WandaVision Episode 8 “Previously On” Review
As the penultimate episode of WandaVision arrives on Disney+, the Maximoff family has been pinned against their true threat; not just coming to terms with the reality that lies ahead, but the intentions of another evil witch. After seven episodes of building up the eventual end of Wanda’s fantasy, the latest entry of WandaVision begins to unravel the show’s marvelous enigma as it embraces its starting point. While viewers continued to question how exactly the hex came to be and the implications of some of its various properties, episode eight is out to answer and destroy the current headcanon of theories and observations viewers have crafted over the last week. Once again, WandaVision continues to sharpen its peak as it presents another episode of brilliant psychology and mesmerizing mythology with the help of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe that has slam dunked its way from thin paper to bite-sized weekly film.
“Previously On” quite literally dives into what the title states; this is the earliest point of Wanda Maximoff’s narrative and the problems that shroud her. WandaVision episode eight is the series origin story, but not just for Wanda as it simultaneously aims to tell how the hex and what the characters are currently going through came to be. As understanding the current crisis at hand is placed at the end goal of the episode, this entry is rightfully taken a storm by heading into the past of Wanda herself and how she would eventually come across the creation of this sadistic and manipulated version of Westview, New Jersey by an uncontrollable accident. What had never been fully explored in Avengers Age of Ultron is given special treatment here on top of continuing where Endgame left our hero on. Whereas other episodes included Vision, Monica, and the rest of the gang digging through the hex for solutions to their current predicament, episode eight tells those characters to take a backseat as the titular Avenger grabs the spotlight with her enemy for the entire runtime.
After a brief introduction to the show’s true threat followed by a direct run into her bewitching basement where the story last left off, WandaVision takes its time to push the plot forward by looking only backward. While it may start out as a mysterious explanation of Agatha’s identity and familiar powers, the idea that Wanda is still in full control of the hex remains intact as even our villain struggles to understand how Westview came to be. Desperate for answers and reasoning, Agatha is able to manipulate Wanda into showing her how she created the fake reality by exploring her first real moment of trauma up until her latest. As Wanda relives her childhood, teen years, and the aftermath of both her brother and lover’s deaths audiences get to view how a distressed woman with a strong moral compass was driven mad by the work of others.
Before episode eight, WandaVision painted the psychokinetic Avenger as the main threat at hand. Not only did she create a world where everyone’s lives revolve around her, but she scarily enjoys the madness at hand as it understandably provided an escape for her from reality. Similarly to the other members in her comic book family that went from villains to anti-heroes and straight-up heroes to some audiences (Magneto for example from weekly villain to holocaust survivor and nazi hunter), “Previously On” paints Wanda in a different light. Of course, no one thought her being a villain by the end of the show’s run was going to happen, but it was reasonable to guess that she was going to overcome her misdoings by conquering her internal pain. While the series still sets this up for the next episode, diving into the origins of the hex further justifies all of Wanda’s actions.
As we have seen before with WandaVision, it is abundantly clear that Marvel Studios never skimps out on following up on details that were previously established in their other films. The work from the studio’s consistent efforts pays off astoundingly. From Loki’s Specter dauntingly placed in Hydra’s headquarters to Stark missiles destroying everything Wanda had, episode eight is jam-packed with events audiences always expected this cinematic universe to eventually include. How Wanda’s childhood and later years drive her mind to pure insanity is so well executed that it deserves all the praise it is going to get. After building upon the idea that the character has always been suffering, those soft spots of comedic moments viewers laughed at before are painted in a far darker matter here. Wanda’s world of references is not just an excuse for the directors to pay homage to some of their personal favorite shows, it is a stress reliever of happiness for her that all comes full circle, however, it also is a means of constant pain for her as she attempts to suppress some of her happiest and most destructive memories.
There is only one aspect where episode eight is lacking and that has to do with Agatha Harkness- however, this is by no means a fault of the episode. “Previously On” opens up with a fantastically orchestrated opening where audiences witness how Agatha came to the height of her power during the Salem Witch Trials. Outside of this scene and acting as a guide for opening up Wanda’s past trauma, the audience does not get to see anything else involving her until the episode can come to a close. Just as the show always does every week, even more questions evolve from the events audiences do get to witness. What exactly is Agatha’s endgame? How has Vision still not found Wanda amidst all this madness? What is up with Pietro– or rather “Fietro” as Agatha calls him? Is the new Vision a recreation or restoration? In its constant aim to create mystery, WandaVision always knows how to keep viewers captivating by chucking some breadcrumbs along a long and windy path.
WandaVision’s penultimate episode is a complete thriller of triumph as it gracefully makes its way to the final credit roll. As the show is ready to conclude next week with its season- or possibly even series finale (as we do not know if there will be more), it still continues to build upon its ingenious structure that has made it more engaging and captivating with every week that passes. The series continues to reinvent its lead protagonist in new ways that seemingly add depth to not only her own story but every character that is around her. Wanda Maximoff started out as a fan-favorite character; a key player in the story of earth’s mightiest heroes, but not exactly a critical one. As WandaVision has setup its lights, locked down the cameras, and rolled the curtains back, the show is practically guaranteed to make a star-studded finale when it returns for its conclusion next Friday. We are all ready for more of the Scarlet Witch.