Television

The Casual Marvel Fan’s Guide to WandaVision Episode 8

White Vision, chaos magic, and more, explained.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda and Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness both look shocked. A giant question mark looms in front of them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Marvel Studios.

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

Agatha has been alive for more than three centuries? How? What?

She’s a witch. They have longer life spans than humans (except for the ones Agatha sucked all the magic out of, turning them into lifeless husks).

So no sitcoms this week?

Not exactly, but we did figure out why Wanda is so fixated on them. Turns out that back in Sokovia, the Maximoff family would unwind after a long day of living in a failed Eastern Bloc state by gathering around the TV and popping on one of their favorite shows, both as a means of escape and to practice their English. Her dad brings home a suitcase filled with DVDs of Bewitched, I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, and other series that have inspired various incarnations of Westview.

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What about later in her prison cell, the 1970s show with the kid playing the kazoo? Was that The Brady Bunch?

Yep, the very same sitcom that inspired Episode 3.

Is there really a DVD set of The Dick Van Dyke Show that’s packaged in a cool box that looks like an old-timey TV?

Yes!

Is there actually a Dick Van Dyke Show episode about … walnuts?

Sort of! The episode the Maximoffs are watching when their apartment gets blown up (Season 2, Episode 20) is a famous one, in which Van Dyke’s character has a nightmare influenced by a sci-fi TV show and dreams that all the people in his life have been replaced by aliens.

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Shenanigans is a funny word for a Sokovian tween to know.

Agreed. Linguists are undecided on the exact etymology of shenanigans, which the OED dates to 1855. Related terms in other languages include Scheinheiligens (18th-century German, “sham holy men”), nannicking (East Anglian, “playing the fool”) and, presumably, ӡenaniҍanӌ (Sokovian, “mischief”).

Who is the person Wanda sees when she first comes into contact with Loki’s staff?

It’s the outline of the classic Scarlet Witch costume, a version of which appeared in Episode 6 of WandaVision as Wanda’s halloween costume. It seems this is when Wanda first encounters, and becomes, the “Scarlet Witch” that Agatha later tells us she’s been looking for.

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Which Infinity Stone is that again in Loki’s staff? How did Hydra get it? Am I going to have to keep remembering Infinity Stones? I thought we were done with all that.

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We will never, ever be done with the Infinity Stones. Loki’s staff, given to him by Thanos, contained the Mind Stone. After the first Avengers movie, agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who were really agents of Hydra took possession of the staff (we saw how this happened in Avengers: Endgame). It was explained in Avengers: Age of Ultron that Hydra scientists used the staff to experiment on volunteers like Wanda and Pietro—and we saw in this week’s WandaVision that all that really meant was walking into a room containing the staff. Here’s the mystery: Since the Mind Stone was destroyed in Endgame, what’s embedded in the forehead of the Vision in Westview? Moreover: What’s in the forehead of the Vision that Hayward powers back up in the midcredits scene?

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What is S.W.O.R.D. director Hayward doing? And why did he lie about Wanda stealing Vision’s body?

It seems as if his endgame all along has been to revive Vision, whom he calls the most powerful sentient weapon ever created. He brings a grieving Wanda face-to-face with Vision’s dismembered corpse, and not-so-subtly plants the idea that she could use her powers to revive him. When that doesn’t work, he tracks Wanda to Westview, telling Jimmy and Monica that the real Vision’s body is inside the anomaly so they’ll investigate—although this episode makes clear that Wanda created Westview’s Vision out of thin air. Meanwhile he has his own color-free substitute carted up to New Jersey, where it turns out a little jolt of Wanda’s power is enough to bring it online.

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Would Vision be able to purchase a plot of land in suburban New Jersey without a Social Security number or any kind of credit history?

The legal status of synthezoids is not a question our reality has had to wrangle with. Presumably Earth-199999 has worked it out somehow.

So Westview just kinda happened, huh?

Agatha sends Wanda through these memory doors in an attempt to learn how her power was amplified so profoundly. Wanda’s primal scream on the land that Vision purchased for them “to grow old” unleashes her magic at a previously unseen level, so yes, it does seem as though the immense power that created Westview came about as a result of Wanda’s grief, possibly mixed with buyer’s remorse.

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What’s “chaos magic”? Do the colors of witches’ magic represent some aspect of their power?

In the comics, chaos magic is magic so ancient and powerful that for centuries it was believed to be mythical. It allows its user to warp time and space, rearranging the fabric of existence. As for the colors: Wanda’s magic has always been red in the comics, but purple magic (like Agatha’s) and blue magic (like that of Agatha’s poor mother) seem to be inventions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, possibly developed in a brainstorming meeting right after someone said, “I love it when Harry Potter and Voldemort shoot magic lasers at each other and they’re different colors.”

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However! There’s always a theory. In this case, the theory is that Agatha’s purple magic implies a connection to Dormammu, the primordial bad guy in Doctor Strange.

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Why does Agatha tell Wanda, “You’re the Scarlet Witch”? Wasn’t she already the Scarlet Witch? What’s going on here?

It appears that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the “Scarlet Witch” is some sort of presence, fabled witch, or prophesied being. Whatever the case, Agatha has been looking for her. But until this point, Wanda hasn’t been called that name, despite the fact that she has long been known by that name in the comics.

Is Agatha friendly?

I mean, see above, re: lifeless husks. But also, in the comics, Agatha does train Wanda, helping her make the most of her powers, and she also nannies Franklin Richards, the son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Agatha’s not a hero, per se: She’s often portrayed as having her own agenda that isn’t necessarily aligned with those of Marvel’s superheroes. But generally Agatha Harkness isn’t outright villainous.

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Who is this new all-white Vision introduced in the midcredits scene? Is he gonna be chill, like Gandalf the White?

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When the classic, Marvel Comics version of the Vision debuted in The Avengers in 1968, he had the maroon coloring we know in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel, had an earlier character called the Vision who first appeared in 1940.) This Vision kept that look until a storyline in the 1980s in which he was disassembled by an enemy of the Avengers. When he was rebuilt, he was emotionless and had a pale-white complexion, leading some fans to call this incarnation “White Vision” or “Spectral Vision.” If that’s the case here, he may not be chill as much as icy.

Does this mean there are two Visions now?

For now. Although, as we’ve seen, the Vision that Wanda created disintegrates outside her magical Westview, so who knows how long Double Vision can last.

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