But an even bigger takeaway from Episode 8, which began streaming Friday, is that it looks like there is a lot more to Wanda’s powers than we realize. The Avengers movies told us Wanda and her now-dead twin brother Pietro got their powers from an Infinity Stone. Now it looks like those powers may have always been inside of her.
Agatha, we now know for certain, is a witch. She’s been around since the 1600s. But she is not in control of everything that has been seen on this show so far. The real star, as Agatha points out to the audience, is Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen).
For all the manipulating Agatha can do with her old-school magic, it’s nothing compared to what Wanda has been able to do with her powers, even though she doesn’t seem in total control of them. Wanda put an entire town under a far-reaching spell, forcing it to speed through several decades of TV-sitcom madness in a matter of days. Agatha is the one person in town Wanda’s powers (for now) won’t work against, and she’s been sneakily sticking around to see how Wanda does it.
But to get those answers, there had to be flashbacks to fill the gaps in what we know about Wanda’s life before the spell. Agatha, protected by a spell that prevents Wanda from fighting back, forces her to reveal her most repressed memories.
There’s the childhood moment that defined Wanda and her brother Pietro’s lives forever: the bombing of their home in war-torn Sokovia (by a Stark Industries missile no less, a reminder of what fueled the twins’ initial hatred of Iron Man). Moments before witnessing that tragedy we learn that the Maximoffs bonded via American sitcoms, using them for family time and to practice their English. This explains why a television show vibe was a part of Wanda’s spell over the town of Westview. The big reveal in this sequence is that when their home was destroyed and their parents killed, the twins survived because of Wanda. When the missile stuck in the ground mere feet away from them, she prevented it from activating. Not for minutes. But for days.
But how? Wanda didn’t get her powers until the experimentation with the Infinity Stones that happened in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” right? Well, what Agatha took from that memory was that Wanda was special way before then.
More proof comes in the next memory Agatha raids, which shows that Wanda was the only person experimented on who survived an encounter with the Mind Stone. She meets the power of the stone head-on and is greeted by a shadowy figure that looks to be her true comic-book self.
And who is that true self?
Agatha thinks she’s got it all figured out now when she tells Wanda “I know what you are,” while she uses her own dark powers to keep Wanda’s twin boys captive. This spell Wanda has cast, the one that even makes Agatha envious? Agatha says it’s chaos magic — a key term that should trigger geekful emotions to anyone who has read Wanda’s Marvel Comics adventures, where that magic has the ability to alter reality.
But it’s what Agatha says as this episode’s kicker phrase that is the most revealing. That’s because in her centuries of witching Agatha knows the only person capable of chaos magic is, as she puts it, “the Scarlet Witch,” the first time that name has been uttered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wanda it appears, has always been a witch. But are her powers something mystical? Or is it a mutation. Or both?
Wanda’s powers potentially manifesting at a young age in a moment of stress during the bombing that killed her parents? That sure sounds like an X-Men/mutant kind of thing. But we now know the big Evan Peters/Quicksilver cameo from a couple weeks back is another Agatha trick. Is Wanda’s new origin story a sign that Marvel Studios is finally embracing the mutants they now have the rights to since the Disney/Fox merger? Or more “WandaVision” trickery?
Each “WandaVision” episode always ends with more questions, even when you finally start getting some answers. Next week’s finale will be tasked with filling in some of the remaining blanks.
Is Wanda a mutant? What about the director of S.W.O.R.D. (Josh Stamberg), who’s obsessed with destroying Wanda? Is he secretly someone else? Will Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) make her superhero debut to help save Wanda next week? Is there more to Agatha’s rabbit?
And where is Vision? Well, that depends on which Vision. There’s the Vision we’ve gotten to know all along — this episode revealed he was perhaps reborn in Wanda’s TV-inspired town. But that post-credit scene this week reveals an all-white Vision (a monumental Easter egg referencing Vision’s less colorful look in the comics). S.W.O.R.D. has figured out how to turn that Vision on and is now set to use him as a weapon against Wanda.
The one answer we have now is that a showdown looms.