Television

The Casual Marvel Fan’s Guide to WandaVision Episode 6

Which sitcom is this? What’re Billy’s powers? And what’s up with Monica’s blood?

Kathryn Hahn as Agnes sits behind the wheel of a car, clutching her chest. A pair of red hands belonging to an unseen figure outside the car reaches toward Agnes. A large white-outlined question mark is superimposed over the image.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+.

This article contains spoilers for the first six episodes of WandaVision.

Which sitcom are we living in this week?

It’s Malcolm in the Middle time. The opening credits are a dead giveaway, as is the switch from a classic sitcom presentation to the single-camera format, which the Fox sitcom played a major role in establishing as the dominant form of the 21st century, as well as the use of  a child narrator breaking the fourth wall. They even did their own Halloween episode. Given that last week’s model, Family Ties, ended in 1989 and Malcolm premiered in 2000, that means WandaVision has skipped over the ’90s entirely—sorry, Married … With Children and Roseanne.

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Anything important about this week’s commercial? And what is it based on?

Unlike the ads for Lagos brand paper towels or Hydra Soak bubble bath, the spot for Yo-Magic yogurt—a mashup of a vintage Lunchables ad, Go-Gurt, and the official mascot of Shark Bites fruit snacks, with a dash of Poochie—doesn’t reference a specific event in Wanda’s past. It’s more of a general reference to survivor’s guilt, and also to how tough it is to get those goddamn foil tops off a yogurt cup.

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I assume these are everyone’s vintage (’90s?) costumes?

Tommy and Billy first appeared as Young Avengers in the comics in the early 2000s, and yes, they are sporting costumes that are similar to their OG outfits. (Malcolm in the Middle also aired in the early 2000s, so it works!) We’ve got Billy in the classy shawl he ends up donning as a young adult, and Speed with the white spiky hair he grows up to have. It’s a cute nod to their superhero futures.

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And yep, Wanda is wearing her classic comic-book look of a unitard, sporty tiara, and scarlet cape. Same with Vision, although his costume is more low-rent than it looks in the comics. But his traditional color scheme is green and yellow, and that is what he sports here. (Love those yellow high-tops, for a modern twist.)

I get that one of the kids is super fast like his uncle Pietro. What about the other one?

Well, let’s be clear on who is who, please—we do not condone lumping twins together! The super-fast kid is Tommy, whose superhero name later on (per the Marvel comics) is Speed (not the most creative, no offense). As for Billy, he grows up to become Wiccan. At one point in the comics, Billy explains his own powers: “See, I’m the child of a witch and an android. I’m their wish come true. Bigger than magic, living information, retro-reincarnated in human form.” Thus, he is something like his mom (and, to a lesser extent, dad) times 100—a warlock whose magical powers let him do all kinds of things, like warping reality, teleportation, clairvoyance (as seen in the episode), telekinesis, and all types of hardcore spell-casting. Some readers may also be interested to know that, in the comics, Speed is bisexual, while Wiccan is gay, and ends up forming a pretty cute couple with Hulkling.

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So does the quick shot of Zombie Pietro, as shot up in Age of Ultron, mean that even this other version of Pietro is dead?

It’s possible that Wanda reincarnated the Pietro we met in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but, as he puts it, the details got a little fuzzy. Or maybe she conjured this one up out of the ether, as she apparently did with Billy and Tommy. Another fan theory has it that Wanda plucked a Pietro out of the multiverse, just not her Pietro, but instead the one who inhabits the universe containing the X-Men movies.

Is there any significance to the movies playing in Westview’s town square?

Isn’t there always? The Incredibles is about a family of superheroes that includes a young boy with super-speed, so that one’s kind of a layup. But The Parent Trap, a movie about child twins who trick their estranged parents into getting back together? That might suggest that Billy and Tommy play a more active role than we’ve seen so far, or it could just be another flex about how much of movie history Disney now owns. Meanwhile, Westview’s choice to screen Night of the Living Dead seems self-explanatory given the presence of the aforementioned zombie.

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What about the names Ellis Ave and Rolling Hill?

No idea!

Why is everyone on the edge of town just … standing around?

It seems like Wanda only has the bandwidth to actively manage a handful of characters at the same time, so when Vision isn’t where he’s supposed to be, the residents of WestView fall back on their base programming, either freezing entirely or getting stuck in a loop. If that makes them seem more like non-playable characters in a video game than sitcom extras, it doesn’t seem like an accident that this episode also features the show’s first reference to gaming, with Billy (or is it Tommy?) wielding a vintage PlayStation controller.

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What’s going on with Monica Rambeau’s blood?

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It wouldn’t be a stretch for Monica to get some powers of her own (especially since she’ll appear in the next Captain Marvel movie), as she has in the comics. In the last episode, Darcy described the Hex as pulsing with “cosmic microwave background radiation.” Who knows what that stuff can do?

What was up with the Sokovia flashback?

Wanda and Pietro are Sokovian, which is something that Wanda has tried to mask in her picturesque Westview life. But the two did grow up in the frequently wartorn fictional country, which is said to border the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The quick flashback to the twins’ own childhood trick-or-treating played into traditional Eastern European stereotypes of creepy old folks and impoverished slums, which is disappointing (if not surprising) to see Marvel lean into. But it did give us the sense that Wanda and Pietro didn’t grow up in the happiest or most comfortable of places. The show also finally explicitly acknowledges the fact that Wanda’s accent is no more, as she asks why Pietro’s is gone and then promptly has the question turned back around on her. The gist seems to be, “It’s just gone now, so deal with it.”

Read more in Slate about WandaVision.

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