Episode eight takes a deep dive into Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) grief and provides an origin story for Agatha Harkness (Katheryn Hahn). The episode starts where the last one left off with Wanda under Agatha’s spell. Agatha gives her a look at her past before Agatha moved to Westview.
We flashback to Salem in 1693: Agatha Harkness is tied at the stake for “betraying” her coven and “practicing the darkest of magic.” She denies committing any crimes and pleads for her life. Her pleas fall on deaf ears. The witches (including her mother) try killing her by draining her of her power, but Agatha ends up using her dark magic to drain and kill them instead, and she absorbs their powers. I don’t think she was in full control of what happened, or maybe she was. I’m not sure. I think the scene is open for interpretation.
The flashback ends. Wanda tries to read Agatha’s mind but can’t access her thoughts to figure out where the twins are or what Agatha’s plan is.
Wanda demands to know where her children are. Her Sokovian accent is out in full force. She tries to use her powers against Agatha, but can’t because of her powers are being canceled out by the runes on Agatha’s walls. (One of the runes is an M, a possible nod to The House of M comics?) This protection spell means that only Agatha can use her magic. This renders Wanda completely helpless.
Agatha wants to know how Wanda got to be so powerful. She seems to believe that Wanda was always a witch. “When I sensed this place, the afterglow of so many spells cast all at once. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.” Agatha demands to know how Wanda did it, created her own reality, but Wanda denies doing anything.
“I think it’s time to look at some real reruns.” Agatha takes Wanda back to the past and forces Wanda to relive some painful memories so that she can figure out how Wanda created her own reality. At first Wanda refuses, but Agatha allows her to hear her twins yelling for help as if they’re being tortured to manipulate her into doing what she wants.
Wanda walks through Agatha’s magically conjured door into the apartment she lived in with Pietro and her parents in Sokovia. They’re preparing for family TV night. They watch classic sitcoms to practice their English. Pietro calls Wanda to join them. Wanda enters the scene and transforms into her past self. Her dad lets her choose the show they’ll be watching. She chooses her favorite: The Dick Van Dyke show. This answers the question of why the alternate reality Wanda created is a sitcom: it reminds her of happy memories of her family, and it explains why the first two episodes are in Black and White.
This is the night their apartment building was bombed and Wanda and Pietro’s parents were killed. The twins are trapped under the rubble. A Stark Industries bomb lands near them, but doesn’t go off. Wanda sees their TV in the middle of the debris still playing The Dick Van Dyke episode.
Wanda says, “By the end of the episode, you realize it was all a bad dream. None of it was real.” Unfortunately, sitcoms aren’t real and her parents being killed isn’t a bad dream.
Agatha pulls Wanda out of the memory. She thinks Wanda’s the reason the bomb didn’t go off. She says Wanda used a probability hex. Wanda denies it and says the bomb was defective.
Agatha conjures another door. Wanda realizes what coming next. “I don’t wanna go back there.” Agatha tells her, “The only way forward is back.”
Wanda walks through the door into her next traumatic memory: Being Hydra’s human experiment. This is where she was exposed to the Mind stone that gave her her powers. And you can’t have the Mind stone without Loki’s staff which does make an appearance in this scene.
Wanda is the first person in these experiments to survive coming into contact with an Infinity Stone. This scene is visually stunning. She sees a vision of herself as the Scarlet Witch. She passes out from the experience and is put in isolation.
While in isolation, Wanda watches The Brady Bunch which explains the 70s sitcom vibe of episode three.
After the memory ends, Agatha tries to put the pieces together. She’s still convinced that Wanda has always been a witch:
“So, little orphan Wanda got up close and personal with an Infinity Stone that amplified what, otherwise, would’ve died on the vine. The broken pieces of you are adding up, buttercup. I have a theory, but I need more.” – Agatha
Another door appears leading to the next memory which takes place at the Avengers compound after Pietro’s death in Age of Ultron. Once again, Wanda is watching a sitcom. (Can’t blame her. They are the ultimate in comfort television. I do the same thing when I’m sad. I call it sitcom therapy.) This time it’s Malcolm in the Middle.
This is the best scene of the episode where we get some of the best writing in the MCU to date courtesy of Laura Donney:
Vision: Wanda, I don’t presume to know what you’re feeling, but I would like to know. Should you wish to tell me. Should that be of some comfort to you.
Wanda: What makes you think that talking about it would bring me comfort?
Vision: Oh, see, I read that the-
Wanda: The only thing that would bring me comfort is seeing him again. Sorry. I’m so tired. It’s…It’s just like this wave washing over me, again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again. And I…It’s just gonna drown me.
Vision: No. No, it won’t.
Wanda: Yeah. How do you know?
Vision: Well, because it can’t all be sorrow, can it? I’ve always been alone, so I don’t feel the lack. It’s all I’ve ever known, I’ve never experienced loss because I have never had a loved one to lose. But what is grief, if not love persevering?
This scene meant a lot for me personally, and I know it’s a scene that resonates with anyone who has experienced grief.
Wanda walks through the next door. This time into SWORD headquarters to get Vision’s body back. Wanda’s only intention was to give Vision a proper burial. But Agent Hayward (Josh Stamberg) doesn’t intend on giving the body up. He lets Wanda have a look at what they’re doing with the body: “dismantling the best sentient weapon ever made.” Vision’s head is one table; his body scattered around the room on other tables.
She shatters the glass of the observation deck and flies down to say goodbye to Vision.
She leaves, gets in her car and drives to Westview, New Jersey. She drives to the piece of property Vision bought. They were going to build a house “to grow old in.”
Overwhelmed with grief, Wanda falls to her knees. Just like in Age of Ultron, after Pietro’s death, power explodes from her. It’s from this power that the Hex is created, the house is built, and Vision is brought back to life.
Agatha ends the tour of Wanda’s memories. Back outside she holds Billy and Tommy hostage. I thought she was going to kill them right in front of Wanda!
In the end credits scene, we get our first look at White Vision. In the comics this meant that after being rebuilt he lost all of his memories and emotions, essentially everything that made him human, and has been returned to the state of being a weapon.
Only one more episode to go! This was my most anticipated Marvel show so I’m sad it’s ending. But at the same time, I can’t wait to see how it ends! The finale streams tomorrow on Disney Plus.