HomeTelevisionWandaVision Finale Review: Wanda Wants to Go Where Nobody Knows Her Name

WandaVision Finale Review: Wanda Wants to Go Where Nobody Knows Her Name

WandaVision Finale
Photo Credit: Disney+

“So long, darling.”

Finales are always hard. They need to cleanly catch every ball thrown up in the air over the course of the series. They need to resolve character arcs and land some sort of thesis statement on what all this has been for in the first place. They need to tease the audience just enough to make them wonder what could still come to be, even in the cases when we already know we, as the audience, may not have the chance to see those events play out for ourselves. But even more so than any of that, finales on television are hard because they are the antithesis of what the medium is all about.

We go to TV to watch stories week to week. These stories and the characters contained within become a part of our lives as we let them into our homes and into our hearts. And the medium is built around a narrative propulsion that makes you want to tune in every week. It’s a machine of emotional investment and engagement that only betrays the audience when it ends. And yet, we all know it must, just as all things ultimately will. This week, it was WandaVision’s turn.

Over the length of roughly two Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Jac Shaeffer, Matt Shakman, Kevin Feige, and the incredibly talented cast and crew of WandaVision presented us a story of love and grief and intrigue and nostalgia. We finally had the chance to truly get to know Wanda and Vision, whose love story and identity crises were previously pushed to the background of busy ensemble films with bigger fish to fry. We bore witness to their love and glimpsed a life of domestic bliss that never could really be for them, as they raised their boys in the falsely idyllic town of Westview, New Jersey. And, over these episodes, we also saw that family and the love that bound it together begin to crumble as the weight of the fantasy bore down upon them. 

As we pick up this week, we leave off on the cliffhanger that sustained back to back episodes previously, the fate of Wanda’s twin sons, Billy and Tommy. We see that Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha is using them as little more than bait to goad their mother into expending as much of her magic as possible as she attempts to rescue them. Agatha, a woman who has devoted centuries of her life to magic, feels entitled to the “chaos magic” running through Wanda’s being. From friendly neighbor to yet another in a long line of antagonistic forces who feels Wanda has more than she deserves and more than she can handle, Agatha spends most of this episode arrogantly insisting she knows just who Wanda is and who she should be. And she is far from the only one.

If the WandaVision Finale, and this series more broadly, has any coherent theme, it is that we cannot allow others to define who we are in this world. We cannot surrender to the images of ourselves that others presume we should claim as our own, nor should we let society set those expectations for us. Agatha may be the one most explicitly playing this game with Wanda in this episode, but everything about this series has had this subtext running through it. To Director Hayward, Wanda is at first a menace and then a useful patsy for his plan to turn The Vision into a SWORD-controlled weapon. To Monica, Wanda is a virtuous hero who Monica needs to overcome their grief as proof that, maybe, one day Monica may be able to overcome her own. To the rebooted White Vision, Wanda is a mission to be terminated, first, and then a distant memory of a past life, later. To the townspeople of Westview, Wanda is a monster to be feared who hijacked their mind and cut them off from the world so her own twisted fantasy could be made manifest. In her past, Ultron viewed her as a useful weapon; Tony Stark as an unstable one; and Steve Rogers as a fellow super soldier trying to save her country and make a difference in the world.

But who is Wanda Maximoff to herself? Over the course of the series, Schaeffer and Olsen work together to remind the audience that, in a sea of trauma and grief and other people’s opinions, it can be impossible to know one’s true self. Wanda spent most the season trying on a new persona every week, trying to see which brand of wholesome Americana, which had been fed to her during family bonding nights courtesy of the American sitcom canon, she could slip into that would remove the painful reality of who she was and how she felt inside. Eventually, she also becomes a loving wife and mother to a family that might give her that meaning of which her grief has robbed her. And yet, all of these false identities and expectations are not truly who she is, because she cannot be contained by other people’s expectations of her and she cannot be contained by an external fantasy she adopted as a coping mechanism.

What she finds over the course of the WandaVision Finale is who she truly is. She is a being of pain, but also of love, as we witness during her tender goodbyes to her children and husband. She is smart and powerful, as we see when she manages to outsmart Agatha at her own game, rune-ing her plans. She is empathetic, so overwhelmed by the pain of those she’s inadvertently tortured that she feels suffocated (sadly also triggering her powers to, seemingly unintentionally, suffocate those same people quite literally). And she is also a morally grey figure, who will sometimes lash out in harmful ways.

By the end of the series, she implies to Monica that she does not deserve redemption for what she has done, because her actions are unforgivable. She seems as haunted by this as she previously did over her accident in Lagos during the events of Captain America: Civil War and the role she played in initially assisting Ultron during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Each of these events are distinct in the eyes of the viewer for clear contextual reasons, but it’s hard to view Olsen’s performance here and not see that same tortured, self hating corner of Wanda’s psyche, the kind that might also make her think she deserves all the misfortune that has befallen her. She’s not a hero or a villain. She’s a human being who contains multitude…including maybe the spirit of an ancient witch deity. 

In that way, one could look at the ending of this series as a melancholy one. Wanda may get a clearer sense of who she is as a person and as a magical being by the end, but she has still not learned to love herself the way The Vision, her Vision, does as he bids her a goodbye as the walls of both The Hex and their home, together, crumble around them. However, her final moment with Monica, where she admits that she still does not understand how to control her power but she is now committed to learning how, is the first true moment of sincere hope we see of her in this whole series. And it’s hope based on faith in herself, and in her ability to master the incredibly beautiful, chaotic, and powerful soul she possesses within her. A hope that, in finally knowing what it means to be “The Scarlet Witch,” she can learn what it means to be Wanda Maximoff. And in a story about a woman, beset by grief and tragedy, learning to come into who she truly is on her own terms, that’s the kind of hope by which it’s hard not to be moved.

The WandaVision Finale is now streaming on Disney+.

WandaVision Finale TidBits

-Outside of Wanda’s moving, messy arc, Vision was our other principal lead this week. Bettany had several great moments, most of which were contained within the lovely pair of scenes where he accepts the reality of who he really is and says goodbye to a life that was never truly real and yet was as real as he was. That being said, Vision outsmarting Whi-Viz was both a fun mirror to the way Wanda outsmarts Agatha later, since neither could be vanquished through sheer force alone, and the perfect way to end a fight between two robots.

-Many people feel like there were not enough consequences for Wanda in the finale, given the harm she did. I personally feel like losing her entire family (yet again) and isolating from society is a heavy price for her to pay, but it is also worth noting that she feels, in those closing moments, like she is unworthy of forgiveness. The series has empathy and compassion for her, more than she may have for herself, but it is not excusing what she did in her grief and pain. A lesser show would have found a way to protect their “hero” by the series end, but this show was confident enough to sit in that moral discomfort in the end.

-If you are wondering why Monica and Darcy were sidelined in this episode, director Matt Shakman has revealed that an entire subplot where the two team up with Ralph Bohner (named after the classic Growing Pains sidekick of the same name) to steal Agatha’s magical text of the Darkhold from her demon bunny rabbit was cut due to COVID-related restrictions and delays.


Alex Marcus
Alex Marcushttps://anchor.fm/CinemaJoes
Alex Marcus is The Pop Break's Podcasting Director and host of the monthly podcast TV Break as well as the monthly Bill vs. The MCU podcast. When he's not talking TV, he can be found talking film on his other podcast Cinema Joes, a podcast where three average Joes discuss the significant topics in movie culture. New episodes debut every other Thursday on Spotify, Overcast, Apple Podcasts, and more!


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