format in Westview with its more traditional superhero-movie style, as S.W.O.R.D. attempts to put an end to Wanda’s reign of terror.
With a lot to cover this week, let’s dive into what’s happening inside and out of Wanda’s world, before discussing the return of Pietro Maximoff and a few of the episode’s Easter eggs.
What’s Really Happening?
The fifth episode begins similarly to the show’s first three installments, jumping right into the sitcom world that Wanda has created in Westview. After passing through the sitcom eras of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, WandaVision picks up in the late ’80s. Wanda and Vision’s living room suddenly looks a lot like the one that Elizabeth Olsen’s older sisters grew up in while on the set of Full House, while our superhero couple finds themselves as new parents at the heart of a family sitcom.
However, unlike those first few episodes, where familiar sitcom plots played out for the lion’s share of each week’s limited running time, it doesn’t take long before the cracks begin to show in this particular reality. At the exact moment that Wanda tells Vision they may need some help taking care of their crying, sleep-deprived twin boys, neighbor Agnes rings the doorbell. (Vision immediately notices the oddly convenient timing.) When Vision expresses concern over Agnes babysitting the kids, Agnes freezes up, and breaks character altogether. “Do you want me to take that again?” she asks Wanda nervously. “Should we just take it from the top?”
Though briefly stunned, Wanda brushes off the minor interruption to keep the scene rolling. Even when Vision pulls her aside to ask about the bizarre moment, Wanda doesn’t acknowledge the strangeness of the situation. And then it gets stranger: Tommy and Billy grow up even faster than they were conceived, past the toddler stage altogether and into walking, talking, 5-year-old boys. In a potentially ominous line, Agnes says with a chuckle: “Kids. You can’t control ’em, no matter how hard you try.”
Later, after Vision’s suspicions continue to grow at home (along with the twins, who choose to instantly age another five years so they can keep their new dog), the synthezoid returns to the office for the first time since the premiere. And outside of Wanda’s view, he figures out the mystery at last.
With Computational Services Inc. having upgraded its technology, Vision helps Norm test out the internet on his computer. After dialing it up, they find a very revealing email waiting for them. As Norm begins to read it aloud, the entire office chimes in without warning, reading along with him as he goes through the secret communication from S.W.O.R.D. referencing the newly redubbed “Maximoff Anomaly.” Vision presses his fingers against the computer, zapping away the email, before turning to Norm to do the same:
Awakened from his sitcom trance, the man who’s actually named Abilash Tandon frantically begs for help. Abilash has no idea how long he’s been under Wanda’s control, and quickly looks for his phone to contact his sister. Vision tries to calm him down, but Abilash starts to yell about someone—he says “her”—being inside of his head, and how Vision needs to stop her. Vision presses his fingers back against Abilash’s temples, reverting him into poor, clueless Norm.
It’s not yet clear how the S.W.O.R.D. email landed in Norm’s inbox, but however it did, it was the crucial last piece of information that Vision needed to finally confront Wanda. Back at home, Vision does just that, but as he mentions to Wanda how he was able to reach Norm’s suppressed identity, Wanda tries to avoid the conversation again. (This time, in an incredible flex, she begins to play out the credits over Vision.) Dropping his human disguise, Vision begins to grow angry, and the former Avengers nearly come to blows right in the middle of the living room. He asks all the right existential questions (“What is outside of Westview?” “Why are there no other children in Westview?”) as he comes to terms with the fact that Wanda has done something terrible, and the fact that he has no recollection of life before Westview at all. Still, Wanda avoids telling him the truth, continuing to sidestep the fact that Vision is dead, while pleading ignorance to all the accusations he’s hurling her way. Before Vision can get the truth out of her, Wanda is saved by the doorbell.
Even though Wanda had, only a few scenes earlier, told her boys that she can’t reverse death when they begged her to revive their dead dog—poor Sparky, life comes at you fast in Westview!—here at the front door stands Pietro Maximoff, in the flesh once again. But like I said: He’s different.
With the nature of Westview finally being revealed to Vision, the synthezoid is firmly in opposition to Wanda. Using his powers, he was able to help Abilash regain his consciousness, and based on other trailers showing him doing the same to Agnes, it’s now clear that Vision will be key to stopping Wanda from the inside. Before that happens, though, Vision still needs to learn about his own death. With Quicksilver now in the picture, along with 10-year-olds Billy and Tommy (who may be in their 20s by the time I finish writing this recap), Vision may either have more allies at his side, or may just be facing more projections created by Wanda’s subconscious. If it’s the latter, the synthezoid may have to wake up a lot more Westview residents if he’s ever going to stand a chance.
Outside of Westview
With Captain Monica Rambeau back outside of the anomaly, S.W.O.R.D. has finally gained some much needed intel from inside Wanda’s creepy sitcom bubble. Director Hayward (who, as Jimmy and Darcy can both attest, does not seem like a very good hang) labels Wanda a terrorist. Despite Wanda tossing her through the air like a ragdoll in the third episode, however, Monica still ultimately believes that Wanda has no malicious intent. That changes a bit when Hayward claps back with a compromising video of Wanda storming a S.W.O.R.D. facility to steal Vision’s corpse nine days earlier, before evidently making her way to Westview. But, just as Jimmy and Darcy wonder, it’s still unclear how Wanda was able to bring Vision back to life without the use of the Mind Stone. While that question remains, Monica’s defense of Wanda only degrades from there.
Monica has the idea to send in a drone with technology to match the production design of the ’80s so they can try to communicate with Wanda. Unfortunately, Director Hayward is less into communicating, and a lot more into shooting missiles. To no one’s surprise, this is a terrible idea. Within moments, Wanda steps out of Westview to meet with the director face to face. She issues a warning for them all to stay out of her home—with a bit of an accent!—before turning all of Hayward’s agents against him:
On her way back into Westview, Wanda turns its entire perimeter—or the “Hex,” as Darcy dubs it—to her signature, glowing red hue, likely reinforcing the barrier around Wandaville. The Scarlet Witch is done playing games with S.W.O.R.D., and I’m guessing Monica will be far from the last agent who gets thrown through a wall. Wanda is seemingly growing more powerful with each passing episode, while losing her grasp on her world in the meantime. She can’t control her rapidly aging children, her deeply suspicious husband, or, from the looks of it, her long-lost brother. Speaking of which ...
The Reintroduction (and Recasting) of Pietro Maximoff
Much of WandaVision—and the refreshing new approach that it’s taking with Wanda—has been about the Scarlet Witch’s grief. Back in the third episode, after giving birth to the twins, Wanda mentioned her brother to Geraldine with remorse. In the middle of the fifth episode, Wanda again mentions Pietro, this time after Billy asks her whether she has a brother of her own. She answers that she does, but lies about what happened to him. Whether it was the result of her subconscious isn’t yet clear, but nonetheless, Pietro magically reappears not long after. Except when he arrives at her doorstep, the silver-haired man is not the one we know from back in Sokovia.
In the MCU, Pietro Maximoff was killed off nearly as quickly as he was introduced. He was around for just one Avengers film—which was unfortunately the worst one of them, too—before sacrificing himself for Hawkeye and a civilian child near the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. But in the X-Men universe, a film franchise once owned by Fox before being swallowed up along with the rest of Fox’s previously owned Marvel properties in Disney’s $71 billion acquisition in 2019, Pietro was a fan favorite.
Introduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fox’s version of Pietro Maximoff had greater success than his MCU counterpart—the speedster’s slow-motion action sequences were scene-stealers in each film he appeared in. His character was also much different from the one who existed in Ultron: He had no traumatic Sokovian backstory, nor any Russian accent for that matter; he actually went by Peter, not Pietro; he had a younger sister, but no twin sibling named Wanda; he was a mutant, but not the experimental product of an Infinity Stone. That last bit is the biggest difference—in the MCU, mutants have never even existed.
Though Pietro’s origins as a mutant may have little bearing in the episodes to come, and though this could just be a convenient way to recast a character, it’s more likely that Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige just kicked down the door to usher in the long-awaited return of the X-Men. (After Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, it was definitely time to lay that franchise to rest for good.) There are a ton of questions to ask here: Does Wanda understand that there are two versions of Pietro? Does the Peters version of Pietro appearing in WandaVision mean that the entire world of X-Men is now fair game? Will he keep running extremely fast, but always in slow motion? One thing is for sure: The reintroduction of Fox’s Pietro marks a major turning point for the MCU as it continues to step further into the multiverse. How the series unpacks his return in the final four episodes of the season will signal the direction of the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as well as Spider-Man 3, which is rumored to have not one … not two … but three Spideys sharing the screen simultaneously.
At the conclusion of the popular House of M comic book series, which I wrote a bit about earlier this week, Wanda utters three words that shake up the entire Marvel universe: “No more mutants.” There, she put an end to the new reality she’d created, where, like Westview, she had built herself a life where she felt no grief over lost loved ones. But with those words, she essentially wiped out the majority of the mutant population in the world. With WandaVision, Wanda may be doing the exact opposite, ushering in a new age of mutants in the MCU, one that surely will include many mutant-related films in the years to come.
Though Easter eggs were relatively scarce in the first few episodes of WandaVision, this week’s installment was packed with them. Beyond all the callbacks to Wanda’s past during the S.W.O.R.D. briefing (as well as a little shout-out to the skin-bearded king Thanos), there were several intriguing or fun references to past Marvel films and comics alike:
- Captain Marvel was another name mentioned in passing, though Monica curiously ducked the topic the second Darcy brought her up. (Could there have been a bit of a falling out between Captain Marvel and Lieutenant Trouble?)
- Billy and Tommy’s dog, Sparky, who dies the same day he’s brought into the family, also shares the name of the dog that Vision’s family of synthezoids has in Tom King’s The Vision. (In the comic, the dog originally belonged to the neighbors before dying, and is then brought back to life as a synthezoid dog. Here’s hoping that Sparky gets in on this whole resurrection thing that seems to be trending in Westview.)
- Billy and Tommy, who grow up to be superheroes in the comics named Wiccan and Speed, respectively, wear shirts with color schemes that match the costumes they don in the comics. I still doubt the pair will become those heroes in this TV series, but at the rate these kids are growing, you never know.
- Just like the first three episodes, this week featured an MCU-related commercial slotted into Wanda’s programming. Unlike the first three, though, which featured companies or organizations like Stark Industries or HYDRA, this paper towel ad was one for Lagos. In the MCU, the Nigerian city of Lagos is significant as the site where Wanda, in an attempt to save Captain America from an explosion in Captain America: Civil War, accidentally killed a number of civilians in a nearby building. The incident triggered the so-called Sokovia Accords, an act meant to essentially regulate superheroes, which also paved the way for one of the messiest breakups of all time between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. “Lagos: For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to,” the commercial says, a tagline about paper towels but also about accidentally killing innocent people in an African city. Like everything else in WandaVision, signs of Wanda’s grief can be found everywhere.
Next week, we’re off to the ’90s, and hopefully on our way to figuring out the larger implications of this wild episode.