by @holocronJulie for @mar_tesseract
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 9: The Series Finale
After eight episodes of a heartbreaking and unique tale, WandaVision came to a conclusion with a largely satisfying, if not slightly underwhelming final chapter. The Series Finale picks up where Previously On left off as Wanda must protect her family and fend off against the villainous Agatha Harkness, while Vision is pitting against his doppleganger.
The Series Finale highlights an unfortunate reality of allowing one’s expectations and theories to run away with themselves. The first several episodes of WandaVision were filled to the brim with mystery and intrigue – unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the MCU or even comic book adaptations more broadly. In turn, the ominous tone and lack of details provided to the audience sparked much speculation among fans regarding what was truly lurking beneath the surface. The mysteriousness intensified even further when Evan Peters reprised his role as Pietro Maximoff from the Fox-backed X-Men films in truly surprising fashion. All of this culminated in an expectation that WandaVision would conclude in an unbelievably surprising manner, seamlessly setting up the future of the MCU in Phase 4. And that wasn’t really the case. If anything, The Series Finale cemented the extent to which WandaVision ultimately excelled as a profoundly emotional tale of grief and coping, rather than the insidious mystery it initially felt like. And this isn’t necessarily a criticism of the show as a whole – just a point that changes the way in which WandaVision is ultimately construed as.
WandaVision follows the pattern of virtually every superhero project in culminating in an action-packed finale. In fact, much of The Series Finale was dedicated to a fast-paced, CGI-heavy final battle between the titular characters and the show’s villains. Director Matt Shakman handles the action well in a series that has largely been absent of such sequences.
The battle between Vision and his SWORD-conjured doppelganger clearly drew inspiration from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and, as such, was captivating from beginning to end. But, akin to much of WandaVision’s finale, the most gripping parts were not when punches were being thrown, but when words were exchanged. The Ship of Theseus discussion was probably the most ‘Vision’ has felt like Vision in the entire MCU so far. This, coupled with the discussion on grief in Previously On, showcases the emotional depths WandaVision often hit and why this is such a highlight in the series. However, it was a bit jarring to see White Vision suddenly depart and not be seen again in the episode, but it’s clear that we haven’t seen the last of Vision in the MCU.
The Scarlet Witch was jaw-dropping in The Series Finale. Wanda has often been tipped as one of the most powerful characters in the entire MCU and this power has never been as glaringly evident as it was in this episode. Wanda’s new look as Scarlet Witch is superb and evokes the brilliance of her design in the comics, while fitting perfectly into the aesthetics of the MCU. Wanda’s showdown with Agatha was brilliantly executed and teases a more significant role for Agatha in future projects. Once again, Elizabeth Olsen knocks it out of the park with her complex, nuanced performance, somehow simultaneously conveying strength and vulnerability in such uncanny ways.
A major shortcoming of WandaVision’s finale, however, was how several of the series’ central characters felt rather shortchanged, with their plotlines and arcs appearing unresolved. Although the series obviously follows the escapades of Wanda and Vision closely, the trio of Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy became a fan favorite over the last several weeks. Not only did these characters offer a certain groundedness to the rather abstract nature of the series’ initial episodes, but they each had their own interesting involvement in the central plot and unique points of characterization. That’s why it was a shame to see these three characters’ roles greatly reduced in the series finale. Obviously, the focus should primarily be on Wanda and Vision, but it would’ve been nice to conclude the journeys of Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy in a more fitting fashion.
This criticism carries over to how The Series Finale addresses the Pietro / Fietro mystery. Evan Peters’ shocking mid-season appearance was one of the highlights of the entire series, so to see this twist unexpectedly fizzle out was quite a disappointment. Although we expect Peters to appear as Quicksilver again in a future MCU project, it just didn’t feel right that no explanation whatsoever was provided as to why the character looks like the version we saw in the X-Men films. The ‘reveal’ that Pietro was the Ralph that Agatha referred to throughout the season just didn’t really land and felt quite underwhelming.
Ultimately, however, The Series Finale excelled the most when it explored the show’s principle theme – grief. While Previously On showcases how grief crippled Wanda, The Series Finale showcases Wanda’s reconciliation with grief and her ultimate sacrifice to relinquish her perfect world. It’s hard not to shed a tear as we see Wanda say goodbye to Vision yet again, except this time it’s on their own terms.
WandaVision capped off an incredibly impressive season with an emotional, albeit slightly misguided concluding episode. Although the arcs of beloved side characters felt unresolved and the episode was largely deprived of the mystery and intrigue that made the initial episodes so great, The Series Finale emphasized what a brilliant exploration into the processes of bereavement and reconciliation WandaVision has been.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios