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‘WandaVision’ season 1 recap – episode 3

(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

"Now in Color"

Directed by Matt Shakman

Disney+

Jan. 22

By Janice Yun

Jan. 24, 2021 10:19 a.m.

Black and white pictures and ’60s style beehives are swapped for colorful blouses and sleek straight hair in “WandaVision” episode three, but the mystery remains.

Released Friday, the latest episode of Marvel’s newest series picks up right where it left off in episode two – with the superhero couple suddenly expecting a baby. While the newlyweds were last seen celebrating through a black and white screen, the two have jumped into yet another decade and are now living in the 1970s in full vibrant color.

[Related: ‘WandaVision’ season 1 recap – episodes 1 and 2]

Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) zoom through the phases of her pregnancy – illustrating the constant distortion of time and reality in their world – yet Wanda’s speedy journey into motherhood is strategically balanced with a rather slow-paced unraveling of the story’s mystery, as the episode finally gives a small glimpse of the little known S.W.O.R.D. intelligence agency in the final scene.

But beginning with the color shift, the episode’s fashion and cinematography successfully transport viewers into the 1970s. Moving away from the ’50s and ’60s homages in the past installments, the third episode instead borrows images from the ’70s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” as the iconic three-by-three grid is used in the new title sequence and the couple’s home is also drastically changed to closely resemble the Brady house. Topped with plenty of fashion trends from the decade – from Geraldine’s (Teyonah Parris) bell-bottoms to Vision’s longer feathered hair – the show continues to immerse viewers in different time periods through subtle details.

Such colorful costumes and set designs match the cheerful nature of the town, yet the enigmatic nature of the show is still very much present. Embracing the sitcom genre with plenty of comical facial expressions and laugh tracks, the episode follows Wanda and Vision as they hectically deal with a series of strange occurrences sparked by her pregnancy, including a power outage when she’s experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and ceiling pipes bursting as her water breaks.

While her lack of control is portrayed lightheartedly through quirky complications in true sitcom fashion, the comedic layer is somewhat unsettling as it seems to foreshadow greater consequences that won’t be as laughable.

An interesting cinematic choice adds to the mystery as Vision tells Wanda he suspects something wrong in their picture-perfect life after noticing the unusual events taking place in the town of Westview, including the odd dinner party with Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed) and Mrs. Hart (Debra Jo Rupp) in the first episode. Eerie music intensifies alongside Vision’s suspicion when the scene suddenly cuts and rewinds, replacing the ominous buildup with a laugh track.

[Related: ‘The Mandalorian’ season 2 recap – episode 1: ‘Chapter 9: The Marshal’]

Unlike the first rewind sequence in the show, this second rewind is depicted through Vision’s perspective rather than Wanda’s. The sudden cut and juxtaposition of the spine-tingling music with the laugh track are fitting for Vision’s reality — whenever their pleasant suburban bubble is disrupted, a quick snap by Wanda is all it takes for his suspicions to vanish and return to “normal.”

Wasting no time, Wanda quickly goes into labor with Geraldine by her side, and to her surprise, she discovers that she had been carrying twin boys. Thus, Tommy and Billy – who are Wanda’s mutant children in the comics – are introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans who are familiar with the comics may recognize Tommy and Billy as future members of the Young Avengers. Therefore, the arrival of the twins in “WandaVision” suggests that they will have a lasting storyline in the MCU.

But the true climax begins when Wanda reveals to Geraldine that she too had a twin – her brother, Pietro, who was killed in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Olsen demonstrates her versatility here as she momentarily stops her exaggerated comedic expressions, reverting to her Sokovian accent as she proceeds to sing a Sokovian lullaby and refreshing the audience’s memory of Wanda’s history prior to her sitcom reality.

The suspense escalates when Geraldine startlingly asks Wanda if Pietro was killed by Ultron, revealing she isn’t exactly the friendly neighborhood new girl she painted herself to be.

Realizing there is an intruder in her perfect world, Olsen gives a frighteningly well-rounded performance as she slowly approaches Geraldine with a threatening look in her eyes, proceeding to eject her from Westview and out into the compounds of S.W.O.R.D. In Wanda’s final scene, the camera faces her with her back turned to Vision as she chillingly tells him that Geraldine had to rush home, emphasizing that there are secrets about their little bubble she is hiding from him.

Although the camerawork and Olsen’s shift in energy aid in portraying the complexity of her character, there remains a lack of depth in Bettany’s Vision. The slow progression of the storyline leaves viewers wondering what Vision’s role in Westview really is. With Vision hopelessly oblivious to what is happening in their strange reality, Wanda is taking most of the spotlight as of now. Yet the lacking development of the Synthezoid could also be adding to the series’ secrecy, a vital aspect of the story thus far.

Time might be speeding by in Westview, but the slow pace of the third episode’s plot leaves viewers hungry for further explanation.

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Janice Yun | Theater | film | television editor
Yun is currently the theater | film | television editor for the Daily Bruin. She was previously an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a third-year communication and Asian American studies student at UCLA.
Yun is currently the theater | film | television editor for the Daily Bruin. She was previously an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a third-year communication and Asian American studies student at UCLA.
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