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WandaVision is racing towards a close with its eighth episode: Previously On. Last time, everything we thought we knew was turned on its head. Does this episode do a good job picking up the pieces? Or, is the show running out of steam? Read on to find out!
Last time on WandaVision, we found out that Wanda’s jovial neighbour, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), was actually the villain behind the series’ events: the sorceress Agatha Harkness! This episode follows directly on from that revelation, but not before we quickly flash back to the Salem Witch Trials where, in a thrillingly tense scene, we get her villain origin story, as it were. Hahn continues to impress, showing off remarkable range throughout the episode, and cementing Agnes/Agatha as one of the most engaging characters in the show.
After that, though, it’s full steam ahead, as Agatha thrusts Wanda back into her past, forcing her to watch ‘reruns’ of her life’s most tragic events in an effort to work out how she became powerful enough to create the Hex. This is definitely the most emotional episode of the bunch, flashing back to the tragic deaths of Wanda’s parents, her time being experimented on by Hydra, and the days where she and Vision first began to fall in love. Writer Laura Donney crafts a touching, poignant and heartbreaking script that gives Wanda some of the best characterisation we’ve yet seen. Fantastic stuff.
We also begin to realise that some of the things we took for the truth aren’t quite as they seem. Wanda’s confrontation with Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) at SWORD HQ is just as intense as you might think, but it definitely doesn’t end in the way we’ve been led to believe, with Wanda fleeing the scene empty-handed rather than stealing Vision’s body as we were told a few episodes ago. This leads to a brilliantly realised scene where Wanda conjures her own Vision- the Vision we’ve been following for the past eight weeks- and is further explored in the post-credits scene, which shows what Hayward did with the original Vision.
Surprisingly, though, that’s not even the most shocking moment of the episode. In its final moments, we see Wanda confront Agatha on the streets of Westview, trying to get her kidnapped children Tommy and Billy back. Instead, she gets the result of Agatha’s research into her past… and discovers that she’s the legendary wielder of Chaos Magic: the Scarlet Witch! And then the episode is over, leaving us to wait in anguish for a whole week until the story concludes!
Overall, this is certainly one of the weaker episodes of the series (on a par with On A Very Special Episode…), with a pretty humdrum plot, though some very deft character work from writer Laura Donney rescues it from falling any lower in the rankings. This is truly some of the most compelling material for Wanda’s character in the series, nay, in the entire MCU, and this, along with the shocking cliffhanger(s) leaves me very excited to see how things wrap up next week.
WandaVision concludes next week on Disney+