so there I was, being bored

image is Jean-Leon Gerome’s “Tiger on the Watch”

Inspired by some truly terrible homemade book covers I’ve seen recently. I know nothing about copyright or one’s ability to use public (?) domain artwork for commercial purposes, and I’m going to guess that this one isn’t likely to be legally usable. Still, I was able to knock together an OK looking cover using nothing more than Powerpoint’s photo format tools, twenty seconds of brainstorming, and the contents of my Downloads folder.

(the lower left hand corner is left open for critic’s blurbs 🙂

WandaVision S01E06 – All-New Halloween Spooktacular

So. In the first couple of episodes, our heroes on the outside (you know, the non-white male, the non-male white, and the non-white, non-male leads) had asked Wanda who had mercilessly trapped her in an idyllic suburban home, married to her true love, surrounded by generous neighbors, faced with low-stakes conflicts, and amply provided for. Later episodes revealed that Wanda was doing it to herself and is in fact terrorizing and mind-controlling said neighborhood with a glowy red fist.

I, however, am going back to my original prediction: someone else is behind it (probably Agnes). Here’s why I think it. During the incompetently-written staff meeting in the previous episode, one line stood out prominently. It was supposed to: it was clear, direct, and to the point. Director Hayward (a white male) referred to Wanda as “the principle victimizer,” “not the victim.” And by this line, the show writers have tipped their hand. Someone whom the show has coded as “bad, untrustworthy,”–a middle-aged white male who is not particularly physically attractive and occupies a position of authority–has identified someone whom we are primed to sympathize with as “not a victim.”

You see, in modern media, being a victim is a good thing.

Wanda cannot be a victimizer, because that is (usually, unless you’re targeting a conservative woman) a bad thing. Wanda must be a victim in this scenario because this is the only way she can remain a hero. A protagonist. A good guy. Someone with whom the audience can sympathize. Why can’t a protagonist–a hero, even–fail, fall, and, in the course of a story, do terrible things? Because failure to live up to a moral or ethical standard is not allowed. What are standards, anyway? Regret for past deeds is not allowed, because active protagonists aren’t allowed. Redemption is not allowed.

After all, that would just be blaming the victim–wouldn’t it?

Plus, as our Previously On points out, the Mind-Controlled-Guy never used the named “Wanda,” when telling Vision about being mind controlled. He just said “she”, “her.” So, yeah, at this point my money’s on Agnes, or even! Agnes’ never-actually-seen husband Ralph, upon whom strong suspicion is falling that he’s Mephisto or some such.

ANYHOW, so that’s my thoughts as of the end of the Previously On.

So the opening credits are filmed home-video style by one of the twins. I’m going to guess this is the 90s-sitcom homage (90s TV is a blank spot to me, because I didn’t watch it as a kid, but then so are the oughts and teens). My main question is, what is Agnes doing in their house going through their fridge?

After credits, the twins helpfully let us know that it’s Halloween, and Halloween means candy. One of them is dressed up as I’m guessing Dr. Strange, while the other one is dressed as “the cool twin.” Hah. Uncle Pietro, meanwhile, is snoring on the couch (“It’s four in the afternoon and I’m afraid he’s a vampire.” Hehhhhh) until he isn’t and between the three of them the boys make enough noise to bring Mama downstairs in her costume.

“Woah Mom, are you Old Red Riding Hood?” Pffft. Pietro also mocks the costume. The twins are also directly addressing the camera periodically.

Vision makes a very fast exit to guard the neighborhood trees against toilet-paper (that sounds SO wrong)–completely shutting Wanda down when she starts to protest that this is not how it’s suppos…ed…to…go…

Uncle Pietro and the non-lame twin dress up as…Wolverine? They have plans to use up the rest of the hair gel, that’s all I know. See, the sitcom parts of this show are funny! Especially when they’re interwoven with more serious, plot-relevant bits, such as Wanda’s mom-exasperation slash slow realization that she’s not in complete control of the plot anymore.

Unfortunately, we now switch back to the Real World (TM), where our white male authority figure is being berated for his decision-making inability by our non-white female and mocked by the white female. Hah. It’s unprofessional of him, but he does get one zinger in when he asks them which one is the sassy best friend.

Anyhow, he’s in Team Take Out The Threat, and while his thinking is one-dimensional, it is also largely correct given the data they have. Monica points out, however, that his thinking is one-dimensional. And, and, okay. What the hell kind of leader is this? No, what the hell? Seriously, THE LEADERSHIP WAS BETTER THAN THIS AT THE TIGER SANCTUARY WHERE IT WAS COMPRISED WASHED OUT EX-MILITARY AND MENTALLY ILL CAT LADIES….because at least they would explain to you why they were or weren’t doing something. That explaination was generally either, “we have orders not to,” “we don’t have orders to,” or, “we don’t have money.” And, occasionally, “because the tigers don’t like it.”

And thus, Monica concludes that her group of righteous (nonwhite+male) heroes have been sidelined for a reason. Fortunately, they do have at least one male on the team, because having Monica take out all their guards by herself would have been awkward. After stuffing their S.W.O.R.D. coworkers into a shipping container, they head off.

Back at the trick or treat, (“UNLEASH HELL, DEMONSPAWN!”….yeah, okay, I’m going to say Caroline Furlong called it) Wanda has reached the point of wondering why her brother looks different now? And has no accent?

But then it turns out (as Herb-slash-Frankenstein’s-Monster explains), there’s been a sudden rash of candy theft, jack-o-lantern smashing, and malicious and wanton silly-stringing that the neighborhood watch needs to investigate. Only….Vision isn’t on duty right then. Herb asks if Wanda wants him to do something, or change something, or…no? Okay, great. 

In fact, Vision wandering down a different street, watching some woman who is trying and failing to hang up her Halloween decorations, while silently crying.

We then have a commercial about how you should not trust sharks who deliver magic yogurt cups to you when you’re starving on a desert island and have no food.

Pietro explains why he’s there: to cause trouble and give her grief–it’s what she wanted. Isn’t it?. Why-why? He doesn’t know that….all he knows is he heard her calling and knew she needed him. On the one hand, aw.

So on the outside, our (non…look, you get the idea. If you haven’t, I’ll repeat it slowly. The people who are not middle-aged, Caucasian males holding positions of authority in government agencies, people who are sympathetic to our protagonists, and people who, and this is important, know that watching television is a very, very vital step to solving the world’s problems), sneak into one of the command tents so they can watch the WandaVision broadcast on TV.

Miss Doctor Lewis (wasn’t she an astrophysicist? I distinctly remember we had a whole scene where she was snooty to some other people who were just engineers or something) is also an expert hacker suddenly. Turns out Hayward has been able to look through the barrier for a while. He’s tracking Vision and his immediate surroundings. Turns out, people further from the center of town aren’t moving very much/don’t get very much processing power applied to them.

Vision, faced with this same realization, resumes his own form and takes off for an overhead view. He spots Agnes, dressed as a witch, in a car at the border. She claims to have gotten lost and Vision decides to free her. She immediately recognizes him as Vision, one of the Avengers….is he here to help? He confirms that he is Vision, but doesn’t remember the Avengers, and then she starts shouting that it’s because he’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Yeah, helpful.

Vision tells her that he’s trying to get outside and get in touch with forces who can help them but Agnes tells him that’s impossible. Wanda won’t let it happen, won’t even let them think about the outside. Okay, that is a blow to my theory but not an impossible one, because then Agnes starts cackling in a rather witchy fashion. Vision un-frees her and then strides off towards the outskirts of town.

Meanwhile. Monica (you know the drill), is about to get her ride back into the hex.–if you recall, the twenty-ton movable fallout shelter someone she just happened to know just happens to be able to deliver. Miss Doctor Lewis, however, tells her that the Hex has rewritten her at the molecular level and is continuing to do so. (THAT IS SOOOOOooooooOOOOOOO lame compared to getting your powers during a gunfight with space drug smugglers! Damn.)

Monica heroically declares that she’s Going To Help Wanda! Darcy decides to stay in the warm and safe place and continue hacking. Hayward still has something big hidden, because of course he does. It’s probably the hidden master file of the Trump Tapes.

Back in the straw maze, Pietro a) references hell again, b) asks Wanda where all the kids running around have been for the past few episodes, c) complements her on handling the ethics of her fantasy scenario just about as well as is possible. People get jobs! Couples stay together! New haircuts! But then he asks her: how did you do this?…you can tell me, I’m not your husband.

Wanda doesn’t know or can’t remember….and has a quick flash to Pietro as a corpse. She doesn’t want to think about this….or someone else doesn’t want her to.

Back at the base, our astrophycisist continues hacking into the director’s eyes-only files. He, meanwhile, has just told his people to move out, so….

Vision is at the barrier and forces his way painfully through. And collapses. Part of him flies back into the field, but the rest of him seems to be straight-up dissolving.

Inside, the twin dressed as Dr. Strange is sensing something’s off. They run to Mom.

Outside, somehow, Darcy is the only person who thinks that they should be helping the guy who just crawled out of hell-on-Earth (the SUBURBS, amiright?), and gets handcuffed to a Jeep for her pains. And if you’re thinking that being handcuffed to something large and immobile sounds like an overkill when there are plenty of soldiers around who can do the “arr, this one’s a feisty one” upper-arm grab just fine, well, just remember everything happens for a reason.

Inside, Pietro runs his mouth a little bit too much and Wanda punches him through the town square. Wanda freezes the simulation for more processing power and then, hm, looks like she expands the borders to bring Vision back in. (And Darcy, who as we recall, was handcuffed to a car, and most of the military camp, which gets transformed into a circus. Pwah.) Director Hayward, being the arrant coward that he is, runs for it and escapes. A woman in the back seat does glare at him, however.