[Caution: This post contains spoilers for Episodes 5 & 6 of WandaVision.]
Grief is a strange thing.
Whenever we lose someone that we love, our feelings can fly all over the place. Misplaced anger, sadness, relief or even joy can come at us in waves without prompting. We can fight with ourselves in disbelief or simply crumble under the weight of our emotions. Because everyone grieves differently, these feelings can be scary, causing us to ask whether or not what we’re experiencing is normal (or even acceptable).
But WandaVision has taken this to a whole other level.
For those who aren’t keeping up (and, seriously, why wouldn’t you be?), WandaVision follows the marital bliss of beloved Avengers Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). Playing out through the lens of classic television sitcoms, everything seems right in the world for the couple until cracks begin to appear in the façade that point to something more sinister.
Since it began, the show has literally stormed the globe. (Current reports suggest it’s the #1 series in the world.) What began as a history lesson in television nostalgia has edged ever closer into true horror with a conspiracy angle that’s driving the story forward. All this has blended together into something truly magical that has drawn in new audiences while connecting with those already heavily invested in the MCU. Regardless of your previous interest in Marvel, WandaVision has all of us asking the same question right now…
What’s going on with Wanda?
The most recent episodes have really leaned into the fact that Wanda is heavily involved in the machinations of this world. Neighbours ask her if she wants them to ‘take it from the top’ when things don’t go as planned. She can clearly control elements such as time and repair what’s broken when needed. She’s even brought back her brother from the dead (even if he’s not who she remembers). For her, Westview is a safe space where she has ‘everything that she wanted’ (as she indicated in her brief appearance to the S.W.O.R.D. installation).
But it still seems entirely connected with Wanda’s grief.
In the last few episodes, the series has specifically referenced Vision and Pietro’s deaths (even throwing Ultron’s name into the mix). When confronted with questions about her reality, Wanda attempts to ‘roll the credits’ in an effort to skip to the end of the episode and ignore the conversation (to no avail). And, of course, the sixth episode saw Vision almost vaporized in a Truman Show-esque attempted ‘jailbreak’.
What has become clear though is that Wanda can’t seem to bring people back from the dead. After the death of their dog Sparky, Wanda is called out by Agnes and the twins to ‘fix it’ yet she says she doesn’t have the power to do so. Although her resurrected brother and, of course, Vision seem free to live within the Hex, Wanda seems powerless (as of right now) to be able to keep those she loves from dying.
Apparently, in the Hex, there are rules about death.
Rules we don’t understand, but rules nonetheless.
In many ways, there’s a strange comfort around death in this way. Though our grief may plead with us to keep people alive, there’s also a sense of freedom that comes from being able to let them go. Although he’s thriving within Westview, Vision feels trapped. Neither Vision nor Wanda seems at peace with this arrangement, even though Wanda seems the most willing to try to maintain the pretense of marital bliss. The loss of a loved one is never an easy experience but, assuming that Wanda is running this show, she seems to have lost all sense of objectivity. If she can have her husband and brother back, she is determined to make it happen. (Admittedly, this is still unclear. While the series is leaning this direction, I’m not convinced this is entirely her decision.)
But, by being unable (or unwilling) to process her own grief and release her loved ones from her fantasy world, I would argue that Wanda’s really the one in prison. While her time with Vision and Pietro may have been cut short—saving the world comes at a cost—it is the time that she did have with them that matters most.
Like Wanda, we cannot control life and death… but we can celebrate the people in our lives when we have them.
Though the MCU has never hinted (officially) at any belief in an afterlife or specific faith, what seems clear is that Vision is being prevented from taking those next steps by being held on to by his beloved. In the same way, Wanda seems to have become a victim of her own marital façade. For her, hope appears to be deeply connected to her ability to release those she loves from her will by accepting the truth that they have already gone. Like any great series, there comes a time when the show needs to be cancelled. Though she cannot bear the thought of life without them, neither can she keep them alive by forcing them to stay in her fantasy world. In fact, this release may be the greatest act of love that she can offer them (or herself).
When she does, maybe then the healing can begin.
Maybe then she (and they) can truly be free.
The first six episodes of WandaVision are currently streaming on Disney+ with new episodes airing each Friday.