WandaVision episode 1 recap: Marvel goes to places it’s never been before

WandaVision episode 1

Wanda Maximoff and Vision live the sitcom life in WandaVision episode 1.
(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

About this episode

– Episode 1 (of 9), ‘Episode 1’


– Written by Jac Schaeffer


– Directed by Matt Shakman


★★★★

Spoilers for WandaVision follow.

A black-and-white television screen switches on. A 1950s era car decorated with a “Just Married” sign drives into the picturesque town of Westview – a classic piece of Americana. Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff is in a wedding dress, and sitting alongside the Avengers’ resident Synthezoid, Vision, dressed in a suit.

A ’50s-style theme song tells of a newlywed couple who just moved to town, having left the big city to find a quiet life. They add that she’s a “magical gal in a small town locale”, while her “hubby” is “part machine”.

Wanda uses her magic powers to put a Sold sign on the real estate agents board, while Vision’s attempt to carry her across the threshold is scuppered when he phases through the door, dropping Wanda to the floor. The couple dance in the front room as on-screen credits say this new WandaVision show stars Wanda Maximoff and Vision.

In the kitchen, Wanda is using her powers to do the dishes, when one “flying saucer” hits Vision – luckily he has an indestructible head. Wanda uses her magic to repair the plate, and offers Vision a tasty meal – he points out that he doesn’t eat food, prompting laughter from the studio audience.

Vision asks if there’s something special about today, highlighting a small heart drawn above today’s date – Wednesday August 23. Neither of them can remember what it means – despite Vision’s flawless memory. They agree they’re both celebrating… something. “A special day.” “Of great significance.”

Vision leaves for work, nearly forgetting to change his Synthezoid face into human form. He blows Wanda a kiss.

Wanda is looking at the calendar, trying to work out the significance of the date, when there’s a knock at the front door. It’s Agnes, “your neighbor to the right – my right not yours”. She’s welcoming the newcomers to the block – she’d have been round sooner but her mother-in-law was in town, “so I wasn’t”. Agnes tries to find out all she can about Wanda and Vision.

Wanda tells her there’s a special occasion – as Agnes does her best to guess, Wanda settles on the idea that it’s their anniversary. “How many years?” “Well, it feels like we’ve always been together.” Agnes asks what she’s planning, and offers to pick up a magazine full of tips for a killer evening.

WandaVision episode 1

Newlyweds celebrate their new home in WandaVision episode 1 – but how did they get there? (Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

As ‘Yakety Yak’ by the Coasters plays on the radio, Vision carries out calculations at his workplace, Computational Services, Inc. He hands a vast quantity of forms over to his colleague, Norm. Vision asks Norm what it is they do there – they seemingly don’t make, buy or sell anything… “All I know is that since you’ve got here, productivity has gone up 300%,” says Norm. Norm says Vision is like a walking computer. “I’m a regular carbon-based employee made entirely of organic matter!” Vision counters angrily. He says he’s on edge because he can’t remember the importance of the date.

Vision’s boss, Mr Hart, steps out of his office and tells Vision that he and his wife are looking forward to dinner this evening – that’s the relevance of the heart on the calendar. Hart explains that these dinners are a rite of passage in the company – one that another colleague, Jones, failed spectacularly because he wore a turtleneck like a “beatnik”.

Back at the “Vision residence”, Agnes is giving advice from Glamorous magazine’s “Husband Issue”. Vision phones home about plans for later on, and Wanda says everything’s under control. Vision says he’s nervous about the evening, that there’s an awful lot riding on it – if it doesn’t go well it could be “the end”. It’s a classic sitcom case of crossed wires.

The show cuts to a commercial for the new-and-improved ToastMate 2000 – manufactured by Stark Industries. “It’s the go-to for clever housewives,” says the host. The toaster fires up, its indicator light flashing red – pretty much the only color in the episode. The slogan – “Forget the past, this is your future” – also feels like it has more relevance than trying to get people to buy bread products.

Back in the show, Vision returns to the house with Mr Hart and his wife. They’re surprised to see all the lights are off. As Vision looks in the kitchen, Wanda wanders down the stairs dressed in an elaborate nightgown – entirely inappropriate for the occasion. She sneaks up behind Mr Hart and puts her hands over his eyes, asking him to “Guess who!”. Mr Hart is shocked.

Vision improvises and explains this is the traditional Sokovian greeting of hospitality – he forgot to tell them his wife is European. “We don’t break bread with Bolsheviks,” says the conservative Mr Hart – though Mrs Hart is more accepting. Wanda takes Vision into the kitchen, and they try to work out what’s going on. He explains that he’s very grateful for what she’s done, but they really need to prepare a meal for the Harts.

WandaVision

(Image credit: ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.)

Wanda magics herself into another dress, and calls Agnes in for help – “what kind of housewife would I be if I didn’t have a gourmet meal for four just lying about the place?” Hearing clattering noises from the kitchen, Mrs Hart offers to help. Wanda pushes Agnes out of the house and starts to use her magic in an elaborate culinary ballet. Mrs Hart hears the noise again and opens the serving hatch to see what’s going on. To distract her, Vision starts singing ‘Yakety Yak’ – she turns around before she notices Wanda surrounded by flying plates and food. Wanda slams the serving hatch closed.

Vision suggests a sing-song and pulls out his ukulele – Mr Hart is spectacularly unimpressed. Vision rushes into the kitchen as a pair of lobsters fly out of the window. He takes over meat tenderizing duties, as Wanda entertains the guests. It’s not going well, so Wanda takes one of the tips from Agnes’s magazine and falls into Mr Hart’s arms.

Agnes arrives at the front door with a pineapple for the upside-down cake – the hosts usher her away quickly. Mr Hart tells Vision he’s very disappointed, that all the chaos in the house suggests he’s not management material after all. Just in time, Wanda gets “breakfast for dinner” on the table.

Mrs Hart asks lots of questions about the younger couple’s past – where they’re from, why they came here – but they’re unable to give her any specifics. Mr Hart gets particularly irate that they can’t answer, and starts choking on his food. Mrs Hart repeatedly tells him to “stop it” – she’s laughing inappropriately, almost like she’s stuck in a loop – but he collapses to the floor. Vision helps him by phasing his hand into Mr Hart’s throat, removing the blockage.

The Harts suddenly decide they have to leave, but point out they had a lovely time. Mrs Hart puts her hands over Wanda’s eyes, recreating the “Sokovian greeting”. Mr Hart tells Vision he made him proud – and that they’ll be talking about a promotion first thing on Monday morning. As they leave, Wanda spots one of the missing lobsters in place of a door knocker.

The couple sigh, as Vision restores his natural Synthezoid form. Wanda points out that they are an unusual couple, so they decide that today will be their anniversary and their song will be ‘Yakety Yak’. Wanda also creates them some wedding rings, and they both say “I do”.

“And they lived happily ever after,” says Vision, as they kiss on the sofa.


Vision flicks a switch on the remote control, and their ‘show’ cuts to credits. 

The camera pulls out on the screen to reveal someone in more modern setting watching the WandaVision show. They flick another remote control and the screen cuts to a test card saying: “Please stand by”.

WandaVision episode 1

A romantic evening doesn’t quite go to plan in WandaVision episode 1. (Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

Verdict: 

It’s over 18 months since our last trip to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Spider-Man: Far From Home feels a long, long time ago. While it may be a while yet before we see any new MCU action on the big screen, however, WandaVision takes us back in style – despite being totally different to anything the most successful superhero franchise in history has ever done before.

You know how people said the space opera of Guardians of the Galaxy or the comedy of Thor: Ragnarok were radical departures for the MCU? They’ve got nothing on a show that owes more to ’50s sitcoms like I Love Lucy than traditional Marvel offerings.

Since the events of Avengers: Endgame, Wanda Maximoff and Vision (the latter, don’t forget, unceremoniously killed by Thanos) have somehow found their way into the domestic “bliss” of American TV suburbia. (Almost) everything is monochrome, the aspect ratio is old-school 4:3, and there’s apparently a studio audience in the couple’s living room, laughing to all their jokes.

It’s a gloriously faithful (and funny) recreation of vintage television, from the corny mother-in-law gags and multi-camera set-ups, to the kitschy, explain-the-plot theme song. Even the visual effects – the animated stars that signify magic, the crockery that floats as if on strings – feel wonderfully retro. The actors’ pauses for canned laughter help sell the setting even more.

And yet, somehow, remarkably, WandaVision still feels part of the MCU. While Wanda and Vision are playing roles in the sitcom of their lives, they retain the traits of their original selves – a magic trick here, a display of robot intelligence there. And there are plenty of hints that they’re part of something much bigger than a comedy show, whether it’s characters asking repeated questions about their past – we’re certain this goes deeper than traditional nosy neighbor territory – or electrical appliance adverts imploring: “Forget the past, this is your future”.

That red light glowing in an otherwise black-and-white scene simply can’t be an accident. Indeed, WandaVision feels like a paradise of Easter eggs and hidden Marvel references – though we’ll have to watch more to find out what they all mean. Let the fan theories commence!

WandaVision episode 1

Wanda takes an unconventional approach to cooking in WandaVision episode 1. (Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

Marvel-ous facts

  • WandaVision wasn’t always planned as the first Marvel Studios show on Disney Plus. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally set to have that honor, but coronavirus-induced production delays led to a change of plans.
  • Mr and Mrs Hart aren’t Marvel’s first characters with that surname. In the comics, Jack Hart was an Avenger who went by the name of Jack of Hearts, the son of a human man (Phillip Hart) and an alien Contraxian woman. Could Arthur Hart and his wife be connected in some way? There are few coincidences in the MCU, so we’d be surprised if this wasn’t relevant somehow – especially as Mrs Hart’s repeating “stop it” when her husband is choking suggests she’s some kind of artificial construct. Could she be an alien studying Wanda and Vision?
  • The sword logo on the computer screen and notebook at the end of the episode also has history in Marvel Comics. It represents SWORD, AKA the Sentient World Observation and Response Department – a space-focused offshoot of SHIELD. The organization first appeared in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s 2004 run on Astonishing X-Men. The question is, does their presence suggest some extraterrestrial involvement in Wanda and Vision’s ’50s sitcom world?
  • We suspect that the 01 02 number plate on Wanda and Vision’s car and the 2800 house number have hidden relevance, but we’re not sure what it is yet. Could 2800 be the number of the universe they’re living in? We know that the show will tie into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness somehow – maybe the couple are in one of Marvel’s many multiverses. (Earth-616 is the home of Marvel Comics’ main continuity.)
  • Appropriately for the sitcom setting, the supporting cast have impressive comedy CVs. Kathryn Hahn (Agnes) has appeared in Parks and Recreation, Bad Moms, Anchorman and loads more; Debra Jo Rupp (Mrs Hart) was a regular on That ’70s Show and a recurring character in Friends; and Fred Melamed (Arthur Hart) has been in multiple Woody Allen films.
  • Composer Christophe Beck also wrote the scores for the two Ant-Man movies, though he’s arguably most famous for his work on Frozen.

New episodes of WandaVision are available every Friday on Disney Plus.

January 15, 2021
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