WandaVision episode 8 — out February 26 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — is, in some ways, the least necessary episode of the series. Narratively speaking, the Marvel Cinematic Universe series doesn’t go anywhere in WandaVision episode 8. It’s all devoted to the past, mostly that of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) with some early sprinklings for our WandaVision villain Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) who revealed herself last week. And we get little new, in terms of details, from any of the flashbacks as Agatha forces Wanda to take a trip through the latter’s life. It’s largely providing answers we already had or could have guessed. But where WandaVision episode 8 saves itself is in how it recreates the past, featuring some wonderful touching moments.
You can also see WandaVision episode 8 — titled “Previously On”, directed by Matt Shakman, and written by Laura Donney — as an episode designed for those who have never seen anything with Wanda Maximoff. From that viewpoint, WandaVision episode 8 is fairly important as it gives that subset of the audience a comprehensive background on one of our title characters. For everyone else, it’s yet another showcase of Olsen’s acting, in addition to Shakman’s dramatic side (he’s directed Game of Thrones episodes, after all.)
WandaVision episode 8, an episode devoted to the past — just look at that title which is usually reserved for the recaps you see at the start of episodes — fittingly takes us far into the past. It begins in late 17th century (1693, to be precise) in Salem, Massachusetts. If you’ve a passing knowledge of American history (it’s the Salem Witch trials), you already know where this is going. Marvel gets to put a supernatural spin on it, with the witches actually being witches — they have superpowers. Agatha is being sentenced to death by a coven (of witches), who accuse her of practicing magic that is beyond her rank and station. Agatha plays dumb for a minute, just like she has on all of WandaVision, claiming that she has no knowledge of what they are claiming.
But Agatha soon changes tack, and as her lips fashion a smirk, she proclaims that she didn’t break any rules — they simply bent to her power. Now there’s the Agatha we met in WandaVision episode 7. The leader of the witches, who’s revealed to be Agatha’s mother — identified as Evanora Harkness (Kate Forbes) in the WandaVision episode 8 credits — gives the order. Her fellow witches start chanting a spell and then release blue magic out of their hands that latches onto Agatha, causing her to scream in pain. But her screams soon don’t sound much like screams anymore. The blue magical ropes that are draining her lifeblood start to turn purple (that’s Agatha’s colour, if you’ll remember), as Agatha reverses the spell and brings down her killers.
With only her mother left, Agatha promises her that she can be good if she’s trained, but Evanora doesn’t believe her. As she lifts herself in the air and attacks Agatha, a blue crown appears on Evanora’s forehead. Agatha is initially taken aback but she soon overpowers her mother as well, draining the life out of her just as she did with everyone else. Agatha then lifts herself in the air, leaving behind a purple cloud of smoke.
Cut to where we left off in WandaVision episode 7 (prior to the post-credits scene), with Wanda trapped in Agatha’s basement lair. Agatha reveals that she’s been studying for years — over 300 years seemingly, if anyone’s counting — but she’s never seen magic on the scale of the Westview Hex. Agatha felt its creation when Wanda created it, and she infiltrated it in order to learn how Wanda did it. But Wanda was just happy to live her domestic life. That’s why she made a fake version of Wanda’s dead brother, Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters) — or “Fietro”, as she terms him — to make him her eyes and ears, hoping that Wanda would tell Fietro something that she could use.
She couldn’t get the real Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) because his body was on another continent, Agatha reveals. This is an example of how WandaVision episode 8 is a Wikipedia episode of sorts, providing answers to questions that fans have had, but they are mostly questions that don’t really need answering.
Anyway, now that Wanda has got herself in Agatha’s basement — it’s protected by a bunch of spells that prohibit Wanda from using her powers, as Agatha makes the rules inside that space — she can finally tap into Wanda’s mind to discover the true source of her seemingly-limitless power. Agatha makes a fourth wall-breaking joke, telling Wanda that it’s “time for some real reruns”, referencing how Wanda has recreated decades of American sitcoms in WandaVision episodes past.
We begin in Sokovia, back when Wanda’s parents Iryna (Ilana Kohanchi) and Olek Maximoff (Daniyar) were still alive. The dad walks in with a suitcase that opens to reveal copies of American sitcoms such as I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Malcolm in the Middle — all of which have served as inspirations for WandaVision. He’s going to sell them tomorrow, but the family has a lot of viewing options for TV night. A young Wanda (Michaela Russell) chooses The Dick Van Dyke Show season 2, episode 21, prompting groans of “again” from her brother Pietro (Gabriel Gurevich). As the family sits down to watch the episode, we see the exact scene that lent itself to WandaVision episode 2.
The happy moments are cut short as a missile strikes the Maximoff household and destroys virtually everything in sight. Wanda’s parents are nowhere to be seen and given that the MCU has previously told us that they were killed in a similar strike, it’s clear what happened. We’ve already had this story narrated to us in the movies, although casual fans probably won’t remember. Wanda and Pietro magically survive, and as they take shelter under some furniture, another missile branded with “Stark Industries” lands in front of them. That answers why Wanda harboured such strong feelings when Iron Man showed up in Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But Agatha doesn’t get her answer, as the missile never exploded and hence, Wanda didn’t do any magic.
This would have been obvious to Marvel fans who know Wanda’s source of power. And that’s where Agatha and Wanda end up next, in the HYDRA lab. This scene is clearly set prior to the post-credits scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Wanda the volunteer has yet to be experimented upon by the Mind Stone housed in Loki’s spectre. Agatha questions why she signed up to work for an “anti-freedom terrorist organisation” and Wanda replies that they (meaning Pietro and she) just wanted to change the world. Wanda has an interaction with the Infinity Stone that doesn’t show up on video footage, leaving the scientists puzzled. Agatha now knows where it all began, but she still doesn’t know how she managed to create Westview, causing them to move on.
The third door leads into the Avengers compound, around the time of Captain America: Civil War. Pietro is dead (it happened in Avengers: Age of Ultron) and Wanda is processing that grief in a new country where she’s all alone. In walks — or rather, in floats through the wall — Vision (Paul Bettany), who is currently his awkward social self. He tries to start a conversation about Pietro to comfort Wanda, but she says talking about won’t help at all. The only way she will find solace is if she could see Pietro again. Again, it’s not a scene that gives us any new information, but it’s still a really nice scene brought to life by Olsen and Bettany.
And for the current-day Wanda, it’s all the more painful because she would go on to lose Vision as well. Wanda is fed up of this grief-tour but Agatha pushes her buttons by reminding Wanda of how she felt after Avengers: Endgame — she just wanted Vision back.
WandaVision episode 8 takes us into the SWORD headquarters, with Wanda asking to see Vision’s body so she can give him a proper burial. But SWORD and its acting director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) have no intention of letting her do that. For Wanda, he was her last remaining family. But for everyone else, Vision is a $3 billion asset, the most advanced sentient weapon ever made. Hayward can’t let Wanda take him, but he’s happy to let her say goodbye from three floors up. He also hints at the fact that Wanda is capable of bringing him back online, before correcting himself to say “back to life”. All this enrages Wanda, who then smashes the glass in front of her and lands next to Vision’s dissected body. She places her hand on his (missing) forehead and as she cries, she reveals that she can’t feel him. Vision is gone, and there isn’t anything she can do to bring him back.
And unlike what we’ve been told previously on WandaVision, Wanda doesn’t steal Vision’s body. Instead, she just walks out and drives away. Soon, she pulls into the sleepy suburban town of Westview, New Jersey, where WandaVision episode 8 again gives us unnecessary answers as it shows us the real versions of the people who’ve been stuck in the Hex that Wanda made. There’s their neighbour Herb (David Payton) just walking about town, Mrs. Hart (Debra Jo Rupp) from the opening episode, and Vision’s colleague Norm (Asif Ali). They all had a life.
Wanda then pulls up in front of an empty plot, before reading a property card that Vision left her. The two were clearly planning to settle in Westview were it not for the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame — but alas that life is now an impossibility. Or is it? Wanda crumbles in grief, and it’s clear that she can’t take any more of it. That results in her magic pouring out from her, building the house from scratch and then pushing through Westview and transforming it into the 1950s version that we were introduced to in WandaVision episode 1. Even the Vision we’ve known springs out of Wanda as well, confirming once and for all how Vision exactly came “back to life”. This is possibly the only answer that I felt was remotely necessary on WandaVision episode 8.
With that, we are right back in present day as an applauding Agatha breaks Wanda out of her spell, revealing that they are standing inside a sitcom set. Wanda then hears the cries of her twins, and sprints out to find a floating Agatha — decked in her supervillain best — with two supernatural nooses around the necks of Tommy (Jett Klyne) and Billy (Julian Hilliard). Agatha says what Wanda has been doing is called “chaos magic” and that makes her the “Scarlet Witch” — possibly the first time that Wanda has ever been referenced by her comic book name in the MCU.
Just like last week though, that’s not technically the end. WandaVision episode 8 has a scene during the credits that builds on Hayward’s “prepare for launch” moment from WandaVision episode 7. It reveals that SWORD has a found to reanimate Vision — he’s now blue, what the hell — with the help of Wanda herself, using the magic energy she used on the drone Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) sent in a couple of episodes ago. This also confirms that Hayward lied about Wanda stealing Vision’s body, given they have had it all along. What else has he been lying about? We’ll know soon enough, given there’s only one episode — the WandaVision series finale on March 5 — left now.