The Last Picture Show

WandaVision Episode 1 Review

Disney+ pulls no punches for their original series; The Mandalorian is a perfect example of the type of caliber they bring. WandaVision, the newest addition to the Disney+ originals, was released in December 2020 to mixed reviews.  

The show started in black and white and filmed in front of a live studio audience. This retro style of filming is a throw-back to the 50’s era of television. The creators let audiences know that each episode will jump a decade in television, meaning that the second episode will have a 60’s feel while the third episode will have a 70’s style and so on.  

The intro to the series premiere sets the tone for the entire episode and feels straight from the 1950s. The lyrics to the opening lay the foundation for the storytelling us that “Oh, a newlywed couple just moved to town, a regular husband and wife who left the big city to find a quiet life…WandVision”  

The lyrics are a way of explaining what’s going so that viewers do not feel lost; however, as the episode moves forward, the viewers and the cast may all feel lost. As the intro plays out, Vision (Paul Bettany) attempts to carry Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) over the threshold but phases through the door, leaving Wanda on the outside. He then opens the door and picks her back up, and just as we think he is going to trip over the ottoman (a call back to The Dick Van Dyke show), he phases through that as well. The living room set up is a love letter to the Dick Van Dyke show, with an almost complete recreation of the set from the beloved 50’s show. While the episode plays out, we also get heavy vibes pulled from Bewitched when Wanda attempts to do the chores around the house.  

So far in this first episode, it is unclear what is going on. It appears that Wanda is having a dream of some kind but whether it is self-induced or forced upon her is uncertain. There are small clues that point to the events that unfolded in the MCU before the show.  

During the first one of the Bewitched throw-back scenes, Wanda uses her powers to wash the dishes and put them away. Vison walks through the door as a plate is flying across the room, and he says, “My wife and her flying saucers,” which could be an easter egg to the alien invasion in the Avengers movie.  

The town that Wanda and Vison are now newlyweds in is named Westview. The city’s name may also be a clue that these events are playing out in Wanda’s mind, which for any fan of the Marvel comics wouldn’t be the first time The Scarlet Witch altered reality. Wanda grew up in Sokovia with her fraternal twin brother Pietro. Sokovia is a poor, war-hardened country, so Wanda and her brother most likely grew up watching old sitcoms from the United States, or “the West.” Because of her childhood, this could be why the town she imagines they now live in is called Westview.  

One of the plot points that play out is the heart on the date August 23rd. Neither Vision nor Wanda has any idea what the significance of the heart is. We later learn that it is the date when Vision’s new boss, Mr. Hart, is coming to dinner. However, the date could also be an easter egg. One could also write the date 8/23 as 23/8 or 238. The Avengers comic #238 tells the story of Vision attempting to reactivate. Here is another hint as to what could be going on in this episode.  

While Wanda and Vision are hosting dinner for Mr. and Mrs. Heart, they drink wine with the name “Maison Du Mepris,” which translates to “House of Contempt.” There may not be a direct connection to the Marvel Universe, but it is worth noting that “House of” could be a nod to the story “House of M,” which is when Wanda altered reality.  

With the uncertainty of what is going on in this episode, these potential easter eggs make for exciting and entertaining viewing. Many critics did not like this opening as they state it is too slow and does not “pull the viewers in.” This episode has a lot of fun while laying the foundation for a more in-depth series that deserves more credit. The comedic break and the mystery’s backdrop feel like a perfect blend for this type of story. Although this may seem like a slow build, I feel like the next few episodes will pick up the pace and create more tension and questions for what type of reality we are watching. Since each episode will jump to the next decade in television style, it makes sense why Disney+ is only doing a miniseries and not a full-fledged series.  

Written exclusively for TheLastPicture.Show by Jacob Ruble

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