And just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder in Westview. Episode 5 “On A Very Special Episode” had some wonderful weird moments but the curveball at the very end still has me wondering what exactly Kevin Feige and the creative minds at Marvel Studios are cooking up. It could either turn out to be a magnificent revelation or they could come stumbly out of this series like Grandpa Munster after a failed experiment.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched the episode.
For those of us who grew up in the 1980s (the current setting of the sitcom-show-within-the-show), the concept of the “Very Special Episode” was a cudgel, a tool wielded by Hollywood writers who possessed all the subtlety of a Visigoth slamming an ax in someone’s head. From drugs, to divorce, to deaths in the family, the “Very Special Episode” moniker became a joke, a trope that wore out its welcome five minutes after the end of the first episode that decided to do this kind of tripe storytelling.
But in this case, I didn’t mind the use the trope, particularly since it tied into Wanda’s denial of the circumstance she finds herself in. Make no mistake, this is Wanda’s story, and Elizabeth Olsen is showing how good of an actress she is. Paul Bettany also got to stretch his acting muscles in this episode as Vision finally began to question his surroundings. Wanda’s control over everyone in the town is invasive and all-consuming, completely subverting the core personalities the denizens of Westview.
It would easy to write this off as Wanda acting out, but grief takes on many forms, including lashing out at the world. Wanda was snapped out of existence after Thanos executed Vision. Unlike the other Avengers who survived, she didn’t have five years to process her grief, her rage, and her sorrow. She was brought back and immediately thrown into a cataclysmic battle against Thanos and his armies. Having said all of that, on some level, I don’t think Wanda is consciously controlling the people of Westview. That’s what we are being led to believe at this point and that may end up being the case but I think there is something much deeper, much more primordial at work. Perhaps on some level, the message of the episode, dealing with death and how it can’t be fixed, is Wanda subconsciously trying to work through her grief.
The scene between Norm and Vision deserves special mention. When Vision removes the mental conditioning, Norm’s demeanor changes to abject terror. Seeing the normally calm exterior giving way to horror and frantic energy as Norm tries to find his phone and call his sister was harrowing to watch. Reluctantly, Vision restores the brainwashing, and Norm returns to his previously bland, smiling character. Which leads to a magnificent scene at the end where Vision and Wanda have a confrontation regarding the un-reality of Westview. Wanda tries to end the discussion, with the credits rolling and the music playing, but Vision persists. Bettany and Olsen have amazing chemistry and this argument lays bare the growing divide between the two lovers.
Which leads to the twist at the end, which floored me. Evan Peters, who has played Quicksilver in the last three Fox X-Men movies, appears at Wanda and Vision’s door. Since Disney acquired Fox and its catalogue of films, the big question was how Feige would incorporate the mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s difficult to say if this is Pietro from the X-Men movies or if, as Darcy stated, Wanda recast her brother from Avengers: Age of Ultron. After last week’s episode, I thought this one would be a breather episode, a light moment where we as an audience could catch our collective breath and just let the reveals from the fourth episode settle. I’m intrigued how this shift in the story is going to play out over the remaining episodes.