WandaVision Episode 4 Review: The Desert of the Real

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WandaVision has finally pulled back the curtain and, much like Neo discovering the real world, we’ve seen just what makes up the reality that Wanda is functioning in as well as a few new facets and realities within the Marvel universe itself. 

Things got even more interesting within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this Monica-focused episode was just the shot in the arm the series needed to add a level of urgency to the horror that’s being created within the town of Westview. Spending some time in the desert of the real was just what fans needed to see proof that WandaVision is up to snuff in more ways than one. 

The Blip, The Bleep, The Bloop

(L-R): Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Randall Park as Jimmy Woo in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

One of the things I’ve wondered about personally is the trauma of the ordinary people caught in the blip. Fans were invested in the stories of the Avengers, but what about the people on the ground? What about the people in planes, the people in hospitals, the Doctors that put their lives on the line disappearing during surgery?

WandaVision shows us that through the eyes of Monica Rambeau (played by the marvelous Teyonah Parris), and it is a fantastic narrative choice. It shows that Monica is going to become a major player in the MCU from here on out. We see the trauma of returning from the blip, of being five years younger than everyone else around you, and of losing loved ones through another person’s eyes and we learn just how Monica got caught up in the world that Wanda’s creating.

You can get sucked into television pretty easily.

Don’t Touch That Dial

A number of other characters also join her. Darcy returns and discovers that Wanda is broadcasting a television signal – a sitcom depicting her perfect life. For the first time the audience gets a look at just what’s going on outside of the television screen (and yes, the meta is confusing) SWORD has set up a monitoring post and all they are left to do (much like us) is watch television. 

There are a number of nice little throw backs that tie it all together from Darcy’s hand being on the notebook at the end of the first episode to the commercials. We learn how Jimmy Woo was able to communicate with Wanda and we see just how Monica was asked to…leave the show. In the end the meta really is confusing as Wanda and Vision’s TV is being watched by someone else’s television being …watched by someone else’s television. 

We even learn the origin of the mysterious bee keeper (though not how he exits the show which is a serious problem. It’s clear that whatever or whoever is in Westview is dangerous in more ways than one.)  Westview has become the perfect life, at the expense of a town full of three thousand missing people.  Especially Monica Rambeau whose disappearance has motivated SWORD’s arrival. She is clearly going to be their guise going forward. 

The Desert of the Real 

wandavision still

There’s no real objective to this episode beyond explaining the first 3 episodes. If this follows a pattern, then the next 3 episodes should take place in the “sitcom” reality (outside of the TV show reality which is outside of our reality). The most important thing, however, is that Monica was thrown out of reality (once again leaving reality and entering it) and we learn the horrifying truth: Westview’s director of programming, its producer, its head writer, showrunner, and VFX supervisor is Wanda Maximoff, who is very much in control – and causing all the terrible things happening.

The horrors of Westview are far more psychological than violent or scary. People are being altered on a fundamental level but one of the best things about it apart from Teyonah’s performance is Elizabeth Olsen. Once Teyonah leaves Wanda fixes the wall and we get that she was and is in charge of this reality because her own has become so bleak. 

Television is an enjoyment that allows people to escape. For people trapped inside during the Coronavirus pandemic WandaVision might take on a startling new relevance. Television is an escape from the mundane and the pain of reality. The world outside of it is the desert of the real and Wanda wants to escape – by making her own reality something many have been tempted to do.

It’s tragic. Made especially moreso when you remember as we did in the end of the last episode that she lost her only family, that she lost her one true love in Vision (in a terrifying look at just what he might be). Wanda fits the definition of a tragic villain to be sure, but let’s not forget she’s villainous all the same. The show is shaping up to ask the audience tough questions, examine our relationship with television, and much much more. This whole episode was just what the show needed on multiple levels.

Final Notes:

  • Monica Rambeau gave us a lot of information about the state of earthly responses. Seeing how the MCU world has been shaped post Thanos is wild for someone who’s grown up with the movies. The world no longer just relies on the Avengers. SWORD is poised to become a major player.
  • Randall Park stole the show. Give him everything he wants. Make sure he’s in every marvel property. More Jimmy Woo in all the things.
  • The irony has been pointed out to me on my social media that Elizabeth Olsen has a background in sitcoms while her character clearly turned to sitcoms for comfort and succor in a world filled with trauma.
  • The posters with people behind televisions were mimicked by SWORD stacking televisions for Darcy.
  • Darcy came back! I was never a big Darcy fan but if she stuck around I wouldn’t be mad. She and Randall Park had some fun (but Park could have chemistry with a wet mop). 
  • What *is* the significance of the hexagon shapes? And for that matter the closing song of “Vodoo Child?” 

Did you love the fourth episode of WandaVision as much as we did? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

WandaVision is currently streaming on Disney+.

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