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WANDAVISION 1×06 “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” Review

Whilst “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” re-ignites the mystery aspects of WandaVision it is still a satisfying plot which pushes the season forwards.

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WandaVision (Disney+)

Synopsis

Disturbances on Halloween separate Wanda from Vision, who looks into anomalous activity in Westview.

Review

When last we left Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) they were mid-conflict and interrupted by the arrival of Pietro. Only this Pietro was played by Evan Peters and not Aaron Taylor Johnson. Leaving us on one of the biggest cliffhangers of the season WandaVision potentially had a lot to do this week.

But rather than repeat the actions of the last two weeks writer Jac Schaeffer steers the show back towards earlier episodes. “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” leans in much more to the mystery elements from episodes 1-3 of the season. We’re now in the 90’s and riffing brilliantly off the classic family sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. In terms of the wider arc of WandaVision it seems that the arrival of Pietro has reset the world and things are, relatively, back to normal.

The cracks in the world are still evident, Vision doesn’t appear fully at peace with the world around him. Something which he explores deeply in this episode. But in a change to the earlier episodes, Wanda is now also a little out of place.

Having opened up the wider world and including S.W.O.R.D. and the base outside the so-called Hex, the series stands on a much more solid foundation to approach the story from multiple angles. This episode, more than most, is able to give us multiple points-of-view without compromising on storytelling. Arguably as the series moves through decades the storytelling is advancing in a similar manner reflecting the style, tone and aesthetic of the depicted era. With the 00’s and 10’s soon to arrive it’s safe to say that things are only going to get more complicated.

With the arrival of Evan Peters’ Pietro the series and the MCU is at a huge turning point. The conclusion of episode 5 (reviewed here) left plenty of questions around the proximity of Fox’s X-Men universe to the MCU? Was Peters’ casting an in-joke? Or is this the Pietro from Avengers: Age of Ultron just with a new face?

Choosing not to outright answer those questions immediately is a brave choice for the show. It’s also the right choice. Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman chose not reveal much about the series in the first three episodes and should be beholden to do so now. It’s certainly a symptom of the binge-era of TV that some fans are struggling with the weekly release schedule.

As for Peters’ performance, it seems difficult to call which version of Pietro he is truly playing. He seems to have the memories of the MCU version but much of the attitude of the X-Men version. Regardless he is a great addition to the cast and it was interesting to see his interactions with Elisabeth Olsen. He brings a playful nature to the episode which certainly lifts the mood after recent weeks. But behind the facade he seems to be almost as aware of events as Wanda. Given other revelations in this episode I wonder if he has been planted by Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) to find out more.

“All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” is also the moment we’ve been waiting for since the series first trailer. The classic costumes! We get to see Wanda and Vision in their classic outfits. Even the twins and Pietro get in on the action. There are some wonderful kitschy nods to classic Marvel outfits. It all helps to detract from the fact that things just aren’t right in Westview.

Vision’s own misgivings certainly lead him to make some interesting discoveries this week. We learn about what happens to the townsfolk when they aren’t part of the story. We also get a painful reminder of Vision’s own status outside of the Hex when he tries to break through the barrier. WandaVision very much gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It culminates in yet another huge cliffhanger ending, the biggest in terms of scale to-date. With only three (or maybe four?) episodes to go WandaVision certainly isn’t leaving anything on the table.

Verdict

Whilst “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” re-ignites the mystery aspects of WandaVision it is still a satisfying plot which pushes the season forwards.

WandaVision stars the returning Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision. Joining them are Kathryn Hahn, Kat Dennings, Randall Park and Teyonah Parris.


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