'WandaVision' Episode 2 Review: Wanda becomes more dangerous as reality destabilizes and secrets surface

'WandaVision' shifts to an all-new tone, one more in line with more familiar superhero tropes


                            'WandaVision' Episode 2 Review: Wanda becomes more dangerous as reality destabilizes and secrets surface
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in 'WandaVision' (Disney+)

Spoilers for 'WandaVision' Season 1 Episode 3

Last week's episode took a number of fans by surprise by the show's full dedication to its format. 'WandaVision' was not the story of two superheroes trapped in a sitcom-like world, it was a genuine sitcom with its deeper questions of reality only teased in minor distractions. The premiering two episodes of 'WandaVision' could very well have been sitcom episodes in their own right, but that's not the case with the show's third episode, and it's clear that the cheery charm that this show started with is giving way to something far more sinister.

While still framed within a sitcom, this time in the '70s, the focus on this episode is not about bringing out all the charisma that Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany's Vision brought to the screen in the premiere. This time, the focus is very clear that something is wrong. Things are slipping out of Wanda's grip, and she's clutching tighter than ever to hold on. Though the laugh track continues, the humor of this episode is lost, as every mishap is a chance for Wanda to lose control entirely and either turn back time to make things as she wants them to be or expel someone from Westview entirely.

Wanda's pregnancy cliffhanger is another big focus of this episode. It brings up a lot of questions: Is Vision really the father? How much can Wanda alter her own body with her magic? How real are the twins if Wanda has made them with her powers? None of these questions actually fit into the world Wanda has created, however, and suddenly it's clear why she's chosen a sitcom world to live in. Difficult questions are swept under the rug, played off with a laugh, or resolved within an episode's half-hour runtime. 

With the introduction of color comes a step up in special effects. While last week kept things largely simple, doing mainly the kind of effects you could do with the technology of the '50s and '60s, the '70s episode lets loose with special effect you can only see in the 21st Century, with storks appearing in a puff of scarlet smoke, spinning furniture and a Vision morphing in and out of his synthezoid form. It's not just the era that's changed - 'WandaVision' is a substantially different show from the first impression it gave.

While the tension and mystery are well ramped up here, with residents who seem to suspect what's really going on and a Wanda who's starting to remember her life outside this (possibly literal) suburban bubble, 'WandaVision' has already lost a little of what made its opening so unique. It retains the silliness of the sitcom, but has lost a lot of the love. Wanda and the Vision are no longer on equal footings - not when she can manipulate him so entirely to think what she wants him to think. Wanda's sinister addiction to using her powers to get what she wants is what the show has pivoted to, familiar territory for superhero stories. 'WandaVision' has become Wanda's own Phoenix Saga, the trope of a powerful woman who must be stopped at all costs. Hopefully, this comfort zone isn't one that 'WandaVision' rests in - though the tragedy of the loss of Wanda and the Vision's joyful life together has seemingly already been lost. 

The next episode of 'WandaVision' airs on January 29 on Disney+.

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