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Review

WANDAVISION 1×07 “Breaking The Fourth Wall” Review

Neil reviews today’s brand new episode of WANDAVISION calling it “a major turning point” as we head towards the finale.

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WandaVision (Disney+)

Synopsis

Monica plots her return to the anomaly whilst Wanda navigates a slew of upsetting complications, and Visions forms a new alliance to help.

Review

Inevitably WandaVision was going to reach a point where it would tread water. Every show suffers it. A brief moment in time where the story isn’t quite ready to reveal all its cards. That sentiment sums up the first half of “Breaking The Fourth Wall” perfectly. Thankfully for us, a slow episode of WandaVision is still a great c. 30 mins of television.

We’ve reached the 00’s and The Modern Family era of storytelling. So that means there’s plenty of fourth wall breaking as members of the cast talk to the audience. Through these moments was learn that Wanda (Elisabeth Olsen) is struggling to keep a hold on the world around her. She’s also unsure what’s going on. That equates to some very funky visuals as the environment around her shifts between decades. But whilst the visual cues are intriguing it doesn’t push the story forwards too heavily.

Instead the bulk of the story developments, at least in the first half, belong to Vision (Paul Bettany). Writer Jac Shaeffer has Vision team up with Darcy (Kat Dennings), now trapped in The Hex, to continue his journey of self-discovery. The two make a great pairing. It also feels odd that these two have never met before on screen. With her memories restored she is able to fill Vision in on some of the goings on outside The Hex. It’s a credit to Schaeffer’s writing that the Darcy/Vision scenes don’t feel like a huge exposition dump.

There are some great literal and metaphorical obstacles on their journey from the circus (aka S.W.O.R.D.) back in to Westview. The expanded Hex barrier offers some light comic relief with S.W.O.R.D. operatives turned in a literal circus act. It certainly tells us what Wanda thinks of their operation. With much of the team now inside barrier there’s less of a focus on S.W.O.R.D and Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg). But in hindsight all of this also cues up later events in the episode as it is revealed that someone besides Wanda is pulling the strings.

“Breaking the Fourth Wall” certainly picks up in the second half. It grabs are various plot threads and pulls them tougher in to a satisfying, if not previously-theorised, conclusion. The character reveal feels well earned within the story. It also offers WandaVision the chance to do some shifting aspect ratio work which is always neat. I’m not going to spoil the reveal itself. But fans of Marvel Comics will likely feel there is more going on we’re not aware of. More on that in the future when the dust has settled. As for the reveal itself, it’s one of WandaVision‘s more cinematic moments. Set design and VFX are, as always, on par with the movies. But in true WandaVision style it all ends with a song. One which I’ll be humming for the rest of the day I might add.

But what about Monica’s “engineer friend.” The big tease which has been hanging over the series for the last couple of weeks. “Breaking the Fourth Wall” does give payoff to the tease. But it’s not what anyone is expecting. There’s no Doctor Strange. There’s no Reed Richards. Instead it’s just an old army buddy of Monica’s who brings with her the tech to re-enter Westview. It feels like the series set itself up for a fall. Perhaps Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman underestimated how far fans would take their theories about the character. Or perhaps we haven’t truly seen the reveal as-yet. But what feels like the payoff certainly doesn’t live up to the hype. But what happens next certainly does.

Monica (Teyonah Parris) takes a huge step towards taking up her comic book mantle of Photon this week. In one of WandaVision‘s most powerful emotional moments Monica breaks through the barrier in to Westview. The scene itself is rendered beautifully with Monica phasing through the different versions her character from within the sitcom. The moment is elevated but snippets of audio from her mother (Lashana Lynch) and none other than Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). It’s a standout moment for the character and most certainly the series as a whole. Monica has certainly cemented her place in the MCU moving forwards.

This episode does also feature a mid-credit scene which is rather tantalising. It’s one you won’t want to miss. No spoilers from me but I can’t wait to see what this means next episode…

Verdict

“Breaking the Fourth Wall” is a major turning point for WandaVision as the series hurtles towards its conclusion.

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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