“WandaVision” has been playing it safe when it comes to the story of Wanda and Vision. The two characters have lived inside an alternate reality where everyday life is a sitcom show. We started with an “I Love Lucy”-style show, transitioned to something similar to a show you’d see in the ’60s and then the ’70s, before finally landing on this most recent episode, where everything resembled “Full House.”
For everything we see of Wanda and Vision, this has been the standard — the couple living together in a sitcom reality based on a specific era of comedy shows.
But the ending of the most recent episode proved to us that this is more than a sitcom, and the show is willing to take even bigger risks than we might have thought.
The fifth episode of “WandaVision” — titled “On a Very Special Episode...” — Wanda and Vision begin to raise their new young boys, Tommy and Billy, who appear to age rather quickly. Meanwhile, Vision grows suspicious of Westview and begins to put clues together about what’s happening there.
There isn’t much to take away from this episode. It raises plenty of questions rather than giving any answers, and it sets the table for what will be an interesting final stretch of episodes. Here are some quick takeaways, though, for those who didn’t watch it and might want to, and for those who watched it and want to read more about it.
Sitcom references, galore!
The fifth episode of the season followed the previous precedent of the first three episodes by changing Westview to resemble the world of a sitcom. This time, the world resembled an ’80s show — like “Full House” or “Family Matters.” The introduction song for the episode had a “Growing Pains” theme as well. And the intro video ended in a way that was an instant “wink” to “Full House.”
The “Full House” connection is pretty obvious since Elizabeth Olsen’s sisters, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, both starred as Michelle Tanner on “Full House.” We heard before the show’s debut that an episode would have a wink to “Full House,” and that’s exactly what we saw.
It’s been fun to see these references to previous generations of comedies. And this episode especially scratched that itch for people who grew up with the sitcoms of the ’80s and ’90s. There was something very familiar about this episode, reminding me of a time when television wasn’t so dead set on dissecting clues and solving mysteries, but about family and love and spending time together.
Of course, “WandaVision” turns that on its head by including cliffhangers, mysterious moments and massive twists. But still, the sitcom format has reminded us of that innocent time of television. The references were well worth it.
There was innovation through commercials
One brilliant move from “WandaVision” became more apparent in this episode — the use of commercial breaks. There were actually two types of commercials included in this episode. We saw the traditional commercials we saw in the first three episodes — this time a Lagos paper towel commercial to clean up messes you didn’t mean to make, a clear reference to the Lagos incident in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but we also saw the true reality scenes act as small breaks from what was happening in Westview.
Whenever there was a cliffhanger or twist presented in Westview, we’d cut to the real world, where Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) are working to figure out what’s happening in an alternate reality. It was a cool way to add in the commercial feature for a show that doesn’t have advertisement breaks.
Commercials in large part serve as breaks for audiences — and more modern shows will definitely add hooks before a commercial so that audiences come back for more. This was definitely the case in “WandaVision.” We got something juicy from Westview and then returned to the real world. We saw something wild in the real world, so we return to Westview. For a show without commercials, this was a brilliant way to use the mechanic.
The ending hints at something more
What happened at the end of the episode never fully happened on a sitcom show like “Full House” or “Family Matters.” In a way, it’s not really something we’ve seen in a Marvel film, either. I don’t want to spoil what happened but ... it’s a unique enough ending that will make you want to rewatch an older “Avengers” film in order to understand what’s going on. And it opens a new pathway to understanding Wanda and her abilities — what she can and can’t do inside the alternate reality, which now has the nickname of “The Hex.”
The ending matters so much because it actually upends the norm. We’ve only seen something similar once in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The cliffhanger ending also adds an entirely new layer of questions about what’s to come next on “WandaVision.” How the show plans to deal with the fallout of the moment is anyone’s guess. But it goes to show that we’re in for a bumpy and ridiculous ride if a cliffhanger of this magnitude is happening midway through the season.