“Previously On” | WandaVision
It’s been a great way on television starting with the incredible season finale of Miss Scarlet and the Duke. Black-ish gave us a hilarious episode about the relationship between mothers and their favorite sons. And A Discovery of Witches gave us more glimpses into present day London. But nothing could have prepared us for the emotionally breathtaking episode of WandaVision.
It can’t all be sorrow can it? […] But what is grief, if not love persevering? This show. I say this every week, but I had no idea just how much it would make me feel and just how organically it would tackle grief. I had no idea just how beautifully it could take the most complex, devastating emotion we all feel at some point in our lives and bring it to life with bits and pieces that are captivating and almost cathartic.
Elizabeth Olsen has been bringing her A-game throughout the season, and we discussed some parts of her performance that’s tied directly to this, but with this—how exactly do you choose a single scene to call most exquisite from an episode that dived into so much trauma? An episode that was full of one exquisite scene after another. We took a different route with this one, and chose to pick the one that most authentically showcased both Wanda’s grief and Olsen’s most powerful moment as a performer throughout the episode.
Wanda didn’t break into the lab and take a dismantled Vision away. Wanda left S.W.O.R.D. somehow even more internally shattered than before and she drove to Westview, NJ. She followed a map to the place where she and Vision were supposed to grow old together and she wept. She let herself grieve. She broke into a thousand little pieces channeling her grief and magic into creating a world that was better—safer and a happier. A world where she didn’t have to grieve. A world where she didn’t have to say goodbye any longer.
A world where love could persevere. A world where love and Vision would be tangible. A world where she had no idea outsiders would try to villainize her—a world she didn’t even realize was happened. She wept and she broke down, and in the midst of her beautiful chaos, she created. Magic created for her. Magic created with her. However we choose to look at it, whatever way we choose to analyze this moment, break it apart bit by bit, we still sit in front of a woman, who sits in front of a TV and with a desperation so profoundly engulfing, tries to hold on to a bit of happiness.
Grief isn’t linear and no two people grieve the same way. And until this is a concept we have all universally accepted, we’ll keep saying it. Wanda Maximoff is grieving. She has had all that she has known taken away from her (her parents, her brother, the love of her life), and she is the most powerful Avenger living through powerful pain.
In a scene that parallels one of the few memorable moments from Age of Ultron, in her grief and through her pain Wanda released her magic into the world not to destroy, but to feel. To breathe. For a moment, she fought the waves off; for a moment, she wasn’t drowning, but she was fighting back. She needed to breathe again. She needed to not feel tired. She needed to let go while she held on for dear life in a push and pull that through the chaos, for a moment healed her.
In what feels like a painfully evocative moment of cathartic release, Olsen embodied the character with such stunning ease, it’s powerfully potent and reverberating. When her magic went off, you felt it—you lived through it with her. You lived through the way the world tries to break a woman and villainizes her for feeling—for acting on the emotions that are drowning and eating her up inside. Wanda Maximoff is a grieving woman, and in a moment of powerful grief, she let herself create, without full control, without thorough comprehension, she merely allowed herself to release the waves and for a single moment, lived through the idea of growing old in a happy sitcom. (It wasn’t even intentional and that is the beauty behind it.) She fought through the waves by allowing herself to feel them and through everything within her, all the magic and all the wonder, she rose above the waters and into a home within a show. The type of a show that is guaranteed a good ending. And it was beautifully cathartic to watch through—enigmatically healing even.
Be sure to also check out our Most Noteworthy Performance of the week as we break down Elizabeth Olsen’s incredible work.