The performance by Elizabeth Olsen in the eighth episode of WandaVision is the type of acting work that should be honored with an Emmy.
This article contains spoilers for “Previously On,” the eighth episode of WandaVision.
Elizabeth Olsen broke through the scene with her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene. The film was the 2011 version of Winter’s Bone in that the Sundance-premiering indie had the same chance of repeating with Oscar nominations. It didn’t happen but Olsen’s performance led to the actress being cast as Wanda Maximoff.
The films haven’t really given us a lot of Wanda especially since there are so many characters to follow. We get a glimpse here and there but WandaVision is really allowing the character to shine. As the newest episode shows, this is somebody suffering from depression. She lost her parents, brother, and the love of her life. This, of course, is before she would be blipped out of existence for five years. While the episode dives into Agatha Harkness’s origin story, it does something else. Wanda is still in Agatha’s basement when the episode starts. Because of a spell, Wanda is unable to use her magic. However, Agatha is able to get Wanda to relive some key moments from the past. She wants to know how Wanda is controlling Westview, N.J.
Not surprisingly, a few of them involve sitcoms. A young Wanda was a huge fan of sitcoms while growing up in Sokovia. We see her choosing an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show for the family to watch. Her parents die instantly during an explosion. Later, a Stark Industries bomb lands on the ground but never goes off. Both Wanda and Pietro survive, later volunteering with HYDRA. WandaVision allows us to see the moment where Wanda first gets tested with Loki’s staff and the mind stone. The next point in her life is when we see her go into the S.W.O.R.D. office to get Vision’s body and give him a proper funeral. What happens next is not what we saw in video footage a few episodes back. She broke into the lab, yes, but didn’t feel life in his body and left.
We now know WHY Wanda is doing what she’s doing. She is grieving! It’s one thing to build a house on the lot purchased by Vision but another to just outright take over the town. If you told me that the hex was because of Wanda being depressed, I wouldn’t have believed it at first. However, the commercials have been offering hints throughout the season. Elizabeth Olsen is able to capture depression on screen in all of its forms. The fact that she’s able to show this character is fine when she isn’t also might be a classic example of Marvel misdirection. I love it.
But after watching this episode and what really happened with Vision, it makes me wonder how and why he was able to attempt an escape to begin with. It also helps explain why his body kept going back into the hex during the Halloween episode. I’ll be curious to see what happens during the season (or series) finale. There have been hints of a major cameo. We know that Elizabeth Olsen will be appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Could Benedict Cumberbatch make a cameo as Dr. Stephen Strange? Honestly, this would be my guess but we’ll find out next week.
In the “Breaking the Fourth Wall” episode, we start seeing Wanda’s reality begin to fall apart. This episode especially showed Wanda’s depression but “Previously On,” the penultimate episode of the season, really shows the root of depression. There were some theories out there that Mephisto was causing this. This episode says and shows otherwise. Wanda is truly grieving the love of her life. This is outright depression and nobody is controlling that. Why acting S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) wants to bring Vision back to life is beyond me. But by the end of the episode, the actual vision is brought back to life thanks to a previously returned Stark Industries missile. It all comes back to Tony Stark, doesn’t it? Even when he isn’t alive, Stark’s remnants can still be felt.
Next week sees the season (or series) finale and while I don’t know what will happen, Elizabeth Olsen’s work has been stupendous. Give her all the awards, please!