'WandaVision' Series Finale Review: Less Than Wanda-Ful
Marvel Studios dared to challenge the boundaries of the superhero genre, and boldly pushed for a new breed of sit-com to take on television. Though the greater scope of WandaVision (2021-) may have been an ambitious take on the "slice of life" with a creative twist, the series finale proves that the comic book studio folds under pressure.
The mounting sense of anticipation fades away quickly during the prolonged fight sequences that dominate the episode, drowning out the emotional overtones of the show's plot. The busy, rushed, conclusive episode steps away from the natural cadence of the series, cashing out screen time in exchange for dramatic final faceoffs between Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) and Wanda "Scarlet Witch" Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). All the while, the predictable clash between Vision and White Vision, both played by Paul Bettany, distracts from the conflict, and the two battles compete against one another. It forgets about what makes this show so individualistic: its heart.
The confrontation between Harkness and Maximoff almost seems pointless, and though Maximoff dons her latest Scarlet Witch costume, Harkness's ending seems a bit too tame for a show that prided itself on its darker and eerie moments. Suppose it was to demonstrate the control in which Maximoff gained over herself but reverting Harkess back into the "nosy neighbor" presented itself as an unprepared solution for the villain, who was revealed to have ultimate control over Maximoff from the very start.
The ongoing mystery of Harkness's husband, "Ralph," is eventually revealed to be only Pietro/Peter "Quicksilver" Maximoff (Evan Peters), and the attempt to toss in a crass joke takes away from the character's potential altogether. It was hopeful that Peters would serve as that link between the 20th Century Fox X-Men and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the only acknowledgment to Peters' mutant past is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment of Tommy "Speed" Maximoff (Jett Klyne) in a S.W.O.R.D ballcap and goggles. Sound familiar? It's a pull from X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), where Peters' Quicksilver snags a Pentagon guard's cap for himself while breaking out his father, Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), from his government confines.
The fate of the young Maximoff speedster and twin brother Billy "Wiccan" Maximoff (Julian Hilliard) is left up in the air. As Marvel assembles members of the Young Avengers across their next slate of film and television, there's room to assume that pair will turn up again in some capacity. The return of the Maximoff twins is sure to be disjointed, as there is no clear-cut answer to what actually happens to them, leaving another question unanswered upon the show's last episode.
The future of Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and S.W.O.R.D isn't explicitly laid down, and while it looks like Woo is now in charge, there's no saying how S.W.O.R.D will find its significance again outside of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) keyed up to play a significant role in Captain Marvel II (2022) after gaining her powers from entering the Hex, breaking through the barrier of Westview set by Maximoff.
WandaVision has used its tenderness to create a story based on love and loss, and while that may not be the core value of the ninth episode, there are moments that call back to what the television series chooses as its foundations. Maximoff sacrifices her reality forged from hurt and grief in order to right her wrongs, and despite the expectations that a sapient Doctor Stephen Strange or a wise Professor Charles Xavier will guide Maximoff to make her decision, she makes it for herself, eyes overflowing with tears as she shares her goodbyes with Vision. It's a transformative moment for her as she releases her happiness for the sake of forgiveness.
Olsen may be the star of WandaVision, but she and Bettany's unmatched chemistry sells every heart-wrenching and the sincerely affectionate moment that they share together. Vision's empathy and compassion balance out Maximoff's impossibility to cope with the grief that consumes her, speaking to the intense care and precision in which these characters were embraced by the headlining actors. It's the first time that Marvel is truly comfortable with exploring the entirety of both Vision and Maximoff's personalities, elaborating on their complexities and the different aspects that make them who they are.
Marvel's inclusion of mid and post-credit scenes has been formed a certain reputation around them, teasing what may be to come for the future of their cinematic universe. However, the two credits that trail after these credits are certainly more disappointing compared to the past, and are uninteresting, to say the least. Any hope that there will be direct ties to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) are to be dismissed, and outside of a mere mention of the Sorcerer Supreme, he's nowhere to be seen. It's a mistake on Marvel's behalf to not include any indication of when Maximoff will be seen again.
WandaVision's denouement bites off more than it can chew, feeling incomplete, rushed, and anticlimactic when compared to the wildly creative and strikingly original disposition of the series. Lopsided and half-hearted, the finale struggles to meet expectations or to keep in stride with the pace that it has set for itself, easily overshadowed by every episode that came before it.