Contains major spoilers for WandaVision episode 8, "Previously On"
With the bulk of the series in the rearview mirror, Disney+’s WandaVision refuses to let up — continually giving audiences material to speculate on from week to week. Episode 7, "Breaking the Fourth Wall," went a long way in providing viewers with some long-awaited answers to the program’s many mysteries. Not only did Vision (Paul Bettany) finally learn the truth of who he is and the life he has led, thanks to the timely intervention of Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), but Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) also revealed her big secret. She’s actually a witch, apparently like Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), known as Agatha Harkness.
Per usual, this cliffhanger ending set the internet ablaze in the days that followed, building hype and anticipation for WandaVision episode 8. After what felt like an eternity, the episode, entitled "Previously On," arrived on Disney+ on Friday, February 26, 2021 — and it didn’t hold back. In addition to diving into Agatha’s backstory and revealing her true intentions, WandaVision episode 8 also shed some light onto Wanda’s past, how her Hex came to be, and why. That’s not to mention all of the other surprises that sprung up along the way.
All in all, this is WandaVision‘s biggest episode to date, and it’s must-see for any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s how it wrapped up, and what remains to be seen in the season finale next week.
Agatha’s mystical origins
"Previously On" doesn’t open in the sitcom-inspired fashion of most previous WandaVision episodes, instead opting to kick off with a flashback. The year is 1693 in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, where a coven of witches punishes Agatha for her crimes. According to her mother, Evanora (Kate Forbes), Agatha betrayed them by seeking knowledge that was forbidden and delved into dark magic, breaking the coven’s rules. They attempt to use their combined strength against her, but Agatha is far too strong — defeating her fellow witches and taking their power, their lives, and her mother’s brooch, which we’ve seen her wear on just about every episode of the show.
This scene defines Agatha, and it also reveals pretty much exactly what she wants from Wanda. She’s power-hungry, and knows that Wanda’s power is unmatched. That’s why she’s in Westview: Agatha’s going to do everything she can to extract what magical power she can from Wanda. Additionally, it shows how far she has come in her studies, gleefully demonstrating her magical gifts to Wanda without a moment of hesitation.
Also, it’s a fine way to call back to Agatha Harkness’ origins in Marvel Comics, where she also lived through the Salem Witch Trials. Much like in WandaVision, comics-Agatha survives well into the modern day and continues to practice her craft. She eventually befriends Wanda, becoming her mentor and helping her hone her oftentimes uncontrollable abilities. While it doesn’t appear as though Agatha will take Wanda on as a pupil by next week’s episode, you can’t exactly rule it out. After all, anything can happen in WandaVision and the MCU.
Wanda and her love for television
In hopes of unlocking the secret to Wanda’s immense power (and possibly finding a way to take it herself), Agatha leads Wanda on an emotional journey throughout her memories — sort of an MCU-style tribute to This is Your Life. Sokovia is the first stop, to witness the death of Wanda’s parents. They then jump to her time as a HYDRA test subject, then the rough timeframe between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, before winding up in Westview, pre-Hex. Aside from Wanda herself, the throughline that runs along each of these flashbacks is the persistent presence of classic television and Wanda’s relationship to it.
From The Dick Van Dyke Show to Malcolm in the Middle, Wanda has always found solace in fun, cheesy TV. It connected her to her brother and parents as a kid, distracted her from the horrors of HYDRA’s trials as a teen, and comforted her during times of strife with the Avengers in her young adulthood. Simply put, it’s the one constant in Wanda’s life, sticking around when everyone she’s ever cared about is dead and gone. This explains why the Hex takes on these TV-inspired appearances: Wanda’s deepest wish is for her life to be a lot more like a television show, with her husband Vision at her side. It’s hard to deny that dealing with shenanigans that can be resolved in 30 minutes is a whole lot better than facing reality.
Toward the end of Wanda and Agatha’s jaunt down memory lane, viewers witness how Wanda first came to know S.W.O.R.D. and what they were up to with Vision’s corpse. Shortly after returning to life from the Blip, a mourning Wanda marches into S.W.O.R.D.’s headquarters in search of Vision’s remains, hoping to give him a proper burial. She asks and therefore receives, with Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) putting the synthezoid’s disassembled body on full display. However, he didn’t just hand Vision over to her, causing Wanda to storm off.
She drives off to Westview, New Jersey, which, at the time, was a normal town with plenty of unassuming residents whom viewers have grown quite familiar with. Wanda arrives at the foundation of a house with the deed to the property she and Vision own, indicating they would’ve built their forever home in that spot. Stricken with grief over what will never be, Wanda releases a huge amount of energy, turning the entire town into a black-and-white, 1950s sitcom set. This is the obvious beginning of Westview’s time under Wanda’s influence, making it clear that she’s responsible for the Hex’s creation.
To make the situation even more shocking, it’s revealed that Wanda never actually stole Vision’s body, as Hayward previously noted. She manifested a version of her own to exist solely within Westview, hence why he couldn’t escape so easily in episode 6, "All-New Halloween Spooktacular!" Since Westview-Vision is technically a creation of Wanda’s imagination, that explains why he’s not only alive and well, but was also devoid of his memories until Darcy’s history lesson.
The Scarlet Witch and Chaos Magic
Wanda’s abilities on the big screen have grown more and more ill-defined as the years have gone on. What exactly she can do and what the Mind Stone actually did to her have remained a mystery for some time. Thankfully, WandaVision has begun to set the record straight in a major way, beginning with the flashback sequence in the HYDRA laboratory. When Wanda encounters Loki’s scepter, the crystal levitates out of it, gliding in front of her face. It then expels a burst of energy, and the silhouette of an angelic being briefly appears in its glow before disappearing entirely.
Without any context, this moment raises plenty of questions on its own, many of which get an answer in some form later on. As Agatha explains in the episode’s closing moments, Wanda is "supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation." She then notes that in creating and living within Westview, Wanda utilized Chaos Magic. Agatha warns her of the dangers of Chaos Magic, then refers to her as the Scarlet Witch — the first time Wanda has been called this in the MCU. It’s fairly common knowledge that Wanda’s comic book alter-ego is the Scarlet Witch, and the being she saw in the Mind Stone definitely resembled her comic book appearance, but Chaos Magic is a lesser-known element of her character.
When the Scarlet Witch first arrived on the page, writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby didn’t rack their brains trying to explain her strengths, ultimately leaving them pretty vague (via The Hollywood Reporter). Years later, Chaos Magic made its presence felt in the Marvel Comics world, and was described as a type of sorcery that alters the fabric of reality, and, theoretically, has the capabilities to destroy it altogether. This was retroactively applied to the Scarlet Witch to better explain the true depths of her powers. Given the way WandaVision has played out, it’s fair to say Elizabeth Olsen’s interpretation of Wanda Maximoff is now closer to her comic book counterpart than ever before.
In keeping with MCU tradition, this week’s WandaVision adventure included a post-credits scene. Shifting the focus away from Wanda and Agatha, the series offers curious fans a glimpse into what Director Hayward and his S.W.O.R.D. underlings have been up to — and the reveal is creepy. Using the remains of the original Vision — which, again, Hayward has had this whole time, despite lying about Wanda stealing them — Hayward and his team have brought him back online, now with a white color scheme. He doesn’t speak or do much of anything aside from open his piercing blue eyes and become acquainted with his new form. For longtime Marvel Comics readers, Easter eggs like this are impossible to ignore.
At the center of West Coast Avengers #42’s story was the disappearance of Vision and various heroes’ attempts to find him. They do just that, but he’s in pieces, so tech genius Hank Pym is tasked with bringing him back from beyond the grave. He does so, but the "new" Vision takes on a ghostly white appearance and lacks all of the emotional development of his previous self. What Hayward has in mind for "his" Vision, how the reanimated synthezoid will behave, and what Wanda’s reaction to White Vision will be are certainly things worth keeping an eye out for in the season finale.
Speaking of eyes, though, this is the ultimate reveal of "Project Cataract." A cataract is an eye condition where thick, cloudy tissue layers over your cornea, and can lead to — that’s right – impaired vision.
S.W.O.R.D. agents M.I.A.
"Previously On" turned out to be a fairly self-contained story, focusing largely only two main characters. The likes of Director Hayward and various incarnations of Vision scored some screen time, but many WandaVision mainstays were conspicuous by their absence this time around. Most notable among them are FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Pietro (Evan Peters) — or "Fietro," as Agatha put it — and Darcy Lewis, who are all in difficult spots at this point in the series.
As far as audience knowledge goes, Jimmy is still outside of the expanded and fortified Hex, likely trying to figure out what happened to his allies. On the other hand, when it comes to Monica and Pietro, things get a bit more complicated. The last fans saw of Monica, she began to tap into her newfound powers before Agatha’s faux-Quicksilver confronted her outside of the witch’s home. Meanwhile, Agatha also revealed that she is not controlling this new version of Pietro, merely seeing and hearing through his eyes and ears. That leaves lots of questions open about just who he is and where he’s from — questions that will hopefully be answered in the next and final episode.
As for Darcy, for all anyone knows, she’s still sitting at an intersection with her foot on the brake of a funnel cake truck, waiting for a frustratingly long roadblock to disappear so she can proceed. Hey, at least she’s got stuff to eat if she gets hungry.
The final episode of WandaVision hits Disney+ next week. Stay tuned…