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WandaVision episode 8 recap: Marvel show sends Wanda on an emotional rollercoaster

Have some heart-wrenching exposition. And you should stick around for the credits again.

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Wanda and Agatha go on a trip down memory lane.

Marvel Studios

WandaVision's sitcom silliness spiraled into beautiful chaos Friday, as episode 8 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe show landed on Disney Plus. Turns out stylish witch Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) was behind pretty much all the weirdness so far, and she's got Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) trapped in her ludicrously creepy basement.

Outside the house, newly superpowered SWORD agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) was confronted by Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters), who's seemingly been under Agatha's control since arriving from the X-Men universe. Also, astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) filled in Wanda's husband, Vision (Paul Bettany), on the past he'd forgotten, and he's on his way home.

I didn't think this show was that complicated, but it kinda is. We're up to the penultimate episode, and it's called Previously On. Time for dem SPOILERS.

Marvel Studios

The Scarlet Witch

This whole episode is basically Agatha trying to figure out exactly what Wanda is, since her power is off the charts. After running through pivotal moments in the Avenger's past and acting as a pretty mean therapist, Agatha realizes she's wielding Chaos magic and is capable of "spontaneous creation," before uttering the thing we wanted to hear.

"And that makes you the Scarlet Witch."

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Agatha isn't even pretending to be nice now.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

This isn't a name we've heard previously in the MCU, but it's been her code name since her first appearance in X-Men No. 4 in 1964.

Given what we saw earlier in the episode, it seems like Wanda had some latent ability to tap into this magic and it was enhanced by the Mind Stone. Agatha presumably wants to control this power, but to what end?

Agatha also has Wanda's magically created kids Billy and Tommy on creepy magic leashes, which really isn't OK.

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Vision's body is back online, and looking pretty nefarious. 

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

The doppelganger

In a midcredits scene, it's revealed that acting SWORD director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) had Vision's body all along. He couldn't reactivate the synthezoid (who was made with stupidly valuable Wakandan vibranium), but used a drone to absorb the chaos energy surrounding Westview. Since that energy was derived from the Mind Stone that originally brought Vision to life, it gets the body back online.

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White Vision first appeared in West Coast Avengers.

Marvel Comics

The Vision we've been seeing in Westview has actually been a magical construct, created by Wanda. 

In the '80s comic storyline Vision Quest, Hank Pym rebuilds Vision in chalky white after he was dismantled government agents. This White Vision lacked the soul of the original, and was devoid of human emotion.

Agatha's past

The episode's initial flashback brings us back to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1693 (the real-life Salem witch trials happened in 1692-93), when Agatha's coven accuses her of tapping into forbidden dark magic.

"I did not break your rules. They simply bent to my power," she replies, awesomely.

Led by Agatha's mother, Evanora (Kate Forbes), the coven prepares to end her. She turns their power on them, reducing all the witches to desiccated husks. Agatha also takes her mom's broach, which we've seen her wearing in most of the previous episodes.

Much as I've grown tired of characters blasting each other with energy beams and lasers in superhero movies, the blue energy Agatha turns back on her coven seems significant. Her magic manifests itself as purple energy -- a combination of red and blue. Since Wanda's Chaos magic is red, it seems likely this was the forbidden power Agatha got in trouble for using -- she just couldn't use it at the same level as Wanda. 

Fietro

Agatha says fake Pietro (Evan Peters) wasn't "literally" her, she was just possessing him. She also notes that it wasn't necromancy, so it wasn't the original MCU Pietro's body with a new face. 

It's still unclear if Fietro is actually the one from the X-Men universe. In the comics, Wanda's status as a Nexus Being -- someone whose power can affect probability and change the flow of time -- means she can touch other realities. If that's the case with MCU Wanda, she could have pulled Pietro over from the Fox X-Men reality (where he was called Peter).

Also in the comics, Nexus Beings are monitored by the Time Variance Authority, a group that'll show up in the upcoming Loki show and perhaps in next week's WandaVision season finale.

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The Maximoffs decide what to watch, minutes before their whole world is ripped apart.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

The Maximoffs at home

We meet Wanda and Pietro's parents, Iryna and Olek (Ilana Kohanchi and Daniyar), in their Sokovian home. And we know the kids are 10, so this happened in 1999. Their TV night -- The Dick Van Dyke Show, season 2, episode 21 -- looks pretty nice, but there's a horrifying war raging outside, and the sense of inevitability is palpable. 

The parents are killed in an explosion, an incident referenced in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the commercial in episode 2. The twins are trapped under the rubble, staring at a beeping, unexploded Stark Industries shell. The young Wanda mutters about it being a "bad dream" and reaches out.

Agatha reckons she used a probability hex to stop the detonation, which seems like Wanda's first use of magic.

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2:09

Hail Hydra

We see Wanda as a volunteer test subject for Hydra, and enters a room containing Loki's scepter (which Hydra sneakily got hold of after the first Avengers movie, a moment revisited in Avengers: Endgame) The Mind Stone -- one the six Infinity Stones that Thanos will later use to wipe out half of all life -- extracts itself from the scepter in her presence. 

She gets a vision of her comic book costume, but it's unclear if this has any significance in the MCU. We saw her in a similar outfit in the Halloween episode and she said it was a Sokovian fortune teller, but she could have been subconsciously recalling this moment.

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Wanda has a vision of the Scarlet Witch comic book costume.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Wild thought: What if Wanda was actually seeing her comic book counterpart? As a Nexus being, it's possible that comics Wanda could reach out to her MCU self.

We previously thought contact with the Mind Stone gave her and Pietro their powers, but Agatha reckons it awoke or supercharged her latent abilities.

As if Wanda is some kind of mutant.

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The Scarlet Witch, comic-style.

Marvel Comics

When the Hydra scientists try to play back the security recording to see what happened after Wanda touched the stone, they find that moment missing, like when the Westview broadcast was cut.

The Vision effect

We jump to a moment with Vision in the Avengers compound in the period following Age of Ultron, when Wanda is mourning Pietro's death. Vision acknowledges that he's never felt loss like she has, but reveals the depth of his empathy.

"But what is grief, if not love persevering?" he asks.

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Like any good couple, Wanda and Vision fell in love while watching Malcolm in the Middle.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Excuse me, I have something in my eye. This is clearly another major high on Wanda's emotional rollercoaster, and Thanos would later bring her low by killing Vision in Avengers: Infinity War.  

Hayward's machinations

We previously thought Wanda broke into SWORD headquarters, stole Vision's corpse and defied his wishes by resurrecting him. The flashback reveals that Hayward initially exposed Wanda to the shocking sight of his engineers dismantling Vision. He then suggested Wanda bring him back to life, but she refused and just left -- no thievery or resurrection to be had.

Hayward's sympathy routine is also pretty similar to one he used on Monica before sending her to Westview, because he's a manipulative jerk.

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Wanda re-creates Vision.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Westview gets a refresh

Wanda's clearly feeling pretty low after visiting the SWORD facility, and she drives to Westview. It's our first time seeing the New Jersey town before she sitcom'd it up, and it's a sad place with closed businesses and amenities falling into disrepair -- this could reveal the economic impact of the Blip. 

She visits a plot of land (2800 Sherwood Drive) with the foundations of a house, and a deed reveals she and Vision planned to start a life together here -- a plan ruined by Thanos.

"To grow old in," reads the cute note, signed "V."

Overwhelmed by grief, she remakes the town as a '50s sitcom and Vision is reborn from her magical energy. From the midcredits scene, it seems like Wanda played right into Hayward's hands.

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The Maximoffs have a lovely box of sitcoms.

Marvel Studios/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Sitcom heaven

In the case you're wondering what the other options for TV night were, the box of DVDs includes Who's the Boss?, The Addams Family, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and Malcolm in the Middle.

However, Malcolm in the Middle didn't air until Jan. 9, 2000, and the first DVD box set didn't come out until 2002, so the Maximoffs couldn't have had it in 1999. This suggests the timing was a little different in the MCU, or that Wanda's memory is a little unreliable (probably the latter, since she previously misremembered when The Parent Trap and The Incredibles came out).

Later, in Wanda's Hydra containment cell, she's watching The Brady Bunch. It seems to be season 1, episode 7, in which Cindy Brady treats her doll like a real baby and it goes missing. Which seems to mirror what happened with Billy and Tommy. 

Observations and WTF questions

  • The purple Marvel Studios logo is super cool.
  • "Only the witch who cast the runes can use her magic." This seems like the kind of line we'll get a callback to later. Maybe Wanda will turn the tables on Agatha?
  • I guess the cicada wasn't Mephisto.
  • And it turns out the people in the commercials weren't Wanda's parents after all. So who are they?!
  • This was the episode without the "Please Stand By" message in the credits.

Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Friday, when episode 9 of WandaVision hits Disney Plus. It's the season finale, so expect Westview to get leveled by colored beams of energy or something.

CNET's Caitlin Petrakovitz contributed to this recap.