So how ’bout that WandaVision, huh?
While I’m reveling in people’s joy in discovering that super hero stories can be more than “Punch-Punch-Pow-Pow-BOOM-You’re Dead-No, You’re Dead I Hit You First!”, I do raise some of my many (count: two) eyebrows when people present their “theories.”
And this is my own personal form of gatekeeping. I’ve been around the nerdosphere long enough to remind myself to try to remain open minded when those who appear non-comic initiated throw around their theories and ideas for what the show could be saying, what it could mean, who the evil villain is, etc. “Remember,” I tell myself, “not everyone has been reading these stories since they were 8 years old and worked in a comic shop for somewhere between 5-6 years it’s hard to keep track I’m getting old leave me alone. This is the joy of jumping in for the first time! Let them have it. Don’t be a sourpuss.”
That being said, here’s my theory for the show’s final two episodes and what you can learn about keeping ahead of your audience:
A big question hanging over the show has been, “What’s been happening in the town of Westview? Who’s at fault for it?” Since the start, people inside the show and outside watching in have been wondering who’s been causing this weird, retro vibe to apparently wash over the townsfolk, including our two heroes, Wanda and Vision. (Wanda, at this point, with no known super hero alias. They even reference that in the show and, upon review of all the movie’s she’s appeared in, yes, she has not been referred to by her codename, ‘Scarlet Witch.’)
For those who have never read the comics, this appears like a big question.
For those of us who HAVE read comics featuring Wanda…
BOOM! Our first pull, tug, carrot on a string, leading the audience where we want them to go. The show’s creators are giving us the information we need. Right there. On the screen. No ifs ands or buts about it. Wanda has used her chaos hex magic powers to create an alternate reality, placing herself and Vision at the heart of it, so its up to our heroes on the outside to stop it and save the world…
…in episode 4.
Seems like a strange place to reveal the big bad for the entire series, right? For those of us who read the comics before, yeah, this confirms what we suspected all along. That Wanda, in her grief and anguish over losing her homeland, her brother, and now the love of her life, created a false reality to escape into. To run away, to hide, to heal her broken mind and heart. This was obvious for those of us who’ve read stories like “Avengers Disassembled” or “House of M,” where Wanda rewrites reality as she sees fit.
So what’s next? What should come next? What about people who haven’t read the comics? Where’s their answer?
There’s the next BIG reveal, the one from this past week’s episode (which if you haven’t watched yet, don’t keep reading, but, seriously, it’s Wednesday, there’s a new episode in two days, what are you even doing here?) which showed Agnes, the funny-neighbor-next-door archetype played wonderfully by Kathryn Hahn, was secretly a witch named Agatha Harkness, complete with her own purple colored magic powers to counter Wanda’s red hex magic. While that name may not mean much to the casual audience, again, comic faithful are given a big piece of story meat to chew on. The Harkness Twist satisfies the casual audience by giving them someone outright evil, seemingly manipulative, behind the scenes, controlling everything like an invisible hand, to hate.
But in episode 7?
Really? With two episodes left?
That also feels…strange.
Especially when you consider the conversation Wanda had with Monica Rambeau just moments before, where she informed them that S.W.O.R.D. soldiers outside of the walls of her glossy reality are looking to paint Wanda as a villain. To blame her, and only her, for the chaos caused by all of this.
Then, conveniently, Agnes is revealed to be Agatha Harkness. “It’s been her all along,” the show’s creators are saying, “See? Don’t consider anything else. All the answers have been given!”
And for the most part, it’s working. Nowhere online are people discussing the possibilities of what if it’s not Agatha. Everyone seems to be happy. They set us up in the first few episodes that it was Wanda’s powers causing the neighborhood to be so weird, then in the following episodes they hinted at a more sinister force making Wanda do it.
Not if you consider what I said before, that it was all too convenient how Agatha revealed herself to everyone, even the viewer at home.
If it’s not Wanda doing it knowingly, and it’s not really this “Agatha Harkness” character, then who?
Is there a third person behind the strings?
I can think of one person who would like the doors of reality torn asunder, making way for more chaotic magical interference, especially since the Infinity Stones are no more…
How do you do this? How do you craft a story or saga that leads it’s audience members through a corn maze and just when they think they’ve found a way out, BOOM! You trap them again, snaring their attention, and buzzing them up just before the next installment. Friday’s episode just might be the most anticipated yet, as we see the true stretch of Agatha’s influence, what Vision is going to say when he and Wanda meet up with the truth laid bare, and, for the love of God, is Monica going to blow something up???
Think through your project. Use note cards, create an outline, whatever, and see where your story is going. Then, in those cracks, those spaces between events, consider what your audience might be thinking. Place yourself in their shoes and get ahead of them. How are they going to react to certain events or character lines or background images. It’s in those spaces, those pockets, that you can truly find the power to mess with your audience. This takes extra time, and maybe you won’t feel like doing it, but if you’re wanting the same sort of “Ohmagahd!” payoff we’re all experiencing, then yes this is the type of work you have to do. But don’t worry. We’re all creative types. It’s what we’re about.
And remember: It was Agatha all along.
Thanks for reading,