Warning: This WandaVision episode 4 review contains spoilers. If you have not watched the Disney Plus show yet, then bookmark this page and come back when you're all caught up...
Avengers sidekicks, assemble! WandaVision has broken the fourth wall and entered the real world. Well, not our real world, but the “real” world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In doing so, a smattering of B-listers from various Marvel movies have been brought into focus, making for some wonderful payoff and nicely propelling this Wandaful show forward.
Before those familiar faces appear on screen, though, we have a cold open that puts emphasis on the cold. We flash back to just after Hulk managed to snap half the universe’s population back into reality and people are literally appearing out of thin air. That includes the SWORD agent formerly known as Geraldine, who we now know is Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau, played by future-007 Lashana Lynch in Captain Marvel.
It’s a startling beginning to the episode that’s remarkably traumatic, with Teyonah Parris doing a great job as a panicked Monica dealing with the loss of her mother. Pandemonium grips the hospital, offering a glimpse at the devastation these people have gone through (and fans of The Leftovers will find a striking similarity in tone to the opening of that show).
However, despite the tragedy, Monica’s quick to recover and heads to SWORD headquarters. She’s been supplanted as head of the organization, which deals with extraterrestrial threats instead of Earthly dangers, and Rambeau/Rambo (excellent nickname) is quickly involved with a seemingly simple missing-persons case – which, of course, turns out to be so much bigger than anyone was expecting.
At the scene in Westview is **familiar face klaxon** Agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park, who last appeared in Ant-Man and the Wasp. He’s the same dorky person we got to see in that buggy sequel, though now more fleshed out here – a hopefully common trend now that these lesser characters are getting more screentime. Rambeau then gets sucked into the strange forcefield and we’re left without a main character.
Now, that’s a particularly odd diversion. Without Elizabeth Olsen or Paul Bettany’s Wanda or Vision at the centre, this episode could have easily fallen apart. Rambeau fills that void initially, but, after being sucked into Wanda’s world, we’re initially left with no central presence. Enter **familiar face klaxon** Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, a character who last appeared in Thor: The Dark World. Don’t let that put you off – Darcy was one of the highlights of that lowpoint in the Marvel compendium, and here she’s equally excellent, helping answer a few questions that we’ve been eagerly discussing these past few weeks.
SWORD is basically the Marvel Studios’ Reddit forum working in overdrive, trying to work out what the heck has been going on. We get a few revelations: Wanda has seemingly created this sitcom world and is holding the residents of WestView hostage; the beekeeper was a member of SWORD; the voice on the radio was Jimmy Woo; Darcy was making those notes at the end of episode 1. How many of those answers can be taken at face value remains to be seen, but it certainly feels like the pieces have been set so that, when we do return to sitcom land, the stakes will be that much higher.
Before we dive back into the ‘80s, though, a few points: Darcy and Jimmy are a delightful pairing with great chemistry. Particularly enjoyable is Darcy’s meta-commentary on the WandaVision sitcom playing out before her, while Jimmy misunderstands a few things here and there. It’s also fun how the first three episodes positioned the invading presence as evil, yet Wanda has slowly been morphing into the true villain. Of course, we have compassion for her, but seeing the dead Vision walking around hammers home exactly why Wanda’s mind may have gone mad.
But Wanda’s a side character here. Now that Rambeau’s back with Jimmy and Darcy, we’re a full house for Avengers characters who aren’t Avengers. Let’s hope they can save the actual Avengers stuck in Westview.
Episodes of WandaVision are being released weekly by Disney Plus. Check out the full WandaVision release schedule for when to expect the next episode. For more Marvel coverage, check out our primer on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.