Features and Columns · TV

‘WandaVision’ Episode 3 Reveals a Gang of Outside Invaders

The sillier this series becomes, the darker the reality appears.
Wandavision Episode 3 Now In Color
Marvel Studios
By  · Published on January 22nd, 2021

WandaVision Explained is our ongoing series that keeps tabs on Marvel Studios’ sitcom saga about TV’s happiest tragic couple. In this entry, we turn our channel to WandaVision Episode 3 and consider the invaders who occupy their domestic dream. Yes, prepare for spoilers.

Along with the release of the latest WandaVision episode, Disney+ unveiled its titles for the first three: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” “Don’t Touch That Dial,” and, for this week, “Now in Color.” As if you didn’t know already, Marvel is fully committed to this series’ sitcom sendup. The dedication is impressive but also a little constricting. The walls are closing in on our heroes, and their wide smiles cannot last for long.

While cracks in the fantasy were sensed during the premiere, WandaVision Episode 3 begins properly crumbling the saccharine to reveal the trauma festering beneath it all. We concluded last week’s second installment with a surprise pregnancy and a rainbow wash flooding the black-and-white un-reality of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). “Now in Color” drops our happy couple inside a near-replica of The Brady Bunch home jazzed up with a Partridge Family-style theme song. The aggressively peppy vibe is simply not enough to stamp down the darkness feeding the narrative from the fringes.

With Wanda’s rapidly developing pregnancy, we discover her control slipping. False contractions dismantle the neighborhood power grid, and her children shifting within cause literal butterflies to manifest. When her water finally breaks, the sky opens up, which is most impressive since it does so in the living room. All should be concerned when a person with such godly abilities accidentally bends reality.

Vision is certainly disturbed. He can read all the Dr. Spock he wants, but there’s nothing in the texts that can explain exactly what’s going on with Wanda and their expectant offspring. As he prepares for his child’s arrival, he catches his neighbors exhibiting odd behavior. While trimming hedges, Herb (David Payton) saws through the fence dividing their two yards and doesn’t seem bothered. When Vision makes note of this to Wanda, she pulls her rewind trick, rearranging events so her husband doesn’t have a chance to question his surroundings.

What we see with Wanda is a person desperate to maintain an illusion. She knows what’s going on. She knows her sitcom world is a fantasy, but it’s her fantasy dammit. Threaten it, and she’ll reveal her wrath.

WandaVision Episode 3 concludes with the birth of not one son, but two: Tommy and Billy. It’s a genuinely heart-warming arrival with Wanda asking Vision to reveal his face so he can meet his sons as he is. Her gaze reveals a deep love for the robot man who died during Avengers: Infinity War. The family she’s constructing with him now is a dream denied to her by Thanos.

Wanda’s entrenchment within this make-believe land could mean danger for the outside world. If contractions can spark power outages and butterflies to appear, what other fractures in the reality could occur? Last week, we learned that the mysterious government agency S.W.O.R.D. was observing Wanda’s sitcom from a distance, but “Now In Color” exposes their invading presence to Wanda.

Geraldine, a.k.a. Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), sidles herself next to Wanda as Vision returns their obstetrician to his home. She offers comfort and a good ear to Wanda, but when the former Avenger wistfully mentions her twin brother Pietro, Geraldine foolishly inquires about his death at the hands of Ultron. The killer ‘droid’s moniker sparks a serious flare in Wanda, and she propels Geraldine out of her home and out of her bubble.

WandaVision Episode 3 ends with Geraldine ejected from Wanda’s fantasy and reveals that the Westview neighborhood is very much a real place, but one trapped under a magical dome. As Geraldine’s body passes through the barrier and crumples on the grass outside, we see the recognizable red smokey residue of Wanda’s hex powers swirl around her. The S.W.O.R.D. agent slowly opens her eyes as helicopters circle above. Her fellow agents rush to her rescue.

To think this show will settle on a battle of wits and wills between Wanda and S.W.O.R.D. is a swerve. There are more invaders than Geraldine. We still need to uncover what nosey neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and Herb are concocting. They’re attempting to reach Wanda through Vision, planting questions in his noggin.

Seeding doubt between lovers is a good strategy. Vision is the best person to shake Wanda from her creation. She can only lie to him for so long.

WandaVision Episode 3 also offers another sinister commercial break. Gone are the Hydra-made watches. In its place is an ad for HydraSoak, a soap guaranteed to make “your problems float away.” The implication is that the diabolical organization granted Wanda and her brother Pietro their powers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier could be manipulating Wanda’s surroundings to distract her. They could siphon her abilities for their purposes.

In the comics, the babies Tommy and Billy grow into a mighty pair of Young Avengers. The sitcom universe is potentially a ruse by Strücker to reclaim a set of godly twins similar to those he lost in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Hydra keeps falling to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes because they don’t have their own super-powered agents. Considering how fast Tommy and Billy entered this reality, they could be of adult age within an episode or two and primed to take orders by the series climax.

The HydraSoak advertisement is not the only clue that evil forces are at play. At the start of WandaVision Episode 3, during the 1970s TV credits, we see the honeycomb hexagonal symbol that climaxed Episode 2, repeated over and over again. As we discussed last week, these emblems are often associated with the Hydra splinter-cell A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics).

Strücker is making a big play behind the scenes of WandaVision. He could easily be using an emotionally crippled Wanda to reclaim his spot at the top of the Hydra food chain. Tommy and Billy are his keys to cementing his position of power.

As we move deeper into WandaVision, a confrontation between lovers seems inevitable. Wanda cannot keep on keepin’ on. She can only rewind the tape so much before it breaks. The snap will be utterly heartbreaking, but the big question remains whether or not Vision will remain afterward.

Who is this android Pinocchio we see before us? A figment of Wanda’s imagination? A wooden puppet or a real boy? Does it matter? When Wanda says something is so, it is so. She is the Avengers’ most powerful entity. To be championed and feared.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)