[Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire eighth episode of season 1, as well as all preceding episodes.]
In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1963, the witch Agatha Harkness is led to a stake, and accused of being a witch… and betraying her coven, as the other witches nearby stand ready. The head witch of the coven accuses Agatha of stealing knowledge and practicing the darkest of magic. Agatha at first refutes these claims, but soon instead begs for help from the witches, including her mother. When the surrounding coven attacks Agatha, their bodies begin to wither, as Agatha proves her immense power and frees herself. She kills her mother and takes a brooch from her mother’s cloak.
In present day Westview, still in Agatha’s basement, Wanda finds herself unable to use her magic, and Agatha begins to explain how runes work. Agatha binds Wanda mid-air, and questions why Wanda doesn’t know the basis of her own magic. Agatha admits to the creation of fake Pietro (“Fietro, if you will”) in an attempt to get Wanda to reveal her true self. Performing a brief demonstration of magic, including mind control and transmogrification (or perhaps just illusion), Agatha cannot comprehend the power Wanda has used to keep Westview in line and wants to know the secret to ultimate magical power. Reminding Wanda that Billy and Tommy are still somewhere in the basement, Agatha forces Wanda to enter her own deepest memories, and relive her life’s greatest traumas.
Walking through a magic door, Wanda and Agatha arrive in 1999 Sokovia, specifically inside Wanda’s family home. Her mother, Iryna, prepares something in the kitchen, as her father, Olek, returns home from his attempts to sell old VHS and DVDs, though unsuccessful. A younger version of Pietro enters, and calls out to Wanda, as Agatha pushed current Wanda ‘into the scene’, and the now younger Wanda acts out her memory as she remembers it. Wanda chooses for the family to watch an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, as the family settles in. Suddenly, the roof collapses amid gunfire outside, and Wanda and Pietro’s parents are crushed in the rubble. A Stark Industries bomb lands where the couch once was, and a red light flashes ominously on it. As young Wanda reaches out to attempt to disarm it, Agatha pulls current Wanda from the memory. Wanda tells Agatha that she and Pietro were there for two days before being rescued, not knowing the weapon was defective.
Agatha conjures another magical doorway, and forces Wanda through to her teenage years, as a volunteer for Hydra’s genetic experimentations. The Hydra scientists make Wanda confirm her name and status as a volunteer — despite the project’s lack of success thus far — and Wanda is exposed to energies from Loki’s staff, used in the 2007 Battle of New York, and the Mind Stone within. As the stone takes effect on Wanda, she reaches out, only to imagine the Mind Stone as it takes the form of the stone embedded in Vision’s head, and Wanda sees a figure, with a crown and cloak, advancing towards her. As she collapses to the floor, the experiment a success, the Hydra scientists lock Wanda in her cell, but are unable to replay footage from the event. Agatha is still not convinced, as she ushers current Wanda through a third door, and into the Avengers compound.
Devastated over the recent loss of Pietro in the battle with Ultron, Wanda sits alone watching re-runs of Malcolm in the Middle. Vision enters, attempting to offer some support to Wanda, though their styles clash somewhat awkwardly. Vision does not understand the humour of the series, but Wanda tries to explain that the character is not actually injured, as Malcolm in the Middle is a family sitcom; “It’s not that kind of show.” Vision offers his support in attempting to comfort Wanda, and the two share a moment as Wanda confesses of her pain over losing Pietro, and Vision confesses he has never had a loved one to lose. Unimpressed, Agatha baits modern Wanda into discovering what has caused this surge of power, and once again asks how Wanda brought Vision back.
Heading through a final door, Wanda recalls entering the S.W.O.R.D. facility to retrieve Vision’s body. After an early struggle with security, Wanda is let into the complex and enters the office of Director Tyler Hayward. Hayward shows Wanda what happened to Vision after the Battle in Wakanda: Vision’s body is dismantled, dissected and spread out across multiple tables. Hayward considers Vision a sentient weapon, but Wanda claims she only wants to bury him. Hayward suggests that perhaps Wanda wishes to bring her soul make back online, back to life, but allows Wanda to say goodbye nonetheless. Destroying the window tot he laboratory, as soon on the surveillance tape shown by Hayward, Wanda peacefully says her goodbyes, and leaves the S.W.O.R.D. base without further incident.
Leaving the labs, Wanda drives to New Jersey, to Westview, and to the plot of land she and Vision had chosen to spend their lives in. Overcome with grief, Wanda lets out a powerful burst of energy, constructing a house, transforming the town into a 50s replica of itself, and placing a large forcefield around the perimeter. Finally, Wanda’s magical burst creates from scratch a verion of Vision. Modern Wanda, reliving the moment, notices her house is that of a television set, with Agatha the lone audience member, applauding her power. Wanda flees the studio, and subsequently Agatha’s basement, into the Westview street, where she finds Agatha restraining Tommy and Billy. Agatha finally understands: Wanda has been utilising Chaos Magic to alter Westview, an ability only able to be used by the mythical Scarlet Witch.
In a mid credits scene, S.W.O.R.D. Director Hayward uses a chaos magic-infused object — the drone he sent into the Hex to attack Wanda — and orders the reactivation of the Vision’s reassembled body. Now powered up, Vision opens his eyes.
+ I think seeing Thanos in the opening montage, while not part of the show itself, was the first time he’s been on screen since Endgame. Then the Marvel logo going purple was a nice touch
+ Agatha’s introduction does make her significantly younger than her comic counterpart, as Agatha appeared to be relatively young at the time of her trial in 1963 (granted, there may be some illusory or immortality shenanigans going on). Considering Agatha’s current-day age, and the more aged look of her mother, can we assume that Witches just age more slowly, something akin to Elves?
+ “That accent really comes and goes, doesn’t it?” It sure does, Agnes. It sure does
+ placing a rune in each wall to allow the person who places them to be the only one to use magic; why doesn’t Wanda just put a rune on each side of the Hex? She already has near total-control
+ the first flashback was heart wrenching in the best way, and I fully understand Wanda and Pietro’s (alleged) radicalisation and subsequent hatred of the Starks. It also ties back perfectly to that Stark Industries toaster in the advertisement shown in episode one, with the blinking red light taunting the cowering children
+ the second flashback is full of questions. Was the figure Wanda saw somehow herself? Is it a coincidence that the costume worn was that of a traditional Sokovian fortune teller, or was that itself an internal cope of Wanda? How does Agatha know of the Infinity Stones; because she’s a witch, because she’s a few hundred years old, or something more sinister? Was the figure Wanda saw more akin to the Phoenix Force, as it manifests itself “inside” someone like Jean Grey? Would that then make Wanda Maximoff “inhabited” or “possessed” by “The Scarlet Witch” and is not the Scarlet Witch herself? If that’s the case don’t know how I feel about that, but maybe I’m just misinterpreting
+ regarding the third flashback, at the compound, if you don’t think Paul Bettany is just absolutely killing it on this entire series, I don’t know what to tell you. I know people generally liked Wanda with her freakout at “Geraldine”, but Paul Bettany has been amazing throughout. It was also great to get more reflection on how Wanda dealt with Pietro’s death, as her next appearance after Age of Ultron was essentially a seemingly happy life with Vision, so this scene fit in perfectly
+ so hundred per cent, Director Hayward is a dirty rotten liar. There was no, ‘storming the facility’, there was no theft of Vision’s body, and his views on Hydra may in fact be more than just misinformation. Not to mention he seemed to be the one to plant the idea into Wanda’s head to just “bring Vision back”. There’s the chance he’s just a naughty human man, but dammit, I hope he’s something else. His description of Vision as a “Sentient Weapon” (ie. the S.W in the organisation name) is interesting, I wonder if he will be responsible for creating other sentient weapons, in the form of Sentinels?
+ despite it all, I didn’t get the feeling that Agatha Harkness was intending to kill Wanda because Agatha was evil. It felt more like a “I need to stop you before you do something too powerful to fix” situation. Am I crazy?
+ I want to stress that if the Vision resurrected by Hayward has Ultron/James Spader’s voice, even just briefly before someone tech savvy changes it with a snarky line, I will literally forgive everything about that godawful movie
– Agatha admits that fake Pietro (“Fietro” which is awesome) is not literally Wanda’s brother (since his “body was on another continent, not to mention full of holes”. So I guess Evan Peters being the actor this Quicksilver is just a meta joke on all of us? My interpretation of Agatha’s words was that he was not literally the Quicksilver from the X-Men movies, and if that is the case, then I will be doubly annoyed that they cast Evan Peters instead of (a) Aaron Taylor-Johnson for real shock value, or (b), literally anyone else
– in general, this idea of doing flashbacks for Wanda’s life work well as analogues to the advertisements, but it’s almost a shame they all had to come in one large chunk in a single episode, rather than, say, a cold opening at the beginning of each episode. I realise the latter idea wouldn’t work, but I felt this format was clunky
– how did Wanda’s father have a boxed set of Malcolm in the Middle? It didn’t start airing until a year after his death. Boy I hope someone got fired for that blunder
– there was nothing from Monica or Fietro in this episode (if the latter even still exists, based on what Agatha said). If they were indeed right outside a side entrance to Agatha’s basement, or maybe just inside the basement, I expect they’ll make an appearance very early in next week’s final episode
> I am so, so glad that Wanda finally has her comic moniker, but I don’t know how I feel about where it came from. I was hoping someone would use it as an insult against her, ands he’d stick with it in a big
‘F-you’ to the user
> I went a little bit overboard with the screenshots this week, didn’t I?
Final thoughts: With one episode left, this was the last chance for any exposition dumps and they made the most of that. I liked the flashback idea overall, but without an appearance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Baron Strucker or especially Ultron, it felt severely lacking. There is one episode left, and if this ends up being all a set up for Wanda’s appearance somewhere else (somewhere Strange, as we know she’s been cast) then I’ll be pretty disappointed.