How WandaVision Became the New Appointment TV

And though today’s finale proved many theories wrong, it did so carefully, even self-consciously. A scene between Evan Peters’s Pietro and Teyonah Parris’s Monica confirmed that Peters’s character wasn’t the version he plays in the X-Men films, quashing fan speculation that WandaVision would finally connect the two franchises. Mephisto—essentially Marvel Comics’ version of Satan, who’s often associated with Agatha and Wanda—never showed up, as many had expected. But even while refuting theories, WandaVision offered more new tantalizing threads for fans to tug on, in the form of clue-dropping dialogue (who’s the friend that Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo references?) and two (two!) mid-credits scenes. No, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange never appeared, but a viewer expecting him to be a part of the story got to hear Agatha reference the Sorcerer Supreme and to see Wanda, in the second mid-credits scene, work in her astral form.  

For a non-Marvel viewer, a lot of these elements probably sound like gibberish—and indeed, such theory-driving scenes made the finale (already a longer-than-usual episode) feel a tad overstuffed. But as I wrote when the series premiered, the show as a whole is an intimate examination of Wanda’s grief and the mystery of her circumstances. It concentrated first on developing Wanda’s arc: from a character self-sabotaging in her anguish to a superhero who finally learns her own strength. From there, it layered on more stories. Eventually, the universe-building material felt more like rewards than distractions. Was it a meditation on grief and the way pop culture can offer a flawed sanctuary? Yes. Was it a set-up for the multiverse of madness yet to come, and a glimpse inside the government organization called S.W.O.R.D.? Also yes. WandaVision took advantage of its position in the MCU to offer multiple entry points for viewers, Marvel fans and franchise newbies alike. Together, these viewers built a community invested in discussing the show, making memes that spanned from silly to sentimental, and interrogating both granular details and epic twists.

But perhaps what made the series feel so singular is the fact that it was strangely undefinable and uncategorizable. It was neither sitcom nor drama; it was both a self-contained project and the gateway to the next phase of a larger franchise. That ambiguity meant that viewers had seemingly endless material to discuss: Some critics focused on the storytelling, while others concentrated on discussing the state of television and film, an impulse that may have been egged on by WandaVision being an extended homage to sitcoms and TV history. It was intentionally meta and experimental, an “in-between” work that, with its weekly rollout, operated as neither traditional TV nor a bingeable streaming series. “The show is a love letter to the golden age of television,” the head writer Jac Schaeffer said last year. “We’re paying tribute and honoring all of these incredible shows and people who came before us, [but] we’re also trying to blaze new territory.”

The Atlantic

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