WandaVision’s first season just ended. At least I think it was the first season. The final episode was titled “The Series Finale” but I think that was a meta joke. The teaser at the end certainly implies a second season. There’s a lot of talk about the show online. Almost all of it that I’ve seen has been very positive. I don’t want to contradict any of the positive takes. I enjoyed the show. I’m happy I watched and I would recommend it. I think it’s probably my favorite Marvel. But, at the same time, I’m struck by a sense of missed opportunity. I want to explore that a bit.
Before getting to the nitty gritty, what could have been, I do want to say a little something about the two mistakes in the actual show. I guess I should be more precise, it was the same mistake made twice. I’m also not sure that mistake is the right word. It’s too common in current story-telling for it to be an accident, but it’s something I don’t like. The mistake is adding more conflict for the sake of having more conflict. In WandaVision, this was done through the characters of Haywood and Agatha. They simply weren’t necessary. This is a show that had plenty of conflict, suspense, and drama without needing a bad guy, let alone two. Haywood added nothing. He was so ineffectual, that he barely registered as a speedbump for Wanda. And as much as “It Was Agatha All Along” was funny, and Kathryn Hahn is great, it wasn’t Agatha all along. It was Wanda. If Agatha had stayed the nosey neighbor, the drama would have been intensified. A 300 year old witch just gave Wanda a cheap way out of her problem.
OK, if you’re still with me (I know Agatha was really popular), here’s what could have been. The story could have been told exclusively from Wanda’s point of view. There would have been no scenes outside of the hex until the very end when Wanda took the hex down. No scenes of Vision talking with Westview residents. No scenes of Monica and Fietro. All Wanda all the time. The show would have worked better as a mystery, the audience piecing it together as Wanda does herself. It would have worked better as a drama. The realization that she was fighting herself and figuring out a way to overcome her own grief would be a lot more powerful than blasting the witch trying to strangle her two children. And it would have worked better as a comedy. The sitcom spoofs would have lasted longer, and they were great.
Or, I know this might sound crazy, just hear me out, the story could have been told exclusively from Vision’s point of view. This has all the advantages of Wanda’s point of view, more mystery, more drama, and more comedy. But it would have been wonderfully disorienting at the beginning. And at the end, when all the piece fell into place, it would have been glorious. Like people jumping out of their chairs and cheering glorious. Like when the full orchestra and chorus Ode to Joy finally breaks through in Beethoven’s 9th glorious (Just before the 13 minute mark). Like when the full band enters after the bass solo in Resolution from Coltrane’s A Love Supreme glorious. For those who are less musically minded, think of the scene when Detective Kujal realizes he’s been talking to Keyser Söze all along, except like ten times better.
As it stands, we got the best thing Marvel’s ever done. I know we should be thankful for that. But we were so close to true, transcendent greatness. It was right there. They just had to reach out and grab it. And I’m the one who can’t get a job.