You had to miss those old costumes, right?
It’s Halloween, and everyone’s dressed up for the evening’s festivities. Vision tells Wanda that he’s patrolling the community via the Neighborhood Watch, which she wasn’t expecting. Pietro insists that he can help her take the boys trick-or-treating. While Pietro helps the boys cause mayhem in the streets, Herb asks Wanda if there’s anything he can fix up for her—and also tells her that Vision is not on duty tonight. Vision is, in fact, moving through the town and finds evidence that things are not all right; as he moves away from the epicenter, he finds people frozen in tableaus, unable to move or speak.
Tommy displays powers for the first time—the ability to speed, like his uncle. As he zips his brother around to get more candy, Pietro commends Wanda on her maintenance of this reality. She admits that she’s not sure how she started doing it, and asks if he believes it’s wrong. Pietro tells her that it’s a sight better than how she used to manipulate people’s minds, so he thinks it’s good. For a brief moment, Wanda sees him shot as he was in death.
Outside the Hex, Monica has a fight with Director Hayward about how he handled the previous altercation with Wanda. Hayward tells her that she’s too sympathetic to people with powers due to her absence during the Snap and her relationship to Carol Danvers. He has Monica, Jimmy, and Darcy dismissed. Jimmy and Monica fight off their escort and Darcy hacks them into Hayward’s files. They can see on the map that Vision is trying to find the barrier, but there’s more information that Darcy wants to get, so she tells Jimmy and Monica to leave without her—but not before informing Monica that her test results show that going through the barrier alters a person’s cells permanently, each time they go through. Darcy seeks out and sends on the hidden info as Jimmy and Monica go meet the contact who was meant to bring them her mobile bunker.
Vision runs into Agnes on the edge of town and lifts the control on her mind. She tells him that Wanda will never let them go and prevents them from even thinking of leaving the town. She remembers that he’s an Avenger—he has no idea what that is—and asks if she’s dead. When Vision asks why she thinks that, she informs him that he’s dead. As she begins to panic, Vision places Wanda’s control back on Agnes and heads for the town’s barrier. He makes it through with a great deal of effort, begging Hayward to help the people inside, but his body begins to deteriorate. Darcy rushes out to tell them to help him, and is captured.
Billy’s powers suddenly activate, and he can tell his Vision is in trouble. He tells Wanda, who asks him to concentrate and figure out where his father is. He tells her that he sees soldiers, prompting Wanda to expand the Hex’s parameters outward, and absorbing the SWORD base. Hayward manages to escape, but Darcy is handcuffed to a car and also gets absorbed.
I’m not saying that this is how you get a bunch of new superheroes, but… this is probably how you get a bunch of new superheroes.
Darcy tells Monica that going through Wanda’s barrier has fundamentally altered her body. We know that Monica is likely to become superpowered due to her role in the comics. But this also means that anyone who gets caught in this barrier is getting altered. Darcy just got caught in the barrier. Is Wanda basically going to be responsible for creating a new generation of super people? It’s looking more and more likely.
Our sitcom parodies have moved into the early aughts, using the frame device from Malcolm in the Middle at the start of the episode. (It also heavily lampoons their credit sequence.) Billy is basically in the Malcolm position here, which makes sense, as he’s had a far more interesting run within the comics—there’s more character to pull from. While it’s understandable that the plot is starting to take over what we’re seeing as an audience, I do wish they had come back to the parody at least once after the episode’s opening, just to keep reasserting that concept and the control being exerted over the town.
We still haven’t gotten any indication of what the sitcom frame device offers to Wanda. If she were keeping it all within one era, that might make a little more sense out of the choice, but she keeps pushing us forward in time. Hopefully there’s a narrative reason for it beyond the “it’s a fun way of building a TV show” conceit? I’d like it if there were an actual reason why she keeps jumping through television history.
We’re dealing with something interesting here, being that X-Men Pietro seems to have MCU Pietro’s memories. There’s a little bit of confusion here over a few details on Wanda’s end, but this definitely isn’t the guy who grew up in American suburbia without Magneto for a dad—he remembers Sokovia, he remembers Wanda messing with people’s minds, he remembers their parents. (Also his attitude and behavior is way more MCU Pietro; he’s cavalier and has a big mouth.) So the question becomes, is Wanda giving him the memories of her dead brother? Or is this another bit of multiverse shenanigans?
But more importantly, Pietro is there to offer Wanda a more understanding ear as she slowly becomes more amenable to working through what’s happening around her. Through their conversations, she is finally able to admit that she’s not sure how she started this, or exactly how she’s managing it. But there are some details here that Pietro notices, answering a few questions I had earlier. It looks like Wanda is keeping the children of Westview tucked away most of the time (Pietro assumes they’re sleeping) until a situation like this where she needs more children about to make the reality “work”. It means that up until this point, most of those children were likely not suffering the same psychological stress as their families, but this “episode” would have changed that.
I feel the need to point out something unsettling, which is that Vision is being positioned more heroically in this by virtue of trying to get help and trying to get out. But that’s twice now that we’ve seen him flip Wanda’s behavioral switch off and then on in someone’s mind, and his reasons for reinstating her control seem wooly at best. You could perhaps make an argument that he’s worried about what Wanda would do to them, but it reads more like people making Vision uncomfortable by essentially having panic attacks in front of him. He knows (because Norm told him) that being under her control is essentially torture. He doesn’t have to reinstate them, and frankly, it could be an effective way to fight Wanda’s bubble, just freeing up as many people as he can.
Monica, Jimmy, and Darcy continue to be bright spots in this whole affair, with Hayward getting more odious by the second. The tactic he uses here is oh-so familiar and extremely telling; he’s the one having an emotional reaction to the situation (thinking on the last five years and what superheroes have done to the world), but rather than own up to it, he’s projecting that emotionality onto Monica and suggesting it makes her unfit. Thankfully, Monica already knows who her people are in this operation, so she has options for dealing with the fallout. I do so love that Darcy cannot hide her disdain; she’s never had any patience for mediocre men telling her what to do, so that’s not likely to start now. (Heck, she barely let Jane tell her what to do, and Jane was an actual authority.) We already knew that Monica could handle some goons, but seeing Jimmy knock one of those guys out with a right hook while Darcy looked on in shock was a beautiful thing.
But who is delivering that mobile bunker, though. (Hank Pym? Reed Richards? One of those is definitely more likely than the other…) And how is Wanda possibly going to maintain an area that much larger than the one she’d started with? It’s going to get messy, y’all.
Thoughts and Asides:
- If you didn’t know, or hadn’t guessed, all the costumes we see on Wanda’s family are essentially their “old-school” superhero looks. (Less so for Billy, of course—that’s pretty close to his current look as Wiccan.) It does make Agnes’s costume stand out a little as a witch… given the rumors swirling around her character from day one.
- I would take many more episodes of Uncle Pietro Teaching Kids to Shotgun Soda.
- Uh. That commercial. Aside from giving me terrible flashbacks to a point when the ad world was obsessed with awful claymation (it really happened, kids), this one seems like a more direct warning than any of the previous ads. The fact that the kid wastes away while struggling to get the packaging open on Yo-Magic has to be a warning of some kind. Which brings me back to my earlier question about resources: How are these people being kept alive, and where are all their resources coming from? Because if Wanda can’t make matter from nothing (which she isn’t), then that means they’re going to run out of food, for one. If they’re even allowed to eat at all.
- The films playing in the local movie theater are The Incredibles and The Parent Trap. Both of these titles have referential meta value here, the former being about a family with superpowers, the latter being a story about twins who trick their divorced parents into getting back together. Given how Vision and Wanda are kind of on the outs in this episode, it’s extra appropriate.
- As mentioned before, Tommy and Billy are developing their canonical superpowers. Which should cause no small amount of trouble going forward.
- We still don’t know the big secret Hayward is hiding, which Darcy emailed to Jimmy before getting herself caught. So that’s coming.
- Turning SWORD into a circus is just… a chef’s kiss in magic form. Turn those soldier boys into clowns, Wanda.
Next week we’re fast approaching current media so… get ready for some pastiches that hit a little closer to home.
Emmet Asher-Perrin confesses to never being much of a Malcolm in the Middle fan, but they’d watch Billy’s version in a heartbeat. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.